March 30th. 2023
Gojo City, Shinmachi 五條市新町
A good night at Kudoyama, but as expected the facilities are inadequate for the morning rush.
Last evening, it was the hang out for the local teens but in the early morning it is the turn of the old men.
From the michi no eki, we set off to visit Gojo city. Here there is a street of Edo era buildings. Once a thriving merchant area on an important route but times have changed. It gave us a pleasant walk in the morning sunshine but there is little of real interest for the casual visitor. There are the remnants of an early Showa era train line that was never completed.
The Yoshino River, which runs parallel to the merchant street was arrayed with Koi Nobori at this time of year.
Mitake no Sakura 三多気の桜
From Gojo we drive to Mitake. This is a cherry blossom viewing spot, so I feared the worst. Happily, my pessimism proved groundless, and we enjoyed a very pleasant walk uphill through a few houses to a small temple Shinpuku-in.
There is cherry blossom, of course, but nothing out of the ordinary. Rice paddies are slowly filling with water and, interestingly, an old house was being re-thatched. The smart new thatch looking splendid indeed.
There were people obviously, but no serious crowds and the parking was free and easy. I would, however, be wary of visiting this place at a weekend.
Mitsumata viewing in Misugi 美杉のミツマタ
From the Sakura at Mitake, we drive to Misugi to see the Mitsumata blooming under the Sugi (cedar) trees. Mitsumata is a strange bush that branches into three shoots from a main bough. It has strange yellow/gold flowers reminiscent of a corn cob. The bark is used to make traditional Japanese washi paper.
At Misugi, we park in the free parking area provided by a local gymnasium and walk the 1.3 kilometres through a largely deserted village. Some splendid but deserted houses. On, up through the woods. Here there is a maze-like course set out through the Mitsumata bushes. In the late afternoon the sun is low and filtered through the tall Sugi trees but where it catches the Misumata flowers the bushes shine golden. The extent of these bushes under the Sugi trees, usually a dead area, is a sight to see.
This grove is not natural but was planted in 1955. Since then, it has expanded.
Route 368 and Iidaka-eki 飯高駅
From Misugi we drive Route 368. to find our michi no eki for the night. This road we discover is one of those ridiculously narrow roads curling up, down and very around through thick forest with serious ditches and drops on either side. Not much oncoming traffic but we did meet one rent a car the seemed determined to pass us on the wrong side.
The michi no eki Iidaka-eki is a large place with a very nice onsen. It also has a restaurant as well as the usual veg. and omiyage shops.
Sadly, from a shachuhaku point of view it is poor. The 24-hour toilet facilities are very limited, obscure, and far from the main parking area. One might almost conclude they don’t want overnight guests.
＊Iidaka no yu ; 760 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.