It’s a bitter cold morning with a biting wind as we wait at the michi no eki ‘Ikarigaseki‘ to buy apples and walnuts. As the road ‘Hachimantai Aspite line‘, that we had planned to take to Hachimantai, is closed due to sudden cold, we need to think again.
On impulse, we decide to check the campsite we plan to stay at. The vast auto camp with chalets and a tent area is very much deserted. No one in evidence and the toilets locked, though the place is advertised as open.
Yakehashiri lava field
Near this deserted campsite, on one side of Mt. Iwate, we walk the Yakehashiri lava flow. This lava field was formed in an eruption in the 1700’s. It is like a great river of coke. Barren, to a great extent, but a few pines growing on what, perhaps, was higher ground. In places, where the snow must linger, there is lichen growing on the lava itself. It must be many years before this lava breaks down into productive soil.
Goshogake (Onuma) campsite
Growing short of daylight and nowhere to stay, D. calls a campsite to check it is open We head there in a 2 hour dash around Mount Iwate to beat the darkness, arriving at twilight.
At Goshogake campsite, we are welcome to park in the car park, near the camp office, and use the cooking facilities in the basement. We also are free to use the dining room TV and heater. A very obliging place. There is no one else staying at all. The young man in charge of the campsite, which is a sort of outdoor activity centre, directs us to the nearby onsen. This is open until 6 and he gives us discount tickets,
Arriving at the onsen at about 5.30 we find the onsen man in the process of leaving. He reluctantly agrees that the onsen is indeed officially open till 6 and opens it up putting the lights back on. The bath is large and, of course, deserted. I would have liked to linger but feel pressure knowing the guy wants to go home. D. and I are leaving by 10 to 6 but now the guy feels guilty for causing us to rush and is very friendly and solicitous warning us not to catch cold after the hot bath.
After dinner in the dining room where we don’t use the heater still hot from the bath we relax before going back to the car. Writing this wrapped up warm no real problem but it is getting very cold at night.
＊Goshogake campsite 600yen (shachuhaku, 400 yen/car+100 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.