the Degree Confluence Project

Japan : Kyūshū

2.4 km (1.5 miles) NE of Takega-shima (Island), Saiki-shi, Ōita-ken, Kyūshū, Japan
Approx. altitude: 0 m (0 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap world confnav)
Antipode: 33°S 48°W

Accuracy: 20 m (65 ft)
Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: View to the north #3: View to the south with ferry linking Kyushu to Shikoku #4: Confluence location #5: Departing Kobe with the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge in the background #6: Usuki - Tea ceremony #7: Near Takachiho #8: Yokagura dance at the Takachiho Shrine #9: Tsujun aqueduct near Yabe #10: Kumamoto Port

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  33°N 132°E  

#1: Confluence N33 E132

(visited by Fabrice Blocteur)

Japanese Narrative

10-Aug-2003 -- According to Buddhist tradition, O-Bon (Festival of the Dead) is a time when ancestors return to earth. On the first day, an open-air fire welcomes spirits of ancestors, and on he night of the last day another open-air fire is made to see them off to the other world. Since most Japanese try to return to their native village for the festival, this is one of the most crowded times of year to travel. I had visited the southern part of Kyushu Island in the spring and I had decided to visit the northern part for my 10 days O-Bon holidays. The circuit I had planned included four confluences.

I left Maizuru by motorbike on August 9th at around 2 pm under heavy rain. The day before, planes, ferries and trains had been canceled due to Typhoon Etau that was still raking the eastern part of the nation with high winds and pounding rain. When it finally turned into a tropical depression two days later, twelve people had died and eight others were missing. Fortunately, by the time I got on board the ferry at Kobe at 6 pm, things had started to get back to normal on the western part of the archipelago. The next morning at sunrise, I got off the ferry at Oita.

I first went to Usuki where a collection of some 10th to 13th century Buddha images can be seen. More than 60 images lie in a series of niches in a ravine and are considered the most artistic of their kind in all of Japan. Some are complete statues, whereas others have only the heads remaining. A tea ceremony was taking place nearby in the middle of a field of blooming lotus. The first confluence I had decided to visit was less than 30 km away from Usuki.

The confluence 33N 132E is off the coast, six km from land. As in some of the previous confluences I visited at sea, I thought the biggest difficulty would be to find a boat. But as I was riding south along the coast near the small village of Nabutobana, I saw a five-meter fishing boat coming back from sea and took a chance. I waited until the boat docked at the pier and ask the old fisherman on board if he knew where I could rent one. The reason why I wanted to rent a boat must have sounded plausible because five minutes later I was on board heading for the confluence at a speed of 10 knots. There was no GPS on board and I had to rely on mine to find the confluence. It took less than an hour to find it, snap a few shots and come back. The old man didn’t want me to pay for all his trouble and I had to insist before he finally accepted a small tip.

After visiting the confluence, I cut across the southern part of Oita prefecture, passed east of Mt Sobo and entered Miyazaki prefecture near the mountain village of Takachiho where I decided to spend the night. According to the legend, this is where Ninigi-no-mikoto, a descendant of the sun goddess Amaterasu, is said to have made landfall in Japan. The villagers also claim that Takachiho is the site of Ama-no-Iwato, the ‘boulder door of heaven’. Here Amaterasu hid and night fell across the world. To lure her out, another goddess performed a dance so comically lewd that the sun goddess was soon forced to emerge from hiding to find out what was happening. The owner of the place where I was staying took me after dinner to see a performance of that dance at the Takachiho Shrine.

When I left Takachiho the next morning on my way to the confluence 33°N 130°E, the weather had become uncertain with dark clouds forming toward the West where I was heading. I rode my motorbike south of the gigantic Mt Aso volcano caldera, where I had been a couple of months before, skipped the city of Kumamoto where I had seen the castle and famous garden, and boarded the ferry at Kumamoto port at around noon. I was now leaving the “Land of Myths and Legends” enveloping Japan’s cultural birth en route for a five-day journey through what was left of Japan’s Christian past.

Japanese Narrative

10-Aug-2003 -- 仏教の伝統によると、お盆(死者を祀る行事)とは先祖がこの世に帰ってくる期間のことである。お盆の初日、迎え火で先祖を迎え、最後の日、夜送り火であの世へと送り出す。たいていの日本人はこの行事に合わせ故郷に帰ろうとするので、旅行するには1年のうちでも最も混雑した時期の1つである。春、九州南部を訪れた私は、お盆休みの10日間で北部を訪れることにした。計画した経路には4つのConfluenceが含まれていた。






Translated by Yoshimi Ishida

 All pictures
#1: Confluence N33 E132
#2: View to the north
#3: View to the south with ferry linking Kyushu to Shikoku
#4: Confluence location
#5: Departing Kobe with the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge in the background
#6: Usuki - Tea ceremony
#7: Near Takachiho
#8: Yokagura dance at the Takachiho Shrine
#9: Tsujun aqueduct near Yabe
#10: Kumamoto Port
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)
In the Saiki-wan bay, with view of land on three sides.