See Japan's castles the easy way
Article posted on Friday, December, 23rd, 2011 at 10:15 am
This video has had its run on Facebook, Twitter, and of course, Youtube, but I thought it may be a good idea to post it here as well. It comes from my visit to Shimonoseki a few months back. The post, Route 3 and other tales of endurance, tells of that trip in some detail. Be sure to follow the link if you are after a slightly longish read.
The topics that I touch on (ever so briefly) are, the Battle of Dan-no-Ura (壇ノ浦の戦い), Miyamoto Musashi / Sasaki Kojiro’s duel on Ganryū island (巌流島の決闘) & the Chōshu cannon (長州砲).
Article posted on Sunday, October, 23rd, 2011 at 10:38 am
Since the start of August I’ve been pretty determined to get out-and-about more to explore Japan & its historical sites. Not an easy thing to do with a family and a far from top-earning job. It seems without serious effort, even the slightest distraction is enough to lock you into that banal, yet somehow necessary daily routine.
Each trip taken over the preceding few months was bound by the common theme of thrift. For all of the kilometres that rolled under my wheels, not one of them was on those expensive expressways. Limited funds meant I just had to cut corners, and better to do that with expenses than on the road where people might get injured.
What follows is my account of those many long (but not necessarily far) journeys around Kyūshū with just a little bit o’ Honshū thrown in. Strap yourself in for a ride in the slow lane.
On the road again
Far-and-away most of my driving took place on Route 3, a National highway that connects Kyūshū’s northernmost city of Moji to it’s southernmost city, Kagoshima. It may not surprise you to learn that beyond Moji is Route 2 (on Honshū.) What is surprising is that they meet under the sea bed in the Kanmon straits. Suffice to say, the view isn’t one to write home about.
Well, why not lets start there, on the Honshū side of the historic Kanmon straits? Getting there was no real drama despite not having a map, a car navi or a sixth sense. Having just written that I do recall missing a sign in the inner-northeast of Fukuoka city that burned 20 minutes of so.
Google maps tells me the trip is about 120km’s & should take 2 hours & 15 minutes, which is quite a bit slower than the major roads in Australia, but considering it’s Japan, it all seems pretty reasonable. “How long did it actually take?” I hear you ask. Well, here’s the answer: over four hours! Good thing I’d brought a cut-lunch.
Late, but all there was to be done was to make the most of it. I got my folding bike out of the back of the car and rode over four fricken’ km’s on a bike not made for someone my size. Reward for my effort was the stunning Kanmon straits bridge, the site of the Battle of Dan-no-ura, and finally a reconstructed Chōshū cannon battery of the late Edo period. All very interesting.
Back on the bike to where I’d parked the car. Time was marching on but I’d parked the car at the next place I wanted to see – Kushizaki castle (jin’ya) ruins. There’s a video at the link, so I suggest you check it out for all the fascinating details.
Sweaty & tired, I poured myself back into the car to search for the Katsuyama Palace (jin’ya) ruins. It was now that I needed a map, a car navi or a sixth sense, because there certainly weren’t any signs. I had memorized the general location of the ruins but had to stop for directions a mere stone’s thrown from the site.
Both the Kushizaki & Katsuyama sites were a joy to explore. I stayed as long as I could but there was yet another place to had to check out before the hot, hot sun hit the horizon. A section of Katsuyama’s actual palace had been relocated to a temple and I was hardly going to head back home without photos.
I did track the section of building down, and nearby it were some other interesting sights. It was time to get back though, to take the tunnel to Kokura then onto Tosu.
I left silently.
Article posted on Sunday, October, 2nd, 2011 at 8:54 pm
I did a lot of driving in August. The destination of one of those drives was Shimonoseki, Honshū’s most-western city. It is a fascinating place, rich in history (Dan no Ura) but carries itself like a seaside resort town.
Btw, there've been some changes to the map. You can now watch videos within the map (Shimonoseki). Or, you could just watch the two Shimonoseki videos below.