Yusumizugaura and Sotodomari, stone wall scenery in Ehime 遊子水荷浦、外泊
2023 spring trip.
March 25th. & 26th.
Houyo Strait 豊予海峡
From Saganoseki, Kyushu to Misaki Port, Shikoku by Kokudo Kyushi ferry. This is a 70-minute, drive on/drive off, trip across the Houyo Strait. This strait is famous for its strong current and the resulting delicious fish. The current I can vouch for, the changes in the surface of the sea are very apparent. The fish, not so much.
Once in Shikoku, we head for Tsushima Yasuragi no Sato for the night. This michi no eki is good on this very wet night, being flat and with a covered walkway to approach the facilities. But the bath and the restaurant have closed a result of the pandemic.
＊Kokudo Kyushi Ferry ; 1200yen / adult + 9800 yen / car under 5m.
Yusumizugaura Terraced Fields 遊子水荷浦
The day dawns drier than expected. There is some light drizzle in the wind occasionally, but we make our way to a fishing village ‘Yusumizugaura’. This village has very steep stone walls rising behind it. These walls form terraces for tiny plots about 1~2m. wide where the locals cultivate potatoes. Presumably for chips.
The work involved to create such a landscape and the meagre area of arable land created indicates how tenuous the existence of the villagers must have been.
We walk to the top of the terraces, and I am surprised to view the sea on the other side. The cape is very narrow here.
The road to this village, winding though steep but not high mountains was a delight at this time of year. The day, misty with low cloud, but the hillsides in the muted greys and greens of the emerging foliage liberally spotted with the delightful shades of, Yama Sakura/Mountain Cherry, pink.
The amount of blossom high above or well below as we follow Route 346 is extraordinary. To my mind a vastly superior spectacle to Ueno Koen, for example.
Sotodomari, village of stone walls 外泊
Moving on, we head for Sotodomari. This place is again an extraordinary extravagance of stone. Though extravagance is not really the right word, necessity is more apt.
Here the stone walls are not so much to create terraces for arable land but to provide space for building plots. The village is a maze of high stone walls not so much enclosing but more supporting houses. I assume the harbour below provided good fishing, but the steep hillside offered scant living space.
Now, many of these arduously created housing spots are empty spaces, the forlorn tiled baths a sad remnant of a once vibrant household. There are other houses still standing but abandoned and yet others, maybe a minority, still inhabited.
After Sotodomari, we follow prefectural road 34 down the Funakoshi Peninsula to Cape Komo. The cape area cliffs are more than 100m. high and, north of this point, the sea officially ceases to be Pacific Ocean and becomes the Setonaikai. In 1941, the Japanese Navy built a base here to guard the straight.
Now there is a large carpark and a footpath with an expansive view of sea and sky.
We end the day with an onsen at Sukumo Resort Hotel ‘Yashi-no-yu‘. Very busy on Sunday, also the hotel controlled the number of visitors, so we have to wait for a while. Here the bath is small but excellent. The outside bath is larger than the inside and offers a splendid view of the sea and, if you time it right, a sunset.
On to michi no eki Sukumo but as this was closed for renewal, we had to press on to michi no eki Otsuki. This appears to be a sad place, but it will have to do.
＊Yashi no yu ; 750 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.