Tracing Isabella Bird's tracks in Fukushima (Day 4), July 23, 2016 (イザベラ・バードの福島の足跡を追って(4日目) 2016年7月23日)

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This is the final day, and I started from Aizubange and headed to Kuruma Pass of Nishiaizu Town, near the border to Niigata Pref. Kuruma Pass was Isabella's last stay in Fukushima, before leaving to Niigata. She wrote, 'this house (=yadoya) is magnificently situated, almost hanging over the edge of the knife-edge ridge of the pass of Kuruma, ---'. As I visited Kuruma Pass today, there was nothing but a description board that said Isabella stayed two nights here, as shown above. More details are shown in this article later.

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Leaving the center of Aizubange Town, I pedaled along the old Echigo Kaido (=Highway) all the way to Kuruma Pass. Soon I came to a bridge over the Tadami River at 'the hamlet of Katakado' as she referred to in her book. This is a bridge that Isabella praised such that '---so good a bridge as that by which we crossed the broad river Agano ----'. The name of the bridge is Katakado Bridge and the river was actually the Tadami River not Agano, as shown above.

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From Katakado of Aizubange Town to Nozawa, which is the center of Nishiaizu Town, Isabella took an old mountain route of Echigo Kaido passing over Tabanematsu Pass. The route barely remains today only for walk. The entrance of this route was grass mowed road as shown above.

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Going forward on this path, I found a map board of this old Echigo Kaido route to Tabanematsu Pass as shown above. This map board was created by a local preservation group.

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Photo above shows a view along the road. This reminds me how the actual path looked like in those days. But there were many other narrower and steep up and down mountain paths on the way, especially beyond the Tabanematsu Pass until getting to a regular road. I barely walked this path carrying by bike.

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I finally reached Tabanematsu Pass and found a description board as shown above. It says that there were two tea-houses here and they served some specialty foods.

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Along the path beyond the pass, I could overlook mountainsides and winding Ban-etsu Express way as shown above.

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Also I found a small pretty orange flower of lily (Lilium medeoloide A. Gray) as shown above.

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Then I pedaled along a paved Echigo Kaido, choosing old Echigo Kaido paths if there remained any, until I reached 'village of Nojiri', Nishiaizu Town. Photo above shows an entrance to the old pass of Kuruma. The old Echigo Kaido path remained unpaved and grassy. The current Echigo kaido is Kuruma Tunnel of National Route 49 running just beside this old path.

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Photo above shows a view at Kuruma Pass in wilderness today. There was nothing but a description board for Isabella Bird's track here. The old Echigo Kaido path beyond this pass continued for a while but finally it came to a dead end.
車峠に着くと、そこは草がはびこり何もありませんが、ただ一つ、イザベラ・バードの足跡の看板が立っていました。その先も進みましたが、終に新越後街道に(あと少しでしたが)出ることなく、行き止まりになりました。 (看板に感激して、後で宿の方に聞くと、街おこしの一貫で、建てたとのことでした。)

Since there was no yadoya anymore at Kuruma Pass, I stayed tonight at yadoya in Nozawa. This was the last stay of my bike tour that traced Isabella Bird's tracks in 1878. I think I got some image of how she traveled and how she felt in those days. I am also grateful to local Aizu people for preservation work for history and reminder work for Isabella Bird's track.

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As additional information, I stopped at Tachiki Kannon Hall today, which was located along the old Echigo Kaido. Tachiki Kannon is the 31st of Aizu 33 Kannons for Fudasho tour, which was recently designated as Japan Heritage. The hall building is shown above.

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At Tachiki Kannon, I also got a special collective stamp book for all the Aizu 33 Kannon 'Goshuin', which is a unique red stamp of the temple which Kannon belongs. (Photo above)

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.
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You can trace the route and altitude in the map below. (Up: 4.8%, gained elevation: 740m, Distance: 47.5km)
下の地図で、ルートの距離や標高を見ることができます。(上り4.8%、獲得標高740m、走行距離 47.5km)



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