Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Roundabout 1

I've only done 6 long walks in the time since the brace came off my foot, and I've reached most of the places within my attainable radius that I want to visit. The weather has been very unpredictable, and because I do have to work at the English school part-time most of the week, there's a limit to when I can get out.  I'm still far from being back at the same level of strength and flexibility in my left leg and ankle that I had before the accident, so when I can get the chance for another long walk I'll take it, but it's becoming more of a challenge to find new places to go.

There's a street tunnel that cuts through Shiroyama hill down at the north end, just past the Reimeikan history museum. I walked through it once before - it's 700 meters long and filled with car exhaust,  It opens up on the other side in a rural-looking cul-de-sac. So I was wondering what would happen if I skirted the base of the hill to take the long way around to the other side of the tunnel.  Along the way, I passed a narrow alley-like sidewalk running a little ways up the side of another hill. Half a block up, I encountered this crumbling house. It's surrounded by other houses, so you can't see it at street level.

There aren't a lot of houses like this in the main parts of the city. Instead, you see them nestled at the back of valleys, in places where no one wants to erect a new apartment building on top of it.

These little alley-like sidewalks are typical of older parts of older cities. There's no way to get a car back here, so home owners either need to park at a lot a block away and walk in with groceries, or just not own a car and take the bus everywhere for shopping instead.  Now, it would be very tempting for westerners in this case to go racing down to the street on a bicycle.

This is why racing down the hill on a bicycle to the street is a bad idea.  You can't tell that there are stairs here until right at the last moment.

A couple blocks farther on, heading west, there's another old shrine sitting at the top of another hill. From the street below, it just looks like an old moss-covered building. But up close, it's obvious that it's also been abandoned.  Rather than tear it down and put a new shrine in its place, the people in charge feel it's easier to just let it rot on its own.  Interestingly, they put braces up to keep the front structure from collapsing too quickly.  The wood of the floor is rotting through, though, and walking on parts of it is getting dangerous.

New protective wards have been put up to keep bad spirits out of the shrine room itself.

Across the street from the abandoned shrine is a school that dominates the neighborhood from the top of its hill.

On closer inspection, the parking area on the extended deck is rusting and the concrete is crumbling. Not sure if I'd want to be one of the people living in the shadow of this hulk.

Continuing around to the back of Shiroyama, I finally reached the street tunnel entrance.  It took an hour going the long way.  From here, there's another small school and playground area to the north that I'd seen before but hadn't visited. This time, I headed down to get a better look.  This small park has a memorial sign in back, so I decided to take a photo of it.  Turns out that this is near where the spring came out where the previous Shimadzu lord had a conduit dug to run water over and through Shiroyama hill to the Tsurumaru castle on the other side. I'd tried finding this spring before, but the walled-up tunnel entrances in the Shiroyama hill form a line that leads half a mile the wrong way, so I don't know how the spring here, at the bottom of the hill, correlates to the tunnel line half a mile farther south up the back side of Shiroyama. (After further thought, it's possible that the walled-up tunnels in Shiroyama were made by the Army during WW II.)

"The First Water System in Kagoshima
In 1723, the 22nd Shimadzu Lord, Tsugutoyo, constructed a stone conduit in this area to bring water to the Tsurumaru Castle. This water system also supplied drinking water to the people living here and is thought to be the beginning of the water system in Kagoshima. This memorial was erected for the 50th anniversary of the installation of the modern water system in 1969.
Today, the Hiyamizu No. 1 reservoir near this area supplies drinking water of the citizens."

(Remnants of the old conduit.)

(From the park, looking east. The big hill in the background is Shiroyama. That's where the water conduit would have traveled, with Tsurumaru Castle on the other side.)

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