Tenku no sato Sansan and Uchiko Fresh Park Karari michi no eki
Tenku no sato Sansan michi no eki is a good place to stay. It is not the first time for us to stay here so it holds up on a second visit. This, despite the torrential rain all night that remains solid in the morning. There is extremely heavy, low cloud all around. Absolutely no chance of climbing Mt. Ishizuchi today, though the weather is forecast to clear by the afternoon.
We set off for Uchiko, a town with a preserved historical district. On arrival, we park at Uchiko Fresh Park Karari michi no eki. This is an interesting place, as michi no eki go, next to a river with large fish hanging in the clear, shallow water.
The michi no eki sells a good deal of fresh produce and is clearly popular with locals for shopping. There are a couple of restaurants, a bit pricey, plus a bakery, pizzeria and takoyaki place. Not to mention, a suspension bridge over the river and a toilet complex of fantastic design that is sadly falling into disrepair.
From the michi no eki we walk to the historical preservation area in Uchiko. There are some beautiful buildings here and explanations of the town’s past importance as a centre of wax candle production. A pleasant and interesting wander – the sun has broken through as forecast – and this place has far fewer tourist than similar preserved towns.
Limestone plateau – Shikoku Karst 四国カルスト
From Uchiko we plan to walk a river gorge at Odamiyama. This is accessible only by taking a narrow and winding mountain pass. This we do and it is a spectacular drive, but we drive right past Odamiyama gorge without noticing so we give it up and continue on to the limestone upland plateau – Shikoku Karst. This is a beautiful area.
The Shikoku Karst drive course runs between Ehime and Kouchi on Pref. Road 383, for about 25 km along a ridge between 1000 m. and 1500 m. There is a campsite and hotel at Mezuru-daira.
We walk around the Tengu highland. A sea of susuki (Japanese pampas grass) with lumps of eroded limestone protruding here, there and everywhere and all around, in the distance, range on range of misty mountains disappearing into the haze.
Here, we meet a gentleman setting up a huge telescope and banks of electronic equipment plus generator to power it all. He is waiting to view the expected stars. He bemoaned the warming planet as making it increasingly difficult to stargaze.
Yusuhara michi no eki
As I write this from Yusuhara michi no eki the stars are blazing brightly, so high on the plateau it must be a good night for him. Later as I wallow in the outside bath at the onsen, Cygnus is right above me.
However, this is a strange michi no eki. Dominated by an hotel and onsen, the michi no eki relegated to a couple of shacks at the far end of the upper car park. The 24-hour toilet is in a kind of basement under the hotel. It is reasonable enough but far from the car parks so not ideal for shachuhaku. On the other hand, the onsen, another level down the hill is very good and very reasonable.
＊Kumo no ue no onsen ; 500 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.