It has been some time since my last 'Tiki-Tour' through the fabulous Japanese countryside,three months to be exact. With my other rides - commuting or exercise rides - I just get on my bike and go-for-it. Today's ride would allow me to relax, take-it-easy, take photos and sightsee. And the weather couldn't have been more perfect - clear, calm and warm. From home I made my way to the route-71 bridge that spans the Kuzu River then followed the cycle-way to Kizu Town.
The town is divided into two halves, the old and the modern. The old comprises of narrow lanes and wooden houses that, in some cases, date some hundred years or more. The modern is made-up of wide avenues and sparkling clean abodes. In recent years a lot of excavation has taken place in Kizu, and many of these lanes and houses have lost their character. A new bridge has been constructed over the Kizu River connecting with a new road giving a more direct access to Nara. My route skirted around the center of the town and took me to the hilly area on the outskirts, and the narrow lanes, like in the image on the left. Here, I stop to admire a Persimmon tree full of fruit.
Before long my environment changes and my sealed lane soon turns-into a leaf & branch strewn track.
And, soon after, I find myself dismounting my bike so as to make my way through a quagmire that is too dangerous to attempt cycling through. At the other end I emerge overlooking the town of Kamo. From here I make my way along narrow lanes that allow farmers access to their rice-fields.
My next stop is at the Kanonji Abutment. This is a remnant of the Daibutsu Railway, which passed-through here from the late 19th and early 20th century before being closed and replaced with the Kansai Line. The new line can be seen in the rear of the image. From the Kamo Station, to this point, both lines shared the same route but, from here they took a different route into Nara City.
From here my course takes me through the settlement of Kamocho Takata and . . . .
. . . . Yasaka-jinja Shrine. I have passed-through this area several times over the years but never realized there was a shrine tucked in amongst the trees. It was while researching 'Google Maps' for this trip, that I noticed the shrine marked on the map.
What was of interest to me, was the four Komainu, or Lion Dogs, standing guard at the entrance to the complex. Normally there are only two. What impressed me most about Yasaka-jinja, was the serenity and beauty encompassing the area - overlooking a pond and engulfed in trees.
From here I cross over route-44, a road connecting Kamo Town with Nara City, and through more rice fields. A couple of months ago, these fields would have been a sea of green as the rice was approaching harvest time. These lanes are so narrow in places that, if I was to encounter a vehicle, I would need to alight my bike to allow them to pass.
My course now takes me through dense bush before emerging at another rice growing area. My lane, again very narrow, is a popular walking course for local residents and their pets. Today was no exception, with many out taking advantage of the Autumn-like conditions. I reach a junction and cross a small bridge, where I encounter this collection of religious icons. Interesting finding a large collection, in such an isolated place. From this point my path is up a steep incline that tests my stamina, but I make it and continue on through the settlement of Kamocho Higashiokami, where I link-up with the trail knows as 'Touno Sekibutsu no Sato', or the Pilgrimage to Sekibutsu.
This 14km trail encompasses two famous temples - Gansen-ji and Joruri-ji - taking-in along the way a collection of carved religious icons, or Sekibutsu. My first encounter is here at Karasunotsubo, where I watch the owner of these three large hounds, and his attempt at getting them to pose long enough to take their photo.
Nearby is this magnificent carving, simply titled - Warai (which is the Japanese translation for happy/laughing/smiling ) and is an image of Buddha sitting in the Lotus Position.
As I made my way to my next destination, out of the corner of my eye I spotted this small Jizo almost camouflaged by leaves and moss. I am still fascinated at where one can come-across these stone icons.
I pass through two more small settlements, before arriving at . . . .
. . . . Morihachimangu-jinja Shrine. Taking a look at the Torii and Shrine, I got the feeling they had recently been repainted. In the past I have used this site to take-a-break and have a bite-to-eat but, as it was sheltered by many tall trees & dense bush, it was too cold.
So I took a quick look-around, before moving on. This Chozuya, or purification fountain impressed me as did this Sekibutsu.
This being a Tiki-Tour, I forgo the sealed lane in favor of a muddy path, that takes me up a hill and behind the shrine. I descent, and weave my way through some very-narrow lanes that require me to exercise caution (map location). With the houses built so close to each other, I need to be on the lookout for anyone or anything that may be exiting their property. Any lapse in concentration could spell disaster
I navigate my way successfully, and enter a narrow path, as can be seen in the above panorama, which heralds the halfway point of the days outing - 35km. The small Jizo, set-in the bank (image on the left) reminds me of the very first time I passed through this way: it was a hot day and I decided to break here and take on some water. Standing here I had the feeling someone, or something, was looking over my shoulder. When I turned, there it was. As I mentioned earlier, these fellas pop-up in some of the most isolated of places.
My descent from here is through some tricky terrain and I need to watch my speed. With all the leaves strewn on the ground, it's difficult to know what the surface is like below. Like falling into a ditch when walking through deep snow. I re-emerge on the outskirts of Kamo Town and scoot-around the perimeter until I reach the Kizu River bridge.
Crossing the bridge, I then take a track along the top of a flood bank and descend, and make my way to Ebisu-jinja Shrine. This complex is situated amongst a crop-of-trees in the middle of farming country. A kilometer or so away is route-163, a very busy road at the best of times, that I take to the settlement of Kamikoma, part of Yamashiro Town. From here, it's back home, and a nice hot shower.
As always, thank-you for reading this post, and -
Until next time,
Course details - https://ridewithgps.com/trips/19573392