Shimogamo Onsen Yunohana is not a bad place to stay but it is low lying, backs on to a river and is surrounded by foliage. In the rainy season it is hot and full of mosquitoes. Our night was not as bad as I make this sound and we both slept well.
The dismal weather is a problem. This area is famous for views of Mt. Fuji and that is out of the question.
As we drive the coast road R.136, the glimpses of the cliffs and coastline urge us to stop and admire the scenery. However, as in many areas like this, where the land drops abruptly into the sea, space is at a premium and parking therefore becomes an expensive commodity. Any attempts at parking for free are severely discouraged.
Matsuzaki and Iwashina Gakko 松崎 岩科学校
We do stop at Matsuzaki which offers free parking for 3 hours and we wander around looking at the few old buildings that survive. These are notable for the elaborate plaster work.
In this town is Iwashina Gakko, a preserved elementary school. Built 1880, people in the town donated about 40% of the construction cost. It has, more recently, acquired some status as a cultural heritage site.
The building is interesting enough, but it houses mannequins of school children and, for some reason, old agricultural implements. Which suggested the building was an insufficient attraction.
＊Iwashina School ; 300 yen / adult
Dogashima and Koganezaki 堂ヶ島、黄金崎
Moving on R.136, we come to Dogashima. This place has boat trips to view the rock formations and caves. These we do not sample. Instead, we scramble about, look at the rocks and enjoy what view is discernible in the murky atmosphere.
There is a causeway uncovered at low tide but, as we approach, we realize that the tide is coming in and beginning to wash over the shingle in places. Teeming rain is also approaching fast from over the sea.
We make it back to the car before the worst hits us and drive in torrential rain to Koganezaki. Here we sit until the rain eases and we are able to look around. This is another pointless, potential Fuji view, but an interesting cove, nonetheless. It provides a short walk along the cliff top, through a wooded area, with good views even in the gloom.
The rock formations and colours are worth seeing. From a boat, Mishima Yukio described the view of this headland as “like a flat, golden plate”. It may sound better in Japanese but made me question his credentials as a great writer. On the other hand, a line like that is hardly worth seppuku.
From the coast, to find any food, we had to cross the Heda Pass to Shuzenji ( a long and winding road) in thick fog for 30 min. and then retrace our steps to Kurura Heda michi no eki for the night. This michi no eki has an onsen which is modern, clean and functional. It is not special in any way but a great place for a bath when you need one.
＊Heda Onsen ‘Ichi-no-yu’ ; 500 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.