The city shrines may be dressed with regal black banners and maidens warming the crowds with sake, but do the sparrows and crows know it's New Year's Day in Japan? While the sun is shining they know the coldest days of winter are yet to come, with the fields barren and dry, yet the golden hues of the fields are delightful to behold in the light of the late afternoon sun. It is one of the joys of being one with nature, with just a bicycle and no agenda whatsoever, going wherever the road leads.
While the country lanes and byways are deserted and you can be here for hours without seeing another human, it is also true that their presence is here, even with their absence. Judging by the spotless appearance and the tidy brooms at this roadside shrine it is clear that some quiet individual keeps this place immaculately clean. Nearby are cemeteries with generations past, the headstones watching the sparrows flinch in the late afternoon sun, and this is a place where you can reflect and pray for world peace, as well as to still your soul.
From Suizenjiekidoriri Bus Stop in Kumamoto City, take the East 8 bus towards Mifune. Get off at Ochiai Mifune Bus Stop and it is a short walk . The bus services are not frequent so this is best reached by car or a leisurely bicycle ride.
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I knew my future was destined to be with Japan the moment I flew from Sydney to experience the atmospheric lane ways of Kyoto last century. From the skies above Sapporo to the old charm of Naha's alleyways, I have been enchanted by the beauty and variety on every island. I am humbled to have met many distinguished people in my role as Regional Partner, especially the national living treasures of Japan, such as the doll maker to the Imperial Family. From sushi cooking classes to Ninja training grounds I welcome your ideas on what you like from JapanTravel.com. Please visit us in Kyoto or Osaka and have some green tea or sake with us.