One of the more frustrating travel experiences can be when you make plans and effort to get to a place you`re excited to see BUT then you get there to discover that it`s either closed or under construction. It`s happened to me a few times now and is always so disappointing. This latest episode happened on a recent venture to a part of Izu I`d never been to before.
Having had lunch in Numazu I thought, whilst alone, that it was a good chance to go to the next station in Mishima and then take my first ever ride on the Izuhakone Tetsudo-Sunzu Line which heads down to Shuzenji. The ninth station on the line is Izu-Nagaoka Station (IS09) and that was my destination.
From there it was about 20 minutes on foot (1.7 km) to the place I wanted to check out. It was an absolutely sweltering day too with temperatures in the mid-thirties.
It was only late last year that I found out about Nirayama Reverberatory Furnace (268 Naka, Izunokuni, Shizuoka-ken) from a student, and I was instantly struck by its interesting appearance. That was all before I even knew what it was exactly, and given my poor grasp of all things scientific I`m still not sure I really understand!
This is just one of eight sites in Japan (the others are in Hagi, Kagoshima, Kamaishi, Saga, Nagasaki, Miike and Yawata) that represent Japan`s Meiji Industrial Revolution regarding iron and steel, shipbuilding and coal mining. They were added to the World Heritage List in July 2015.
Nirayama Reverberatory Furnace is the remain of a cannon factory built by the Tokugawa government in an attempt to increase the production of cannons for defending the country. Reverberatory furnaces, consisting of a furnaced body with a domed ceiling and high firebrick chimney, were developed in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries for casting cannons and so on by melting down metals.
This furnace was actually only operational for seven years from 1857 onwards. Its construction, as well as other reverberatory furnaces in Japan, is regarded as a major turning point in the country`s industrial history as it was the first introduction of modern iron-manufacturing technology in Japan.
Having been provided with an English pamphlet, I made my way through the indoor exhibits and the following tweet (below) sums up what I saw when I got outside!
Now I should add that I was aware the place was under construction before coughing up the 500 yen entrance cost so it`s not that I was being hoodwinked into going into a place which was not all it seemed! I guess I was still desperately hoping that there were some hidden treasures in the museum part or in the outside grounds that I`d not been able to see from the car park before entering. It wasn`t to be though and this was the view (below) of the historic Edo period iron-smelting facility!
I may not have been able to see the 15.7 metre brick and steel chimneys but there was a little consolation in the pictureque beauty of the area with a stream passing through the abundant greenery fringed by glorious mountain scenery.
There was an observatory of sorts at the top of a short hill climb through a bamboo forest.
The colour-less convenience store facades in the countryside which blend in with the natural environment are nothing new to me but this was the first time I`d seen one for the fourth most popular chain; Mini Stop. As exciting as that was it didn`t really go too far in making up for what had gone on beforehand.
All in all with train connections, waiting time and walking to and from the furnace I probably wasted about four hours of my day on pretty much nothing! That time could certainly have been spent better. Will I bother going again? I don`t know really. It certainly won`t be for a while I`m sure but if I do decide to return further down the line then I`ll be sure to check beforehand if it`s actually visible!
Click here to read `Journey To The Centre Of The Izu Peninsula`
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