|Travel Reports by mfedley||view profile of mfedley|
|Note: The opinions and views expressed in this user report are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of japan-guide.com.|
December 31, 2018 - Obscure Kyushu - Munakata to Amasuka
For my second day in Japan, I travelled from Munakata in Fukuoka Prefecture down to Kami-Amasuka in Kumamoto Prefecture. The distance between the two towns is a bit over 200 kilometers which made today one of my main driving days for the next two weeks. Thankfully, I discovered some nice stops and detours along the way.
My first stop for this post was the last stop from yesterday, Miyayidake Shrine which was in the throws of getting ready for New Years celebrations. I also wanted to note that some photos (such as above) have lighter area on the right side which was caused by a smudge on the lens. This should be fixed for the next post.
This shrine was much bigger than any of the Okonoshima Shrines visited yesterday and also had lots of people paying the shrine a visit. It's also home to the biggest "knot thing" I've seen on a shrine.
My second stop for this post was Nanzoin Temple located roughly 40 kilometers from Munakata and also on the outskirts of Fukuoka. This temple has been suggested to me quite a few times on the Japan-Guide forum, so I eventually decided to visit it. Note that there also seems to be a train station close to the entrance of the temple.
Unlike many larger temples, Nanzoin is free to enter and has been on the current site since around 1899 due to anti-buddhist sentiment during the time. The temple looks quite small at first, but includes many walkways and paths on the side of a hill which gives this temple a very eclectic feel.
The temple itself is mainly known for it's 41 meter reclining buddha which claims to be the largest of it's kind (bronze!) in the world. Even though this temple is well set up for international tourists, this is a working temple and large foreign bus groups are not allowed to enter the temple. This has mainly got to do with loud tour groups in a place of worship I guess.
Around another hours drive from Nanzoin is the UNESCO heritage town on Miike located near Omuta. This town has a large number of Meiji Era buildings which were linked to Coal Mining. There are 8 locations in Japan which were nominated for the UNESCO Meiji Industrial Revolution, with this town (and Misumi West Port - visited later in post) being one of the main locations.
My first stop was the Miike Colliery Manda Pit which costs 400 yen to enter and has several tours in Japanese tours per day. Note that this site was closed when visited due to New Year's vacation but it looks to be an excellent site with strong English signage which can be seen from the outside!
My second stop in this town was Miike Coal Railway which is free to enter and also includes guides which show you around the building itself. It was reasonably interesting and some english signs with explanations are dotted around the site. The main thing I am thankful for was the 70 page booklet (in English) on the Meiji Industrial Revolution and a sweet little booklet on the town written by the local Junior High School in English.
If you want to know what this is - it's used to being trains up and down from the main shaft.
My last stop in Miike is the Miyaura Coal Memorial Park which was once home to one of the coal pits. It's free to enter but is a little difficult to find as it's in the middle of an industrial park.
It should be noted that Miike has plenty more locations (including high quality locations) to visit but they were closed for the New Years vacation. For people interested in mining and Meiji history, it's worth coming out here but a car will make it easier to get around.
My last stop for the day was the pretty Misumi West Port which is located around 2/3 kilometers North of the Amakusa Turnoff from the main island on Kyushu from the Kumamoto side. This town is also a part of the UNESCO Meiji Industrial Heritage group which can be seen through the large number of period buildings.
This compact town has around 10-12 buildings which can be reached all within a 7-8 minutes walk from one-another. It's almost like someone decided to build a model village in the one location!
Many of the buildings can be entered for free (one cost 200 yen but I went straight out when I saw it was just some posters with information) during normal daylight hours. The town can be visited easily within one hour and there is also some carparking and eateries. It will also be quite photogenic at night as well.
Located slightly above the town is the Magistrates Court. Limited English information is available here compared to other locations in the town.
This was my last stop for the day, which was located a 1 minute walk from the Magistrates court. As expected, it was closed due to holidays. It did have a nice view of the bay though.
It's an odd thing to say, but I enjoyed today much more than expected. My interest in Meiji History is much stronger than it was 2/3 years ago, while my interest in traditional buildings is now starting to wain. For tomorrow, I'll be covering some of the main sites around Amakusa.
Omuta Tourism Bureau (Japanese): http://www.sekoia.org
Misumi West Port: https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4589.html