Monday, March 23, 2009

the syonan jinja shrine

today, i joined jason and his group of adventurers to locate the shinto shrine built by british prisoners and the japanese army during world war ii, deep in the forest of the macritchie reservoir. we were supposed to meet at 9.15 a.m. at the venus drive car-park but when i reached the car-park at 9.10 a.m., they were already there: jason and five ladies. according to jason, these are tough ladies who have climbed mountains and trekked in other countries.

jason's original plan had been to meet at macritchie's new car-park and then trekked to the terentang trail. i suggested to him that it would be nearer if we started at venus drive, one of the more popular meeting places for those going on the treetop walk.

i also told jason that i had a rough idea where the shrine was because in the 70s, together with two other colleagues, we used to take our outdoor activities club (oac) members on hikes around the reservoir, and i remember stopping at some stone steps. we used to cross the water, with the help of ropes, at the broken bridge. the broken bridge has disappeared but i think it was near this part of the golf course.

however, our plan would not involve any water crossing; we would start bashing from the terentang trail. although it is not a clearly marked trail, we had a lot of help, in the form of markers, left behind by groups that had gone before us, particularly one which had used tissue or toilet papers to mark their route.

team leader jason

the problem with following a trail left by earlier 'explorers' is that the earlier group's objective might not be the same as ours. we actually walked past the steps leading to the relics of the shinto shrine but there were still markers, so we followed on. our leader jason said that we had to look for a building which resembled a guard house.

we found the (guard house) building, we were told that the site of the shrine was at the top of a flight of steps. there was no more marked trail and no more markers (tissue papers), so we had to hack our way to higher grounds. after bashing for sometime and making little headway, our leader decided that we could be on the wrong track. i mentioned that we had actually walked past some steps further back. jason then checked the photos of the steps which guat had taken earlier. he confirmed that those were the steps leading to the shrine.

so, we backtracked and came to a place that resembled a platform. moving further in, we found a few more flights of steps leading to some kind of a hill. near the top was a water trough carved out of a solid block of granite. around it were some disc-like granite pieces which could have served as holders for some supports.

there was no shinto shrine to be found. at the top, we found slabs of granite strewn over an area overgrown by plants.

a typical shinto shrine in japan

the jinja shrine site has been designated by the national heritage board as a historic site. you can read about about it here.

if you go in by the terentang trail, you should be able to reach the site in less than an hour, provided you do not lose your way.


JasonOngSg said...

Good photos, Mr ong.

yg said...

jason, i can send the original photos to you via your email. could you give me your email address? if the others want the photos, i can also send them to their emails.

my email add:

Lam Chun See said...

If it is a heritage site, shouldn't the authorities make it more accessible to the public?

BTW, how long was the entire trek (in terms of distance I mean)?

yg said...

chun see, there are a number of routes leading to the site. in the past, we would cross the water in the reservoir to get to it. today, the shortest route to it is to approach from the terentang trail. my estimate of the distance - from venus drive to the shrine and back - is between 5km and 6km.
jason, is my estimate close?

JasonOngSg said...

YG, from the Venus Drive carpark to the Terantang Trail, it was 2.1km, from the trail, I will say it was about 200m to the entrance of the track. It looks likes 1.5km up to the guardhouse/kitchen. So it should be closer to 7.5km. But if you are starting from the carpark at Macritche resevoir, then you have to add 4 more kilometer

Icemoon said...

I think I try to get an inflatable to the reservoir and row across it. :P

Thanks for the tip. Will be fun to do this history cum trekking project.