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the Degree Confluence Project
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Japan : Shikoku

3.6 km (2.2 miles) WSW of Hama-Zakurai, Imabari-shi, Ehime-ken, Shikoku, Japan
Approx. altitude: 136 m (446 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap world confnav)
Antipode: 34°S 47°W

Accuracy: 10 m (32 ft)
Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: View to the east #3: View to the south #4: View to the west - NHK TV crew #5: From Iwataki ferry terminal #6: Confluence location #7: End of forest road #8: Dogo onsen - Summer 2001

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  34°N 133°E (visit #2)  

#1: Confluence N34 E133

(visited by Fabrice Blocteur and NHK Crew)

Japanese Narrative

29-May-2004 -- This is probably the most unusual visit I’ve made to a confluence so far. Two months earlier I’d been contacted out of the blue by a man called Satoshi Kataoka. He explained that he was a reporter for NHK TV and that they wanted to do a story on the confluence project. He then asked if it was possible to accompany me on my next visit. A few days later he came to my house to meet me and I told him that I was planning to go to the confluence 35°N 133°E in the north of Hiroshima Prefecture. I had already gathered all the material for the background narrative for this trip. However, the point was successfully visited shortly afterwards, so I decided to do the one just south of Hiroshima near Imabari on Shikoku Island. The first visit attempted by two people last October had been unsuccessful.

The NHK crew arrived at my house in Maizuru, northern Kyoto Prefecture, in the afternoon on Friday 28th. This time, Junji Ooi, a cameraman, and Hideo Hiroka, an assistant and soundman, accompanied Satoshi Kataoka. They did some shooting of my preparations with the maps as well as a small interview. They came back the next morning to do one more interview, and some filming of me packing, getting on the motorbike and leaving my house. They then went to Nishiwaki to get some footage of the first confluence I visited (35°N 135°E), while I took the expressway to Kobe to catch the night ferry to Imabari.

We met the next morning at 5:30 as I was coming off of the ferry on my motorbike. They had rented a mini-van with a driver and they followed me to as close as we could get to the confluence by car. It was about twenty minutes from the Imabari ferry terminal, and the last 300 meters were done on a forest road going up into the mountains. We were still 150 meters short of the confluence point. According to my topographical map, going directly to the point from the end of the forest road would be almost impossible due to the steepness of the terrain. And as it turned out it was. The slope heading west to the confluence was like a cliff.

Instead of relying of my GPS, I decided to use my compass and follow the indications on the topo map. We made a detour by first going south-southwest for about 150 meters. There was a small stream coming down the mountain and following it up was relatively easy. After ascending thirty meters on my altimeter, we turned northwest to reach 133°E, and then went almost straight north by looking at the GPS and closing in on 34°N until we reached the confluence. In places the vegetation was very thick. I could pass relatively easily, but it was much harder for the TV crew with their heavy equipment, each of them having to carry at least 10 kg. When we successfully reached the confluence we rested for a while. Finally, they did an on the spot interview and then we went back down the mountain.

We had been very lucky. Since Friday, the weather forecast had been predicting heavy rain all over Japan for the entire weekend. But so far we had enjoyed cloudy weather, warm temperatures and now even the sun was coming out.

We decided it would be nice to reward our efforts by going to Matsuyama and relaxing at Dogo onsen. The onsen (hot spring spa) is one of the most famous and oldest onsens in Japan. The main building is an imposing three-story castle-style wooden structure built in 1894. Soseki Natsume, one of the most renowned Japanese novelists, was a frequent visitor and the Botchan Room inside the onsen is named after the main character in his novel Botchan. The last time I’d come to Dogo Onsen was on a motorbike tour of Shikoku Island in the summer of 2001. Then, as now, the purpose had been to unwind, but as I’d been on my own that time, I’d also taken the time to read Botchan inside one of the old tatatami rooms.

Japanese Narrative

29-May-2004 -- 今回のコンフルエンス探訪は、これまでとはかなり趣を異にするだろう。2ヶ月前、HNKの片岡聡という人が「コンフルエンス・プロジェクトを番組で取り上げたい。ついては、次回の旅に同行させてもらえないか。」と言ってきた。そこで私は、広島県北部のN35E133を訪れるつもりで、既に資料を集めていたことを伝えた。ところが、それからまもなく、他の人がそのポイントを訪れてしまったので、私は広島市の南に目を移し、四国の今治に行くことにした。

HNK取材班は、28日金曜日の午後、舞鶴(京都府北部)へやって来た。片岡さん、カメラマンの大井さん、音響兼アシスタントの広岡さんの3名である。その日は短いインタビューと私が地図を見てコース取りをするところを撮影した。翌朝、いくつかの質問のあと、バイクに荷物を積み込み、我が家を出発する私をフィルムに収めた。彼らはその後、以前私が訪れた最初のコンフルエンスであるN35E135(兵庫県西脇市)を取材に行き、一方、私は今治への夜行フェリーに乗るべく、神戸に向かった。

翌朝5時半、フェリーからバイクに乗って出てきたところで彼らと落ち合った。取材班はミニバンに乗り、コンフルエンスへ向かう私を可能な限り接近して追ってきた。今治港から20分ほど走った後、最後の300㍍は山道を登らなくてはならなかった。ポイントまであと150㍍の地点で地勢図を見ると、林道が途切れる地点からまっすぐポイントに向かうのは、地形の険しさからして、ほとんど無理だとわかった。行ってみると実際その通りでコンフルエンスへ続く西側の斜面は崖のように切り立っていた。

私はGPSのかわりに方位磁石と地勢図を頼りに進むことにした。南南西へ150㍍ほど迂回すると、山肌をつたってくる水の流れがあり、それに沿って歩けそうだった。30㍍下ったところで我々は北西に向きを変えて、133Eに達し、そこからGPSを見ながらほぼまっすぐ北進し、ついに34Nのコンフルエンスに到達した。草木が生い茂って大変だったが、NHKのクルーは、もっときつかったろうと思う。彼らはそれぞれ10㎏もの機材を背負っていたのだから。しばらく休んだ後、私への最後のインタビューを撮り、山を下りた。

私たちは幸運だった。天気予報は週末にかけて日本列島に大雨があると告げていたのに、ひどく暑いということもない曇りの日が続き、太陽さえ顔をのぞかせてきた。

私たちは松山の道後温泉で互いの労をねぎらうことにした。その温泉は、日本最古の、そして最も有名なものの一つだ。1894年にできた浴場は、三階建ての城を思わせる堂々たる木造建築である。かの夏目漱石がしばしばここを訪れ、小説の主人公にちなんで名付けられた「坊ちゃんの部屋」というものまである。2001年夏、バイクで四国を旅した時、私は道後温泉で疲れをいやし、畳に寝ころんで「坊ちゃん」を読んだのだった。

Translated by Yuko Hashimoto


 All pictures
#1: Confluence N34 E133
#2: View to the east
#3: View to the south
#4: View to the west - NHK TV crew
#5: From Iwataki ferry terminal
#6: Confluence location
#7: End of forest road
#8: Dogo onsen - Summer 2001
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)