19th. April 2022
Michi no eki Mikatagoko
Michi no eki Mikatagoko is a good place to stay. There is a view of the lake and it is quiet away from the road. On the other hand, the toilet is too small given the popularity of the place and irrationally it has no bins for rubbish. Not even for drink cans and bottles though there are 3 vending machines. I thought this irresponsible.
In the morning, we were disappointed to discover that the lakeside walking path does not extend very far at all. There are bird watching hides around the place but few bird at this time of year. Some of the hides appeared to be more decorative than useful.
From Mikatagoko, we drive to Amanohashidate in search of somewhere to stretch our legs. This is a pleasant, if rather dull, walk across a sand spit under a canopy of pines with the sea on both sides. These days there are ropeways at either end of the spit up to the viewing spots where you can look through your legs at the view. The least said about that the better.
It is possible to rent a bicycle to ride across the sand spit and take the ferry back or ride both ways. Of course, you could walk across and walk back as it is only 7.2 kilometres return and completely flat. Less than a 2-hour walk.
At the entrance side there are two bridges and, to my surprise, one of them is a swing bridge. As we are returning to the car park the bridge opens and two large barges pass through.
Also at the foot of the bridge there is a temple called Chionji Monju-do. This is dedicated to the god of wisdom and intellect. Consequently, this temple is very popular with the students and people preparing for exams.
Leaving Amanohashidate, we circumnavigate Tango Hanto(peninsula), dropping in a michi no eki Ine. Ine is an interesting fishing village noted for the boat houses under the waterfront residences. It has become famous due to the inevitable TV drama that used this village as a location. Many years ago, when Tango Hanto was our summer weekend destination, the road ran through the village but now, no doubt to the villagers relief, there is a by -pass. The tip of the peninsular offers some grand sea and high cliff vistas from a narrow cliff hugging road.
For the night we decide on michi no eki Kumihama . But first we travel on to Kinosaki Onsen having been meaning to try it for some time. I am a little hesitant where hugely famous onsen are concerned but this one turned out to be a delight. The streets in the old onsen area of the town are narrow and there is a canal running down the centre of the main drag. We park in a car park but leave the parking ticket in the car. This is a mistake as producing your parking ticket secures you an onsen discount.
Kinosaki onsen is very old and there are 7 onsen bathhouses in the town. People stay in this town and walk around from one onsen to another for a dip.
We visit the onsen Gosho no yu. It is a gem and I find myself soaking in a wonderful bath surrounded by natural stone. There is a waterfall cascading down the small cliff face, liberally forested with Momiji (Japanese Maple) just coming into fresh leaf and some stalwart Sakura still hoarding a few remaining petals. Amazingly, given the fame of this place, I am alone.
The road between Kinosaki onsen and Kumihama is prefectural route 9. This is a steep, tortuous, narrow, hair pinned delight. I confess I love these mountain passes and, in the twilight, glimpse the white arse of a deer.
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.