Michi no eki Nou deserves mixed reviews. It is spacious with aforementioned artworks – some of which work well with the splendid sunset others are poorly positioned – but the toilet though functional is just not big enough for the traffic.
Travelling on, up the coast road expecting something special but are disappointed. This area of coast is hyped as spectacular but is not that interesting. A day of driving to no great purpose.
Michi no eki Atsumi
We end the day at michi no eki Atsumi This is also on the coast and provides a suitable sunset. The facilities are much better than Michi no eki Nou, large and clean. There are steps down to the black rocks behind the buildings and it has rubbish bins. A good place for an overnight.
Road Closed due to snow
On leaving Michi no eki Atsumi we attempt to drive a minor road away inland to post town Omata then loop back to the Japan Sea coast through Dewa Kaido (an Edo era route Basho took in Tohoku area). At first this is fine, taking us through small village communities as we climb steadily upwards along the course of a fine rushing stream. Unfortunately, we do not get far before we encounter a road closed sign. The remains of snow still piled high by the houses and still deep in shady spots make it clear why we cannot proceed.
Nevertheless, the route we have to take as second best turns out to be an interesting and picturesque road far better than the dull coast. This road links Route 7 to Murakami city in Niigata.
Our goal for the day is Fukushima-Gata or lagoon. This is a marshland noted for flowers and birds. On arrival, we find the car park busy on a sunny Sunday. So sunny that the temperature is an unseasonal 27 degrees. As a wetland offers little or no shade it was hot.
This is a large and interesting place of ponds, paths and plants. So large that the crowds are only noticeable near the parking area. The Nanohana (rape blossoms) are in bloom and the snowy mountains stark in the distance across the ponds make a pretty picture.
We wander for a long time noting the huge carp thrashing in the shallow muddy water probably mating. There are numerous ducks, herons and egrets.
This is an excellent place that I think has rewards in any season, but I would love to come here in the depths of winter.
Diet of Swans
A garrulous old gentleman informed us at length that, Someone who used to feed the swans in winter, was fired because he turned the tables and ate a swan. The new guy, apparently, does not know how to feed the swans properly. A shame, but they are certainly more secure.
Michi no eki Kugami
From Fukushima-Gata we drive to Michi no eki Kugami for the night. At first it appears small and rather dark, but this is due to extensive renovation. The toilet is large, very clean and well appointed. There is also an adjacent onsen with illuminated cherry trees leading up to it. Early on a Sunday night, it is busy with local people. The onsen is adequate and functional if a little overcrowded. There are a number of other shachuhaku vehicles in the car park.
＊Temari no yu onsen ; 500yen / adult (300yen after 17:00)
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.