Wednesday, 29 Jan 2020

Momoyama Trail Walk

Wakabayashi Masahiro, a local expert on the history of Fushimi, started our day off with an educational presentation regarding Fushimi and how it has changed over time. By comparing old drawings, photographs, and maps to pictures of Fushimi today, Mr. Masahiro showed us that there is still much to learn when walking through the streets of this historical town. Remnants from the Edo Period can still be found throughout the city, some of which we saw along our walk. However, unfortunately, much has changed in Fushimi over time; one historically important change being the loss of Fushimi’s symbolic peach blossoms.

Luckily, Momoyama Project, a volunteer group since 2012, is passionate about and determined to bring back peach blossoms to Fushimi. There are many different ways these volunteers have been working together to achieve their goal. The primary way that they are reviving Fushimi’s peach blossoms is by planting peach blossom trees at local schools, parks, apartment complexes, and other areas around town. Another way they have promoted the increase of peach blossoms in Fushimi is by encouraging local businesses to incorporate peach blossom flavor in their desserts. If you are interested in volunteering for or learning more about Momoyama Project, please visit their website: momopro.kyotofushimi.com. After the presentation, we were able to see this group’s progress by walking by newly planted peach blossom trees throughout town.

Our first stop along the trail was Gokonomiya Shrine, which was breathtakingly beautiful and possibly my favorite spot along the trail. This shrine is an important spiritual destination in Fushimi. Over a thousand years ago, water found here was believed to have healing abilities. Originally called Mimuro Shrine, Emperor Seiwa renamed it “Gokonomiya” because of these beliefs. It is also believed that the soul of Empress Jingu is immortalized in this shrine. Due to its historical importance and beauty, Gokonomiya Shrine is a must-visit tourist spot of this town.

Next, we walked to Fushimi Momoyama Castle, a perfect location for Sakura viewing. When we passed through Sports Park (a garden surrounding the castle), many families and friends enjoyed eating lunch under cherry blossom and peach blossom trees. While the original castle of Fushimi was built in 1592, this castle was built in 1964. Although it lacks historical authenticity, it is still viewed as an important symbol of Fushimi and its past.

Our long walk ended at the top of Mt. Oiwa. Here, we sat on benches, ate bento’s, and relaxed. As I sat, I looked down at the city of Fushimi and reflected on what I had learned that day. I noticed that a reoccurring theme throughout the day was Fushimi’s peach blossoms. However, I was left wondering what was so significant about these flowers. Speaking to my fellow walkers (mostly residents of Fushimi), I learned about the history behind the peach blossoms and why it is so important to bring them back to Fushimi. For nearly a hundred years, this place was called “Peach Flower Village.” The original castle of Fushimi was built on Momoyama (Peach Mountain) where many peach blossom trees were planted. These trees were a great source of revenue due to its peaches that were sold to Osaka, making the area famous for its fruit. Learning more about Fushimi’s history and its beautiful peach blossoms was a great way to end the trail walk.

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