Leave Nanamori Kiyomi michi no eki with an end of trip feeling. We are definitely heading home.
Nanamori Kiyomi michi no eki, however, deserves some recognition. It is a good place to stay. The toilets are clean and relatively modern, and the flowers are changed daily. (This is always an excellent sign.) The vegetable shop is cheap and popular.
The michi no eki is also very convenient for Takayama, as a short, free highway leads directly into the town.
We, on the other hand, now head for Gujo Hachiman on the Seseragi Kaido (R.257, R472). This is a good road to drive and far from busy in the times I have used it. Then, via Seki we headed up to the north of Lake Biwa. to avoid arriving at Kutsuki Shin Honjin michi no eki too early.
At the michi no eki as I write this it is raining hard again. Home begins to call more loudly.
Ohara Sanzenin 大原三千院
We set off for Sanzenin in Ohara, just outside Kyoto. This temple is a little out of the way, the access road being steep and narrow and dotted with 500-yen car parks. There is, perhaps, no free car park and if you park lower down you have a longer walk up the hill for the same price. On the other hand, you have less hassle getting out again if the place is busy.
The temple is large and quite interesting. The hall, containing the main image, is original and very old, dating from the Heian Era. In the treasure hall is a replica of the original showing how it would have looked in that period – very brightly coloured.
The temple has large gardens to walk around. The moss, in this rainy season, is a wonderful shade of green. There are also unusual stone sculptures lying in the grass.
＊Sanzenin ; 700 yen / adult
Nearby is the small but user friendly temple, Housenin. Here you are welcome to take pictures of the interior and the view of the garden. Green tea is served as part of the entrance fee package. This temple has a small, elaborate and necessarily compact garden. This is unusual, to my untutored eye, as being rather noisy, visually that is.
＊Housenin ; 800 yen / adult (with green tea and sweets)
Not wishing to get caught in Kyoto city traffic, on a 3-day weekend on the eve of Gion Matsuri, we loop around Kurama and over the mountains to Miyama. This is a narrow, mostly single-track road. The last time we used it we met little, if any traffic, but on this holiday weekend there are various cars, motorcycles and bicycles climbing up or down.
Reaching Miyama, we take a wander around the traditional thatched village (Kayabuki no sato). The houses do not have the grand scale and unique style of Shirakawago, but it is much less crowded and still a place where it is possible for people to live. One of the houses was being re-thatched, which was interesting to see.
Thatched houses, pretty gardens full of flowers, in the countryside not far from Kyoto, free parking ! – irresistible.
Just don’t go when they test the fire hoses drenching the thatch. this is a photogenic treat but the place is overrun with of tour buses.
Kyotamba Ajimu no Sato
We have no food so have to drive to Kameoka to find a supermarket and then head back this way to find a michi no eki. We take a look at Spring Hiyoshi but don’t like the place at all so drive on, or back, to Kyotamba Ajimu no sato.
This is a SA on the highway but at the back is a michi no eki car park. This is a new facility, so the amenities are very good but basically on the SA side so quite a trek. In the wet this would be a problem, but tonight is unusually fine. There is one, multi-purpose, toilet on the michi no eki side that is available 24 hours. There are also plenty of rubbish bins.
The parking is on top of a hill and there is a wide expanse of grass with benches overlooking a valley and the blue hills beyond. This provides sunsets and starry skies.
There is also a large tented area that at the time of writing was hosting a BMW showroom. So, we have a guard man patrolling through the night. We will sleep the more soundly.
After all, long day of driving with little real progress towards Kyushu.
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.