A month in Japan (part the third)

Monday 12 September

The LDP won the election! Hooray! Gotta love that Koizumi Junichiro: he’s a gutsy guy, and he’s got great hair.

Monday, I got up early to climb Kanayama, the local mountain, as I’d intended to the day before but hadn’t been able to because of the rain.

To call Kanayama a mountain (that’s the yama part of the name) is overly generous: it’s more of a hill. It took me about an hour to get to the top from the Daikôin, but that was only because I didn’t know exactly where I was going: several of the tracks up there say they lead to car-parks, including the one that leads to the ruins at the peak. It was around 30ºC on the day, and by the time I reached the top, the bottle of Pocari Sweat I’d bought to keep my fluids up was all gone. Fortunately there were taps in the appallingly kept toilets at one of the peak car-parks.

Ôta doesn’t, in the main, have a lot going for it; it’s a visually uninspiring town. But the Kanayama ruins were by far the nicest thing I’d seen in Japan so far, with a collection of stone structures and shrines on show. Here are some highlights:

Looking out over Northern Ota from a path near the Daikoin

The natural environment in Japan is often very beautiful. This is a view from the track up Kanayama, just after passing through the Daikoin complex.

Pool, Kanayama

This pool is one of the first notable things one will see passing through the Kanayama ruins. I don’t know what it’s for, but it’s nice.

Main shrine, Kanayama

This appears to be the main shrine on Kanayama. In the shade to the left, the ground is green. That’s the same moss that my brother Daniel said he saw covering the ground near temples in Kyôto. For me, this was the first time I’d seen it.

Kanayama, may peace prevail

Some temples and shrines have pillars like this, that read “may peace prevail on earth.” I couldn’t agree more. It’s too bad some cultures haven’t grown up enough that we can give up fighting just yet.

shrine gates

A corridor of shrine gates (torî). These mark out sacred spaces.

Fox guardian, Kanayama

A statue of a fox (inari). I’m not sure if this fox and its partner (not pictured) are meant to guard the shrine, or whether the shrine is to placate the fox spirits. In Japanese superstition, foxes are supernatural, and often take the forms of beautiful women to play tricks on humans.


A view of the countryside West of Kanayama and Ôta. I did take pictures of Ôta, trying to get one showing my apartment and workplace, but it was my first day with the camera, and it didn’t work out.

So, that was Kanayama. It’s probably the best of what Ôta has to offer. My next set of stories, like this one, deserve a post of their own.

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Author: Ben Hourigan

Ben Hourigan is a novelist from Melbourne, Australia. His books Kiss Me, Genius Boy and My Generation’s Lament are Amazon category bestsellers, and are available wherever good books are sold online. Ben also works as an editor, copywriter, and self-publishing consultant at his own firm, Hourigan & Co. For news and book release updates, sign up to his email newsletter.