Dec 2020 day two
Kunimi michi no eki was a very peaceful place to stay. We were the only vehicle staying overnight and the road itself was almost as silent as the bright, cold night, stars and half-moon hanging overhead.
Itsutsuji Fudoson – Antony Gormley 五辻不動尊
Our first stop of the day is to be Itsutsuji Fudoson. This is a shrine clinging to a rugged crag high in the Kunisaki Peninsula.
Since the 2016 Kunisaki Art Project, the shrine has shared this outcrop with an Antony Gormley figure “Another Time XX”. The figure stands on a rocky ledge, just below the shrine, staring out over a magnificent view of the surrounding landscape and the Setonaikai beyond.
The hike to this vantage point is only about 10 minutes of mostly steps that, at the top, become a rocky, narrow ridge. There is a chain handrail to ease access to the shrine. I recommend this spot for the view alone; the artwork is an added bonus. I admit, however, that I like Gormley’s work.
Monjusenji Temple 文殊仙寺
From Itsutsuji Fudoson we move on to Monjosenji temple. This is another steep climb, real stone staircase this time. The temple is another building flush against a towering cliff face. These rocky pinnacles are a feature of the Kunisaki landscape. As a temple it is not so interesting, but the location makes it worth a visit.
From Monjusenji temple our next stop is the samurai town of Kitsuki. This town is built on two opposing sides of a valley. The houses and business premises of the merchant class are at the bottom while the samurai dwellings look down on them from either side. Not much of the original town remains, but some of those that are preserved are open to the public for a small fee. If you are wearing a kimono the entrance fee is waived. I am unaware of the cost or rental kimono so whether this constitutes a saving, I am unable to say.
As an example of an Edo town, there are other far better-preserved places. It is, nevertheless, a pleasant area to wander around and has a small castle overlooking the town, harbour and sea.
From Kitsuki we drop in at Fukiji Temple. This has a very beautiful building standing in a clearing surrounded by gingko and maple trees. This place is usually deserted but, as it is gingko and momiji (maple) season, this night the building is scheduled to be illuminated. Consequently, there are numerous people milling about and more arriving. We don’t stay but return to Matama Beach for another sunset.
Tonight, the tide is higher, so the view is a little different. There is more water and less exposed sand, but as the sun disappears so the sand emerges. We take too many pictures and leave well after the sun has set. As we are driving to Nakatsu michi no eki we realize that the afterglow has become very special and we should have stayed longer to take even more pictures and agonize later over which to delete.
The author is a long term resident of Japan who has and continues to travel the country extensively. Avoiding highways where possible, the author has driven from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Wakanai in Hokkaido covering 20,000 plus kilometres and counting.