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February 13, 2016 - Toyo to Yasu via Aki
On a very rainy Saturday - I drove from Toyo to Yase which is located relatively close to Kochi. The main attraction in this area is the rugged coast which is actually quite reminiscent of both Wakayama prefecture and Noto Peninsula. Just like both of these locations - the area is sparsely populated and this is the section of the Shikoku 88 temples where there is 40 km's between two temples (from memory)...
For today, I visited the following locations which often were a reasonable distance from one another.
(1) Hotsumisakiji temple
(2) Shinsho-ji Temple
(3) Kongochoji Temple
(4) Aki Old House
(5) Aki History Museum & Castle Ruins
(6) Aki Calligraphy Museum
(7) Aki Former Samurai Residence
After a 40KM drive from Toyo beach I finally made it to Hotsumisakiji temple which was up a very windy road up a hill. This temple was quite atmospheric due to the fog but it was also raining quite heavily - so much so that I had to drive down and buy an umbrella so I could get out of my car. Do note that there are not many places to buy anything before Murudo as I think I did not see a convenience store for 30KM's which is quite rare in Japan.
Kongochoji Temple is a reasonably close drive from the previous temple and is also one of the 88 Shikoku temples. This temple looks nice from the bottom but is very underwhelming from the top (apart from the view). For me - I remember it more for a little store which sells one of my favourite Japanese sweets - two fresh pancakes with red bean stuff in the middle.
Kongochoji Temple was the third temple I visited today and is most memorable for the windy road which can be seen on the map above. Ironically - this is nothing compared to my failed visit to Konomineji Temple with the rain pouring so heavily for 5 KM's of windy roads where I could not even turn around or my other failed venture to Jardin de Monet where I accidentally went down an unnamed road for 7km's with no-where to turn (once again).
Aki is an old castle town which is located roughly 40-50 km's from Kochi. This pretty little down reminds me a bit of Izushi in Tottori prefecture which was also an old castle town. Aki was suggested to my by a few people on the forum and it probably salvaged the day as I did not see much apart from this town. If the weather was better - I would have enjoyed this town even more.
My first stop in Aki was an old house in the previous samurai quarter. This small museum which consists of a building and some small gardens was free - but they did ask you to put down your name and country which is something I was only more than happy to do.
Aki castle ruins is home to two different museums - both which cost 300 yen to enter (or both for 540 yen). The first museum (picture below) is the History museum and the second museum was the Calligraphy museum. Note that there was no photography in both museums which seems to be standard for Japan.
The history museum had some interesting things but once again my favourite section was the girls day section which took up half of the exhibit. It's an odd thing to say - but I would normally find dolls highly boring but for some reason these Japanese ones are interesting for some reason - maybe as I see them as a type of folk art.
The Yataro Iwasaki Former Residence is a short 2 km drive from Aki castle ruins and is free to enter. This also seems to have been an old samurai residence.
Eikangura is around a 20 minute drive from Aki and is home to 20 or so of Eikan's works - who is a famous painter. As mentioned in my last post - I'm getting sick of art but I really liked the realism of his work along with the amount of blood in his work. It costs 500 yen to enter and I was once again annoyed that no photos are allowed but I also understand.
For tomorrow, I will be visiting Kochi and it's surrounds to see what it has to offer. The biggest problem seems to be seeing how much I can fit into one day as I don't want to try and do too much which is something I often try and do.
Aki Tourism Bureau: http://www.akikanko.or.jp/ (in Japanese)
Eikangura: http://ekingura.com/pdf/ekingura_eigo.pdf (English pdf)