Oct. 22nd. 2022,
Good night at michi no eki Resti Karako-kagi on the outskirts of Nara. The number of overnight vehicles seems to have increased since our last visit.
On leaving, the first thing we do is fill up with fuel. Nara is significantly cheaper than Nagoya. Why should that be?
Full tank, we set off into the mountains to Dorogawa onsen at Tenkawa-mura. This village is the gateway to Ominesan Temple. Well, gateway for males, women are forbidden to approach too close.
The onsen village is crowded into a narrow valley so charging for parking is a local industry. We park at Ryusenji Temple, and D. collects a Goshuin.
En-no-gyoja, who was the founder of the Shugedo Buddhist sect, also founded Ryusenji. The temple itself seemed unremarkable. There is a large pond or perhaps tank as it is on the rectangular side. Very clear water which is tied up with the foundation myth and dragons. Another likely story.
Tenkawa Dai-Benzaiten Shrine
Leaving Ryusenji, we start to walk to the gate of Ominesan temple, beyond which women are forbidden but the walk is of little interest, so we abandon this idea and visit Tenkawa Dai-Benzaiten shrine instead. This shrine is located down some very narrow, village streets and as it is very busy, for some reason I cannot fathom, there is considerable confusion in and out of the car park. The shrine is busy but of no particular interest to the casual visitor. There is a Noh stage and D. collects a Goshuin.
So, after a brief visit we set off for the Mie coast following route 309. This, I suppose, national road between Tenkawa-mura and Kami-Kitayama is quite something. The road is mostly single track, windy and narrow. Anglers use it as it follows a superbly rocky and blue, green river, as do climbers as it runs through a very, very deep steep valley. I have driven many such roads and enjoy them but this one goes on and on and on. Eventually we reach open road, I am tired but happy.
Next, a return visit to Onigajo or Demon’s Castle. This is a fantastic, coastal rock formation. There is a path around a headland of very unusual rocks created by, I think, undersea eruptions, land rising and falling due to earthquake activity plus millennia of wind and wave erosion on the quartz trachyte. Well worth a visit.
Now dark, we drive a few kilometres to Park Shichiri-mihama. This michi no eki has an adjoined supermarket. Sadly, neither the supermarket nor the michi no eki is worth stopping for so we move on down the road, pick up a makeshift dinner from a convenience store, and stop for the night at Kihoumigami Koen.
We have been here before but only to buy mikan. It is a far better place than Park Shichiri-mihama for an overnight stay.
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.