Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Going South

A few weeks ago, I was standing up at the top of Shiroyama hill, looking out over the rest of the city, trying to see if there were any other places worth trying to visit during a long walk. A hill rising up on the other side of the Kagoshima Chuo train station was covered in buildings, and one or two larger structures that looked like arenas or auditoriums. In the past, when I've walked down the main street on the west side of the station, I'd get the impression that it continues being a busy commercial street well beyond the point where I'd turn left to get to Amu Plaza. But, looking from Shiroyama, it's obvious that the street has to deadend in the hill a mile or so down.  So, for my next long walk, I started out on that street just past the station. Took 10-15 minutes just to get that far from the apartment.

The land is flat until just past where the train line turns west and heads into a different set of hills. The base of the hill I was facing has houses and small construction firms on the first 2-3 blocks, then the roads are forced to go around some sheer faces on the hill. This is one of the only places I've found where there's no staircase shortcut for pedestrians to go to the top of the hill. I kept trying to follow the roads west along the cliff face, but they'd end in cul de sacs and I'd have to backtrack to an earlier street and try again a little farther north. It took at least 15 minutes to get to a road that actually went all the way up the hill, and at that point I was within a few blocks of the real estate building that looks like a small castle. Along the way, there were a couple trees with bright blue and purple-ish flowers.

Meiwa Industrial Arts Shop. A small construction company working out of a small warehouse. The logo looks like it's taken fromThompson and Thomson in Tintin.

Following the hill east along the ridge takes me to a large Buddhist cemetery. The graves fill the valley running east down towards the bay. The trees block the view back towards Shiroyama, but I'm now at the top of the hill face I'd been studying before.

On the other side of the ridge, looking south. The residential housing runs up one hill and disappears over the other side. I continue along the ridge, going slightly southeast. When I reach a major street running south, I veer right and take it down another hill past small shops and more houses.

Now I know where Japan stores its giant robots when they're not in use.

Some weeks ago, I commented on how empty most of the parks are in Japan. Here's a case in point. The hard-packed grounds can't be that much fun to run across or play soccer on.

Not completely empty, though...

Eventually, the street crosses another hill. On the opposite side, everything becomes more rural. Lots of trees, some small farms, and areas being cleared out for what I guess is going to be a housing development or golf course. Some industrial shops. The building here is a sign making shop.

Lego Batman!

Continuing on, I've been walking for at least 90 minutes now. The road is going slightly southwest, so I am slowing heading away from the bay, and I've now got this big hill to my left that has no other roads running up it. I'm forced to keep going farther away from the apartment as I look for a way towards the highways along the coast. The valley here starts out with a very strong feeling of having been abandoned by the rest of the city. There are a couple dormitory-like apartment buildings at one point. The front side is being renovated...

The back side is still trashed. Looks like this is actually a dorm owned by the construction company itself.  A few blocks later, I cross a small river that runs through a newer housing complex and a big city park with a handful of senior citizens using the running track. The road parallels the river most of the way to the bay.

This guy swooped down to land on a sandbar underneath a bridge just as I reached it. He's more focused on the fish in the shallow water, and didn't spook when I pulled the camera out, so this is one of the best photos of a heron I've been able to get so far (I'm within 20 feet of it).

Finally, I get around the last hill and pick up the street car/city train tracks. I'm at least a mile south of the Minami Kagoshima (South Kagoshima) station, which is where the street car and train lines meet up and start sharing the same platforms (mostly sharing - they're next to each other, but not the same buildings). I've been along this route several times, including when I revisited the Running Sakurajima machine. I immediately see the giant bowling pin, which places me around Kamoike. This time, though, I decide to take the streets right next to the city train tracks (rather than the tram line). A number of the buildings (small shops and large apartments) look run down. The building above is a barber shop. It's out of business, but someone still lives in the back half of the place.

After about an hour, I get to the south side of the Kagoshima Chuo station. However, the switch yard is close to a mile long, so I'm not yet at my staring point for this walk. At the southwest end of the switchyard is a colorfully-painted kindergarten school

Total time from start to finish - close to 4 hours. Never did locate those buildings that looked like an auditorium. One really large structure visible from Shiroyama turned out to be just an apartment complex.

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