Unexpected rain in the night and I find my crocs full of water. There is a grey, watery sky but no actual rain. I count at least 42 shachuhaku vehicles in the parking area of michi-no-eki Kita no Sato. Mostly they are camper vans but there is the man in the K (small size) car and a couple in a BMW! Not sure what that was about? After checking the ducks on the small lake – pintail and pocard – we set off for Tsurugajo castle in Aizu.
Aizu-Wakamatsu Tsurugajo castle
The Tsurugajo castle proves to be very busy even though it is still quite early but, not very interesting. Its history, although it tied in with other things we have seen –the Meiji warship in Hokkaido, Hakodate and the Date clan – was the usual vague and confusing glimpse. I should be grateful, of course, that there is anything at all in English.
＊entrance fee ; 410 yen/adult
Ouchi-juku & Tou no Hetsuri
After the castle, our next destination is Ouchi-juku (post town) which D. has been wanting to visit for some time. As we approach this place, my alarm bells start ringing: firstly, the traffic jam begins when we are still some distance away, secondly, there are large number of tour buses and the final straw – portaloos at the side of the road.
We decide to abandon this idea and head, by a circuitous route, to a famous gorge ‘Tou no Hetsuri’. This place is also teeming with people. It is Sunday after all, and not so far from Tokyo. The gorge is interesting enough but D. declines to cross the suspension bridge. I go over and briefly view the shrine and cave on the other side.
On leaving the gorge we mistake our road and are forced to retrace our steps which takes most of the rest of the afternoon. When we arrive at the michi-no-eki where we plan to stay, we have no food. We have passed no supermarkets at all so, are forced to drive on. Still we come across no shops, only woods ablaze with brilliant autumn colours and a large troop of monkeys, until we arrive in Nikko. Here in the michi no eki Nikko, there is at last a convenience store so, something to eat – even if not ideal.
So today we left Tohoku and arrived in Kanto.
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.