Monday, August 3, 2015

Day 15 - Harakiri Hill

We arrived in Kagoshima a little too early for check-in. For discussing what to do with the time until check-in, we searched for 'heat shelter' in one of these covered - and partially air conditioned - shopping streets. While we sat on one of the benches in front of a drink vending machine, a man walked by and asked whether we needed directions - because he saw my father studying the city street map. Another friendly and open man, just wanting to help without being asked. And where we were from - aaah Switzerland! I'm going to go to Switzerland next year! And like this a short conversation began.

We decided to visit the samurai harakiri place. We died a million drownings of sweat in about one hour of hiking, but our walk was certainly sweetened by some (for Europeans) unusual black and blue shimmering giant butterflies! They seem to be as big as small birds, like sparrows.

On our way, we passed several sites where people chose to kill themselves to preserve their honour (harakiri). One group was Saigō Takamori and his followers who started a Civil War in 1877 and lost - which might be a good reason for harakiri. Others were people from the local clan that were ordered to build a dam in the 17th century, but failed because of diseases and floods - which was certainly not their fault. The strangest case of harakiri was that of the general manager of the dam building project who, after it was finally successfully completed, commited harakiri because the project cost had doubled and so many workers died in the course of the project.

When we arrived at the hill top, we met the first human beings in this area - except one woman who didn't walk the dog, but the cat. I was immediately approached by an elderly Japanese man who asked whether I would mind a short guided tour. From the hill top we had a brilliant view over Kagoshima, and this man explained nearly every building and every statue without forgetting to tell me the person's biography with all ages and dates. He spoke English very fluid, but sometimes I couldn't follow him, because he pronounced English words in a Japanese way, like I probably do pronounce Japanese words in a German way. I have to admit that he was very literate. The man told "he enjoyed walking every day", what surprised me because I hardly could manage the way to the top. But he looked quite tough, though.

In the evening, of course we had to try a local speciality again (like Okonomiyaki in Hiroshima) that is called tonkatsu in various variations. It seemed the most European dish we ever had in Japan: some egg on rice, deep fried pork meat, a pork miso soup. The special thing is, that Japanese do not cook their eggs until they are done, but they cook it wobbly...

You find hundreds of these beautiful Kois even in the
most hidden parts of the fundament of the castle of
Kagoshima (that burned down in the Civil War)

No comments:

Post a Comment