Until now Sascha and me only shortly passed through Shikoku. It looked really nice so we decided to spend some more time on the not so famous island.
Because of the long distance, we spend one night at Mikawa Bay on a parking space next to the sea. Very calm and with a nice view of some island.
Next morning we drove to Awaji island, passing the famous Onaruto Bridge from where you can see whirlpools created by mixing the Japanese inland’s sea with the open ocean. Maybe it’s more impressive if you take the boat-sightseeing tour.
But when seeing the coastline of Awaji island we decided to stay one day and thanks to Google Maps we did not only find a nice beach but as well a campsite (Fukiagehama Camping Ground). The owners were really friendly, happy about our minor Japanese skills and we could choose any space on the campsite.
After checking the area, where mainly onions are planted, and a nice breakfast on the beach on the next morning, we continued our journey to Shikoku.
There, first stop was Mt Tsurugi – be aware if you come by car – the roads are verryyyy adventurous. Steep, narrow, old serpentine roads up the mountain. We met some friends at the lift station and spend the night in the parking area, to be early for the hike on the next morning. After a 4hours hike (you can shorten it by taking the lift) we enjoyed a beautiful view over the landscape – but we had to share it with a bunch of people due to golden week travel time.
Being in the mountains already we drove to Iya Valley the next day. Again winding roads along river gorges and through old, small towns, ending up at a gorgeous onsen! You have to go by cable car 200 meters down to enjoy the bath next to the river. Worth the travel time 🙂
Next stop: Beach! Driving along the beautiful Shimantogowa including some stops for lunch at the river, we ended up at the seaside of Shikoku in the south-west. The beaches in Futami as well as on Tosashimizu are quite famous for nice waves. Even so, the weather was bad on the first day it was crowded by Surfers. So we just pitched in!
But Tosashimizu does not only have beaches so we made a bike tour along the coastline up to the southern point of the peninsula. Sun was burning and we had to paddle up 9km first, followed by the 30km beautiful coastline.
Impressed by this very calm atmosphere of this part of Shikoku we drove further along the Ashizuri sunny road, ending up at an even nicer lagoon. The parking space included shower and barbecue place, so we just had to stay 🙂
Good decision! The area has very interesting volcanic stone formations which can partly be hiked along the coastline and an Underwater Observatory. And guess what – I never saw that much Puffer- and Box fishes! Afterwards, I learned, this area is famous for diving, so if you ever go there please try!
Being on road trip mode already we drove further to Sokumo Bay, Close to Otsuki. The landscape is getting rougher here, but the water is impressively blue. What else so find here? The whole area contains of small fishing villages and mikan (sort of oranges) plantations. No Kombini, No big cities….
100km further in Ehime, we stayed on the あけはまオートcamping ground next to another white sandy beach, blue water and no person there. When arriving, we were watched a little bit skeptical at first, so I guess not many foreigners have been here yet. But after the first shock, the atmosphere got very friendly 🙂
Last stop on our trip, after a short visits of the Matsuyama castle, was the inlands-sea-island-tour. We did this as any good tourist by bike with a one night stay at the sunset beach on Ikuchi Island. Also here the parking area provides showers and barbecue areas and … a nice sunset!
The butt hurts, 10 days travel done – time to head back home! One last Ramen (noodle soup) in Onomichi and we were back on the road to Tokyo…
Shikoku? Beautiful underrated island! One of the most beautiful spots of Japan from my point of view!
So – next stop Miyazaki. Famous for its beautiful beaches. Honestly, I was a little bit disappointed. Maybe the reason was somehow, that due to the Typhoon a lot of garbage and dirt was washed ashore and the water was more brown than clear.
From a Auto-Camping site, by bike, we visited the small island Aoshima. The whole area is famous for the interesting shapes stones at around the island and shore, shaped like “Wash-boards” – therefore called “the devil/giant wash-board”.
Before getting a sunburn, our trip lead us to Mt. Yufu, close to Bepu. Next to the entrance of the Hike up to the mountain, we found a small parking area to spend the night. Next morning, at 6:00 we started our hike to the two summits. Again I have to say: Hiking in Japan is challenging. If the hike is described as “moderate” be aware it can include short passage, were you have to climb, as well as steep, narrow paths. At the end, and due to a not very accurate map, it took as 6.5 hours for 12km trough the mountains. But the view from the Top was stunning!
Afterwards, thanks to the Lonely planet, we visited a small, mixed bathhouse in Yufuin
The next day the rain catched up. When driving to the mystic morning scene of Shikoku, along the Shimanto River, the rain got so strong, we had to drive along, to get to Osaka in the evening. Anyway, what I saw in Shikoku looked like, Kayaking and hiking can be really nice there. So I’m a little sad to miss the chance to spend more time in that region.
Osaka than was a like getting back to “big-city-reality”. Crowded, hot and noisy as well as completely different to Tokyo. I liked it very much, because as written before the city is a little bit less structured and organized and therefore everything seems to be a little bit more flexible.
So a good last stop on our trip before returning to Musashi-Kosugi!
In march we already travelled to Kyushu. Unluckily it was raining almost all of the time. So we decided: let’s try again this Obon week (Summer holiday in Japan)
Reasons? Even with rain Kyushu was beautiful and we wanted to spend some more time outside of the van, as well we wanted to check out another Camper van in Fukuoka (VW – yeahhh!), to add to our “collection”.
We started our trip by driving to Lake Biwa, close to Kyoto, Japan’ largest freshwater lake. Around Moriyama, there are some nice, stony beaches with barbecue areas, where you can spend your day.
After spending a night on a hidden parking area close to the Okayama port (not a good idea – because I got noisy due to the fisher boats at 5:00), we travelled one day to Naoshima island, to visit the Art projects. If you are somehow interested in Art I would recommend to go there! We brought our own bikes, but you can also rent bikes at the port and do the whole tour of roughly 14km by bike.
And Naoshima Bath house (I♥湯) looks a little bit weird, but Is a nice contrast to other typical Japanese onsen.
Golden week – Time for Holiday! By Ferry we went to Kyushu, Kagoshima. Weather should be really nice… But once again the rain is traveling with us. But anyway, we had a nice time on our road trip trough Kyushu.
As almost whole japan, Kyushu area as well, is easy to reach by train. But you should be aware, that you will always travel with the crowd! Kyushu has a lot of nice, lonely and hidden placed, much easier to reach by car. That is why we got stucked in the south, where we started our trip. One week is just not enough to take the round trip. AT the southern end of Kushu, we found nice waterfalls and hiking spots, where we could stay easily on the parking area with our camper van. So we started close to Miyazaki and drove with several stops to Kagoshima and further to Nagasaki.
Some highlights we passed on the way: Hanza River, Minami Kyushu Coast, Mt. Aso Area, Oyama Onsen, Mini Island close to Ibusuki, Takachiho Gorge, Futatsu shrine, Lake Ikeda, Kamikawa Otaki Park & waterfall….
What a weekend! After over one year in Japan we actually got back on our Mountain bikes. Thanks to http://www.alohabike.com/ we had a great MTB trip around Shimoda (Thanks Ken!!) Including single tracks, sometimes steep, narrow & stony, sometimes smooth and wide and always with a nice view. The Shimoda area is just impressively beautiful, with so many hidden beaches and trails.
To make it a real sports weekend, we went to Mt. Amagi, early in the next morning and did a 4 hour hiking trail to the top of the mountain. After such weekends I just love Japan!
verlassene strände, türkisfarbenes meer und urwald?
nicht unbedingt das was man in japan sucht oder erwartet. aber der 2 stunden flug in richtung okinawa lohnt sich, denn hier gibt wunderschöne tropische inseln, die vorallem in der nebensaison völlig augestorben sind.
wir haben uns also eine woche strandurlaub auf ishigaki island gegönnt, inklusive japanese-style bungalow.
das einzige problem: mitte der woche hat sich der nächste taifun angekündigt und es wurde “windig”. also, zurück nach tokio!
Es war trotzdem sehr schön und wir gehen sicherlich noch einmal hin. schließlich war das nur eine von vielen inseln und die mantas haben wir dieses mal auch verpasst 🙂
ishigaki island during off season: lonely beaches & turquoise sea. another beautiful, unexpected side of japan! was worth the 2 hour flight, and was surly not the last time to go there!