Kyotamba Ajimu no Sato
Kyotamba Ajimu no Sato is an excellent place for shachuhaku. It is one of those two faced affairs. One side is the michi no eki and the other a SA on the highway. Being perched on a hill, there are good views of the sunset.
After 8 pm there is only one, multi-purpose toilet. As we were the only people staying overnight, it was a personal bathroom. Once the michi no eki becomes popular, and it is very new, this could be a problem. The access to the main restrooms on the SA side is open from 7 am so not a big deal.
There is also a guard man patrolling all night. I suspect he was there to keep an eye on the BMWs on display rather than regard for our personal safety.
Off, and heading for Sasayama, here we stop to view the remains of the castle. Tokugawa Ieyasu constructed this fortification to consolidate his power. However, unless you are a castle enthusiast, there is little to see here.
Not much remains of the samurai residential area either. We could not be bothered to check the merchant area as we suspected the worst. We wandered around in the town and along the castle moat.
There is a restaurant that specializes in wild boar and has an enormous boar replica atop the building. Class.
So, headed out of Sasayama for a long day of driving. However, realizing our original plan was too ambitious, we swung north to Okutsu Onsen. Here we had a very pleasant and overdue bath at Hana Bijin no Sato. This onsen does not accept outside visitors after 6pm but we arrived at 10 minutes to 6 and the place was deserted so perhaps they would be flexible.
The nearby michi no eki, Okutsu Onsen seems very good as we arrive for the night in a thunderstorm.
＊’Hana Bijin no Sato’ ; 740 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.