Abo Toge / Abo Pass 安房峠
Michi no eki Fuketsu no sato is a busy michi no eki on the main route between Matsumoto and Takayama. Consequently, a lot of tour buses stop here and it is on the Highland Kamikochi and Norikura bus lines.
Thunder in the night and the day breaks cloudy with intermittent rain. After driving towards Matsumoto, to take advantage of the cheaper gasoline, we U-turn towards Takayama.
Skirting the town, we have wandered its crowded tourist sites in the rain before and have no desire to do so again, we head slowly on R. 173 towards Gujo Hachiman. Having time on our hands we plan to check a few michi no eki.
We followed R.158, the Abo toge (pass) to Hirayu. This is a fun road but on such a cloudy day there are no views of Mt. Hotaka from the top (1800m. high). This road, though it can be hair-raising, is fantastic in the Autumn for the colour of the leaves.
We still have strong memories of the autumn leaves on this road when we came this way by motorcycle more than 30 years ago. At that time it was the only road to take – no tunnel to swish through without noticing the mountain.
Stopping briefly in Hirayu to wander, we are forced to rush back to the car by a heavy downpour. Then the run to Gujo Hachiman. Here we pick up supplies in the Valor supermarket as we have done before and head off for our michi no eki ‘Usuzumi sakura no sato Neo’.
True to form, out navi takes us by way of very interesting and very minor roads, winding up mountains, through gorges and along river banks. Twice, on this route, we spotted monkeys crossing the road.
Pascal Kiyomi and Meiho Michi-no-eki
Two michi no eki (road station) on R.472(Seseragi kaido) that we checked deserve a mention. One was Pascal Kiyomi. It has explanations of panning for gold and access to a pretty, fast flowing stream behind it. Pascal Kiyomi is closed in winter.
The other was Meiho. This is famous for ham, apparently, but we were impressed by the elaborate steps, carp pond, patio and river access behind it. To be precise, behind the fish restaurant next door. Yamame(Trout) and Iwana (Char) at 400 yen – plus 40 minutes as the fish are swimming in the tank outside.
This river access has had considerable thought and effort put into it but, as so often, is falling into disrepair. Probably visitors to the michi no eki are unaware of it. People pull into the michi no eki, take a piss, look at the omiyage (gifts), buy a soft cream and leave. Sadly, few think to take a look around.
＊Usuzumi sakura no sato Neo elevation; 250m.
The author is a long term resident of Japan who has and continues to travel the country extensively. Avoiding highways where possible, the author has driven from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Wakanai in Hokkaido covering 20,000 plus kilometres and counting.