Iwaya-Iwakage Spotlight, April 2017

April 22 was a special date on the Kanayama Solar Calendar. It is one of the astronomical cross-quarters, a yontobun date, a half-angle date. On this day, the sun’s path is halfway from that of equinox to summer solstice, and the solstice is about 60 days away. The Kanayama calendar makes observations on the four yontobun dates. 

Last year, the spotlight on the floor of the cavern that appeared on 7/22 vanished after striking the Sekimen-ishi on 10/23 as the sun headed south for the winter. This was reported in a previous post. Now the days are getting longer since the sun is returning to the north. And the spotlight has returned!

The spotlight returned on 2/19, and its path on the floor of the Iwaya cavern has been daily moving from north to south as the sun’s path in the sky changes daily from south to north. The spotlight will soon disappear on 5/21, when the light show at Iwaya-Iwakage ends. On that date light returns to Senkoku-ishi down the hill from Iwaya. Then Senkoku-ishi carries on the job of observing the sun over the summer season.

On April 23, 2017, Chika-san visited Iwaya-Iwakage. She took many photos of the movement of the spotlight on the floor of the Iwaya, as it moved from left to right for the viewer, which is from west to east, as the sun traveled in the sky from east to west. She shows how it began as a speck, grew into an oval shape and then shrank toward the end when only a streak of light on the vertical rock pointed to where it was last seen.

Iwaya 0423 Synopsis PDFPlease refer to page 52 of the Kanayama Megaliths Guidebook. Note the red line labelled: 11:30  8/20  4/22  Track of the spotlight. That is the line she was tracking. We thank Chika-san for these photos which give us a visual summary of the start on the floor (marked with observation lines) until disappearance of the spotlight on the rock at the far right.

The 14 photos shown were taken at the following times, ten minutes apart in the middle, a minute or two apart at beginning and end:

11:34     11:35     11:36     11:38

11:40     11:50     12:00     12:09

12:21     12:30     12:41     12:50

12:52     12:53

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Spring has arrived!

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It is lovely at Kanayama Megaliths. Chika-san visited on the spring cross-quarter date (half-angle date of the Kanayama solar calendar) , April 22, 2017. In addition to photographing solar phenomena, she took these pictures of spring in Iwaya Valley.

The first three photos are the sakura and pink peach blossoms growing by the side of the road. Notice how petals drift down in the breeze and form a pink river on the ground.

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The fourth photo is that of Monotropastrum globosum or Monotropastrum humile (銀龍草: ギンリョウソウ ginryousou). Monotropastrum humile is a species of myco-heterotrophic plant of the family Ericaceae, distributed throughout eastern Asia. It lacks chlorophyll and is therefore unable to photosynthesis as most plants do; instead it gains sugars and nutrients from mycorrhizal fungi. (Wikipedia). Monotropastrum humile (D.Don) H.Hara is the accepted name of a species in the genus Monotropastrum (family Ericaceae). You can read about it here.

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What to do and where to stay in Hida Kanayama

  • What is there to do in the area?

Besides enjoying the local food? And shopping? There are many activities you can enjoy in the Kanayama area. Most of them are outdoors such as the Kanayama Megaliths, walking to four lovely waterfalls, and camping and fishing. You can also visit the Iwaya Dam.

There is also a unique activity called Kinkotsu-meguri, or walking the backstreets of Old Town. These scheduled tours are offered by volunteer tour guides who will show you the old post road to Edo (now Tokyo).

You can see how sake is made right in Kanayama town, with water from the clear Maze River. The brewery makes the famous Okuhida sake — and a fine vodka as well.

When in the gift shops, besides shopping for gifts, be sure to look for the frozen cases where Hida ice cream is sold. The rich taste comes from the happy cows of Hida.   

Three posters are shown at the top for  the Kanayama Megaliths, the Four Waterfalls, and the Kinkotsu-meguri. They are from the Kanayama Tourist Association.

  • What facilities and accommodations are available?

Onsen hot springs 温泉

1.     Yuttarikan 湯ったり館 –  日帰り天然温泉 Day trip natural onsen hot spring

Kanayama, Kanayama Town, 973-2, Gero City, Gifu Prefecture (along national highway No. 256) 岐阜県下呂市金山町金山 973-2(国道256号線沿い)TEL 0576-33-2492.  http://www.yuttarikan.jp/.  Open-air bath, sauna. Private room bedrock bath and aroma treatment. Restaurant. Local souvenirs.

2.     Karen Onsen かれん (see below)

Where to Stay in Kanayama:

1.     Hotel: Karen かれん

Onsen hot spring inn at Nukumorinosato michinoeki roadside station. From all the rooms you can view the clear stream of the Maze river. Restaurant serving local cuisine and sake. Onsen. Gift shop. Kanayama, 911-1, Gero City, Gifu Prefecture (along national highway No. 256). TEL 0576-32-4855.  http://nukumorinosato.com.

2.     Hotel: Fukuzumi  福寿美

Hotel located a 7 minute walk from the JR Hida-Kanayama Station in Gifu. Japanese style rooms with wifi. Fukuzumi prides itself on its local cuisine of wild vegetables and river fish. 2132-1 Kanayama, Gero City, Gifu-ken, Japan 509-1622. TEL 0576-32-2015.  http://www.k-fukuzumi.com/en/.  A lot of tourist information in English. 

3.  Minshuku: Nakanoya なかのや

Gero City, Kanayama, Yuhara 386-17. (Iwaya dam lake side). TEL 0576-35-2448

4.  Minshuku: Shichifukuzan 七福山

Gero City, Kanayama, Soshino 1190-5. (National Route 256 along Wara River). TEL 0576-35-2731

5.  Ryokan: Mitsukiya  見附屋旅館

Gero City, Shinjayama 222-11 (National Route 256 along the Maze river). TEL 0576-35-2013

6.  Ryokan: Shimizuya  清水屋旅館

Gero City, Kanayama, Kanayama 2219-3  (along the former Hida highway).

Tel 0576-32-2324

The accommodation information is from the Kanayama Tourist Association.

 

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Visiting Kanayama Megaliths in Hida-Kanayama

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Hello Fans of Kanayama Megaliths:

We have been communicating with you about Iwaya-Iwakage and the megaliths of the Kanayama Megaliths System for nearly two years, since June 2015. During this time, we have explained the intricacies of the observational methods employed here, and have presented our super-accurate solar calendar. We have shared our photos of the solar light phenomena at the three sites at different times of the year. Especially exciting to us was our trek up the Higashinoyama to view the winter solstice sunrise. And we recently posted the oval spotlight in Iwaya-Iwakage on spring equinox day.

Iwaya Valley Three Sites

The three sites of Kanayama Megaliths in Iwaya Valley. As you know, the system consists of three groupings, at three sites, near the Iwaya Dam. The Kanayama Megaliths complex is so fascinating and rich with things to discover that you may want to spend more than a day visiting us. This is a lovely forested area in the mountains of Hida with fresh air and clear streams — and waterfalls! Increasing numbers of visitors have been coming to the Megaliths, to the quaint town of Kanayama, and to this blogsite. So we thought we’d provide updated information about visiting us. This Google map shows the forested region around Kanayama.  Sometimes, the town is called Hida-Kanayama, Kanayama in Hida, or Hidakanayama

  • Where are the Kanayama Megaliths located?

Gero City.  The Kanayama Megaliths are located in the mountains of Hida, in Kanayama Town, city of Gero. The city of Gero is in the middle of Gifu Prefecture. The lower arrow in this map of Gero-shi points to Kanayama, the upper arrow to the Megaliths. The Kanayama Megaliths website gives location information here

KY map

Gifu Prefecture and Hida.  In the map at the top of this page, Gifu Prefecture is the green area. As you can see, Gifu Prefecture lies to the north of the city of Nagoya, the third largest city in Japan and the capitol of Aichi Prefecture. The part of Gifu Prefecture from Hidakanayama north to the top of the map is traditionally called Hida, an ancient and somewhat mysterious place. The towns of Hida-Takayama and Shirakawa-go are well known internationally.

Chubu.  Gifu is a prefecture in the region called Chubu. Although you may not be familiar with the name Chubu, it means literally, “central part,” and it refers to the central region of the main Japanese island of Honshu, namely Central Japan. It is officially made up of nine prefectures. Gifu Prefecture is shown left of center in this Wikimedia Chubu map in lime green. The Hida mountains, the “Northern Japanese Alps,” separate Gifu from Nagano Prefecture to its east.

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By Kambayashi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

  • How do I get to Hida Kanayama in Chubu?

By Air.  Please refer to the above Kanayama Megaliths link for detailed information on getting to Kanayama by air from Osaka and Tokyo. The closest airport has the code name NGO. In Japan, it is called Centrair or Chubu and is actually located in Tokoname city. To Westerners, we know it as Nagoya Airport. The Kansai International Airport, KIX, is in Osaka. The Narita International Airport, NRT, and Haneda International Airport, HND, serve Tokyo. Whether by air or by train, we suggest that you make your way to Nagoya Station in the city of Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture.

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Access map.  The access map at the top of this page shows the routes from Nagoya and from Takayama 高山 to Hidakanayama and the Kanayama Megaliths by train and by highway.

By train.  We suggest you come by way of Nagoya Station. There, you catch the Hida Wide-View express train on the Takayama line that is headed north to Takayama. It will take you to Hidakanayama station in a mere 90 minutes. There are only a few Wide-Views per day, so plan accordingly. The train route (bold dashed line) goes from Nagoya north to Kanayama and beyond. You can see that it parallels Route 41. The route and timetable website, http://www.hyperdia.com/, is very useful. Be sure to enter the  name of the station as HIDAKANAYAMA. Look for the routes of the Hida Wide-View. It’s a good idea to stick to express trains, direct routes, and major cities.

By car.  To drive to Kanayama from Nagoya, take Route 41 north-north-east. It will take you right into town. Driving time is about 1 hour 45 minutes.

  • How do I get to Kanayama Megaliths from Kanayama Town?

The Kanayama Megaliths are, of course, not in town but rather in the mountains. You can get to the megaliths from town in about half an hour by car. A taxi is available for hire, with a special fare for megalith visitors. Head north from town, taking the left fork, Route 256. You will be headed for Iwaya Dam. When you come to the fork, take the right on to Route 86. Stay on Route 86 as it curves around. As you come down the bend into Iwaya Valley, slow down since the entrance to the megaliths will be on your left, a hard left. 

VISIT KANAYAMA.002 LWhen driving from Nagoya directly to Kanayama Megaliths, you have two choices:

  1. Nagoya —(国道 Route 41号)—Kanayama— (国道 Route 256号)—(県道 Route 86号)—Kanayama Megaliths
  1. Nagoya —(国道 Route 41号)—Kanayama— (国道 Route 41号)—(ささゆりトンネル Sasayuri Tunnel)—Kanayama Megaliths

They take about the same amount of time. When taking the Sasayuri Tunnel, be sure to take the immediate left after exiting the tunnel.

When you use a mapping website or app, you might want to enter as your destination “Myoken Shrine.” That is the name of the small shrine on the site of the megaliths. Entering “Myoken Shrine” on Google Maps will give you this close-up view of the last bend. 

The above maps and information are courtesy the Kanayama Megaliths Research Center and the Kanayama Tourist Association.

What do you do when you get to Kanayama? Where do you stay? Please see our next post.

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March Equinox 2017 – 5. March 20

In this last of the five spring equinox posts, we show you Sugisaka-san’s time-lapse photos on the day of spring equinox, March 20. We begin at 9:24 and show photos every 3 minutes, until time 9:48, while the last three photos were shot at 9:52, 9:54, and 9:57.

Following the sequence of twelve photos, we take a closer look at the oval spotlights at times 9:35 and 9:36. This is when the shape of the spotlight best matches the shape of the stone tool. And this conclusion matches with the photo at the bottom taken by Chika-san at 9:35:30.

Sugisaka March 20Ovals 320Chika 0320 93530

 

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March Equinox 2017 – 4. March 19

On March 19, 2017, Kazuo Sugisaka took time-lapse photos of the Iwaya-Iwakage spotlight from high above looking down. We can watch the movement of the spotlight and how the shape changes. The first photo was taken at 09:21, the second at 09:23, and the subsequent photos at four-minute intervals. The last one was taken at 09:51.

Sugisaka 319

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March Equinox 2017 – 3. March 20 Oval Spotlight

Spring equinox 2017 occurred on March 20 at around 7 pm in Japan. Chika-san has provided photos of the changing spotlight patterns on the floor of Iwaya-Iwakage. This time, she concentrated on the change in the shape of the spotko as it went from oval to triangular. It is fascinating that the same beam of sunlight can be so shaped by the megaliths!

We start with this photo taken at 9:21 on March 20 as the spotlight first appears as a partial oval on Stone a. Notice the right-angular carvings on the stone. They are meant as a kind of grid for tracking the movement of the spotlight during equinox time. See Guidebook, page 53.

The next three photos were taken at 9:25, 9:30:00 and 9:35:30 am on 20 March. They show the progression of the oval spotko on Stone a, toward our right which is east (as the morning sun moves westward). An oval stone measurement tool has been discovered inside Iwaya. We had suspected that its purpose is to serve as a template for the spotlight shape and size. So the oval stone was placed on Stone a at seemingly appropriate places. See pages 52 and 53 in the Guidebook.   

By time 9:43, the spotko has moved off Stone a and is starting to elongate. Time 10:23, the shape is now a triangle. An equilateral triangle at 12:02, a more acute triangle at 12:30. This is the triangular shape we saw in the previous post. And so, we have seen how the shape has changed from oval to obtuse to equilateral to acute triangle in the course of less than four hours.

In the next two posts, we show you time-lapse photos of the oval spotlight on March 19 and March 20.

We conclude that the oval stone was intended to serve as a template for the equinox observations on stone a. The construction of the megalith chamber and the associated markings and tools are an indication of the high sophistication of the ancient people who built this megalithic site in the mountains of Kanayama.

March Equinox 3 Photos only.pages

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