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Getting Directions

We rented a car in Ōdate so that we could drive to Hachimantai. We had "Navi" (a GPS navigation system) in the car with us, so going straight to our destination was easy. On the other hand, if we wanted to take a minor detour, Navi was no help at all. She would even become passive-aggressive, and withhold information that she happily shared when we stayed on-course to our programmed destination.

Anyway, out in the countryside east of Ōdate, while Matthew was concentrating on keeping the car on the road and not hitting any more busses, Stefanie spotted a sign (in English) pointing the way to "Old Dog Shrine." We had heard of the shrine, but hadn't known where it was or scheduled time to visit it, but since we had stumbled across it, we decided to go ahead and visit.

The only problem was, aside from the one sign 7km from the turnoff, we could find no information about where it was. Eventually, we decided to stop and ask for directions. Matthew had some trouble communicating because of the thick northern accent, but in the end managed to explain the situation. This kind lady went inside to get a map, but came back instead with her husband, who was going to show us where the turnoff was.

Much to our surprise, he did more than take us to the turnoff. He led us all the way to the shrine, through several turns, along a dirt road between rice paddies, and up an extremely narrow winding mountain road. I'm pretty sure we would not have found it on our own, even with the hand-written cardboard signs stapled to utility poles to tell us where to turn.

Then, having arrived at the small parking area, he still wasn't done guiding us. We followed him on foot through a small temple gate, then up a few hundred yards of rough-hewn steps up the mountainside to another gate and the shrine.

Categories: The Tour, Akita Dogs

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