23-Feb-2002 -- On Saturday, 02/23/02, I navigated to the latitude and longitude confluence location of N35.00000 and E136.00000 (WGS-84). The location is in a small community outside of Kyoto, Japan. The nearest Japan Rail (JR) station is the Kusatsu station. The confluence location is 22.1 kilometers (13.7 miles) east of the Kyoto train station (a bearing of 85 degrees) and 4.25 kilometers (2.6 miles) southeast (a bearing of 125 degrees) from the Kusatsu station. As best as I could tell, the exact location is ten meters north of the 18th hole tee box of the Japan Ace Golf Club! The exact location is within a small grove of pine trees just to the north of the tee box of the 18th hole. The closest location of my approach, as recorded by the track log, was computed to be within 17.7 meters (58.1 feet).
There was no one within view on the golf course fence. In fact, the golf course actually appeared closed for the season. So, I jumped the fence at the nearest gate to get on to the golf course. I know, I know; golf in Japan is spelled with a capital “G”. Golf course property is very valuable and costs associated with anything to do with golf in Japan are extremely expensive. After I jumped over the fence I knew I’d be caught on the property very soon. As I walked across one of the fairways I could see a couple of the groundskeepers in the distance. When I jumped the golf courses’ fence, I had already decided it would be easier to ask for forgiveness than trying to ask for permission and explaining why I wanted to go to the 18th tee. (By the way, I did not know the location was so near to the 18th tee at the start…)
After jumping the gate, I made a brisk beeline walk towards the N35/E136 confluence location. For those that know me, jumping a fence would have made for good humor and might have made “America’s Funniest Videos”, if it was under any other circumstance. I am just slightly more than “girth-bound” and jumping fences is not one of my more graceful movements. I laugh at myself now, thinking how funny I must have looked when jumping the fence.
As soon as I passed the confluence location, I started to turn at a right angle to narrow the search with the GPS by triangulating the exact confluence location using the course line and my compass. That was when the groundskeepers spotted me.
Three gentlemen immediately came to my location in their groundskeeper work trucks. I was informed politely, but very firmly, to leave the golf course property *NOW*. I snapped the one picture I could take, doing so without adjusting for lighting or exposure. The one photo, nearest to the confluence location, barely shows the small grove of pine trees and the 18th hole distance and par (410 yards, par 4). I was facing nearly due north (350 degrees) when I took the photo. After I took the photo, I was again politely invited to get inside one of their trucks. After I did so, I was whisked from the golf course to their maintenance facility just outside the gate to which I had jumped earlier. They unlocked and opened the gate for me so that I could make a more graceful exit than my previous ungainly entrance. After they saw that I was leaving their golf course and maintenance facility and had started walking down the road, the gentlemen returned to their grounds keeping duties.
After the three gentlemen were out of sight, I returned to the gate (again locked) and took one more photo. This photo was from a more distant viewpoint (the road) while facing south-southeast (150 degrees). Within the photo there are two white markers at the base of the small grove of trees. The best that I can tell, the confluence point is somewhere between those two white markers. The 18th tee box is on a small hill just beyond the small grove of trees.
The walk to the confluence point was almost a straight-line walk from the Kusatsu train station. I was very pleased at how easy it was to get there. The roads went almost straight to the confluence point. I did have to navigate over some public (power-line easement) property. That was rather difficult since it required climbing a very fragile wooden ladder near one of the electric towers. (Check the pictures I’ve submitted…) After that, I had to walk through some wild-growing cane fields adjacent to the power lines and near a popular golf driving range. I walked through the adjacent cane fields until I came to the next road. I wouldn’t have climbed the ladder if I didn’t already know there was a road on the other side of the public easement. I just didn’t want to retrace my chosen route and lose valuable time. Good maps and a compass are required. I did have the compass, but not a very good (English-version) map. You cannot rely upon a GPS receiver alone. If anyone shows interest, I’ll make the GPS track logs available and will send them to anyone that requests them.
To get a feel for the roads, check out the Japan Yahoo web sight for maps. Try using this link.
After returning to my hotel, I was able to post-process the track logs from the GPS. I’ve made two screen captures that show the walking track logs going to and from the confluence location starting at the Kusatsu train station. I was getting rather tired after the 4.25 kilometer walk and it was getting very late in the afternoon. I hailed a taxi for the ride back to the Kusatsu train station. I was glad I did. It was getting cooler as the sun was setting and I had only wore a light jacket and hat to keep warm.
The directions to get to the N35/E136 confluence location from Kyoto, Japan are as follows.
From the main Kyoto train station (N34,98417/E135.75858), take one of the JR trains east to the Kusatsu train station. There are many trains through the Kusatsu train station every day. Be aware that not all trains stop at Kusatsu. The train I took left JR track number 2 at 13:49. I arrived at the Kusatsu train station at 14:12. Kusatsu was the seventh stop after leaving the Kyoto train station. Don’t be afraid to ask the JR personnel for directions. They are very helpful. By the way, I think the atomic clock makers and the makers of the entire GPS system set their clocks to the timetables used by the JR trains. (GRIN!) I have never seen a late train in my few travels around Japan. You should use the time displayed by your GPS receiver to make sure that you are not late for your train. There are so few legitimate excuses for missing a train...