05 Kasama

Holy moly this was a full on walk! I do not think this should be just one walk. I am absolutely knackered after trying to do it all in one day. There are so many parts of this route that could be a day trip in itself.

  1.  The hiking parts. There are many places around Kasama to explore, you could definitely go back a few times.
  2. The parks. The park at the end of my walk was stunning, by far one of my favourite places suggested in the book.
  3. The museums. This route had a couple of lovely museums to visit that I had to rush or ignore.
  4. Kasama itself. So many lovely old buildings and shops

Here is the map from the book with some orange additions that I will mention later.

You definitely need a car or bike to visit all the locations suggested. Plus if you are going to cycle be warned, it is hilly.

Ok, on with the tour of Kasama. I started with stop number 8 as it is the most southern point of the route. And what a way to start, absolutely gorgeous. This place is worth a visit all by itself. Behold the loveliness of Shunpu Banriso. First, you have the house, and then the garden, both are stunning. Unfortunately, the leaflet was only available in Japanese, but the friendliness of the staff made up for it. They tried their best to communicate in English, while I struggled in Japanese. But communication be damned, just look. This is the inside of the house.

The house was relocated from Kita Kamakura in 1965 and the aim was to create an “Art Village”. Combine this location with some of the other stops on this walk and I think you will agree the aim was achieved and surpassed. The house has many pieces of artwork, reclaimed or recycled wood and traditional elements.

Here is the garden, with a few more pieces of art and another building on a small hill.

From here I went to Kasama and parked in the free carpark in the middle of a group of stops. I parked here before when I visited for a wander and cycle. I wrote about that visit here. I will be going back to that blog after I finish this one. Anyway, on that trip, I got lost so I was super careful this time, but the crappy map in the book didn’t help. Some of my location markers were in the wrong places. I have fixed them now.

I remembered seeing a sign for a hiking path the last time I was here so I thought that was the place mentioned for locations 4 and 5. I was wrong as I found out later. In the meantime, I decided to visit the Shofuku Shrine before heading up the hiking trail.

I thought the sign was really interesting. On shrines and gates, there are often many stickers called senja fuda. They are basically the name of someone who visited, *** woz ere. I have never seen them crossed out before.

Around the back of this shrine is a route up to Kasamatsutsuji Park. Along the route are many, many azalea bushes. There is a festival here each year at the beginning of May.

Can you see that sign at the end? It was for other routes down. I still had not found the steps mentioned in the book for location 5 or the statue for location 4. I thought maybe they were at the start of one of the other routes. BUT, I remembered getting lost and decided just to go back to the carpark and think about it there. It was a good choice as I realized the real location was just behind the carpark 🙂

The real locations of 4 and 5 are now correctly placed on the map. I left the shrine and route up to the top of the hill on the map as alternative locations.

Location 4 was part of Kasama castle and should have been the location of a cool looking statue…but it wasn’t there. A restored part of the castle was there, as was a shrine and a playground.

And there it was, location 5 right next to the shrine.

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This is the start of more hiking routes and I am sure the steps are up there somewhere, but as I had already climbed to the viewpoint and still had a few places to visit…I did not go exploring.

Instead, I headed to what looked like a small stop, a few stones at location 3, Oishi Ruins. And look what I found there.

Right next door was location 2, Kasama Nichido Museum of Art. When I bought my ticket at Shunpu Banriso they suggested a combined ticket with the art museum for 1,400yen, Shunpu is an annex of the museum. I said yes, but due to time limits I decided just to visit the exhibit suggested by the staff at Banriso…cat photos from Taiwan.

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I had a bit of a look around the museum, but I didn’t fully explore it. I just looked at the cats and the Rey Camoy exhibit. There is just too much on this route. Of course, this is an art museum, so no photos allowed. I did take these though, what a lovely pair of handles.

From here I walked to Kasamainari Shrine at location 1. On the way, you pass many quaint shops and buildings, and shops here mean ice cream. So I bought one 🙂

As you can see, you can also park here but it is not free and can get busy.

The torii gate which was damaged by a few earthquakes, including the big one in 2011. So it was recently rebuilt.

This shrine has been designated one of the top 3 “innards” in Japan, not quite sure what that means. But it is an important shrine.

After this, I walked back to the car and drove to the final locations, which were in the same park. Location 7 was Ibaraki Ceramic Arts Museum and location 6 was Kasama crafts hill, which is basically a big shop. All around the park were different works of art. By the time I got here I was quite tired, so I bought a cake and sat under a tree. I did not go to the ceramic museum. Instead, I ate a cake, snoozed, and then wandered through the wonderfully named “The Forest of Magician Clay”. This forest was another super location that I might visit again soon. There was so much to do in this park, I feel I did not even see a quarter of it.

So, a great art walk, but far too much for one day. Now I am going to collapse and have a rest day tomorrow.

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