From michi no eki Goutsu we drive to Tsuwano. Even on a weekend, these Shimanae/Yamaguchi roads winding through mountains are an empty delight.
Tsuwano, we wander without real enthusiasm. Years ago, I was impressed by this place with its whitewashed buildings and carp filled drains but now it just seems lifeless. Perhaps I am just jaded.
We find ourselves eating a convenience store lunch a railway bridge close-by on our right. There is another person hanging around, whom we suspect to be a railway buff, waiting for a train to cross the perhaps Meiji era bridge.
D. checks the timetable, but the next train is not due for over an hour, so we move on and climb through a tunnel of torii to the Inari shrine. On the way, passing through the Yasaka Shrine, there is a 600-year-old tree and another suspected rail buff.
Missing the train
Having reached the shrine at the top, which is much more splendid than the approach through the dilapidated torii would suggest, (most people arrive from the car park at the top) we hear the hoot of a steam locomotive and there far below a steam train is crossing the bridge we were sitting next to. This is the special tourist train that runs only at weekends on the Yamaguchi line. A missed opportunity.
But now the regular train is due, so we return to our bench and snap a modern train crossing the bridge much faster than anticipated.
Leaving Tsuwano, we head off to Hagi. Again, a delightful drive on empty roads though we hit traffic at times.
In Hagi we park at Kikugahama near the sea, it is free, and walk the grid of the old samurai town.
This is mostly old walls and hedges and orange groves. The unemployed samurai in the early Meiji Period took up growing Amanatsu orange. There are preserved period houses, but we have entered these before.
Meirin Gakusha School
We do take a look at the famous Meirin Gakusha School, the Hagi clan school for sons of important samurai.
This building was functioning as a school until recently but is now preserved or more correctly perhaps replicated. I think the school was a hotbed of anti-bakfu sentiment, but I could find no mention of political activity in the information notices. Just the usual guff about square metres and location of long demolished buildings.
Leaving Hagi, we speed along a toll-free highway to michi no eki Senzakitchen. This is a new road station with vast car parks and various restaurants as the name suggests. These were mostly closed by the time we arrived at 6.30pm.
It is far from the traffic so very quiet and on the water so handy for fishing. With such large car parks there is some distance to the toilets which are smart and modern but for such a large place, tiny. Not good for our purpose but I doubt it was designed with shachuhaku as a priority.
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.