Welcome to the final walk from the book. It just happens that the last walk is the first walk. I completed this route over two days after visiting the two southern locations the day before. There are 4 walks in and around Mito so I spent a couple of days there visiting the locations for three of them.
Here is the map for this walk.
As mentioned I started this route at the very southern point of location 6, Yakuoin Temple. You can read about the different parts of the shrine here, with the help of Google Translate. I loved this place and I had it all to myself, though the guardians must be very dangerous as they were very well caged inside the entrance gate. The whole site is surrounded by large trees, it must look stunning in autumn.
This location had a handy carpark, unlike the next location I visited. In order to check out the moat at location 7, I stopped for a ramen lunch. The restaurant I added to the map was very close to the moat. From there I walked down to the Edo Road starting point and back up to my car. I actually thought it was really cool that the Edo Road started here and I got to see it, I am very surprised it is not mentioned in the guidebook as a location.
On this website, it says the moat was built over 1,600 years ago for flood prevention and irrigation. That seems a really long time ago. I think it means it was built in 1600 and it was translated wrong as the book says 1686.
From this point, I went to a nearby hotel to get out of the heat and rest after completing walk 3 and these two locations.
The next day I return to this walk and completed the northern locations by bicycle. When parking my car in Mito I made a mistake and parked in the town hall car park. There was a big P sign and I got a card on entry. No problem I thought, I will pay the fee on exit. Except when I got back to the exit there was no slot to put the money in. The guard spoke to me and said I needed a stamp from the town hall. After asking me where I was from he let me out for free. That was kind of him…but the moral of the story is P doesn’t always mean park and look for a legitimate place to leave the car if you are driving.
I started this day with a visit to location 4, Kodokan. According to the pamphlet, it was a feudal domain school established in 1841.
The entrance fee was only 200yen and I had a short wander around, but I didn’t really explore it fully as again it was very, very hot and I had a few places to visit. You would think that I would visit the castle next as it was right next door, but I decided to go to the other locations and return to this as it was closer to the walk 4 locations.
So that meant location 5 was the next one for me, Tōshō-gū Shrine. This shrine was destroyed in 1945 and rebuilt in 1962.
From here I moved on to a much smaller shrine at location 1, Yikei shrine (Mito Komon Shrine)
I had no idea what this shrine was for and it seemed so tiny, surrounded by roads. A bit insignificant really. Then I found this blog, which led me to this website. When I saw that photo, I thought, “Holy crap it is the Ibaraki guy!!” So this shrine is in recognition of the birthplace of the mascot of Ibaraki, or the man it represents. What a great location to have on the final walk I completed. Actually, if you did the walks in order then this would have been the very first location on the very first walk, how appropriate.
Well, from here I went back to the castle “ruins” at location 3. I put the quotes as the ruins didn’t seem very “ruin-y”, apart from the gate that is. The gate was under reconstruction and the road was blocked, which meant me going back there was moot as I could not cycle in the direction I wanted to. All around this location were signs describing the different parts of the castle.
By this point, I was very hot, tired and a bit frustrated. I walked to one of the gates, looked along the road and saw other gates, but then turned and headed back to my bike…without checking the map. I missed the gate at location 2. The main gate of the castle, it was right there, less than 200m away. I love gates, bugger. I won’t go back just for a photo, I did see it in the distance, just no photo evidence.
And for me, this walk/cycle was over. I headed for walk number 4, a crappy one.
The book is now finished. I enjoyed many of the walks, detested some. I leave Ibaraki in about 2 weeks for pastures new. I am not sure I will complete another book like this, as it was hard work. Though I probably will considering I have now fully completed three walking books based in Japan. It seems I do like doing them.