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Archive for January 27th, 2021

Hot on the heels of Stage 1, I received the next postcard. Stage 2 completed and may I say wowww, the history is just amazing. I wish they’d taught us this in school. I would have gone walking rather than marrying….

Lake Kawaguchi is the second largest of the Five Lakes and has the longest shoreline of 12mi (19km). It is a popular holiday destination with well-developed resort facilities.

My hike along the southside of the lake began at Koumi Park, a sprawling green space with a narrow promenade, not particularly obvious but nicely maintained, near the shore that led to Shikkogo Park a mile away. Along the way I came across the literary monument of Junichiro Tanizaki, a popular novelist of the mid-20th century. The monument is in the form of an open book with a passage from one of his works carved in his handwriting.

I reached a cape-like place called “Sakuya Aino Kane” which translates as Sakuya Bell of Love. Near the tip of the cape is an arched structure about 13ft (4m) high with a bell hanging in the centre of it. Installed by the city of Katsuya in 2002, the arch was named after “Konohana Sakuyahime” the Shinto goddess of Mount Fuji. In Japanese mythology Sakuyahime is depicted as a blossom-princess in the image of the sakura (cherry blossom) and a symbol of delicate earthly life. It is said that if you ring the bell once love will come true and if you ring it twice your wish will come true. Of course I couldn’t pass it by without ringing it at least once or maybe twice.

Veering off the promenade, I visited Fuji Omuro Sengen Shrine. The original shrine was built around the 9th century on Mount Fuji. Due to the mountain’s frequent eruptions, it burnt down and was rebuilt many times. The current shrine was built on Mount Fuji in 1612 by Torri Naritsugu but in 1974 was moved to its current location for future preservation.

Naritsugu was a member of the Torri Clan, a samurai family and loyal retainers of the Tokugawa Shogunate (dynasty) from the 15th – 19th century. In 1600AD, his father Mototada changed the course of Japanese history when he refused to surrender Fushimi Castle to an oncoming enemy. With a garrison of 2,000 men, he fought valiantly against an army of 40,000, until he was the last man standing. As was custom rather than being taken alive, Mototada performed seppuku (suicide). This final stand gave his Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (commander-in-chief) sufficient time to escape. Ieyasu went on to raise an army of 90,000 and successfully won the Battle of Sekigahara, resulting in the unification of Japan and a ruling dynasty for the next 268 years.

Set within a dense old forest at the base of Fuji is “Kitaguchi Hongu Fuji Sengen” shrine complex. Covering 24 acres, the complex is one the largest forest shrines in Japan. The first shrine was built more than 1900 years ago when Yamato Takeru on an expedition to the east came across Mount Fuji and began worshipping Konohanasakuya-hime, Goddess of Mount Fuji. When the Edo Period (17thC) began Fuji-ko (Mount Fuji religion) spread and worshippers would begin their pilgrimage up the mountain from here using the Yoshida Route, one of four trails to the summit. Around the main shrine, trees were selected in each corner to designate the border of the area. About 1000 years old, only three trees remain today. With girths measuring 75ft (23m) the trees are believed to protect the shrine and are classified natural monuments.

Yamato has an interesting story or perhaps more like a legend himself. Born around 72AD he was the second son of Emperor Keiko, the first being his twin brother. He began his military career by first murdering his brother, simply because the Emperor was dissatisfied with his brother for failing to have his meals with the imperial household. At 16 Yamato was sent to quell a rebellious tribe. He succeeded by infiltrating the tribe dressed as a housemaid with a hidden holy sword, one of three Imperial Regalia. Upon his return home, the Emperor sent him on another mission. With his wife in tow, Yamato needed to cross the sea but a storm was hindering the voyage. His wife sacrificed herself to the sea in the hope the storm would die down and according to legend it did. Seven days later her comb washed ashore and a tomb was built around it. Yamato proceeded with his campaign and when the rivals saw his approach they surrendered immediately. Yamato never arrived home. He died of exposure at the age of 30. His aggrieved father built a mausoleum where his son died and it is believed that his soul transformed into a white bird and soared to Heaven.

Truly, reading this makes me want to just go….to Japan and walk the route. And talking of cherry blossoms, that’s something I’ve so wanted to see….so, maybe!! β˜Ίβ˜ΊπŸŒΈπŸŒΈπŸ‡―πŸ‡΅

Why not join me on one of the challenges https://www.theconqueror.events/r/CE1474 they are excellent motivation to get out and and walk, especially now that our wings are clipped by Covid-19 and lockdown.

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