Woke in Beppu-wan SA (Oita-do highway) after a cold and very windy night, and a drive from Fukuoka. This service area is on the top of the hill overlooking Beppu near the APU campus.
I once met an APU student, from Singapore, whose first words in Japanese were “Kaze ga tsuyoi desu ne” The wind is strong, isn’t it? If you spend time around APU you will understand this.
Nevertheless, from a shachuhaku point of view Beppu-wan SA is a good place to stay,. It is busy early on a Sunday night but ultimately quiet. There is a viewing mound, or grassy knoll, with a view of the early morning sun over Beppu and the Setonaikai.
Kokudo Kyushi Ferry to Shikoku
From Beppu-wan, we take the highway, a short distance, to the Beppu exit and drop down through the town to the sea. We then follow the coast road past the industrial complex that is Nippon Steel. This is major road with 3 lanes in each direction which, once beyond the steel works, suddenly peters out, turns an abrupt right and metamorphosis into a narrow, country lane wriggling through small, rural communities all the way to Saganoseki for the Kokudo Kyushi Ferry.
This ferry leaves every hour, on the hour for Misaki Port on Cape Sada in Shikoku. A 70-minute trip. There are a dozen or so cars and a handful of trucks waiting to board.
On the Shikoku side the ferry come in along a long headland (Cape Sada) crowned with wind turbines. This headland conceals the nuclear power station brooding on the other side.
Once off the ferry, you are trapped in a long procession of ferry traffic on good, and otherwise, empty roads. After getting off the ferry, best hang around for a bit, have a coffee, before setting off.
＊Kokudo Kyushi Ferry ; 8860 yen (under 5m. vehicle), 1090 yen / adult
We are heading for the UFO line (town-road Kamegamori line), but first head into Iyo city to pick up supplies. Then, retracing our steps, we get on the highway as far as Iyo-Komatsu. On leaving the highway at Iyo-Komatsu we start to ascend the mountains to the UFO line. After the Kanpuzan tunnel (5.4m long) on R.194 there is a link road up to the UFO skyline – Mt.Iyo-Fuji, Kamegamori and Tsuchigoya.
The skyline proves to be a great road. It is narrow and tortuous with long stretches where two vehicles cannot pass except in the passing places. We are held up briefly by a car in the ditch. The views are wonderful and the leaves just beginning to succumb to Autumn and there is not exactly a lot of traffic.
The day has been splendid, but by the time we are at the highest elevations, sadly, the sky is clouding over and, eventually, we are driving in low cloud. This has a wispy, mysterious beauty of its own so, although the vistas are lost to us, the immediate surroundings take on a new, if muted, aspect. On the ridge we are driving, there are entrances to mountain climbing trails and a ridgeway walk that needs investigating.
This is a long, long drive but eventually we emerge at the parking area (Tsuchigoya) for the climb of Mt. Ishizuchi. A place we are familiar with. From here the road becomes the Ishizuchi Skyline and drops down in a series of bends until you exit the Ishizuchi skyline at the bottom. From this point the road is wider and more sweeping than tortuous all the way to Tenkunosato san san michi no eki.
Here we park for the night and I enjoy a well-earned beer.
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.