My latest Post.

This view,this beauty
A tear unbidden
Creeps into my eye.

My stay is short
But I shall return to this place
If only my life is long enough.

Such beauty
Gazing upon it
I hope my years are many.

Bokusui Wakayama.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Route-5 - Kamo Town to Koka City.

Yours Truly.
   Route-5 is another of those roads I have either commuted along, or crossed over, while on one of my outings. Like the Mikuni-goe Rindo (Mikuni Forest Road), I have treated route-5 in much the same way, by not paying much attention to what lies along-side or in the vicinity. So I decided it was time to change that.
   Commencing at the junction with route-163, in the town of Kamo (map location), route-5 passes through the town of Wazuka (famous for it's Tea), as-well-as the settlements of Harayama, Yubune, Nakayama and Shigaraki, before completing it's journey at the junction of route-307 at Koka City (map location). For the main part the road is joined by the Wazuka River, albeit in a less direct course, and, as we progress,  gradually decreases from a river to a stream before disappearing into the hills to it's source.
Sekibutsu Miroku.
     After spending the past hour cycling along '307, with it's heavy traffic, noise and dust, it was great to finally get onto a country road and into cruise mode. Four kilometers in and my first point-of-interest, the Sekibutsu Miroku (map location). The carving depicts the image of Maitreya Buddha and, according to the plaque, was created in April of 1300. As it was on the opposite side of the river, I wasn't prepared to go the extra few kilometers to get there, so I shall share this video, taken during a hike into the area.
Sekibutsu Pagoda.
   A few hundred meters on, and my next POI. The Sekubutsu Pagoda (map location) is a monument in remembrance to the "Great Yamashiro Flood" of 1953. During the course of the clean-up, the many stone carvings that make up this creation, were gathered and used to make this monument.
Wazuka Town.

   Next stop, Wazuka Town. It's here one gets the first glimpse of what this area is famous for - Tea. Tea, as far as the eye can see, and in some very isolated of places. Standing on the bridge (map location), at the junction of routes-5 & 62, and looking about the hills that surround this town, one can see hillside plantations with some great cycling & hiking tracks, tracks used by farmers as access to their crops. In front of you is Mount Taiko, which is in fact the Kofun, or Burial Mound of Prince Asaka (video), the 5th son of Emperor Shomu.
Route-5/Tokaido Road Junction.
    Before long I am leaving Wazuka Town behind and arrive at the Harayama Junction (map location). It is at this location the Tokaido Road, after it's descent from Jubu-san (Mt Jubu) & Kontai-ji Temple, makes it's way through the village & rice-fields before it's ascent on the opposite side of the valley, to connect with the Mikuni-goe Rindo. It's hard to imagine what this intersection, if there was an intersection, looked like some 400-years ago, when people were migrating through here. I doubt if the bus-stop was here then.
   From this point the valley closes-in and the road and river follow each other more closely then opens again, a few kilometers on, and a couple of tunnels, at the settlement of Yubune (map location). As I pass through the settlement the road becomes very narrow with the houses bordering right on the edge of the thoroughfare (as seen in the image on the left). With the occasional truck passing through, life must be hell inside these dwellings. One wrong move and someone may have a Mack Truck parked in their front room.
entrance to
Hongan-jinja Shrine.
   As I begin to exit Yubune I find a sheltered area to stop for a break and check-out a small roadside stall selling fruit and veges. I get my video camera out to record the scenery and, as I am recording, I discover a concrete Torii set amongst the tea plantation. Of the four times I have passed through this area, I never noticed this. So, with cameras in hand, I ascend the steps to discover what lies amongst the trees. Hongan-jinja (video) is made up of three small Hokora, or miniature Shinto Shrines, quite common in small areas such as Yubune. 
   Just around the corner is the settlement of Nakayama and, like it's neighbour, the houses are very close to the road edge. Earlier this year, while waiting for a bus to take me to Kamo (this is the terminus), I had an hour to spare. So I decided to check-out and wander through the settlement. While doing so, I discovered this awesome temple overlooking the houses below. Taiti-Tera Temple is well worth the time to visit.
Map Location.

   As I exit the valley confines of Yubune and Nakayama, the area opens up and more tea plantations. On this occasion right down to the very edge of the road, as seen in the image on the left. Also take note of how narrow the road is. A couple of kilometers back, two trucks had a hell of a job passing each other and one, towing a vehicle trailer, had to back-up to allow the other to pass.
Map Location.
   I have reached a junction, and the time to farewell the Wazuka River. At this point the river heads into a surrounding valley and it's source. I have hiked and cycled the trail that accompanies the river (now a stream) on two occasions, and there is some terrific scenery to be experienced.
Map Location.

   A few hundred meters on and my next point-of-interest - this extensive picnic/recreation area. The site covered the best part of a kilometer, with play areas, sheltered dining sheds, walking trails and, through the middle of it, a stream. I have placed this in my "must return" list, with my family.
   A short distance along and I reach the border separating Kyoto and Shiga Prefectures (map location). After the gradual incline of the past 19-kilometers, I feel a distinctive change and freewheel into the city of Koka ( the stream accompanying the road is now flowing in the same direction). The area is made famous because of it's pottery making and, if pottery and ceramics is for you, this is heaven.
Map Location.
   I soon discover a pottery maker that is open and, with the permission of the potter, I take a look through his gallery. If I was in a car, and had plenty of money, I would have gone on a shopping-spree. This site has also been placed on my "must return" list. 
Map Location.
   As I come around a sweeping bend, I notice a large volume of traffic in the distance, and this sign informing me that the junction of route-307 and route-5 are just up ahead. My journey-of-discovery is about to come to an end. It's been an awesome outing but, there again, all my outings are awesome. That's the way it is with me. And that's why I am an "Outdoorholic" . I hope you have enjoyed this journey, as much as I have enjoyed bringing it to you.
   If you do plan to experience Route-5, regardless of your mode, don't be in a hurry. Especially when you arrive at the many settlements. Find a place to park, then take a leisurely stroll. You won't be disappointed with what you find. 

                So, in signing-off, I shall bid you farewell until the next time. 

   Full video of Route-5.

   Map of the course -   

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