Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Along the Kagoshima coast to Tenpozan

There's nothing worse than being bored, having no clear goal, and about 4 hours to kill. I started out one Sunday for the Tenmonkan shopping district to track down a specific English school that I'd gotten a flier for. It didn't have a website mentioned, and classes were only available 2 days a week. It looked suspicious, but there was always the possibility that it was legit and the owner just had the school as a part-time side job. The map on the flier indicated that it was behind the Maruya Gardens department store about two blocks, close to the Kagoshima Bank, in "the brown building". When I got to where there was one brown building in with 3 gray ones, things started looking less promising. There was no sign outside, and the hallway for the 3rd floor as mentioned in the address on the flier, was short, cramped, drab and lined with three big heavy metal doors. Again, no sign on the mailbox or the apartment door. So, probably just a university student trying to make a fast buck. No point in asking if there were any teaching positions open.

From there, it's just a quick walk to Dolphin Port, but about 2 kilometers to the Kotsuki river, since it meanders mostly southwest past the train station. Thinking that one place was as good as any other for the moment, I strolled along major streets, more or less aiming towards the end of the piers. I came out below the New Pier, a couple blocks short of the mouth of the Kotsuki. From here, the coastline has a decent paved walking path, but almost no pedestrians. Lots of cars driving past to get to the pachinko parlors and shopping arcades, though.

Two guys had ridden scooters to get up here for some fishing. Didn't seem to be catching anything, though. That's Sakura-jima in the background.

The walkway crosses under the street at the mouth of the river. Even Kagoshima has its homeless. One of the camps is inside a derelict minivan.

Another half kilometer farther south is a cultural center, with facilities for holding community art displays and opera concerts. Past that is a baseball diamond that, based on the announcements blaring from the PAs, doubles as a track and field grounds. Turning back north, about 4 blocks along is the Tenpozan park. You first encounter the monument dedicated to Ryouma and Oryo Sakamoto's honeymoon.

From the marker:

"Ryouma Sakamoto's Honeymoon
... Three peaceful months in 33 turbulent years...
"Next time, after we have restored imperial rule, we shall sail round the whole of Japan!" So spoke Sakamoto Ryouma to his wife, O-ryo on board the Mikuni maru bound for Kagoshima. Sakamoto had forged the Satsuma Choshu alliance in January 1866, but was wounded by revengeful Bakafu officers at the Teradaya. Now he was coming to Kagoshima for a hot spring cure at the invitation of Saigo Takamori.

The Sakamotos left Osaka with Saigo Takamori, Komatsu Tatewaki, Yoshii Tomozane and Katsura Hisatake, and reached Kagoshima on Marth 10th. The happy couple then toured the spas of Hinatayama, Shiohitashi and Enoo and went fishing and shooting. It was for them, amid the Miyamakirishima azaleas, a real honeymoon.

Sakamoto had built the Tosa navy and brough Satsuma and Choshu together to fight for the Emperor, but only 18 months after this peaceful tour of Satsuma he was assassinated at Omiya in Kyoto and finished his 33 years without seeing the fruits of his efforts: the Meiji Restoration."

Just past this, on the right, is the park itself.

"Sandhills from the Tempo Era
... Baptized by British fire...
Tenpozan was once a flourishing sea port and the site of the Satsuma shipping office. However, people began to fill in the harbor with sand that repeated flooding had left in the Kotsuki river, and these sand "hills" were named "Tenpozan" after the name of the era.

Shimadzu Narioki, the 27th Lord of Satsuma, built batteries here to ward off foreign ships, and these were used in 1863 against British ships which came seeking reparation for the murder of Richardson at Namamugi by Satsuma soldiers the previous year. The Euryalus was hit and nine sailors killed, but the superior British Armstrong cannon wiped out the Satsuma batteries in a couple of hours.

At the adjacent Yojirogahama, a further 1,090,000m of land was reclaimed in 1972."

(Kyogetsutei, a pavilion from South Korea. The park has a small play area for children, a baseball diamond, and the ruins of the old cannon battery that used to stand here.)

"Battle with the British
... Japan's strongest cannon face British gunboats...
With one word from the chief of the Tenpozan battery, Kamata Ichibee, fire opened on the British Squadron which had entered Kinko Bay looking for reparation for the killing of an Englishman. The battle started at noon on August 15, 1863, and inflicted great damage to the British ships. Within a few hours, however, the superior British guns had left the city in ruins.

The 27th lord, Shimadzu Narioki, had built the Tenpozan battery in 1850. The next lord, Nariakira, ordered the construction of coastside batteries in several strategic location and equipped them with cannon manufactured at the Shuseikan factory (in the modern Iso gardens). It is said that Nariakira was eager to prepare for battle, and he himself reviewed Satsuma troops training at Tenpozan.

After the experience with the British, Satsuma secretly dispatched young men to study in Britain, thus leading the rest of Japan in the race to absorb advanced Western technology. Only two relics of the cannon used against the British remain : here in Tenpozan and in Gion-no-su."

(Map of the battle, from the marker sign.)

(Edo-era map of Tenpozan. The big river to the left is the Kotsuki. The house-shaped gray area in the middle toward the top is the reclaimed land of Tenpozan.)


The park turns into a green belt running along the Kotsuki, heading back up north towards the Kagoshima-chuo station. About a kilometer short, you get to the Takenohashi bridge. It's also here that the rough stone walkways first start along either side of the river.

(Photo of the original bridge from the historical marker.)

From the marker:
"Here stood Takenohashi, one of the famous five stone bridges that Kumamoto mason, Iwanaga Sangoro, built at the behest of Zusho Hirosato following the reforms of the Tempo period. When it was completed in 1848, Takenohashi was the longest stone bridge in Japan, with 5 arches spanning 71m across the lower reaches of the Kotsuki. The bridge had unusually thick piers and massive protective pilings both upstream and downstream. The Takenohashi tuff stone was excavated at Isoyama and brought by sea; stone for the other four bridges came from Kogashira."

(Modern day bridge.)

(Zusho Hirosato, the man that commissioned the five stone bridges. A marker commemorating where his home had been is just at the west side of Hirata Park, near the southeast base of Shiroyama.)


Also in this area is the monument to Nariakira Shimadzu's army training camp. It's actually on the grounds of a public school, up against the back fence, facing route 225. The school grounds are currently closed for the summer, so the best I could do was shoot over, or through, the fence. Stupid fence.

"A Hero's Training Ground in the Last Days of Edo
Site of Shimadzu Nariakira's barracks
... A man of international vision praised by Katsu Kaishu ...
Amid the turmoil of the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the 28th Lord of Satsuma, Shimadzu Nariakira, carrying out the wishes of his great grandfather, Shigehide, sought to strengthen Japan's position by "learning from the West, enriching the nation and building up the army." Nariakira took a special interest in the manufacture of rifles and cannon at the Shuseikan and in the training of soldiers.

In this area, known as the Tenpozan Training Ground, the soldiers were trained in gunnery, horsemanship and military engineering. Nariakira had his own quarters here and carried out regular inspection and coaching of the troops. On July 8th, 1858, the joint preparatory maneuvers for the sending of 3,000 Satsuma soldiers to Edo were carried out, but after a long day in the heat of the midsummer sun the ailing Nariakira developed a fever and passed away on the 16th. Katsu Kaishu, though more famous for his acerbic toungue [sic] praised Nariakira as the "hero of the last days of Edo"."


A and Y Ikeda said...

lots of statues over there, it seems. :-)

TSOTE said...

You should see the monument in front of the train station.