Thursday, March 7, 2013

Kagoshima Agriculture Center

(Image from google maps.)

Towards the end of January, I decided to make a second trek out to the People's Forest Park (point 1 on the map). The route follows the Kotsuki river out to the entrance of the park, which then makes an ascending loop up a hill away from the river for about 1 kilometer. At the time, I noticed the sign for the Kagoshima Prefecture Agricultural Center, another 3-4 km farther on. There wasn't much of a chance of getting to both locations on the same day by foot, so I made a mental note of coming back out a third time, specifically to get to the Center.

On Feb. 10th, I set out at 12:30 PM, much later than I'd wanted to. I also wasn't sure of exactly how far I'd have to walk, or when the sun would be going down (if I had a smartphone, I would have gotten those answers real fast, but I still can't justify the $70/month contract fees.). So, I pushed myself to walk faster than I normally would. After about 40 minutes, I got to a side river that joins the Kotsuki, and a street sign pointing to the Center, 8.2 km away to the west. Looking at the map, I must have gone 4 km just up to this point. It's about halfway between the HeartPia hospital/exercise gyms, and the expressway. Getting up into the hills, there were a couple places where the street would narrow down to 1.5 lanes and no shoulder. It was really snakey after reaching the Kagoshima rifle range, and when cars came from opposite directions I'd have to push myself up against the hillside to keep out of the way. Most of the cars wouldn't see me until too late, and wouldn't slow down until after getting past me. Not one of the more fun parts of the walk.

Eventually, I got up to the top of the hill range. It was 3:15 when I reached the Center. Essentially, it's a big vegetable and flower garden with a couple information centers and picnic areas.

(From one of the overlooks, facing down with the main visitor's center in the mid-distance. Sakura-jima is in the background.)

Even in the middle of winter, with temps getting down towards freezing at night, there's still some greenery on the ground. The grounds on this side of the visitor's center is divided up into blocs, with each bloc dedicated to a different kind of plant.

There wasn't much to look at during this time of the year, so I got myself a hot can of corn soup from the vending machine and headed back after 15 minutes. A couple of places along the way, I decided to try taking shortcuts which threatened to dump me into deadend cul de sacs in the middle of the rice farms. Finally, though, I found myself standing over the rifle range, and I knew pretty much what the route back to the Kotsuki was going to be like. This was the longest walk so far, at 5.5 hours door to door. The Myouenji 20 km (12 mile) walk a year ago November had taken me 3.5 hours but it had refreshments at the rest stops. According to google maps, it's at least 12 km from Kagoshima Chuu-ou station, but that's for a route that goes farther south. I'd like to think that I went 24 km this day, but it's probably closer to 21-22 km.

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