Nanki Shirahama, South Wakayama Coast 南紀白浜
Day 78, November 2016,
Kii Oshima, Kashinozaki Lighthouse 紀伊大島、樫野埼灯台
After a wet night, the rain is still lingering at michi-no-eki Kushimoto Hashigui-iwa so we start the day slowly as the rain is forecast to ease. Kii Oshima is our first destination where there are views of some, apparently, interesting rock formations.
We discover a stone lighthouse ‘enlightened’, as the plaque would have it, in 1872. This lighthouse was one of 6 designed by British engineers due to some treaty with the Edo Bakufu. The lighthouse was surrounded by narcissus brought from Britain by the engineers. There was also an English Oak planted in 2002 but it didn’t look too healthy to me. In the same spot there is a monument and a museum to commemorate the saving of Turkish navy sailors by the local people. There is a Turkish shop selling ceramics and another selling carpets. Neither of which is open.
On the way to see the rocks we come across 3 tanuki (raccoon) in the road, one of which was very mangy looking. The rock formations are ok but the coastline with craggy cliffs and deep inlets is, in itself, impressive.
South Wakayama Coastline
The weather had improved considerably by this point, so we return to last night’s michi-no-eki to view the rock pillars in sunshine and take some photographs. This is followed by a leisurely drive along Route 42 – as long as it is the coast road.
The coastline along this route is very beautiful. The with lots of offshore islets. These are dotted with pines and laced with deep, green seas in rocky inlets. After lunch, at a very new michi-no-eki ‘Susami’ , we branch off Route 42, as it becomes a new road cutting through numerous tunnels. We stick to the old road along the coast.
Suddenly, at every lay-by or possible parking place there are cats. Cats everywhere, even lying in the middle of the road in the sunshine and not inclined to move at our approach. Avoiding recumbent cats, we make our way to Senjojiki, another singular geological feature. This is a large area of sandstone uplifted and, subsequently, eroded by the waves.
By now, the wind has picked up and the sea is a mass of white horses. The fine spay from the waves breaking on the sandstone, is blown over us tourists, many of whom are young Koreans from tour buses. I am surprise at how hesitant they are maneuvering on the smooth eroded rocks even though they are sandstone and not slippery at all.
Muro No Yu 牟婁の湯
To end the day, we return to Shirahama to visit the very famous public onsen ‘Muro no yu’. This is very old fashioned and quite small. There are 2 baths, one unusually deep and hot the other less so. Refreshed, we walk back to the car, (it is a little difficult to park nearby) along the Shirahama. The sand really is white – is it really natural? The sun is setting in a splendid fashion and a lot of ragged clouds are helping to enhance the show. Very pretty indeed.
＊Muro noyu ; 420 yen / adult
Feb. 2023 ; at present this onsen is only open for local residents. this may be a pandemic precaution.
Michi no eki Kuchikumano
It is dark when we set off to find our michi-no-eki ‘Kuchikumano‘ for the night. It is a short drive but the last bit proves very complicated. We pass over a tiny rail crossing, through concrete tunnels under the highway, reverse out of dead ends before finally arriving at the back of the michi-no-eki. Literally at the back, where there is a car park mainly for deliveries. The front is on the expressway and we cannot enter by car. It is accessible on foot through a gate in the wire fence. A very odd place.
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.