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Minetopia

Shikoku Trip Day 2

Next morning we were up and out quite early, according to the (Japanese) haikyo guide book there was something in this area - but, lacking a translation, we didn't know exactly what. Following the mini map in the book we set off into the unknown.

The road soon began to head up into the mountains, sometimes in a quite spectacular way, such as this elevated loop in the middle of nowhere.

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Shortly after that another turn off lead us onto a long, narrow winding road heading higher and higher into the mountains. Almost every curve revealed another wonderful panoramic view, but we still had no idea what we were actually heading towards.

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What we eventually came to is a place they call (somewhat grandly) the Japanese Machu Picchu, the remains of an old copper mining community scattered in the mountain woods.

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In its heyday almost 4'000 people lived here and it was a thriving community, as archive photos from the visitor's centre show (note the kids playing with real swords).

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Despite seeing the evidence of what had been here though, it's hard to believe that so many people actually lived here. Much has been lost to time, and what remains isn't much to look at now - foundations and stone basins between the trees where small houses once stood, or random bits of brick and metal from the mine works long ago.

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The only intact original building is the one pictured in the haikyo guide book. Without the book and a small picture of this building, we'd never have come all this way out into the mountains and found this place; haikyo hunting is always a wonderful catalyst for random exploration and adventure!

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However, the largest, and most iconic, structure still standing is this huge edifice; which, I guess, is the basis of Machu Picchu comparisons.

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As we explored around the area, taking in the wonderful mountain scenery, we uncovered more and more evidence of the past, mostly in the form of tunnel entrances blocked off with huge iron gates, though one short one was open.

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Again it was the visitor's centre that revealed the full extent of what we were seeing; these tunnels were just part of a huge network that runs through the whole mountain. According to the map there was another major exit to the system at the bottom of the mountain where the copper was loaded into trains and shipped away.

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Curious, we decided to drive back down and check it out; it took about 30 mins to drive to the second site by car (and I dread to think how long it would have taken underground under through the mines when they were open).

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Originally we had planned to make a brief stop here and then try to find some other places in the haikyo guidebook, but finding ourselves in the middle of such a sprawling historical site it ended up taking most of the day just to cover all there was to see there. We really didn't have any time left to go anywhere else now, but luckily Andrew had spotted something in the trees across the road - the remains of some more modern housing that was probably nothing to do with the mines.

So we spent the rest of the afternoon exploring these monkey infested haikyo, that though I will save for the haikyo blog and write up later. For now, here a small taster of the haikyo, and the only picture I managed to get of the monkeys.

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Then that was it, time to go, we still had a long drive home and a lot of bridges ahead of us; this time heading back via the central route.

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There's still a lot I want to explore on and around Shikoku, and I'm already planning a couple of trips - I've heard tell of mysterious whirlpools in the waters under the bridges on eastern route, and stories of an island on the inland sea that's infested with a huge population of rabbits they both sound like must sees!!

Posted by DKJM74 23:29

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Comments

This is really, really cool, Damon, all those bridges and industrial ruins; but too many monkey photos :)

by Gav

Everybody in the business knows the 'monkey shot' is the most important one :-)

by DKJM74

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