Munakata


We spent most of the day at a Spring Festival in the small village of Shousuke-mura in Munakata. The cherry blossom and oilseed rape looked really good together. At 22 degrees C, it was a hot day for the beginning of April.

Shousuke mura
Shousuke muraShousuke mura

Location: Shousuke-mura near Global Arena in Munakata (google map)

Spring has arrived in Kyushu. The cherry blossom is in full bloom and we can see a few butterflies and other insects. I’m looking forward to finding some interesting things in the coming months.

cherry

Location: At the foot of Kodaiji-yama (Google map)

It was a beautiful sunny day today, so I decided to go for a long hike from my house in Munakata Common to climb up Yukawa-san (Mt. Yukawa). This mountain is 471m tall and overlooks Kanezaki fishing village and the islands called Ohshima and Jinoshima. From the summit you can also see along the coast towards Kitakyushu. It really is a fantastic view and well worth the climb. Coming down the other side of the mountain, I walked home a different route through the fields. I’ve made a map of the route, which was about 12km I guess:

And here are a few of the many photos I took on the hike.

Location: (google map).

The kids and I decided to celebrate the 1st of December with a hike up one of our nearby mountains, Jouyama (369m). It looked pretty with the autumn colours, and plenty of other people had also decided to climb. The hike is up a steep path but there are plenty of steps and the distance is only around 2km (round trip), so it’s not too bad. The view from the top is really impressive – right across Munakata and out to the islands.

In the small hut on the summit is a visitors’ book, in which everyone writes their names and how many times they’ve climbed the mountain so far this year. Lots of people had written 100, 200 or even 300 times. The kids proudly signed our names and wrote “once” for our number of times!!

Location: Jouyama is located above Fukuoka University of Education in Akama (map).

No fantastic photos today… Just had a nice time walking through Yokoyama Village and up past a small lake then into the forest on the mountainside. From our home it only takes 5 minutes on foot to get to the start of this walk, so we should go there more often. I went during the winter, but I’d forgotten about it so today was the first time this summer. I thought I should write a blog entry about the walk so as to remind me what a special place is on our doorstep!

The aerial photo (adapted from google maps) shows the route. I decided to rename the pond “Kingfisher Pond” because there was a beautiful little kingfisher there today and I was lucky enough to watch him fly just above the surface of the water all the way across the pond. Twice. I often see kingfishers when I’m walking alongside the local streams, but this was the first time I’d watched one fly right across a large pond. Stunning sight, but rubbish photo I’m afraid!

Sitting on the dam was wonderful – mountain view, the kingfisher, lots of dragonflies, and swifts smacking into the water to catch insects (or maybe to cool down!). I’m sorry that the photos didn’t come out so well, but I hope it’s easy to understand what a great location this is.

YokoyamaYokoyama VillageKingfisher Pondswiftswiftdragonflieskingfisherfish in the pond

Mt. Yukawa (471m) is the mountain that stands between our home and the sea. I’d climbed it a few times before, but Shinobu and the kids had never been up, so we decided to drive to the upper trailhead and hike the final one kilometer to the summit. The view is fantastic – looking out over Hatsu Harbor and Okagaki and along the coast as far as Kitakyushu. Lots of insects up there, too. We picked up a few ants to put in Aya’s “antquarium.”

Climbing Mt YukawaView from Mt YukawaView from Mt YukawaView from Mt Yukawa

I spent about 4 hours wandering around the small area of woodland about 100 meters from our house. The area has several clearings (sweet chestnut groves), a couple of ponds, and some mikan (orange) groves. Hardly anyone ever goes there and it’s a wildlife haven. The perfect place to spend a day looking for bugs.

chestnut grovedeadnettles and vetchCow parsleyorange grove
deadnettlesdeadnettles and vetch

Some of the most common plants:
sweet chestnut: kuri
dead nettle: odorikosou
vetch: karasunoendou
hedge parsley: yabujirami (seri-ka) – covered in bugs!

Great website for plant identification: http://www.botanic.jp/index.htm
Another plant website: http://www.mitomori.co.jp/hanazukan/hanazukan.html

This tree is about 800 meters from our home and I recently found out that it is the biggest camphor tree in the Munakata area. It’s nice to have a giant in our neighborhood! Apparently it is around 27m tall, has a girth of more than 8m, and is 800-1,000 years old. It even has its own small shrine at the base.

camphorcamphor

Camphor tree = kusu-no-ki
Cinnamomum camphora