Oze Katashina michi no eki, as expected, was an excellent place to stay. The toilet facilities must be the best of any michi no eki in Japan. I have never seen better from Kagoshima to Wakkanai. Unfortunately, due to panic induced by a sudden, torrential downpour, we forgot all about the special toothbrushing room, so that remains untested.
We set off for Nikko, following R.120, to walk at Senjogahara. We have walked here before, in winter, but that did not prepare us for the huge number of school groups. When we returned to the Akanuma car park after our walk, there were 18 tour buses parked. Presumably there were a similar number parked at the other end of the route as I doubt the school trips walk round trip.
It is a good walk nevertheless, most of the way along a wooden walkway but woodland paths too. The walk follows fast flowing steams through flat wetlands that, with the surrounding mountains, provide some wonderful scenery. I was excited by a sighting of a Mandarin Duck, a female with her ducklings, but no sign of the colourful male.
In hindsight, I would avoid the school trip seasons.
＊Senjogahara hiking map ; http://www.nikkoyumoto-vc.com/cgi-bin/cms/cms_res/file/000/001/1431670421_1400.pdf
From Nikko we drive to Tokyo. The long haul through the conurbation is a trial but family commitments make it a must.
A Sunday, and a wet one, out in Tokyo is not easy. Everywhere is very busy but we have booked a visit to the Planetarium. This is in Odaiba, a popular Sunday destination for young families and young people generally.
We take the Yurikamome Line through a futuristic landscape that may, but does not seem to, contain human habitation.
When we arrive at Miraikan there is a very long queue to buy tickets. This is to enter various attractions at the site not necessarily the planetarium. It soon becomes clear that, although we have booked online, we won’t get to the ticket booth before the time of the show.
The large number of people swelling the queue are not, of course, we realize, for the planetarium but for the Woolly Mammoth exhibition. On explaining this, to a handy official, we can skip the queue and proceed to the 6th. floor in time for the show.
＊Miraikan ; 630 yen / adult
The show is quite interesting. 3-D glasses and headsets for English explanations are provided. The presentation is aimed at 10-year olds, so it suited me fine. Don’t take a babe in arms, as one person did, the experience clearly terrifies babies.
After the show we wander about the vast building to see the other exhibits on the other floors. We visit one exhibit about mosquitoes and learn something of the history of the mosquito coil and more. Surprisingly fascinating.
＊Planetarium at Dome Theatre ; 310 yen / adult
On the science floor there was a lot of stuff well over my head and some well below, but we became totally absorbed watching the 3 different patterns of brief vapour trails left by the 3 kinds of neutrinos as they pass through alcohol vapour. Now that was something I certainly didn’t know.
There were all manner of interactive things – from manipulating keyhole surgery instruments to playing with the severed feet of chickens. More technical, was the possibility of riding a Honda mobile stool or watching Ashimo strut his stuff.
Access to these was not always easy, – wet Sunday, busloads of Chinese tourist – but pick you day and a great place for a family outing. There is food available, but I noticed the smart people brought their own packed lunch.
Outside there is a lot of open space as you walk across to see the Gandam statue. From there you take the crowded Yurikamome on a brief trip through the future to the more prosaic Yamamoto line.
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.