As we drove out of Shinwa no sato Shiro Usagi michi no eki this morning, I noted that the sea was on the other side of the road but it was not the most picturesque spot. The michi no eki was busy early, but quiet enough during the night.
Daisen, or more specifically Daisen-ji Temple, is our first objective and we steadily drive towards and up the mountain. We are surprised, on arrival, that such a famous spot is so run down.
The temple is rather sad and stands in not perfectly raked gravel but in what looks like the car park of a roadside ramen shop. It has no particularly distinguishing features that I, as a layman, can identify just an ordinary temple in need of repair.
We learn that the temple and accompanying shrine are both chronically short of funds. It is noticeable that, most people taking the walk through the cedar woods, to the shrine higher up the mountain, take the path that avoids going through the temple. Thus avoiding the 300-yen entrance fee. This path is also the route to the hiking trail for those ascending the mountain proper. On a beautiful sunny day with a clear blue sky and the leaves beginning to change colour, a very pleasant walk it is too.
The village or hamlet leading up to the temple was a mix of new activity – a large new building under construction – and a lot of decay. Many of the older shops restaurants and hotels are derelict. Perhaps this reflects the changing fashions. The older establishments from the 60’s and 70’s cannot attract clientele in the 21st. Century. Nevertheless, there was a lot of activity as preparations were underway for the approaching ski season. Skiing has declined in popularity among young Japanese from its height in the 80’s., as has tennis, but apparently skiing, and snowboarding of course, is beginning to make something of a comeback.
We eat a picnic lunch sitting on a grassy ski slope with a hazy Japan Sea way below and the mass of Daisen looming behind. To our right is an area fenced off with orange plastic netting to form a dog run. People with tiny dogs dressed in stupid outfits come and go. None staying long enough to give the unfortunate animals sufficient exercise.
Two separate kindergartens are enjoying the recently rare good weather. One group climb a grassy slope with much “Ya Hoo” ing. You need to get higher in the mountains for peace and quiet. My inner curmudgeon is showing.
Descending from Daisen we head in the direction of Matsue. However, as we intend to spend time there tomorrow we do not want to travel beyond. We pick up supplies and circle Nakaumi crossing the impossible bridge that strives to be as high as it is long and it is quiet long. Then drive the strange causeway road with water on both sides.
There are lots of water birds but, it’s not easy to stop on the causeway, so they remain unidentified. Joining the main road, at the end of the causeway, the road rises and there is michi no eki Honjo on the right where we considered staying.
michi no eki
It has fine level parking, clean modern toilets and a view of Nakaumi (well, with a bit of effort). It also has a 24-hour Family Mart and it being a Friday night D. is concerned about noisy through traffic. Consequently, we head on round Nakaumi so we are heading back towards Tottori. Here we hit rush hour traffic on R.9. so it is well past dark when we arrive at the michi no eki Ara Essa. This is on the road and near the train line but may prove to be more peaceful. As I write an election car blares past.
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.