April 2nd. 2023
Gyokuro no sato, as the name apparently suggests, is concerned with high class green tea. There are tea terraces visible from the car park and the merchandise in the shop is generally tea related.
From a shachuhaku perspective, it is a very pleasant place for an overnight. It is small, quiet, nowhere near a busy main road and with excellent facilities. Though they are a little far from the parking, so a concern on a wet night.
Oomuroyama Cherry Blossom Park
It is mainly a driving day, but we want to visit Oomuroyama to stretch our legs. Planning to avoid the cherry blossom park, as it is a sunny Sunday near Tokyo, this is exactly where we end up. However, we have no difficulty parking and join the other people wandering about under the abundance of cherry trees.
Some of these trees are in full bloom, others just coming into fruition and some well over. This park has such a wide variety of Sakura that the blooming season is very long, I note from an informative plaque.
Oomuroyama itself is a large, grassy knoll with a chair lift whisking visitors to the top. We had expected to climb this rather than wander the park, but climbing is not permitted. Access is by chair lift only. Not wishing to queue or join the crowd on the summit, we have lunch under the cherry trees, wander some more and depart.
We head down Izu peninsular until we come to Shimoda of Black Ships fame. Here, we take a look at Perry Street, an area of old buildings semi-preserved to commemorate Admiral Perry whose black ships dropped anchor here. The area runs along a canal edged with weeping willow, reminiscent of the Takasegawa in Kyoto.
From Shimoda, we drive over the ridge of the peninsular to Heda and our michi no eki Kurura Heda. This has an onsen and we take an overdue bath. The onsen is small but very pleasant with a clean, simple design.
The michi no eki facilities are disappointingly limited. However, the main building, with excellent toilets, is open from 8.30am. This early hour is unusual for a michi no eki but this one is combined with a branch ward office.
＊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.