2010-04-03 34 136
Today's hashpoint is between bushes near a baseball field in Minakuchi, a part of Kōka City.
Country: Japan; Region: Kansai; Prefecture: Shiga (JP-25); City: Kōka
Ever since the possibility to go to Japan came up in November, I was hoping for good geohashing coordinates, preferably in Kyōto, where I was staying most of the time. During the first days I had no luck and with a full sightseeing programm I initially didn't expect to be able to visit this location. I nevertheless looked up train schedules and a route to the hashpoint, so when the day's activities were over and we were returning to Kyōto station, I said "I won't be back for dinner" and started out.
I bought a ticket and took the train to Kusatsu, where I had to change the train. After a bit of looking around, I found out that trains to Mikumo station run from platform 2. I went there and sat down, all alone with no other people on the platform. Shortly after, a railroad employee came to me and asked "(japanesejapanesejapanese) Tsuge?" I knew that Tsuge was the final destination of my train, so I answered "Yes, Mikumo". He indicated that my train would run from platform 6, I thanked him and went there. Phew...
At Mikumo station I got off and set out on the route I had prepared. During my train ride, darkness had fallen, earlier than I had thought. I walked along street after street and had to stop multiple times to look on my google maps pictures (on the camera) to find the way. Thank you, Google Maps, for showing not only the river, but also the gas station on the third intersection and the "Honda Cars" (in western letters) shop further down the street. Without those, I would have taken wrong turns. My primary concern when planning the route had been if it would be possible to follow the roads by foot. Luckily, there were sidewalks everywhere and even a pedestrian crossing bridge over the largest road. The biggest concern while walking was that I had only noted a few return trains, the departure time for the last of those (20:25) was near and I wasn't sure if there were more later. After walking for a long time along lonely streets (and more checking of the map pictures) I was getting near the hashpoint and I suddenly saw the baseball field. I walked halfway around it, on the last metres following the arrow of my gps device. By that time, getting to the train station in time would be hard. I went around a corner, and the arrow pointed backwards. Some steps later, it pointed into the bushes next to the track.
How sane is it to go crashing through bushes on a slope in the dark of night, in a country you don't speak the language of (and whose inhabitants usually don't know any language you speak, and even if they do, they are barely understandable)? I continued anyway, that's geohashing. I didn't come this far to turn back. Luckily the bushes were not growing as densely as it looked on first sight, I could navigate between them. I went a few metres, checked the gps, went another few metres, checked, went back, checked... I used my camera to light the way time and again, seeing only more bushes and blinding myself at the same time. Once, I startled a large bird which took flight with an angry screech. Raptors were lurking behind the bushes, but as "Kōka is quite well known for its ninja history" (wikipedia), I was well protected. After going around in circles for a while, I was finally at the hashpoint. Yay! The obligatory stupid grin picture followed.
At 8 pm, I emerged from the bushes and started to walk back to the train station. I would have had to run the whole way to reach the train, but I was tired, I was wearing good shoes (one week old) not suited for running (and certainly not for geohashing...) and I'm not a good runner, so I walked normally. When I reached the station, I found out that there were more than enough return trains in the evening, and one of them would arrive within 10 minutes. I went to the ticket machine and stopped. In Kyōto I had used one with a touchscreen which 1) could be set to English and 2) had the desired ticket prices shown so that the correct one could be chosen instantly; This one was older, in Japanese only and I didn't know which button to press for a 650 yen ticket. So I went to the counter instead, said "Good evening. Kyōto" and put the money in front of me. The railroad employee pointed towards the ticket machine. I went there, then made a helpless gesture. He indicated that I should put the money in the machine and I did that. The more coins I entered, the more numbers indicating ticket prices appeared, and finally there was one saying "650". I pressed the corresponding button and a ticket was printed. The train ride back was uneventful, as was the subway ride in Kyōto.
It was about 22:30 when I reached the end of the subway line and I suddenly remembered to have heard one of my group say "strange city, the bus runs only until 10 pm". Out of the large number of bus lines that went into the general direction of my youth hostel, there was only one last bus left and I took that one as far as I could. Then I continued on foot until I remembered that the youth hostel doors close at midnight. With about 3 km and only 20 minutes left, my feet hurting and my shoes still not suited for running, I waved for the next taxi to get back in time. I had a note with my destination and a corresponding sentence in Japanese prepared for saying, but the taxi driver even spoke a little Engrish. My shoes still looked good after all that walking and bushwhacking, the Japanese countryside apparently is much cleaner than the German one.
Distance walked: 9.6 km (between Mikumo station and the hashpoint)
|ダナタル earned the Virgin Graticule Achievement|
Since the globetrotter achievement sees Europe and Asia as one continent, I don't reach a new level there. But I should, it's soooo far away from home! :-(
| ダナタル earned the "really, really far from home without achieving the globetrotter achievement" ribbon