2012-10-08 35 139
My first Ni-Hon-Hash! On the edge of a street in Misato, Saitama prefecture.
Take Tsukuba Express to Minami-Nagareyama. Take JR Musashino Line to Misato. Maybe pass by a shrine indicated on GoogleMaps.
After pondering whether to go on this geohash alone (I invited a fellow foreigner friend to come along, but he politely declined), I finally decided this might be the most accessible hash spot I would get during my stay in Japan. So I went for it!
I carefully copied the GoogleMaps map of the area (no printer...), and wrote down the names of the stations and train lines in "normal" letters and in Kanji (you never know when you'll stop seeing translations). I grabbed my compass and camera and I was off!
I rode my self-rolling-car (自転車) to the train station, charged my PASMO card and boarded the Tsukuba Express! Around me were sleeping Japanese, and I wondered how they know they will wake up in time for their station... For a reason unknown to me, we were instructed to transfer to a different train to get to Minami-Nagareyama, but it all went very smoothly. From Minami-Nagareyama it was just a short train ride (1 station) to Misato. With the help of my (sometimes fickle) compass and the more reliable signs, I took the South Exit from the Misato train station.
Misato is a small and, well, ugly, city. But it has the most beautiful sewer covers I've ever seen! I followed the "Wide Street" to the "River", turned right, turned left at the next bridge, kept to the right at the fork, and in a couple of minutes I was at the shrine I had identified on Google Maps!
I visited the shrine, but was too self-conscious to do the ritual of cleaning my hands and mouth. I made a small donation and took a couple of photos. I noticed a yucky smell all around, which I had noticed the day before during a bike-ride. I saw the same orange fruits on the ground, and some Ginkgo leaves, and I suddenly recalled reading on Wikipedia that female Ginkgos have stinky fruit and are therefore avoided in cities. I can now quote (see article for original references):
Female plants do not produce cones. Two ovules are formed at the end of a stalk, and after pollination, one or both develop into seeds. The seed is 1.5–2 cm long. Its fleshy outer layer (the sarcotesta) is light yellow-brown, soft, and fruit-like. It is attractive in appearance, but contains butyric acid (also known as butanoic acid) and smells like rancid butter or vomit when fallen.
From the shrine it was just a short walk to the hash, and everything was quite clear from the map. In order to get as close as possible to the hash without a GPS, I had made a small calculation as to where on the length of the street the hash was. I "measured" the length in steps (54), and then multiplied by 0.26 and took that number of steps. I got close to the fence, and was at the hash!! I photographed my map, compass and striped socks + sandals at the hashpoint. Sadly I cannot share them yet, because I have no way to get the photos from the camera to the computer...
I then treated myself to a Japanese sweet at the local "Food Square". The Japanese are very enthusiastic about wrapping and packaging, so my sweet (already packaged -- already doubly packaged, I would later find out) was placed inside a paper bag before it was handed to me.
After a stroll I headed back to the station. On the train I decided to give sleeping on the train a try (I was safe, since my station was the last).
Photos yet to come (no camera cable...)
For now just a photo of my camera screen to show the lovely sewer lids of Misato
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