Welcome to Part 1 of a two part series on sites in the greater Numazu area. Part 2 will be along soon. Enjoy.
It seems that September is the time that I hear the call of the mountains and I clean my mountain bike and prepare for a big ride. Well it could be that or the fact that after returning from an expensive summer vacation the only thing I had left to spend was time.
After locating one of my many Numauz Tourist Guide Books: English (Engrish), I set to planning an expedition. However, after ten minutes I was yet again lost in the priceless text. For example “The left side of the river is provided with walking road for pedestrians…” or “The Kano River has stairs.” While not the most amusing text of Japanese English I have read, the Numazu Tourist Guide Book certainly lightens your mood. I really don’t understand why so many English speaking expats and tourists get so worked up over these grammar mistakes. Really little things like this are an essential part of enjoying another country. We also seem to forget that our attempts at Japanese may be equally amusing for our indigenous friends. When it comes to my attempts at Japanese I am almost certain of it. But I digress.
The guidebook suggested that there are a great many sights in the Hara and Mt Ashitaka areas to the west and north of Numazu city, respectively. It seemed like a good enough plan for me so I set off on my mountain bike and guide in my back pocket to find out.
I first set off for Hara loosely following the route Tokaido Road once took. In the Edo Period, the Tokaido Road was a famous road connecting the old capitals in the Nara, Osaka, Kyoto triangle and the newly formed capital Edo; modern day Tokyo. Later the route was travelled artist Utagawa Hiroshige who crafted the 53 stations of Tokaido (Wikipedia 2007)
The trip to Hara was somewhat uneventful. I chose to take the inland route following the railway line rather than the far more picturesque Senbon Beach path. Most of this area is a combination of low level industrial and housing. It is interesting to find see how the locals blend their hand toiled community and private vegetable gardens with their modern homes. The lack of land in the area means that everything is right on top of each other. Very different to the towns in Australia I have lived in.
My first stop was a quick ride around Syoinji Temple before a even quicker look in. This temple has been tastefully modernized, though there is really not very much to see here. I managed to lose my way searching for the Tourist Guide’s recommendation and stumbled across some funky little hand powered water pumps in a small park near Syoinji Temple. These were very cool and I had to play with them. Well, until some old ladies started to stare at me like I was the town idiot (very intuitive old ladies).
After a few more minutes I found my Tourist Guide checkpoint, Hakuin Zenji. Apparently an anonymous poem, by a possible member of this particular temple, declaired this temple and Mt Fuji are the two most excellent points of this area. Well, Hakuin Zenji wasn’t too bad. That is of course, depending on whether or not I had found said grounds and not some anonymous temple. The picture in the guide made it look a lot bigger than what it was so I am not too certain. Anyway, this proud little grounds featured below had some excellent example of stone work dragons and the gardens tall trees created a cool and mysterous mood to this place.
Stay tuned for part two of “The Hara-Ashitaka circuit.” Meanwhile check out my maps for some directions from my journey.
Hiroshige. (2007, October 17). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 12:04, October 31, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Hiroshige&oldid=165124153
Numazu Tourist Association (publish date unknown) Numazu Tourist Gide Book; English; Numazu Tourist Association.