Monday, August 19, 2013

Nagasaki Kaido Walk

Nagasaki and Kokura is strangely bound. They are two ends of Nagasaki Kaido, a famous road next to the five Kaidos, connecting Edo and Kyoto and others in Edo period. Nagasaki just marked the 68th anniversary of the dropping of an atomic bomb this Friday with more than 6,300 people attending the ceremony including A-Bomb survivors and bereaved families at the Peace Park. It is well known irony that Kokura was the original bomb target but clouds over Kokura changed the bomber’s flight path to Nagasaki.

I recently read a travel log of a walker who took the 280 km Nagasaki Kaido. His name is Takuji Matsuo, who lives in Shimabara, Nagasaki. He was a Shimabara Junior High School principal and now serves as a Shimabara Castle Archive specialist. He visited shrines and temples, took notes and photos, updated local maps and news, documented folk stories while traveling. He divided his travel plans into several legs to suit his convenience, so the entire trip took a whole year to complete. The walking itself took only 17 days or 420,000 steps as per his trusty pedometer.

I was interested in his description of Hiyamizu (cold water) Mountain Pass, the Hakone Pass of Nagasaki Kaido, the most difficult and laborious route. It is sometimes called Pan Pass, because travelers scooped mountain water with a pan to soothe their thirsts. Yes, the pass was a hard one. He perspired intensely, but endured.

He wrote that all the railroads and highways today come and go there under their respective tunnels and travelers enjoy a great view from above. Records show an elephant calf, a gift to a Shogun, passed here.

It's a straight line from Dazaifu / Tsukushino to reach Iizuka / Kurosaki / Kokura. Uchino is the station coming off the Pass and Matsuo, the writer, found happily, that Uchino retained its form the way they were during the Edo days.

A "Nagasaki Walk" is occasionally held like "Earth Walk" or "Peace Walk," in spring and autumn by children and adults alike, sponsored by local municipal governments or newspapers.

This spring (2013), the city of Kitakyushu where I live, had a one day Nagasaki Walk Event to commemorate its 50th Birthday with great participation by its citizens. The full official course was from Tokiwabash Bridge (the elephant on the way to Edo) to Koyanose Station, including the Magari Row of Pines. I'm sure the path the elephant took depicted by artist Jakuchu was the same one. Other shorter courses were respectively 12 km and 15 km.

2 comments:

Pokoroto said...

I also walked the length of the Old Nagasaki Kaido; in the summer of 2011.
It was great and I recommend it.
My photos are here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/pokoroto/collections/72157626755417950/

I didn't find the Hiyamizu-toge difficult at all.

I found the Himi-toge to be the toughest.
Most towns have the trail marked and I had a really good map but I got hopelessly lost in the mountains in Ureshino-shuku twice.

riodan said...

"Thank you for your excellent photo albums of Nagasaki
Kaido. I visited your photo coverages of 17 Inns plus those of
Nagasaki and Kokura, both ends of the Kaido. A total of
thousand photos! Must be a great trip exerience with the
guiding maps in hand. How many days you spent to complete
your trip?

You should write a travelog.
I know Alan Booth's classic of modern travel travel writing
"The Roads to Sata" (available at Amazon), a 2000 mile trek.
Have you read it?"