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!
The next night we planned to spend on and Auto-Camping site in the North-western area of Honshu. If you search forオートキャンプ on GoogleMaps there are a plenty of camping sites
BUT: due to the coming typhoon all of them were closed, and even more surprising, even some were not opens since years it seemed. So at least it was a good chance to take some pictures of another abandoned place in Japan. And again it felt little bit spooky to enter such a place, where somehow time stood still.
So we had to spend the night once more on a parking space close to the coastline, which was very quite during night time.
Before driving to Fukuoka we wanted to stay on day at the beach and by surprise we found a hidden camping site at the very end of Honshu with a beautiful sunset (うしろはま, Shimonoseki). Due to the typhoon still moving over Japan, we had the whole beach for ourselves and spend 2000Yen for the camping site.
To see the VW Camper we drove to Fukuoka – but where to camp in the middle of the city? We decided to spend some money on a hotel for one night. And again, because of the typhoon the city was almost empty and the hotels did have some discounts.
Sadly, the next morning we checked the VW camper van, but it was not as good in shape as expected, to we will remain faithful to our GMC van. At least I got the chance to get an impression of Fukuoka, where night-life takes place much more outdoors.
My parents arrived in Japan. First my mother, now as well my father :). Its really nice to share with them what I learned about Japan and show them my favorite places. We even went camping in Shimoda and close to Lake Ashi, and I’m kind of proud to have such flexible parents! Some impressions and moments to share, even if its only an abstract of the last 2 weeks:
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!