There is a villa at 1400-meter-high Kajigamori mountain.
It has an observatory equipped with a 60cm reflector. On December 15 I
appeared on a TV program which was broadcast from this site by NHK Kochi
television station. Kajigamori sits in the midst of untouched nature and
enjoys beautiful starry skies free of light pollution. Near the summit
there is abundant pristine spring water.
It was a warm day, but at night the temperature dropped to
below 1 degree C. The sky miraculously cleared up and awesome starry skies
spread overhead. But until then the weather had been so awful that I was
not expecting to be able to do any observing. A super-high-sensitivity
camera brought over from NHK Tokyo station broadcast views of the winter
starry sky to hundreds of thousands of homes. The Pleiades appeared surprisingly
bright on the monitor; as bright as seen in binoculars. The stars were
shining brightly through the dome slit against the dark and infinitely
transparent background. This observatory's 60cm reflector would be able
to capture even 20th-magnitude stars. The sky around Taurus looked faintly
glowing along the zodiac. It could be the glow of the same nature as the
zodiacal light seen in pre-dawn autumn skies. When I was at a viewing session
of the Leonid meteor shower at Kajigamori about 10 years ago, gegenschein
(counterglow), normally visible at the zenith at midnight, was already
faintly glowing in the eastern sky in the early evening. This will show
how dark Kajigamori's skies are, as the brightness of Gegenschein is a
fraction of the faintest part of the Milky Way. Incidentally, a professor
from Kochi University of Technology was operating the observatory's telescope
If I lived closer to Kajigamori, I could observe there frequently.
But at present it takes me 2 hours one way to get there and the narrow
road to the summit is not easy to negotiate. This observatory is owned
by Otoyo town and the accommodations run by the town were quite comfortable.
The sunrise and a sea of clouds over Yoshinogawa River below are spectacular.
I was around 20 years old when I first climbed this mountain.
There was no road leading to the summit then. I got off the train at Toyonaga
station and walked as long as 4 hours. I stayed overnight at an old temple
on my way to the summit and resumed trekking at 3 o'clock in the morning
on the following day. At the same temple Mr. Tokihisa and his son were
staying and we climbed the mountain together. Mr. Tokihisa was teaching
at Yamada Senior High School. Ten years later I discovered my first comet
and Mr. Tokihisa, remembering our encounter at Kajigamori, sent me a letter
of congratulations. We tend to remember people we met at the mountains.
It was a clear early winter day today. I drove toward beautiful
Katsurahama beach wanting to see the grave of Ichiryo-gusoku. Ichiryo-gusoku
were faithful subjects of the feudal lord of Chosakabe Motochika, who ruled
Shikoku (Kochi) during the Warring States period (the mid-15th century
to early 17th century). The sea along Tosa was bright and magnificent even
in winter. Ichiryo-gusoku's grave was near the ruins of Urato Castle overlooking
the Pacific Ocean. They were militia who fought for Chosokabe Motochica.
They were engaged in farming during peace time, but once a war broke out
they took up weapons for their lord.
After the battle of Sekigahara (the 17th century), Chosakabe
Motochika was defeated by Toyotomi's forces and ordered to leave his Urato
Castle. The Chosokabe militia swearing allegiance to their lord rebelled
against Toyotomi, but more than 200 of them were murdered by a surprise
attack at Tanegasakinohama beach. This beach is also called Sensho Koen
(Sensho park) and beautiful with numerous pine trees growing thickly. I
camped in this area in summer when I was at elementary school and enjoyed
swimming. Tanegasaki is only a short drive from Katsurahama crossing Urato-Ohashi
I wonder what the weather was like on the day the fighters
were killed. Four hundred years later today, breezes, like the ones on
that fateful day, came over the beach bringing with them the sound of crushing
waves in which, I felt, the screaming of the murdered fighters was heard.
Against the clear sky Urato-Ohashi bridge formed a large
rainbow-like arch from Tanegasaki to Katsurahama. I remember that when
a Comet Conference was held at Katsurahama around 1972 the bridge was still
unfinished with two parts of the bridge just about to meet at the middle.
The conference was held at the site of Urato Castle, where Lord Chosokabe
Motochika had resided.
Stone Buddhist statues (Jizo) dedicated to Ichiryogusoku fighters
(Worshippers constantly offer flowers at Jizo.)