Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Seen Around Town, 2

Just to the east of the Reimeikan as you're going up to the Shiroyama tunnel (for ordinary street traffic), there's a small cemetery and temple. The name is not very clear on the front gate and it doesn't show up on the tourist map I have. I struck up a conversation with a salaryman that had been taking a cigarette break there, and I think the name he gave was "Kounozan", but I could be wrong. The cemetery had more personality than most I've seen, with little collections of statues scattered around the grounds like small crowd scenes.

Nishi Honganji is a branch of Japanese Buddhism, first established in 1602 by Ieyasu Tokugawa (the first Tokugawa shogun), who had split the Honganji sect in two to reduce its political power. There's a branch temple in Kagoshima, right next to Central Park, and sandwiched between the Tenmonkan shopping district.

Lastly, we have a park dedicated on the former grounds of Takamori Saigo's house. To get here, go out the west side of the Kagoshima-chou station (or, go through Bic Camera and take a street exit) and follow the tracks west 3-4 blocks. The park will be on the south side of the tracks, a little before the main road goes through a tunnel in the hill.

(A painting of the original grounds.)

From the historical marker:
"Kichi of Take Mura
Site of Saigo House
... a man of no desire for fame, official rank or money ...
In 1873, Saigo Takamori resigned from the Cabinet after disagreement over the sending of a mission to Korea. Returning to Kagoshima, he retired to the country and started work in the fields as "Kichi of Takemura". He spent his time carrying night soil (fertilizer), ploughing and hoeing the fields, and sometimes went hunting with his 13 dogs, or went to hot springs for relaxation. In contrast to many meritorious officials, who had lost interest in the implementation of the Restoration and were living in luxury, Saigo lived a simple life in a modest house. His only possession was a huge pine tree, A calligraphist who Saigo had met on Oshima, Kawaguchi Seppo, was living with him and helping him to educatethe young men of the neighbourhood.

However, history had other plans for Saigo and would not allow him to spend his remaining years quietly in the country. Young men who had followed Saigo back to Kagoshima begged him to be their leader, and thus he set up the Yoshimo Development Company and the Shigakko School, from which students, with revolutionary vision started the Seinan Civil War four years later."

There's a small well (blocked up now) that Saigo used to draw water from for the farm.

Seppo and Saigo.

(The park as it is today.)


A and Y Ikeda said...

Thank you for showing more of Kagoshima! :-)

sixmats said...

That is an interesting statue of Saigo.