Visiting Kanayama Megaliths

Photo of Mazegawa taken from the train by IR.

The megaliths of Kanayama are not difficult to get to. They are in the heart of Gifu Prefecture which in turn is in the center of the main Honshu Island. From Nagoya, the third-largest city in Japan, it is a pleasant 75-minute ride north on the JR Wide-View Hida express. On the last leg you will enter Hida Kanayama, the southern end of the ancient land of Hida. Your train will ride alongside the Mazegawa, a lovely south-bound stream. There are villages with fields of rice and tea and flowers, with enfolding mountains in the background. All too soon you will disembark at the little station of Hida Kanayama (Hidakanayama, all one word on the route-scheduling site www.hyperdia.com/en). From there, you can phone a taxi to take you to one of the comfortable lodgings where you can enjoy a hot onsen. This area is blessed with wonderful hot springs.

When you are not visiting the megaliths, you may take the kinkotsu footpath-walking tour of Kanayama town. You’ll see the back yards of families living in this post town since the Edo period. There is the 鎮守山 Chinjyusan hill topped by Kannondou hall where the warrior,  両面すくな Ryoumen Sukuna prayed for the safety and wellbeing of the Hida people. Unfortunately he was hunted down by Yamato forces and killed. If you look up his name, you will find him described as a demon with two heads and four arms. Probably the two faces of Sukuna were the fierce aspect toward his enemies and the kind aspect for his people. To those of us in Hida, he is our hero!

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