We head for Matsue to visit the castle. The castle, or the remaining, very fine black tower, is original – built in 1611. This trip all seems to connect with Sekigahara as the previous one was all Meiji restoration.
We wander the castle grounds but do not enter. We do go into the large, nearby Meiji era building that was built for a visit of the Meiji emperor that never occurred. The crown prince who later became the Taisho emperor, whom nobody wants to talk about very much, did show up. The building is empty of anything, including interest but it looks good from the outside. We go to look at the Samurai houses, but these are all coffee shops and soba restaurants, wander past Lafacidio Hearn’s house but the drizzle that had not induced us to open our umbrellas becomes more insistent and we decide to leave Matsue, slightly disappointed.
Driving Lake Shinji
By the time we are out of the city the rain is significant and relentless. Driving along the shore of Shinjiko we are impressed by the huge number of bird but it is very difficult to find places where it is possible to stop and with access to the lake side. Where these coincide, there is a corresponding absence of birds.
Michi-no-eki Aika Nagisa Koen is on the lakeside and we pulled in here once before to take pictures of the sun setting over the water. It is a pleasant RS even if the toilets need improvement and we think about staying but it is too early in the day. This RS rents canoes and we resolve to take advantage of this in warmer weather.
An iron making village in the mountains is our next destination but we realize that the drive, on narrow mountain roads, will take too long for us to arrive before dark so we give up and make for Kirara Taki on the coast. This is a very popular michi-no-eki selling a number of fig products. We had a fig soft cream on a previous visit but this will be our first time to stay. Last time the wind here, sweeping in off the sea, was very strong indeed but this time, although the windmills on the top of the headland are turning steadily, the wind is not noticeable. The rain is. We park as close to the toilet as possible. My nocturnal trip will be dampening.
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.