Takehara to Shimanami Kaido 竹原、しまなみ海道
A little rain in the night at Mito SA. The morning is aglow with misty sunshine that rapidly becomes more shine than mist. The cleaners are abroad in the car park with their yellow balloons attached to their helmets.
We follow the Chugoku Expressway but, sadly, only as far as Ogori where we pick up the Sanyo Expressway. This is not such a good road as far as I am concerned, more traffic, more tunnels, less undulation and fewer curves.
Takehara – Taketsuru Masataka
Coming off the Sanyo, we take Route 185 to Takehara. This town has an area of Meiji era houses; just one street really, overlooked by a temple and shrine. The town was important as a salt and sake producer and has become famous, more recently, due to a TV drama portraying the life of a local son, Taketsuru Masataka and his Scottish wife. He is known as the father of Japanese whisky.
The old street also appears to have featured as the backdrop for a Japanese anime featuring five, female characters in skimpy, schoolgirl outfits.
Omishima, Imabari-shi Tatara Shimanami 大三島
From Takehara we drive R.185 and after a couple of bridges of the Shimanami Kaido arrive on Omishima. Shimanami Kaido is now a very famous cycling route in Japan. It connects Onomichi in Hiroshima Pref. to Imabari in Ehime Pref. through 6 islands in the Seto inland sea.
Here we check out Imabari-shi Tatara Shimanami Koen on R.317. This michi no eki (Road Station) is apparently ranked 24th. best michi no eki in all Japan.
It does have picnic tables with a sea view complete with suspension bridge but, from a shachuhaku(sleep in a car) standpoint it is not very good. The 24-hour toilet is basic to say the least and a bit of a trek from the car park.
We decide against staying there and move on to Shimanami no eki Mishima. This road station is dark and deserted but the toilet is marginally better and much closer. Of course, if you are lucky enough not to get up during the night none of this matters very much.
Mare Grassia Omishima Onsen
For a bath, we visit Mare Grassia Omishima Onsen. Where do they get their catchy names? This is a large onsen, very busy with local people. There is a huge, indoor bath of salt water and outside a deep-water walking pool. It is all a bit gimmicky but a good bath, nevertheless. It does not provide soap or shampoo. Clean, we return to the dark, deserted michi no eki for the night.
＊Mare Grassia Omishima Onsen ; 520 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.