This being a national holiday, michi no eki ‘Adachi’ is very busy early on a bright, breezy morning. Today we plan to walk around the many lakes and admire the views of Ura Bandai. As we begin to drive up into this mountain area, we can see a very large rainbow ahead. This means it is raining up there. The higher we get, the worse the weather gets. We can see the cloud pouring over the ridges of the mountain until finally the rain is falling in torrents and the wind must be approaching typhoon levels.
michi no eki ‘Tsuchiyu’
It is cold, wet and very windy when we stop at michi no eki ‘Tsuchiyu‘ high in the mountains and have a bowl of wild mushroom soup. The doors of the place keep slamming in the wind and the rubbish bins have gone AWOL. We drive the skyline, but, with the trees, rain and low cloud, we get only occasional glimpses of the mountain above and the plains of Fukushima below.
＊R. 115 from Inawashiro
michi no eki ‘Bandai’
Once we arrive at Inawashiro Lake area, the rain is so persistent it is clear we cannot go walking with any degree of enjoyment. We decide to check out the road stations (michi-no-eki) that are possible places to stay. The first is michi no eki ‘Bandai’ and this is clearly a good place to stay but as we are at something of a loss due to the weather we decide to examine another possibility.
＊on Pref. R. 7
michi no eki ‘Aizu Yugawa – Aizu Bange’
Michi no eki ‘Aizu Yugawa – Aizu Bange‘ is huge and has security directing the traffic in the parking area. After parking far from the building entrance, we investigate the place. It is packed with people having lunch and we decide to try the local form of Katsu-don so grab a take-out to eat in the car. As we leave the shelter of the building, the rain returns dramatically and we dash for the van. This Katsu-don is a big mistake. The tonkatsu (pork cutlet) is so steeped in oil and sugar as to be virtually inedible and, having managed to eat it, one regrets ones perseverance.
＊on R. 49
michi no eki ‘Kita no Sato’
Nursing our protesting digestions, we move on to another road station in Kitakata. Michi no eki ‘Kita no Sato’ was to be our destination the following night, after walking the lakes. Now, we will visit the lakes tomorrow, if the weather improves. The michi no eki is not large but it has an onsen and a large pond with an impressive collection of ducks. Deciding to make this our base, we head into Kitakata to the supermarket.
We find the Ito Yokado easily but D. is interested in Lion ’Dor which we are unfamiliar with. We can see this supermarket but find it impossible to approach due to a combination of roads closed, due to a local festival, narrow streets and one way systems. After circling our goal a few times, we give up and return to our michi-no-eki to park up in the rain and read until it get too dark.
The onsen is surprisingly large, perhaps 20 or 30 washing places but every one is in use. The place is so busy, I have to wait and plan my strategy for grabbing a washing spot. The bath is good with a fine rotenburo (outside bath) but too busy and too many kids dashing about to relax. D. says the women’s side was peaceful. Back to the van with the rain pouring down and still teeming as I write this.
＊on R. 121
＊onsen ‘Kura no yu’ ; 500 yen
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.