Saturday, June 1, 2013

stocks and seagulls

One of our favorite places to visit and revisit in Japan is about an hour from where we live. The Tanesashi (tanesashi meaning a variety of species) Coastline is reminiscent of the Oregon/Northern California coastal areas. Cliffs and white sandy beaches, with multiple islets, make this a place we visit when we are feeling homesick. It reminds us so much of home that we feel a little less further away. Plus, it's beautiful and a great area to explore. Lush and green, this coastline features more than 700 different species of plantlife.

One of the great spots in the Tanesashi area is Kabushima Shrine. The shrine at Kabushima (which literally means shares island or stocks island) was built to honor Benzaiten, who is known to be the goddess of monetary and financial success. Most people, though, refer to it as Seagull Island. During the fall and winter, the reason for this may not be obvious, but once March comes, so do the umineko: black-tailed seagulls.

At any given time, there will be thousands of seagulls resting on or flying around the small islands in the Kabushima area. In the spring and early summer, nanohana (rapeseed/canola) cover the hill in bright yellow, making it a beautiful place to visit. But also covering the hill are seagulls. More than 30,000 gulls gather here between February and June each year. For this reason, complementary umbrellas are kept at the bottom for guest usage. It's said to be good luck if your umbrella receives a...well, let's just call it a present...while you are visiting the shrine. We tend to visit this place any time except the spring, because neither of us like seagulls, especially when they flock like this (too much like a Hitchcock movie!!) but the weather was perfect this week so we stopped by on the way to the coastline.

Another great spot along the Tanesashi Coast is the Ashigezaki Overlook. The stone circle begins one of the Tanesahi walkways down to the beach, and has fabulous views of the ocean and all the rocks, cliffs, and islets near the coast. Down the pathways are beautiful, white beaches! In any season, this is a beautiful and serene place to visit.

To get to Kabushima from Misawa:
  • Take the toll road to Hachinohe. 
  • Turn right onto route 45
  • At the traffic light at the bottom of the hill (at the overpass) turn left. You will see signs for the port/harbor
  • Follow the road (in the left lane) and stay left at the fork
  • Go straight through the tunnel and over the overpass, and then turn right at the stop light. Look for signs for Kabushima
  • Follow this road for a few km, and then you will cross a bridge and come to a T intersection. Turn left at the intersection
  • Turn right at the first light, and then follow this road to the right. Turn right on the last road and then left at the end of the block. You will see the port and the Torii Gate, along with a small parking lot.

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