Where in the World are You?: Irohazaka Slope, City of Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan
Irohazaka Slope. City of Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan
What you are looking at is a road, no really it is, bear with me as I begin to tell you the story and stay focused or you’ll get lost, trust me. This road, route 120, is actually a two road system for access to a high alpine lake, one route going up and the other coming down.
The city in which this road starts is approximately 90 miles north of the nation’s capital, and climbs 1,300ft from the city to aforementioned lake which lies at the base of a sacred volcano. During modern times the route is primarily used for tourism purposes but in ancient times the route was traveled for religious purposes, as there was an ancient religious temple at the end of it. Several temples honoring the regions dominate religions are found within the city or in close proximity to it, due to the fact that the city has been the center of religion in the area. The city that acts as the beginning and the terminus of this road is the third largest city in the country, by area not population.
This is where it gets exciting, not really confusing is more like it, the road has forty-eight curves that coincide with forty-eight characters of the native alphabet, no really it does. When the road was improved in the mid-1950’s, the number of curves was reduced to thirty but after the second road was added nine years later, the number increased to fifty. During the same construction period, two of the curves were straightened, returning the number to forty-eight, again matching the number of characters in the native alphabet.
Another highlight awaits you at the top of the road, a waterfall in excess of 250ft for your viewing pleasure. So again the question is…Where in the World are you?
The pictured location is the Irohazaka Slope in between the City of Nikko and Lake Chuzenji in Tochigi Prefecture in Japan. Lake Chuzenji can be found at the base of Mt. Nantai, a sacred extinct volcano, the waterfall that can be seen from this route is the Ryuzu Falls. As one travels up one route and then down the other, there are signs at each curve that display each letter of the ancient Japanese alphabet.
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