This is a mostly photographic post that came about in a rather unusual way.
Former workmate, occasional hiking buddy and sometime co-conspirator Ian “Goat” was in my neck of the woods for his last two days in the country, just after completing the massive Shikoku Pilgrimage – in reverse order – and then walking to Hiroshima.
My lesson timetable for his last full day was messed up due to practice for a school singing event, so I threw caution into the wind, took one of the paid holidays I’m entitled to, and invited the man for one last hike up Mt. Mitsumine. I had wanted to go up there again for some time, one reason being blog related. That reason will feature in a later blog post.
Chichibu seems so close, but actually getting out there can be a nuisance, so we went in style on the Red Arrow Express as far as Seibu-Chichibu, took the over-priced Chichibu line to Mitsumineguchi and the bus from there to the shrine. Time was a bit short for hiking.
The bus ride was long, rough and windy, and although it did treat us to some lovely views, almost none of these would ever translate into a photograph.
Passing Lake Chichibu (an artificial lake) over the dam.
By the time we arrived, a mist was setting in, and really added to the atmosphere.
A statue of Yamato Takeru awaits us outside the museum.
The main shrine gate
No shrine is complete without a steep stairway…
The area for ritually purifying one’s hands and mouth. Just a tad gaudy, don’t you think?
A large mock-up of an ema (wooden plaque upon which one writes one’s wish). I photographed it in spite of the manga-esque wolf, only to realise later the rope the wolf is holding forms a heart… excuse me while I vomit.
There are two “power trees” at the Mitsumine shrine. This cryptomeria is estimated to be over 800 years old.
The normally rough bark of the cryptomeria has been worn smooth by the touches of visitors over time.
The autumn colours are nice, don’t you think?
This dragon’s face appeared in a tile about three years ago, apparently.
The Kyokushin Kaikan managed to set up a memorial for their founder, Masutatsu Oyama, near the shrine. Kyokushin tends to attract the extreme nationalists, and none of them will ever thank me for pointing out that Oyama was in fact Korean!
Yet another statue of Yamato Takeru. This prince seemed to have travelled all over Japan and founded every major shrine. He also apparently had huge hands, if this statue is any guide!
The path leading to another shrine and the hiking trails.
Been there, done that. I’ve hiked from here, over Mt. Kumotori and down to Okutama three times – in winter. It’s a great hike.
Next time I visit, I hope to make the trip on foot.