Bense wetlands-yellow Nikko Kisuge and Takayama Inari Shrine ベンセ湿原、高山稲荷

May 31st.

Bense Wetlands and Nikko Kisuge

We leave michi no eki Namioka on a cloudy but dry morning, heading for the Bense Wetlands. On arrival, we are pleasantly surprised to find, that the Nikko Kisuge are in bloom. D. thought it would be too early in the year. Nikko Kisuge are a yellow, wetland flower that romantically bloom at dawn and die at day’s close; to be replaced by another bloom the following morning.

Bensenuma Nikko-kisuge

Nikko-Kisuge at Bensenuma

They are June /July flowers but were well established and beginning to form an expanse of yellow here at the end of May. They are normally followed by irises that change the carpet from yellow to purple, but the purple irises were beginning to bloom as well. Another ominous sign of serious climate change. I assume.

Iris, Bense Wetland

Iris, Bense Wetland

Another feature of these wetlands is as a breeding ground for the chestnut-eared bunting. One of only three sites in Japan. I was excited when I managed to photo one of these birds. This bird is also known as a Grey Headed Bunting.

Chestnut Eared Bunting, Bense wetland

Chestnut Eared Bunting, Bense wetland

The path through the marshes provides a very pleasant walk of around an hour. On an overcast Friday, there were few people admiring the flowers and a distant hazy view of Mt.Iwaki.

Nikko-kisuge at Bense wetland

Nikko-Kisuge and distant Mt. Iwaki, Bense wetland

Takayama Inari Shrine

From the Bense Marsh we drive to Jusanko a large lake or sea inlet famous for shijimi shellfish.  By chance we note a sign indicating the Takayama Inari Shrine and decided to take a look.

This was a happy chance, as the shrine offers a good chance to stretch the legs. There is a walk winding through the shrine precincts along ponds and through a tunnel of orange torii gates. These are reminiscent of Fushimi Inari in Kyoto though not nearly as large, dense or extensive. On the other hand the place is not nearly as crowded, in fact, we were the only people there.

Takayama Inari shrine

Takayama Inari shrine

Following the path through the shrine and up the steps you come to the top with a view of the sea the other side of the ridge. There are numerous stone foxes each with its bib as befits an Inari shrine.

Takayama Inari shrine

Takayama Inari shrine

Not really a spectacular place but well worth a visit as an interesting local shrine away from the insane crowds of Kyoto.

From Takayama Inari Shrine we continue on our way to Jusanko and skirt around the lake.

The drive rarely gives a glimpse of the water let alone access. Once you cross the bridge over the sea inlet there is a car park for a gift shop. Here we parked and wandered over a foot bridge to an island but soon returned to the car.

I found it a not very interesting place. Unless you really want to eat Shijimi Ramen, I would give it a miss.

Aomori City – Munakata Shiko

Next to Aomori city, to buy supplies and visit the museum of Munakata Shiko. This is an artist with very humble Aomori origins whose work interests us. The museum is small but houses an interesting collection. D. was taken with his calligraphy and I liked the muted tones of his woodblock prints.
Tomorrow we must take the ferry from Ooma, so we head in that direction to stay the night at Yokohama michi no eki. We have stayed here before. It is ok but the facilities are limited, old and tired.

*Munakata Shiko Museum ; 550 yen / adult

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