Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Enoshima part 2 bamboo island

Enoshima was a fascinating place and I especially enjoyed exploring this little island, I really hope I end up back there one day to see how it continues to recover.
I suspect though that it's prospects are not good simply due to the reduced population. I have not been able to find out casualty figures from the day of the earthquake and tsunami but what was once a thriving community with a school, shops and a post office was now reduced to around 20 households still living on the Island. The only people we saw were quite old although they were working hard on the seaweed harvest and other tasks. Given it had taken over a year to restore fresh water supplies and maybe electricity I suspect all the young people had long since relocated to the mainland.

Two years and a reduced human presence had allowed nature to take it's course with the most striking thing being a jungle of young bamboo trees smothering most of the untended areas .
Bamboo grows fast and seemed to grow thickly all over the island, perhaps it's seeds having been spread all around by the tsunami?
It had penetrated and enveloped objects with the strength of it's rapid growth leaving a strange atmosphere of abandonment about the place. We noticed some signs, predating the tsunami, indicating the area was a nature reserve, I have no idea if it was home to rare animals or plants but their habitat was clearly being swallowed up by the bamboo.

Some small pockets of human activity could be seen surrounded by the bamboo thicket.
In this case a tiny garden growing a single popular Japanese vegetable.

I couldn't tell where these steps used to lead ...

A tiny part of the destroyed grave yard returned to some dignity with the bamboo held just at bay

The landscape was changing as bamboo was filling every available gap between the trees.

Fisherman's cages and even boats were no barrier to the rapid growth 

The surviving households could keep their own patches clear but all around was becoming a sea of bamboo 

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Enoshima part 1 the true forces of nature exposed

On the second day of my visit to Onagawa in Miyagi prefecture I was invited by Mayumi and Yusuke  to join them on a ferry trip to the nearby Island of Enoshima.
They had not visited the Island before but had heard it was hit by a tsunami in excess of 32 meters high in the March 11th disaster. It had presumably suffered terrible damage yet they had also been told people were still living there and had started working again. I wrote in a previous post about the seaweed harvest and processing we were lucky enough to see on our arrival.
You can read about that and see my photos here

Enoshima was a revelation, it was a beautiful sunny day when we visited and the first thing we saw was the wonderful hive of activity in the harbour as the residents worked on the seaweed harvest.
As we climbed up onto the island from the harbour area, all fell silent and the beauty of the location became apparent yet it was terribly scarred by the earthquake and tsunami. In addition, because of the reduced population, nature had been reclaiming the island in the two years since the disaster and many areas had become overgrown with bamboo.

All photos are clickable as always for more detail.

We took this nice comfortable ferry emblazoned with the town mascot 

The 30 minute ferry ride took us past the Onagawa Nuclear Power plant .
This facility survived the massive earthquake and tsunami unscathed. It is a more modern design than Fukushima as far as I could find out.

Enoshima is a small Island but prior to the disaster had a reasonable sized community and even it's own school . This map was just by the harbour and showed the location of the small islands relative to the mainland.

The water was calm and blue everything was still and the island had the feel of a tropical holiday destination in the sunshine and quiet 

As all of Japan is volcanic even little Enoshima takes the form of a steep mini mountain with many flights of steps and narrow little lanes required to navigate the village 

I'll add more photos in another post as there is too much to see for one blog entry, for now here are a few contrasting images showing the beauty of the island and the awesome power of nature unleashed.

Near the top of the main Island hill we stumbled upon this little graveyard and shrine. It must have been very beautiful in the past with it's flowering bushes and amazing views. Now every grave stone had been toppled by the earthquake ( this site was above the tsunami so escaped the water ) it's easy to forget with all the publicity of Fukushima and footage of the terrible tsunami that the disaster was sparked by a huge earthquake

The views illustrate what a beautiful place Enoshima still is for a visit and one can wonder what a day trip prior to the tsunami would have been like 

The wave may have reached 38 meters here and even after 2 years the damage is clear to see

The post office buildings washed away but this historic post box managed to stay put 

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Saturday, June 08, 2013

Butterfly Orchid Buckholt Woods 07/06/2013

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Friday, June 07, 2013

Kamakura 5 The Daibutsu 15/04/2013

After visiting the trio of Temples in the leafy relaxed area around Kita-Kamakura Station I headed off across the hills taking the Daibutsu hiking trail. I had read about this walk in my guide book but was a little apprehensive about heading into the hills alone while not speaking any real Japanese. Luckily as the trail ends at the most popular tourist destination in Kamakura it was well marked with bi-lingual signs. The final destination, The Daibutsu or Great Buddha was a must see for me as I had seen it appear in three Ozu films. Clearly Ozu enjoyed Kamakura as a location using the Daibutsu as a place to visit for his films characters be they gangsters, families or single ladies looking for a husband. In addition to being an Ozu location it is also a great historic monument the construction of which started in 1252 .
It is a great survivor in a country prone to earthquakes . According to the tourist notes on the back of the ticket, attempts had been made after it's construction to put a building around the statue but the buildings didn't fare well being destroyed several times and the Buddha has remained outside since the 14th century .

As always please click photos once and a second time to enlarge and see more detail.

The hiking trail signpost 

hand cleansing seems to be the tradition at both Buddhist Temples and Shinto Shrines in Japan

The statue is very popular to visit and is set in an attractive open plan garden

there were some nice leafy corners of the garden too

Sakura or other blossom in bloom was always very popular 

It was possible to climb inside the statue for a few yen to see the amazing techniques used to build it you can see from the rear view that it's hollow and made from metal ( Copper I believe )

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Thursday, June 06, 2013

Kamakura 4 Jochiji temple 15/04/2013

A short walk along the side of the railway at Kita-kamakura bought me to the third temple I would visit on my day trip. I chose this as it was also the start of a hiking trail I wanted to try.
Jochiji Temple wasn't as lush and green as the other two, it was carved partly into cliffs giving it a rocky feel. There were little caves and tunnels and statues sheltering under cliffs . Some large bamboo trees were sprouting up here and there to add to the stranger shadowy feel of the place.
There were still some lovely gardens and buildings in the open areas as a contrast to the darker corners.

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Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Fly Orchids, Painswick Beacon 02/06/2013

I walked for four and a half hours along the Cotswold Way to reach Painswick Beacon from Cheltenham. It was a great walk across the hills and through the woods. Luckily my friend met me on the Beacon to show me where these tiny flowers were growing .
Each flower is probably only about 1 cm in height and the plants maybe 10 - 15 cm in height .
Please click on the photos to enlarge.

A couple of cropped pictures to highlight detail 

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