Lake Tateshina, Art in the morning and Bijyogaike 蓼科湖
Miichi no eki Venus Line Tateshinako
Michi no eki Venus Line Tateshinako is an excellent place for an overnight stay. When we arrived, it was busy with Sunday excursionists but by 8pm it was very quiet with only a handful of shachuhaku vehicles. The facilities are excellent, very modern and clean. They are in a stand-alone rectangular building, but the main doors are closed at night, access being through small doors at either end of the building. This can be confusing.
The small lake offers a fine walk which we enjoyed in the evening and again, in the opposite direction, in the morning. There is also a small park featuring a number of sculptures, open to the public and free.
We were rather contemptuous of many of the works on display but discovered that most of the exhibits were by Kitamura Seibo. Who is famous for the peace statue in Nagasaki. Not that I am a big fan of that either. That said, there were some good things too – like the tiger.
Leaving the lake, we take the Venus line and various other named roads that wind up and down and through the mountains to Matsumoto. Throughout this drive, we pass the susuki (Japanese pampas grass) covered hillsides and steep rocky gorges, a myriad of autumn colours. As we follow the Kirigamine Line, past the Yashimagahara wetlands, we encounter quite thick fog. No point in walking that course today.
After shopping in Matsumoto and enduring the traffic, we head out towards Takayama and Kamikochi as the rain sets in in earnest. We follow Route 158, in procession traffic winding through tunnels in the wet.
We stop at Okuhidaonsengo Kamitakara. This is a small michi no eki, but parking is possible close to the facilities. Important on a wet night.
Okuhidaonsen Kamitakara michi no eki
The rain stopped around midnight, but the weather has turned cooler.
Okuhidaonsen Kamitakara is a splendid place for an overnight stay. It has good, well-functioning facilities and rubbish bins. There were few other overnight vehicles and so not busy in the morning. The forecast is cloudy; therefore, we postpone our planned visit to Kamikochi until tomorrow as the weather is set to improve. Consequently, we set off to visit Bijyogaike.
This pond proves to be not only tricky to find but a disappointment on arrival. There are wooden boardwalks around a small pond that provide a short stroll through the woods and the skunk cabbage (somehow highly thought of in Japan).
The woods were alive with Jays, and we spotted a small woodpecker which was nice. Unfortunately, there was a loudspeaker blaring out a radio program; two people discussing Super Mario. This seemed to me to be superfluous.
The area around the pond is clearly a camping ground though the season was well over, and the swan pedal boats tied up for the winter.
Completing the circuit of the pond we head for Takeyama. Not our favourite place, but we need shopping. In Takeyama we take a look at a free museum ’Takayama Town Museum` and are happily surprised to find a collection of Enku statues. Enku was a wandering monk and a prolific creator of strong, if crude, statues. We have come across his work here and there. He really was prolific.
Then off to Hirayu Onsen for a bath. We had hoped to find a new place to go but were too late in the day. Most of these onsen close to outside visitors by 3pm. So Hirayu it has to be. However, business here had not returned to pre-pandemic levels, so the bath was almost empty. Very hot, slightly sulphurous and uncharacteristically empty. Hirayu at its best.
Then back to Okuhidaonsengo Kamitakara for another night.
＊Hirayu no mori ; 600 yen / adult
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.