Day 15, September 2016,
Up at 6.30 and, after breakfast, we explore the nearby, marshy area that features, at this time of year, the famous red grasses (Coral grass). We see the same elderly watercolourist, who was busy painting the lake where we ate our lunch yesterday. D. envies his talent.
Time to leave the coast for a bit, so we bid farewell to the Sea of Okhotsk and head inland towards the mountains and the famous Sounkyo gorge. We find a campsite in the trees that is fine but, it must be said, has gone somewhat to seed.
Having decided our campsite, we drive to visit the gorge and attendant waterfalls called Ryusei (meteor) and Ginga (galaxy). The weather is overcast but not cold and the gorge, as you approach, is quite something. It looks like America. Not that I have been there, but it looks like pictures of American scenic spots.
As we get to the falls, we are directed to park by a rather officious parking attendant. From the car park area, we can view two separate falls and, as the path along the river is closed only a short distance from the car park due to the recent typhoon damage (2016), that is the extent of the famous site.
Having been underwhelmed by the spectacle, we think about climbing a trail to a view point from which, apparently, it is possible to view both falls at once. Unfortunately, the path has a bear warning and, suddenly, we both find the track too steep.
As we spend more time in the north, we realize that there are bear warnings basically everywhere and become a little more sanguine. So, saying farewell to the famous gorge we head to the onsen that our campsite has provided us with discount tickets for.
The onsen, in the middle of the little onsen town of Sounkyo, caters for climbers and other forms of tourist. D. warns, that this may prove to be the most crowded onsen I have ever experienced. Unfortunately, she is absolutely right. A functional washing situation in distressing, rather than relaxing circumstances, is the outcome of this venture and I am glad to be outside again.
Sounkyo auto campsite
We return to our campsite, at dusk, to cook dinner. There are deer wandering everywhere.
Luckily, we find this site has a coin laundry and we really need one.
Well after dark, a large Chinese family arrive, pitch tents and proceed to cook up a storm.
Waking in the night as usual, I slip outside and disturb 7 or 8 deer grazing very close to the car.
＊Sounkyo auto-campsite (01658-5-3368) 500 yen / a tent
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.