“Don’t wear headphones if you go there”: this important piece of advice will make sense in a moment.

There’s a Kyoto in Fukuoka Prefecture. Well, kind of. The kanji in this place name are the same as for Japan’s ancient capital city (京都), but they’re actually read as Miyako in this case. Miyako is both a district and a village within Fukuoka. It’s a rural area, with plenty of natural beauty, but there are intriguing rumors that it also houses something dangerous. Our Japanese-language reporter Masanuki Sunakoma decided to investigate and was ultimately startled by what he found.

His journey began by getting off the train at Sakiyama Station on the Heisei Chikuho Railway. It wasn’t an exaggeration to say that the station building was old and barely standing. In fact, it was beyond any hope of historical appreciation–Masanuki actually feared that the walls would collapse in on him at any minute.

Right next to the ticket gate was a rain gutter thrust inside of an old washing machine. An odd sight…

After exiting the station, he made his way to the main attraction–Sakiyamahachiman Shrine, which was about 500 meters (546.8 yards) away. He had heard that he could see something here that was quite rare in all of Japan. 

As he made his way closer to the first of two torii gates that marks the entrance to the shrine, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. But that changed the moment he stepped inside the boundary of the grounds…!


At that very moment a train came rushing by and almost gave him a heart attack! Why ever was there a train between the two torii in the first place? If he had been wearing headphones and hadn’t heard it coming, this might have been the last assignment he ever went on…

Upon approaching the second torii, he discovered that the komainu (lion-dog guardian statues that often guard shrines) are also a bit unusual. One of them is in the midst of a handstand, while the other one seems to be entreating someone in an upright pose. According to a local, these specific poses are occasionally seen throughout the region. They definitely seemed more playful than usual.

▼ Not your average komainu!

▼ A different view of the railroad tracks

Masanuki made his way to the top of a long staircase and found the main shrine grounds surrounded by lush greenery. The contrast between the loud train and the tranquility at the top was surreal.

Before heading home, Masanuki decided to explore the area on the opposite side of Sakiyama Station. He soon spied a narrow wooden bridge spanning the river. The locals couldn’t do without it, but it certainly seemed like it would float away at the first sign of a flood.

Ultimately, Sunakoma enjoyed his trip despite his startling train discovery. He vowed to check out even more off-the-beaten path places from here on out to discover local oddities. Hopefully his new findings will be full of beautiful scenery and minus the risk of a heart attack.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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