18th April 2022
Michi no eki Hida Hakusan
This was our second time to spend a night at Hida Hakusan. It is a good place for an overnight at least outside peak tourist season as the proximity to a world heritage site probably means it get seriously crowded. We shared the car park with perhaps four other vehicles and one person on a Honda 50 who erected a small tent. Kudos.
Trucks grinding up the hill do make a noise but there are few.
This michi no eki has an adjacent onsen which is spacious and pleasant. The outside bath was, sadly, not in operation due to lack of water. The michi no eki also has a footbath. These always seem to be surprisingly popular.
To reach this michi no eki, drive Route 156 through the mountains along the river, following the steep curves at the big rock-fill dam (Miboro dam) on the way to Shirakawago. The road, at least in early spring, is not busy at all. These days most traffic is on the highway. Arriving at the michi no eki, it appears to be in the middle of nowhere. Who on earth uses this onsen? But in the morning, when I look out over the view from the huge car park, there is a sizeable community in the valley below.
This michi no eki is closed from December to March.
＊Shiramizu no yu onsen ; 700 yen / adult
We tend to avoid Shirakawago village with its fantastic, thatched houses. We stayed in this village over 40 years ago well before it became a world heritage and achieved international fame. The exposure has, sadly I feel, ruined the place. So we tend to visit other villages like Ainokura.
But, it is early on a weekday morning and, due to the pandemic, visitor are few. Consequently, we enjoy a morning walk around the place trying to do justice in our photos to the thatched houses, cherry blossom and surrounding snow-capped mountains.
Kuzuryu River Road 九頭竜川
Retracing our steps towards Takayama on R.156 we branch off through the mountains in the direction of Fukui by R.158. This is a very pretty route at this time of year. The mountainsides are yielding to spring. The sombre black, dark grey and white of snow-streaked Nagano give way to muted greens, yellows, pinks and a darker mustier pink, very pretty. This colour scheme seems so light that the mountains take on an ethereal wispy quality so light it makes me think of coral reefs.
The weather deteriorates as we are driving by a, presumably, dam lake which in the misty atmosphere becomes a magical mystiques place.
We stop to take some pictures and trucks begin to swish past. There is some major construction taking place and the road is swarming with dump trucks coming and going. These are numbered. The highest I note was 180 but there were duplicates from different contractors so in excess of 180 trucks plying the bends and tunnels of this stretch of road.
Skirting Fukui we arrive at michi no eki Mikatagoko and pull in for the night.
This is a pleasant place down by the edge of Mikata lake. The parking is on something of a slope, but a covered walkway means even on a wet night the trip to the toilet is not so formidable.
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.