I’ve not been able to concentrate as well on work as I would like for the last few days. People may be able to guess at the reasons. The situation in Tohoku is still grim, but according to news reports on NHK this morning the roads are now clear to most of the affected area, and the railways are running into Morioka (in Iwate) both from the north and the west, so supplies are starting to get to the people who need them. The government has now requisitioned 500 petrol tankers, and is shipping the necessary fuel to the north. I guess that means we can anticipate temporary shortages everywhere else in Japan.

The Fukushima reactor is still not in a safe condition, obviously, but it’s still a long way from here. Judging from the comments on the Guardian stories on the issue, there are a lot of people in the west who have forgotten the earthquake and tsunami. “Why didn’t they X on day 0?” Because on day 0 there was a tidal wave that killed around 15,000 people and washed several towns away; the nuclear power station wasn’t the highest priority then. It’s just possible that it is now, but until there are steady supplies of fuel, food, and water to all the evacuation sites, it won’t be clear that it is.

Anyway, Kawasaki is still calm. I went shopping for my lunch again, and the local supermarket had bottled water in significant amounts, and quite a bit of rice in stock. Still no milk, and only one variety of instant noodles, but I got my lunch from the deli section. They were also out of flour, which is annoying, as we’re about to run out of plain flour, which we need to make bread. I may have to ask Yuriko to bring some back from Nagoya.

At the moment, the plan is for Yuriko to come back as planned, as she wants to keep working, and Mayuki’s day care centre is planning to restart normal meal service from next week, less milk, which suggests that they think things are getting back to normal. The Tokaido Shinkansen, which she’ll use to get to Nagoya, is running more-or-less normally, apart from going a bit slow for the first part of the journey, to save energy.

Talking of that, the planned blackouts are happening, but we have yet to be affected. I have a theory that the aged mother of one of the Tepco directors lives in Century Town… Actually, they have only been targeting part of each of the listed areas at a time, so I suspect that we will get a power cut tonight. Fortunately, Yuriko’s parents sent us batteries and candles from Nagoya, so we’ll be able to cope.

I did get some work done this morning, sending a proposal off to a company that’s offered me potential work since my teaching is so disrupted. I’m hoping to get some editing done this afternoon; I’ve set things up so that I can do it on Yuriko’s laptop if there is a power cut.

I see that Japan is dropping off the top of the news agenda, replaced by plans to bomb Libya. That’s fair; while the problems here won’t be solved for quite a while, they should, I hope, stop being newsworthy soon.

Consular Advice

The UK Embassy has just changed its consular advice, to say that British nationals in Tokyo and to the north of Tokyo should consider leaving the area.

Well, we’re in Kawasaki, which is (just) south of Tokyo, so we’re fine.

Actually, I’m sure that they really mean that British nationals in the Kanto region or Tohoku should consider leaving the area, which would include us. So, I’ve considered it, and I’m not going. This is, after all, my home, and quite apart from that I need to be here if I’m going to do any work at all. So, for the time being, I’m not planning to move. The power cuts have not affected us so far, even though the television announced this morning that we were having a power cut at that very moment. Clearly, the nuclear power station is a bit worrying, but it doesn’t look likely to become a serious problem for Kawasaki. It’s clearly a really big problem on the site, and for the immediate vicinity, but that’s no reason to leave Tokyo.

There are shortages of certain things, but distribution is happening, so they will probably be back to normal soon. I’m buying each day’s lunch on that day, if I can, so that we still have things in stock, and today the local supermarket had takeaway lunches, lots of fruit and vegetables, and rice back in stock. Milk, bread, and noodles were sold out, however. The situation was about as far from panic buying as is possible; it wasn’t even particularly busy.

So, since Yuriko and Mayuki were planning to go to Nagoya on Saturday in any case, and we have train tickets booked, I do plan for them to go. Mayuki is about to run out of milk, so best to send her somewhere she can get it. I’m also looking at having them stay there for a bit longer than planned, but that will depend on how things are looking by the weekend. I’m not planning to leave until and unless the government tells me to evacuate.


The situation in Kawasaki is still much the same as yesterday, but the stress is starting to get to people, including me.

There was a fairly strong earthquake last night. Apparently it was completely independent of Friday’s, and not an aftershock, but that doesn’t help people to calm down. There are no food shortages yet, but there are limited shortages of petrol, and so distribution is not quite working at full stretch. We don’t know when things will be back to normal, because no-one does. The rolling blackouts don’t always happen as scheduled, which may be good for infrastructure and safety, but is probably worse for stress than if they did cut the electricity off every time they said they would. The continuing problems at the Fukushima nuclear plant certainly don’t help, either, even if the chance of Kawasaki being directly affected is extremely remote. It looks like most day-care centres are sending the children home early or closing altogether, and Yuriko was told that the day care could only provide rice and miso soup and lunch time, so she should supply the rest of lunch. On a personal level, my teaching has been greatly disrupted. Although all my students seem to be keen to restart lessons as soon as possible, it’s not clear when that will be. Next week? The week after that?

Add to that the fact that when you look at the news from Tohoku, it’s devastating. In addition to the death and destruction (the toll may pass 10,000 dead), there are about 500,000 people in evacuation shelters, where they really are short of food, water, and warmth. It has started snowing in the area today, increasing the problems. Nevertheless, they all seem to be calmly doing everything they can, including my student in Fukushima Prefecture, who is having a lesson today. I think this means she wins “My Most Dedicated Student”. It really makes you feel quite pathetic for getting stressed over such minor things. And that, of course, is stressful.

As a result, quite a few of Yuriko’s friends with young children are talking about going to friends or relatives in western Japan for a few days. It’s not panicked flight from the city, but rather seems to be a desire to get away from the stress. We might do the same. Yuriko and Mayuki were planning to go to Nagoya this weekend anyway — I bought the shinkansen tickets weeks ago, so they have reserved seats. They will still go as planned, unless something happens to disrupt that, but we are looking at the situation before deciding whether they’ll come back as planned. It might be better for them to stay down there for a bit.

What we really want to avoid is people in the area around Tokyo becoming a problem that needs attention, because all the resources really need to be focused on Tohoku. Talking of which, I need to go the post office and donate to the Red Cross while there are no blackouts scheduled for this area.

New Blind

We had a new blind fitted in the bedroom today. It looks very nice.

I mention this because international media reports seem to be suggesting that Tokyo is caught up in mass panic, teetering on the verge of social breakdown and ever greater catastrophe.

This is very, very far from being the case.

I was teaching in Ochanomizu again today, and it took a bit longer to get there than usual, because only local trains were running, and only about half the normal number. “A bit longer” however, is “half an hour longer”, so an extra third. That’s well within the normal range for disruption caused by a breakdown or an accident. Some reports appear to be suggesting that Tokyo is suffering food shortages. That’s also not the case. I ate lunch at the food court in Mizonokuchi, which was operating normally. You know, people paying for sandwiches and noodles and deep-fried octopus, rather than having rice balls handed out by rescue workers. It is true that there are long queues for petrol. On the way home I saw one petrol station that had sold out, another that was selling, and another where a tanker was refilling it. I’d just like to draw attention to that last one. Our local supermarket was selling fried chicken, sushi, and fresh meat and fish as normal, although they were out of rice, and batteries and torches have vanished. But then, when the power company is promising to cut off your power for three hours every day (and do they? No. Can’t keep promises, these people) you quite naturally buy batteries for your torches.

But panic sweeping the city, as Reuters reported? Absolutely not.

Japan is also rather less obsessed with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant than the rest of the world. Obviously, it is a serious concern, but everyone has been evacuated from the 20km radius (the reactors are on the coast, which partially caused the problem, but also halves the area that needs to be evacuated), and radiation levels everywhere except inside the plant are still safe. It could still develop into a nasty accident, but not into a world-threatening disaster. I think there are two reasons for this obsession. First, it’s nuclear. Let’s all be scared of “nuclear”. A lot of people are saying that this shows that nuclear power isn’t safe, but it’s still possible that the result of this will be “You can hit a forty-year-old power plant with a magnitude 9 earthquake and a 6m tsunami in quick succession, and get nothing more than a highly localised radiation leak”, which sounds pretty safe to me. We won’t know whether it’s safe until it’s over. The thirty-year-old plant 10km along the coast seems to have shut down safely with no leakage, incidentally. Second, it’s the only bit of the disaster that looks like it might get worse, and everyone loves to speculate about how bad it could get. (The prominence given to the collapse of the Japanese stock market rather supports this interpretation.)

Even people who are being supportive of Japan and tweeting their support for the fifty workers risking their lives at the nuclear plant tend to forget the hundreds and thousands of workers risking their lives to rescue people from collapsed houses in towns devastated by tsunamis. There are fires burning, gas tanks exploding, constant aftershocks that could collapse the structures, and the ever-present risk of another tsunami, if there’s a large aftershock in the wrong place. The rescuers are doing a fantastic job, but not just at the nuclear power plant.

It’s often said that if you read news coverage of a subject you know something about, you lose all faith in the media’s accuracy. That’s certainly the case here. Of course, most of them don’t speak Japanese, can’t get out of Tokyo, and need to file a dramatic report. Even if there was a well-organised flow of reliable information, it would be hard for them to use it, and, given the genuine chaos in parts of northeastern Japan, there most certainly isn’t.

So, ignore the picture the international media is painting. Tokyo is fine. I don’t need emergency shipments of supplies. (Yuriko’s parents are sending some more batteries and extra flour, which will cover us perfectly well.) The further north you go, however, the bigger the problems get, so if you want to do something practical, I recommend donating to your local Red Cross, because they will channel funding to the Japanese Red Cross, which is already working on the ground.

The American Red Cross

The British Red Cross

Rolling Blackouts

The Kanto area (around Tokyo) is going to be subject to rolling blackouts until at least the end of April, and possibly beyond that, into summer and winter. At least tomorrow, we are likely to be without power from 13:50 to 19:00 local time; I don’t know whether the same time block will be maintained, or whether they will move it around the day.

This will affect my ability to communicate with the rest of the world, and to work, but it shouldn’t cause any more serious issues. It won’t affect my blog, as the server is in the USA…

Road to Recovery

Tokyo is getting back to normal, with electricity generally restored and trains running again. Supermarkets and convenience stores are still short of fresh goods, suggesting that distribution has not got back to normal yet, and TEPCO, the electricity company, is warning of the possibility of rolling blackouts, as many of its power stations are in Tohoku, and won’t be back online for a week or so in the best case. Things might be a bit inconvenient here for a couple of weeks, but that’s about the worst of it for us.

Fukushima, Miyagi, and Iwate prefectures have, however, been devastated. Most of the emphasis in the news has been on the coastal towns that were all but obliterated by the tsunami, but we also know that very strong earthquakes struck areas further inland. The likely death toll is being revised upwards as contact is re-established with various areas, and now it does look likely to pass 10,000.

The level of calm is remarkable. I saw no evidence of panic while I was walking home with millions of others on Friday, and there have been no reports of looting at all. Everyone seems to be doing what they can to get through and rebuild. I’m just waiting to have a chance to help. Right now, that means waiting for the Japanese Red Cross to start accepting donations.


We’re all fine.

Well, Silver feels the need to make that explicit when writing about crashing her trike, so I’d better say it when reporting on the effects of the largest earthquake ever recorded in Japan.

As fate would have it, today I was teaching on the other side of Tokyo. It would have to be today, wouldn’t it… The lesson was just finishing, at about a quarter to three, when the seat in the cafe started to shake. That’s, obviously, normal in Japan, but it didn’t stop, and kept getting stronger. Fairly soon, I started looking around to see whether there was a safer looking location that I could get to quickly. There wasn’t; I was near a wall, well away from windows, with nothing hanging from the ceiling over my head. The tremors still didn’t stop, and were getting even stronger, and my next thought was “I really hope the epicentre isn’t off Tohoku again”. Then my student suggested we get our heads under the table, just as I was coming to the same conclusion. The quake didn’t quite get strong enough to make that necessary, but it was certainly strong enough to prevent you feeling at all stupid for doing it.

Oh, and there’s another aftershock. Lots and lots of those…

Bizarrely, I was not at all afraid. This may indicate a psychological problem, because being in the middle of the largest earthquake in Japanese history probably should be a bit scary, but there you have it. Of course, I wasn’t actually anywhere near the middle, fortunately, and the coffee shop was on a basement level, which minimised the shaking, so it was probably a fairly light experience, all told.

Once the shaking finished, which took a very long time, I tried to send Yuriko a text message to say that I was fine. I couldn’t connect. I wasn’t surprised. I kept trying, while I and my student waited for the situation to calm down a bit, so that we could decide what to do next, and finally one of them announced that it had been sent. There was then a disaster announcement, saying that the earthquake had been centred in the same place as the previous two, and that its peak strength had been 7 on the Japanese scale.

7 is disaster.

That was not a good moment, but there isn’t much I can do about Tohoku yet, so I started looking into whether I could get back to Kawasaki and pick Mayuki up from daycare. I went to the underground station, but, unsurprisingly, there were no trains running. As I was coming out again, there was an aftershock, strong enough to make it a bit difficult to walk, and certainly strong enough to make me find another safe place to stand and wait.

When that finished, I checked the stations again (still no trains), and then found a convenience store to get some water and something to eat. Then I asked for directions to Otemachi station, and started walking.

My plan was to walk along the Hanzomon line, so that if the trains started running again I could hop on one of them. The other side of that plan was that, if the trains didn’t get going again, I reckoned I would be home before ten pm. Having been walking the Oyama Kaido recently, I was confident that I could walk that distance, and also that it would take about that long, and that was very important; a lot of people are stuck at work, and I don’t even have an office to sleep in. It turned out to be a good plan, because the trains didn’t restart until about 11pm, and I was, in fact, home by about 9:30. It did mean that, in the end, I spent a bit over six hours walking across Tokyo, and so got a pretty good impression of the damage.

Massive crowds of people in the bus station outside Shibuya railway station

Tokyo: Not a scene of devastation

Basically, there wasn’t much. The big exception was Kudan Kaikan, which had a lot of ambulances and fire engines when I passed, and where I hear the roof collapsed, with at least one fatality. Otherwise, I saw nothing worse than some tiles fallen from a roof, and goods fallen from shelves. The streets were full of people walking home, because all the trains were out, but everyone was calm and even cheerful, even though it got very cold. The convenience stores were all busy, with long lines of people buying supplies, and by the time I got to Kawasaki they were largely sold out. The roads were full of cars. All the expressways were closed, so everyone was on the ordinary main roads, and the traffic was travelling at substantially less than walking pace for most of the time. Yuriko came to the same conclusion as me, and walked home from work to pick up Mayuki.

Of course, I didn’t actually hear from Yuriko until after 4pm, because getting any sort of communication was very difficult, and it was a relief to get confirmation that she was OK. I didn’t get confirmation that Mayuki was OK until 7pm, when another mail from Yuriko made it through to my phone. I wasn’t worried that Mayuki might be seriously injured — I’d seen a lot of not-damaged Tokyo by that point — but I was worried that she might be getting stressed at day care, if Yuriko hadn’t been able to get there. I didn’t hear anything else from her until I got home.

A couple of books lying on the floor in front of bookcases

This was the extent of the damage.

That raises something for people worried about friends and family in Japan. If they are around Tokyo, don’t worry if you’ve heard nothing. There is very little damage around here, but phones, and, in some areas, internet, are not working well at all. They might not be able to tell you that they’re fine, but they almost certainly are.

When I got home, I found that there was very little damage. The shelves in the washing area outside the bathroom had fallen over, a few books had fallen off the shelves in my office, and one part of the Hina dolls display had fallen onto one of the painted shells, shattering it. That’s a shame, but looking at Tohoku, utterly trivial. Mayuki even seemed to have been quite excited by the earthquake. Certainly, she was soon demanding that we turn off boring earthquake news, and put Thomas the Tank Engine on instead.

That was more or less as I’d expected, so on the way home I kept worrying about Tohoku. One of my students is up there at the moment, and I’ve been able to make contact with her and confirm that she’s OK, so that’s a relief. However, it’s looking really bad.

The Ōyama Kaidō: From Nagatsuta to Atsugi

My most recent stage of walking the ÅŒyama Kaidō was the longest single stage, at something over 20km, plus walking to and from the railway stations at the beginning and end. I did it on February 13th, because I was very tired, and needed a break. Since the tiredness was primarily mental, walking about 30km in a day was, in fact, an excellent way to deal with it; I felt much better afterwards. In fact, my legs weren’t even sore the next day, so my habit of walking to and from the stations on normal days has paid off.

At the end of a road lined by tall buildings, ÅŒyama can be clearly seen

You just head for the mountain. Can't miss it.

This stage was still largely urban, but I was finally getting away from the Tokyo sprawl, so the amount of green space started to increase. In addition, as I was getting closer to ÅŒyama, it became a common sight on the journey. Indeed, there were quite a few stretches where the road was straight, and the mountain was clearly framed between the buildings lining the road. In this case, it’s easy to imagine that the straightness of the road isn’t due to careful planning, but due to people just walking straight towards the mountain so that they didn’t get lost, in the days before GPS-equipped smartphones.

Speaking of those, once again I had to use my smartphone to track down a ten-metre hill. It was hidden behind some buildings, and the indication of its location on the map in the guidebook wasn’t quite right, but the fact that this is the second time I’ve not been able to find a hill is a little frustrating.

This mound also had a small stone shrine on top, and it claimed to be “Mitake Shrine”. It was a bit small for that, but Google maps also recognise it as such, so it presumably played a more important role at some point in the past. The same could be said of a lot of the shrines that I passed. One in particular, a Hie Shrine, had two mikoshi and a small Inari Shrine that someone clearly paid a lot of attention to, because it had offerings of red rice with fried bean curd, hand-made flags, and bamboo stuck in the ground along the approach. However, the shrine had no precincts to speak of, sharing the ground with the store rooms for the local fire-fighting group (not the full-time fire service). In that case, the shrine may well have had a long association with the fire fighters, but, in any case, it was hard to escape the feeling that it had fallen on relatively hard times.

The main worship hall of the shrine visible beyond a sacred tree, with the torii of two sub shrines visible to either side

Shimo Tsuruma Suwa Shrine

Another shrine I visited did not have that problem. This was Shimo Tsuruma Suwa Shrine. It wasn’t actually on the ÅŒyama Kaidō, but I passed a sign indicating that a small side road was a short cut to it, so after debating for a bit whether I had time, I went to have a look.

I’m very glad I did. The shrine had a really good atmosphere, with the main shrine lined up with three sub-shrines (an Inari shrine, a Yasaka shrine, and a Furumine and Akiba shrine sharing the same structure), as well as an area set off as the old site of the shrine. There was a priest present, and I was able to get a goshuin, the only one I managed to get this time round. I also spoke to them a bit, explaining about my plan to walk along the ÅŒyama Kaidō, and they seemed to think that was a good idea. They also said very nice things about my Japanese ability, so I’m clearly not that good yet. In any case, this is a shrine I’d quite like to go back to at some point.

I arrived in Atsugi in early evening, crossing the river into the town as the sun was setting behind ÅŒyama.

The walk is very interesting to me, but there isn’t a great deal to say about it, because the main interest comes from actually seeing more areas of Japan around here, and describing them in a blog just isn’t the same. I do plan to keep writing about it; two more stages should get me to ÅŒyama, and there might be a bit more to say about the shrine at the end of the journey. The journey may be the point, but the destination is likely to be easier to talk about.

End of the Year

The Representative Assembly works by the Japanese fiscal year, which means that, just as our term began in April last year, so the first year ends at the end of March. However, we don’t have a meeting in March, so the meeting on Sunday was the last of the first year.

In the Society and Daily Life subcommittee, we started out by looking at a new document about support for foreign students, describing an opportunity for them to meet Japanese people that had been organised by the city along with one of the schools in Kawasaki. However, there were no further questions or comments on the topic, so we moved on to housing.

Rental housing for foreigners in Japan is a difficult topic. Some landlords refuse to rent to foreigners (which is perfectly legal), and many of those who will require a Japanese guarantor, which is, obviously, rather difficult for a foreigner to find in many cases. Kawasaki has a system, set up after requests from the Assembly some years ago, that will provide a guarantor for people who cannot find one, in return for a relatively small fee. While foreign residents do use the system, most of the people using it are older people, who face much the same problem. In addition, Kanagawa prefecture, which includes Kawasaki, has set up a network to support foreigners looking for accommodation, including a scheme for estate agents. This scheme educates estate agents about the problems facing foreigners, and members are required to be positive in helping them to look. According to the personal experience of one representative, it does seem to work. Finally, the rental accommodation run by the city is all open to foreign residents, although there are no statistics on how many foreigners are currently living in it. That includes the low-rent flats aimed at poor people, as well as city-run accommodation aimed at people of more average income and at older people.

The general opinion was that the systems themselves didn’t have any major problems. However, getting the information that they exist out to foreign residents who might need it seems a bit harder. We can assume that the representatives know more about the city government than most foreign residents, but most of us did not know about these systems. Strictly speaking, information problems are being dealt with by the other subcommittee, but we did canvass some ideas. For example, the secretariat prepared a summary of the systems for us, and it was suggested that something similar could be distributed to all foreign residents. In addition, those foreigners who know about it could distribute the information to their contacts in the foreigner community. (Not that I really have contacts worth speaking of in the foreigner community, but some other representatives do.) Getting information to the people who need it is clearly a major problem, and one that many organisations face. If people don’t know that a system exists, they won’t think to look for it, in most cases, so a truly effective system needs to be proactive. Even then, a lot of people don’t read everything they are given, and most people don’t remember everything they read. I suspect that there’s no perfect solution, and that we just have to make the information available through as many channels as possible, in the hope that someone in the circles around people who need to know it will remember it and pass it on.

After that discussion, we looked at the five topics we’ve discussed so far, and decided that we might take the issues of immigration, support for foreign students, and support for housing to the final proposals, at the end of next year. From next time, we will start discussing the deeper issues, with pensions and labour. We’ll be looking at the pension system, and at the support the city provides for foreign residents who are looking for work.

This is about on schedule. I’d hoped that we’d be able to finish our discussions of the five short topics within the first year, and we have, so I think that there’s a very good chance that we’ll consider seven topics properly before picking the two we want to make concrete proposals about. There’s a fairly severe limit on what we can do with sixteen normal meetings over two years, so I think that will be a pretty good result. I hope next year’s discussions go as well as this year’s.

The Ōyama Kaidō: From Futagotamagawa to Nagatsuta

My scheme to walk the whole length of the ÅŒyama Kaidō, from Akasaka in central Tokyo to ÅŒyama, in Kanagawa, was last covered on this blog about a year ago. It was, in fact, suspended for quite a long time, first because we were moving house, then because we had one of the hottest summers for a long time, and then because people were coming for Mayuki’s Shichi-go-san. However, I finally managed to restart it last December, but I wasn’t able to write about it here because of the need to write about Mayuki’s Shichi-go-san, Nara, and the Representative Assembly. I’ve actually done two more stages now, the second two days ago, but I’ll write about the stage I completed in December first.

An ordinary Japanese urban streetscape

The Ōyama Kaidō behind Mizonokuchi Station

That stage took me past Mizonokuchi station, the one we normally use to go into Tokyo, so I passed a lot of very familiar places on the first half. However, it also took me along roads that I don’t normally use. For example, the ÅŒyama Kaidō crosses the road I use to get to Mizonokuchi just by the station, so although I’d been through the junction many times, I’d not been through it that way before.

The walking was very urban for the whole length of this stage, but there was still a lot of evidence that I was following the course of an old road. Some of it was in the prevalence of shrines, temples, and religious statues along the route. In many cases, these were established along the road, but in other cases the road may have diverted a little to go close to them. Another bit of evidence came when the current roads deviated slightly from the route of the old road: some of the older houses along the road were still aligned to face the Ōyama Kaidō, and so were at an angle to the current line.

A mountain visible on the horizon beyond an urban road


Another piece of evidence didn’t really come into view until a bit later in the walk, and in December it wasn’t consistently visible. That evidence was ÅŒyama itself, visible on the horizon, straight ahead, at the end of the road.

Because the ÅŒyama Kaidō was a major road in the Edo period (1603–1867), the route was largely followed by major roads after that as well, but because it wasn’t designed for cars (obviously), the major roads don’t follow it exactly. That means that walking along the ÅŒyama Kaidō takes you on and off major roads, so that you walk along a six lane dual carriageway for a while, then disappear up what looks like someone’s drive to go over a ridge and back down to the main road on the other side. As a result, I got a very varied view of this area, and it’s interesting.

For example, I visited all the Shinto shrines that I passed, and got the goshuin from the ones that were staffed (which was only two of them). Mizonokuchi Shrine was busier than I had expected, despite it being an ordinary Sunday, and I also visited a shrine where the tutelary kami of two villages shared one set of precincts, straddling the border, and another where the shrine had replaced a Buddhist temple in the Meiji period (1868–1912), and inherited its graveyard.

The precincts of a shrine, with the sanctuary visible in the background

Shitodomaekawa Shrine

The nicest shrine, however, was Shitodomaekawa Shrine, in Yokohama. The first part of the shrine’s name (“Shitodo”) is written with characters that would normally be read “Kamitori” or “Shincho”, so how they came to be pronounced “Shitodo” is a bit of a mystery to me. Although Yokohama is a big city, the shrine is in the northern part, where there are still a lot of fields, so the hill on which the shrine sits is surrounded by small houses and agricultural land, rather than being utterly hemmed in by tall blocks of flats. The precincts were also very clean, with a nice shelter for sitting in, and with many old trees around the edge. Over all, it just had a good atmosphere.

The whole stage was over twenty kilometres, so I was a bit tired when I got home, and had a nice warm bath to relax. However, my legs weren’t sore the next day, so obviously my habit of walking to the railway station rather than getting the bus is doing me good. That should help me to finish walking the ÅŒyama Kaidō this year.