You can use many map services to navigate your way around Akizuki (including on this website, here) but not everything is covered by Google Maps. Here are five examples of secret Akizuki. They can be walked as part of a short loop or done individually. Enjoy! The best place to start this walk is at the front of Akizuki Hachimangu shrine, which can be found on the main map. Take the stairs and explore the grounds if you haven’t had a chance to already.
1. The Silk Worm Cave – Once you have viewed the shrine head down the Eastern stairs (not the main entrance steps) and keep an eye out on your right. Towards the bottom you will see a rough path. There is often fallen bamboo here, so be careful. After about 10 metres from the steps you will be able to see a carefully carved cave opening. This was once a human-made home for silkworms.
2. Tokudake no Haka (Tokuda family grave) – Once you have seen the cave you can continue down the stairs and continue straight to the end of the road. Turn right and follow the curve of the road as it bends left. After 3-4 minutes from you will arrive at a crossroads. Take the left and follow this as it curves right passing past the junk shops. You will arrive at the main street. Take a left and then the second right (just before Megane Bridge). It will seem like you are heading into some fields. Don't worry, you’re on the right track! After a short walk you will cross a small bridge. Follow the path as it shrinks and you will be able to see a tiny shrine, hidden among the trees. The Tokuda family were famous local artists and this site may be linked with them.
3. The site of Eri Nobutaka’s seppuku (ritual suicide) – Once you are done with the shrine turn around and walk back over the bridge. Before you get to the road take a left up a rough path. It looks like it ends but actually just turns to grass. Follow as it winds up along the river (you will go past the Washi paper shop) and eventually you will pop out on a road again. Turn left and follow the road as it loops to the right and wiggles a little more, past the wood yard. You will arrive at another road, where you will take a right and then (quite quickly) the first left onto a smaller road. Walk up for a few minutes and take the first left, which is a windy road with graves on the left. Keep walking up the road (not into the temple) and you will see a large group of rocks on your right.
In 1587 this large rock on the north side of Akizuki played host to a bloody suicide and is today know as “Seppuku Rock.” It was here that Eri Nobutaka (the vassal of Akizuki Tanezane) killed himself, his wife, two daughters and a vassal in an act of ritual suicide on April 21, 1587. Nobutaka was ridiculed for suggesting to his vassal to surrender. The monument that stands above the rock was built in 1938 by descendants of Nobutaka. After Nobutaka’s advice was ignored, Toyotomi Hideyoshi swept to victory and entered Akizuki. It is said that when Kuroda Nagaoki arrived in the town, he was so impressed by Nobutaka’s loyalty that he constructed the Temple above Nobutaka’s gravestone.
4. Akizuki’s Water Stop – Mount Kosho is not just an icon of Akizuki, it is also the source of Akizuki’s amazing water. The local minerals create fresh water that has many driving from far and wide to fill up their cans with. There are a number of stations around Akizuki but this one has the best view. Get yourself a well earned drink for 100 yen and look down to the village. You can either turn back into the village or, if you are feeling bold, head up higher to Kosho for an even better view.