In most places in the Kanto area cherry blossoms is already over. Not so much in a small park in the countryside beyond Mito. In Shizumine Furusato Park in Naka there is a special brand of cherries, which reportedly started blooming last week. This weekend is the event weekend with stalls, food, and festival atmosphere.
The destination is so remote that the only bus leading from the train station there does not operate on the weekends. It will be a half hour walk; I’m prepared. But first a local train ride to get me in the area.
Also on the agenda today is a visit to Shizu Shrine, which should be right next to the park.
You know it is going towards the end of the world, when you are on the platform and only one car arrives about ten minutes earlier than scheduled to leave. Surprisingly the train becomes crowded quite soon, but not overcrowded like the ones to Tokyo. Unlike the train toward Oarai and Kashima this one is quite modern and has the name ワンマン (one man), operating the Suigun line. About two minutes into the ride, you left Mito and cross several fields; you can still see the art tower in the distance.
The train ride was short and comfortable. When I wanted to get off, there was the usual problem with going to remote places, which I failed to foresee; my final stop did not have a Suica reader. The conductor write me a ticket, which I will have to figure out how to pay. Will, that’s a story for another time.
After the train left, I was all by myself, although I was not the only one exciting the train. I just needed a moment to comprehend that I was in the middle of nowhere. The train station still had some vending machines and a smoking corner.
There were a couple of houses surrounding the stop, but after a minute I was facing the fields. It’s quite impressive, how Google even had those dirt paths registered. It kind of looked like no-one has traveled this road in quite some time.
I arrived at the shrine a couple of minutes later. The torii at the road is impressive. It was too big to take a picture from there. Going up the stairs, as a Jinja tends to be on a mountain, you can enjoy the lovely small and sound of nature. I already caught a glimpse of the Sakura trees which should be plenty in the park.
But first and foremost a visit to the shrine. It is s beautiful as the surrounding area. It still is a quite common design and you could probably call it nothing special. Well, it is for me though. The wooden entrance is surrounded by bushes and trees.
Surprisingly they had information in English available. When you go to the remote places, patience is as necessary as breathing. And resting is a virtue to take everything in. The weather cleared up quite nicely and it is getting quite hot. I should have worn shirts, but who could have known. The weather report was misleading.
The shrine itself is quite big and from the distance you can hear the music of the festival.
On the shrine grounds is a tree stump that must be hundreds of years old. It now has a roof over it, probably too prevent damage.
If you leave the main area into the forest, you will come to another very small shrine. It has been quite some time since I last wandered around a forest. It feels very nice; I did not realise I miss that.
Next to this shrine were posts, where socks hang and also different kinds of walking aids like crutches. I can only assume, that people come here to pray for the ability to walk fine. But my guess is as good as yours.
Before going to the festival, I’ll take a little break. Since this post already is quite long, I’ll split it into two parts.
To be concluded…