Day 94, December 2016,
Very unsettled weather this morning, blustery with patchy sunshine and very dark, threatening clouds around. D. is on-line, doing some research, so I go for a short stroll to the nearby river. I notice two rainbows and, as I am admiring them, I realize one is between me and a nearby clump of trees. I make a break for the car but I am too late and am caught in the downpour.
We sit in the car, in the pouring rain, wondering where to go as our destination for the night is only a couple of hours away. We decide to head for Hagi and then plan what to do, depending on the weather.
On noticing a sign for Susa Hornfels, we make for it, on the off chance, having no idea what Susa Hornfels means. Susa Hornfels turns out to be a rather interesting geological feature comprising very flat rocks in layers of black and white. Thus forming striped, liquorice allsorts, cliffs above, what is today, a stormy sea.
As we arrive, to take the short walk from the car park to the cliffs, the sun breaks through lifting our spirits. But we, prudently, carry our rain suits. The surface of the rocks is slippery and I feel old not being willing to walk across them as some young people are doing. I, thankfully, can enjoy the unusual geological feature and overall beauty of the spot without, unduly, risking my aged neck.
We drive on following the Yamaguchi coast towards Hagi. The coastline, with myriad, tiny, offshore islands, rugged cliffs and varied geology provides constant interest. We stop at a new michi no eki, Abu machi, which has a market, restaurants, good toilets, an onsen and onsen pool. An ideal shachuhaku spot, perhaps.
In Hagi, we have lunch in a Chinese restaurant and buy dinner at a nearby supermarket. We have wandered around Hagi many times so we decide to go to Toyota Lake for a change.
Toyota Lake, we discover, has a campsite and activities for children. There are people camping and fishing. We explore a little but there don’t seem to be any really good walking paths. Things are a bit overgrown and dark. We, or someone, disturbs a large deer with impressive antlers which dashes off through the trees in panic.
We move on to our michi-no-eki ‘Hotaru kaido Nishi no ichi‘ as it is now after 5pm, but still light. On arrival we realize we have been to this place before, not to stay but to stretch the legs. It is quite busy, as it is Saturday, but not many people are staying the night. We go to the onsen which is very good. D. likes the water. We put up the screens for the last time. Tomorrow home!
Day 95 The end of the journey.
Our last morning of waking in the car and it is, again, damp and very misty. We have been traveling for 3 months and 3 days, living very comfortably in the van. We have both slept well and never felt cold or uncomfortable during the night. Well, it was always a bit of a bother getting up to wander off to the toilet in the pouring rain but that happened but rarely – well the pouring rain bit.
One drama before we set off for home the valve on one of the air mats breaks. What timing! We won’t need it tonight and it has served us well even if it has been a struggle the whole trip but, it finally expires.
As we set off for Shimonoseki, Kyushu and home the mist begins to lift giving rise to some startlingly, beautiful scenes. The misty hills emerging into sunshine and fields dripping with glistening dew in the golden light as remnant ribbons of mist drift everywhere. Within a few minutes it is all gone and the landscape reverts to the mundane.
＊Hotaru no yu onsen ; 670 yen / adult
Karato Ichiba (market)
In Shimonoseki we stop at the famous fish market, Karato ichiba, by the Kanmon Bridge over to Kyushu. Hundreds of people are sitting all along the waterfront eating sushi or hot fish soup from the market even though it is only 10:30 or so. Breakfast, early lunch, a little something – who knows – but there are whole families here and the car park is packed.
We buy fresh fish donburi –ikura (salmon roe), crab and uni (sea urchin) on rice and take it away for lunch. We join the highway and cross the bridge to Kyushu. And arrive home about 1pm.
It has been – Thirteen thousand one hundred and fifteen kilometres and taken 3 months.
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.