the Degree Confluence Project

Japan : Chūgoku

3.6 km (2.2 miles) WNW of Tsukatsuno, Misaki-cho, Okayama-ken, Chūgoku, Japan
Approx. altitude: 317 m (1040 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap world confnav)
Antipode: 35°S 46°W

Accuracy: 5 m (16 ft)
Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: WGS84 and Tokyo datum #3: A view from across the golf course #4: Route 429 #5: Tsuyama castle #6: Sakura #7: Hanami in Tsuyama #8: Yo-zakura #9: Mitsukuri Genpo (1799 - 1863) #10: About 20 meters east of the confluence

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  35°N 134°E (visit #1)  

#1: A view of the confluence N36 E134

(visited by Fabrice Blocteur)

Japanese Narrative

English Narrative

06-Apr-2003 -- According to a French proverb Jamais deux sans trois, or "Never two without three". After doing my first confluence (N35 E135) in February and my second (N36 E136) in March, it was time to do the third one in April. According to the ancient Japanese moon calendar, April was originally called uzuki, meaning "the month of eggs", and symbolizing new beginnings. And it is truly a month of renewal for Japanese people: the academic year starts in April, as does the financial year.

If you ask any Japanese what symbolizes this renewal, he or she will undoubtedly answer: "sakura!" (cherry blossom). Wherever you go at this time of the year is simply gorgeous. You see Japan's national flower everywhere with blossom ranging from pale green through pure white, delicate pink to a dark shade of rose. And as TV news report the progress of the sakura-zensen (the front-line of sakura blossoms) moving north, this little flower penetrates the innermost core of the Japanese psyche. Couples, entire families and coworkers gather together, ideally under a cherry tree, to appreciate the beauty of the pink petals. This special event called Hanami, literally meaning "watching flowers", takes place during the very short life of the sakura. Partiers bring food, set up barbecues and drink lots of sake to show their highest praise for the renewal of the year and the coming of spring.

Going from my house in Maizuru to Tsuyama where the confluence is located should have been relatively fast and easy. A highway can take you there in just over two hours. But it was sunny, and it was Sunday, and spring had finally arrived: a perfect combination to ride a motorbike through the Japanese countryside. I was on the road by 8:00am and an hour later I got on Route 429. This old "national road" takes you into the center of the Chugoku region, the "middle lands" of western Honshu, the heart of Japan's main island. But the surroundings make it hard to believe that we are in one of the most populated and industrialized parts of the world. Two hour's drive down Route 429 takes you through a succession of mountain passes and isolated villages, right across Hyogo Prefecture to Shibiki Pass. The fact that Japan is 80% mountainous is difficult to believe in Tokyo or Osaka, but not here. I entered into Okayama prefecture and less than an hour later I was in Tsuyama.

I headed directly south of the city to a golf club that, according to the map, was supposed to be very near the confluence. I entered the club, got off the motorbike, walked to a wide space overlooking the entire course and turned on my GPS. It showed that the confluence was across the golf club. I went back on the motorbike, got around the club on a small local road which took me less than 80 meters from the point. From there I just had to follow the navigation pointer and walk directly to the N35 E134 confluence.

After taking some pictures, I double backed to Tsuyama. If the sakura symbolizes an annual renewal, Tsuyama in its own way contributed to a renewal of Japan in the late 19th Century. At the end of the Edo era, the study of Western science and culture became popular. Among the scholars of what was then called Western learning, many came from Tsuyama, the most prominent of all being Genpo Mitsukuri. He and his followers not only adopted advanced Western knowledge in the field of medicine, but also in natural and social sciences -- thus adding greatly to the development of learning in Japan, and paving the way for the country's rapid modernization after the Meiji Era dawned in 1868.

Every year the city of Tsuyama holds a Sakura festival. The 5000 cherry trees in Kakuzan Park are famous for being one of the best places for viewing cherry blossoms in western Japan. And the best time to see them is in the evening when the cherry blossom can be seen by the light of lanterns against a backdrop of the castle ruins. Here hundreds of people gather to enjoy yo-zakura (night-time cherry blossoms), making that festival an utterly enchanting event, a colorful Japanese renewal.

Japanese Narrative

05-Apr-2003 -- フランスに、「2度あることは3度」ということわざがある。2月に”北緯35°東経135°”、3月に ”北緯36°東経136°”の交差点を訪れた私は、3つ目を4月に訪れることにした。陰暦では、4月はもともと、”卯月(卵の月)”と呼ばれ、新しい命の象徴であったという。まさに、4月は日本の人々にとって新しい出発の月だ。学校も会社もすべて4月から始まる。






Translated by Eiji & Yuko Hashimoto

 All pictures
#1: A view of the confluence N36 E134
#2: WGS84 and Tokyo datum
#3: A view from across the golf course
#4: Route 429
#5: Tsuyama castle
#6: Sakura
#7: Hanami in Tsuyama
#8: Yo-zakura
#9: Mitsukuri Genpo (1799 - 1863)
#10: About 20 meters east of the confluence
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)