National Parks at the east
Kushiro Travel Blog› entry 17 of 52 › view all entries
I go out from Kushiro fairly early in the day to go out into the big national park just outside the city. There is actually a special scenic train running out into the area using old style wagons with wooden benches instead of the regular more comfortable seat.
So I am going out there on this slow moving train which actually slows down when we are passing the most scenic areas of the train ride. There are both some cranes and dears in the distance as we drive along the tracks. I go to the end of the line even though I did not really want to go all the way but just a part of the way. At the end of the line the train makes a short stop of about 15 minutes. Hence I check the area out briefly and it does not seem to be a place for much further exploration - so I go back with the same train to the stop I wanted to go to in the first place. I had it recommend as a particular good scenic place in the national park.
I go out to go to the lookout point - and it there is a quite nice view from the lookout point - but I had sort of expected something more - like wildlife or small hiking trails through the area. But it does not look like there is anything of that sort in the area - hence I might as well turn back towards Kushiro. This mean I got most of the day to explore Kushiro because I am not leaving town until I can catch the very last train of the day going towards Sapporo. I wonder what there are to see in the city and I start to wonder down the street towards a small park.
On my way to the small park I encounter a little group of young girls doing some sort of dance in front of a shop - they are escorted by truck with some elder ladies playing the big Shinto drums. I don’t quite understand what they are doing but it looks interesting so I watch for a while - and then I go to the park. After my short visit to the park I go on and I catch up with the girls once more - but now they are no longer alone. They are part of a big parade of some sort going through the city. I follow for a while in the distance because by now I realize it is some sort of Shinto festival and I am not sure if strangers like me are welcome. But when I get down to the main street I soon realize I am not the only one watching with curiosity. Hence it seems quite all right to be curious and take a few photos of the happening. I meet a woman who is speaking some English and she tells me it is an annual (or semiannual) festival going on in the city.
Apparently the festival used to be much bigger in the old days but I think it is still quite impressive with all the men and women dress up in old costumes carrying around sacred shrines or something like that through the city. Playing the drums and doing some dances as they walk along. Of course this walking tends to make them thirsty and they are served small refreshments at the local restaurants along the route. I follow along more or less for a while watching what is going on. There are also small kids participating in nice little costumes - but it seems like these young kids are getting a bit tired because it has been going on for a while. And the mothers of the kids are quite busy making sure the small princes and princesses look their best during the parade - which seems like a full time job.
parade I walk a little bit around the city but it is a bit of an anticlimax
compared to the parade and I end up heading towards the station to get some
dinner before I catch my train.