Day 91, December 2016,
Michi no eki Kaze no Ie
It is a cold, foggy morning with ice not just on the windscreen but the whole vehicle is encased in a thin layer.
The wooden decking, attractively fronting the toilet area, is treacherous.
Kaze no Ie michi no eki is noted for its large vegetable market. A few people are arriving to shop, but it is closed. It shut for the winter on the 1st of December.
We drive to Sakaiminato and the temperature rises by 10 degrees as we descend to sea level. The area around Mt. Daisen is very pleasant. There are steep valleys, wide river beds and plateaus. It is an area within easy striking distance of home but one we don’t know well.
We find a large supermarket a “Plant” that we were impressed by in Mie but haven’t seen since. We buy lunch and dinner and head out to Mihonoseki lighthouse to have lunch. Hiruzen Highland to Mihonoseki is a little over an hours drive.
Mihonoseki to Nakaumi 美保関から中海
At the Mihonoseki lighthouse, which built 1898, there is a large car park with a view across the bay to Mt. Daisen. This we cannot enjoy due to cloud cover. We did get a glimpse driving down to Sakaiminato; a large, lonely mountain wreathed in cloud and dusted with snow.
We follow the rugged coastline of the Shimane peninsular, the sea a pleasing turquoise but, unfortunately, the road does not follow the coast for long stretches of the way.
Nakaumi and Eshima Bridge 江島大橋
By way of a causeway, across the Nakaumi, we visit the island ‘Daikon-jima‘ that D. deems interesting, then leave, disappointed, by way of the spectacular ‘Eshima bridge‘. This bridge rises steeply to a great height and then swoops down equally steeply. It appears unnecessary engineering but, certainly, makes an impression.
According to Wikipedia it is a frame bridge the largest in Japan and the third in the world. Its spectacular steepness is, apparently, an illusion as the gradient is 6.1% on one side and 5.1% on the other.
This huge expanse of water, ‘Nakaumi’ is not an inlet from the sea, as I imagined, but a lake. Though the name,” Inside Sea”, suggests it is an inlet and the water is brackish. The causeway, which allowed us to drive across, makes it is a strange place, very good for water birds, but, unfortunately, it is also difficult to find anywhere to stop.
Sakaiminato – Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro 境港–ゲゲゲの鬼太郎
As we have time and are not far from our intended night stop, we go to see the Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro ‘Mizuki Shigeru road’ in Sakaiminato.
Sakaiminato is the home town of the manga’s creator Mizuki Shigeru, and there are statues in the street of the various ghostly characters that populate his stories. These figures are, mostly, very small but the one of Nezumi Otoko, a rat like being, is life sized. The statues have quality being bronze or stone, not tacky plastic.
In the street, the recording of lonely, geta shod footsteps approaching and then fading is a very nice touch. The main character, Kitaro, always wears geta.
We were struck by a couple of new, chic, modern shops selling Kitaro Manju (sweets) so the place must be popular, just not on a damp December evening.
Dusk is getting serious as we set off for our michi no eki ‘Hirose Toda Castle’. This is a lonely place. A few cars arrive and leave – perhaps Pokémon players. One thing about this area is the birds. There are the usual crows, kites, gulls and many ducks, plus several hawks, we cannot identify.
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.