Lake Biwa Ohashi 琵琶湖大橋
Usuzumi Sakura no Sato is an excellent place. It has an large, clean, interesting, if a little kitsch, onsen. There is parking for perhaps 100 cars, but we were the only souls there. It is surrounded by misty mountains but, has a large, flat, grassy area. Much recommended.
Today, we make for Kyoto and Iwashimizu Hachimangu. The early part of a damp day, is a drive through pleasant scenery that deteriorates as the land flattens out towards Lake Biwa. The lake, as we approach, looks very mysterious; wreathed in cloud and mist, with towering grey skies.
Further south, crossing the toll bridge and stopping at the michi no eki ‘Lake Biwa Ohashi kome plaza’ , we make the same mistake as the last time we stopped here. That is, on leaving the michi no eki car park, even though mindful of our previous error, we find ourselves trapped into re-crossing the toll bridge and having to U-turn in the convenience store car park the other side. Thus, again, we pay the toll 3 times instead of once. Probably karma for not paying to enter some temple or other.
＊Lake Biwa Ohashi ; 150 yen
Skirting Kyoto city, past Sanjusangendo and Toji we head south towards Hirakata. On arrival, we walk up to Iwashimizu Hachimangu, avoiding the cable car.
Iwashimizu Hachimangu is one of three major Hachimangu in Japan, the other two are Usa Hachimangu in Oita and Hakozakigu in Fukuoka or Tsurugaoka Hachimangu in Kamakura. There is a difference of opinion as to which of these latter two qualifies.
Iwashimizu Hachimangu was a very important shrine for the Imperial house in the Heian era and for samurai lords during the Kamakura period. In the Heian era, the shrine, with an attendant temple, (destroyed in the Meiji period) was spectacular and people believed it protected the city of Kyoto.
It is only a thirty minute walk up to the shrine from the car park. The buildings are quite ornate but other than that of no particular interest as far as I can see. I suspect I am suffering from a surfeit of shrines.
D. has her Goshuin book inscribed and we descend the way we came.
Tajimarakuza Michi no Eki
Our next objective is to find a michi no eki at some elevation. The temperature is not so high about 26 degrees C. but the humidity is astronomical. So, after navigating the whirlpools of the Meishin Highway, south of Kyoto, we head for our old friend the Chugoku Expressway, exiting to Route 9 and stopping at Tajimarakuza Michi no eki. This place, in Yabu city, has a little elevation and an onsen.
Nevertheless, it is to be avoided at all costs. This place is, perhaps, popular for the beef restaurant and maybe the hotel but certainly not as a michi no eki. We would move on but I have driven too far today. It is a run down, 1970s Japan, sort of place.
＊michi no eki Tajimarakuza elevation ; 40m.
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.