Nov. 1st. 2022,
Nakatosa michi no eki
Nakatosa michi no eki proves to be a fine place to stay. It is flat, has good modern facilities, a dog run, provides plenty of rubbish bins and clearly marked evacuation routes in case of a tsunami. This being the Pacific coast of Koichi, something to keep in mind.
It is adjacent to a small port, busy with fishing boats unloading.
Misaki to Saganoseki Ferry
There was a little light rain in the night but by the time we set off for the ferry port at Misaki this has stopped. We follow last night’s baffling road of wide metalled road, tunnels and narrow tracks.
The Kokudo 94 ferry from Misaki to Saganoseki, Kyushu leaves every hour (except 1.30pm) so we expect to make the 2.30pm.
On arrival, we are warned we may not get on the 2.30pm, in which case we will be on the 3.30pm. There is an ominous line of large trucks, but we board without problem.
The crossing takes 70 minutes, and we are soon heading for michi no eki Asobo no sato Kugino. Nevertheless, it is well after dark as we pull in. We have been here before and are familiar with the lay-out, but it is large, and parking is on two levels so can be confusing. The lower level is where you want to be.
Relax with a beer after a long day of driving.
Aso Eboshidake climbing
After a quiet night at the michi no eki, we drive up Mt. Aso from the south. It is not possible to view the crater these days as it is too active, but we are making for Kusasenri to climb Eboshidake. This is one of the Aso five peaks and a short easy climb.
There are two routes to the top, so a circular hike is possible. From the Kusasenri parking area, we take the route to the left, nearer the Aso crater. This is perhaps slightly longer but less consistently steep. The going underfoot is generally thick, black lava soil and short stretches of wooden steps. Coming down by the alternative route is steeper and perhaps more rocky.
The views from the summit are very rewarding, especially so, as the morning is very clear in bright sunshine. We can see Unzendake in the distance which is apparently rare. The whole Aso caldera surrounds us in stark detail.
We are also surprised by the number of butterflies that seem to imagine it is spring. We noted five distinct varieties though I cannot identify butterflies. We also saw a small, green frog in the grass. This is high on a mountain in November.
From Aso we take the Milk Road and then the Yamanami Highway, always a joy to drive. Well, off season anyway.
After enjoying a final hot spring (onsen) near Chojabaru at Kuju, we head off towards Hita and finally, home.
＊Kujyu Hossho Hotel Sankei no yu ; 1000 yen / adult
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.