Michi no eki Senza Kitchen proves to be an OK place to stay. Even on a wet night the distance from the parking to the covered roofing is not so far. We leave and take a short drive to Omijima island.
Omijima is very popular with scuba divers and when we arrive, in the 300-yen car park, there are various dive school groups preparing to take to the water.
We are here to ramble along the Omijima nature coast path. This is an easy (approx. 3.5kilo) walk on a concrete path along the fabulous cliff tops. You can stop at the various viewing points to take stereotypical Japanese coastline pictures. I don’t mean that in a condescending way, for here is that iconic coast of pine trees hugging precipitous cliffs dropping into green, surf dashed waters. Wonderful, and familiar to people who have never had the opportunity to visit this country.
On our walk, we come across a Tonbi (Black Kite) nest just below our line of sight in pine tree not 3 metres away from the path but a long drop to the rocks below. The male bird is perched on a dead pine branch slightly above surveying us with a piecing gaze. The female flat on her nest being as unobtrusive as possible for a large bird, only one eye showing any sign of life. Sadly, it is clear that some of the nesting material is plastic bags.
Nevertheless, a grand walk and a wonderful way to start the day.
Motonosumi Jinja 元の隅神社
Unfortunately, our next stop is Motonosumi Jinja. Unusually, this shrine dates from only 1955 and although it is called a shrine it is not part of the national Shinto organization but privately owned.
We came here planning a picnic lunch. We remembered, from a previous visit, a string of red torii leading down to a deserted rocky outcrop with fine sea views. Ideal for lunch. This has now been transformed. I blame CNN.
Apparently, a CNN reporter who presumably was not that well-travelled so far as Japan was concerned, decided to broadcast that this spot was one of the most beautiful in the country. With, of course, disastrous results.
Now, there is a large fee demanding car park. A new Inali shrine with hideous gender depicted foxes, sporting that unfortunate Disney “cuteness” and lots of concrete retaining walls. Despite this D. spotted a Ten (marten) and there was a large bullfrog floating motionless in one of the small ponds.
We had to find a new spot for lunch, so drove on to Senjojiki which was a surprising delight. A spacious headland with free parking, free camping and free wandering about. There was a large area, of shall we say rough lawn, for camping most of it too steep but ideal for kids to run around. There are facilities for cooking, toilets, benches, a viewing platform and space for a quiet picnic. The view out over the sea with island headlands is splendid. There is also a vista over the surrounding countryside and a wind turbine.
Although here, we are within striking distance of home, we can leave this place and be home before dark, we decide to go to Akiyoshidai. Even on a sunny Sunday these Yamaguchi country roads are a joy. Sometimes steep and windy sometimes surprisingly straight but with almost no other traffic.
Akiyoshidai we have walked many times and although this time, as usual, we keep to the well-known concrete paths we vow to venture further afield when we have time and an adequate map. As it is, a quick peregrination enjoying the open grassland and exposed limestone teeth. The air alive with the larks high chatter, pheasant’s croaks and the occasional uguisu (warbler).
Michi no eki Ofuku
Rushing down from Akiyoshidai to an onsen and a michi no eki for the night we pull into Ofuku but soon pull out again. It is not suitable for shachuhaku as the toilets are too far from the parking and the parking too close to the road.
Michi no eki Hotaru Kaido Nishi no Ichi
So, we set off again to michi no eki Hotaru Kaido Nishi no Ichi. We have stayed here before and had a good impression, but it has been upgraded since we were here last. The car park is huge as it is very popular in June, (Hotaru (firefly) season).
The michi no eki has a restaurant, a gift shop, a steam locomotive and “a doko demo door “(aficionados of TV manga Doreamon will understand)
The Onsen is excellent, and I am sure refurbished since our last visit. The outside bath has no view just a blank fence, but the facilities are very good indeed. A very pleasant end to a month-long trip.
＊Hotaru no yu ; 670 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.