July, 12 th 2019 Tonomui bay (Yamagawachi)
Road trip. This weekend’s original plan was to go on a hiking trip at Kumano Kōdō since there was an extra day off due to a national holiday. Unfortunately many people I had in mind to join couldn’t make it, soI skipped this trip and decided to go to Tottori on my own instead. Yesterday, Juzer invited me to join a road trip across Shikoku together with five other people. Seven people in one car sounded like a crazy trip with lots of fun, so I was in last minute. There wasn’t any time to think about it and to create any expectations. On Friday I rushed home after work, packed my stuff, took a shower and soon I sat in the train heading to the city centre with a backpack full of excitement. It was already dark when I arrived the meeting point. Three girls and a lot of stuff stood next to a car and smiled at me. Before we got a proper chance to get to know each other properly we squeezed all the camping stuff into the car with its tiny trunk. Everybody sat or held a piece of luggage on their lab, but nobody did care. Once we were on the street the car was full of excitement. Juzer, our this weekend’s driver, started the music and Marwa and Moona started entertaining the whole car’s crew with their delighting happiness and singing. Soon we left Ōsaka and passed Kobe, the lights of the city in front of darkness of the mountains behind were a very beautiful scenery. We passed the Akashi bridge, which connects the main Island of Honshu with Awaji Island located in the Bay of Ōsaka. I saw this bridge several times during my bicycle trips and it is quite impressive. Unfortunately it’s not possible to cross it by bicycle or on foot. On my trip to Awaji Island in March I took the ferry. So, a little wish came true when we passed the bridge and I enjoyed the ride. Now, I calmed down. It’s weekend and we were starting into a great trip. After I while we stopped at a road station and took a small break. Abi, who also joined our weekly hikes before prepared bread and cheese for us. Abendbrot (evening bread) the Germans would say and I was very happy since I was so unprepared that I not even had enough water with me. Back on the road Moona and Marwa kept cheering us up. Todays destination was a lonely bay near Hiwasa where I already spent a night during our bicycle trip on Golden week. We arrived the place around midnight and unlike me, the others seemed not to tired. In the bay it was dark and silent. We quickly pitched our tents and walked a bit along the beach. It was wonderful to be back at this place. The bay is surrounded by mountains which forms a hilly silhouette. The only gate is the Ocean. At this place I felt deeply happiness. Already last time I couldn’t stop enjoying being at this wonderful place far away from the business and stressful city. Finally I was back in my tent and on a journey with other amazing people.
July, 13 th 2019 Shimanto
Rivers, rain and roads. I woke up by Abi’s and Juzer’s chatting, who woke up early to watch the sunrise. Very early. For me as not morning person unbelievable. Around six o’clock they woke me up and when I crawled tiredly out of my tent everybody was already awake, refreshed and fully of energy. Marwa smiled at me. I couldn’t say much and started boiling water for a coffee while slowly packing my stuff. After a while I was fully awake and together we squeezed our stuff back into the car. At the coast we had breakfast altogether and soon we were back on the road. At a nearby viewpoint on top of the cliffs we made a break to use the washroom and enjoyed the amazing view of the bay we spent the night before. Today’s first destination was the Nikofuchi (にこ淵) waterfall in the mountains above Inu. We followed a road next to Niyodo river in the mountains. The deep green mountains the unbelievable turqouise water was an amazingly breathtaking scenery. The road was rather small and curvy and suddenly it began to rain. We stopped several times to stretch our folded legs and enjoy the river view. Deep in the mountains we drove down close to the river shore. The shore was inaccessible, but
a local opened a gate to his properties to guide us to the shore. We climbed on the rocky shore and soon we all stand barefoot in the crystal clear water surrounded by the mountains while the sky lost some heavy drops. It was a peaceful place. We spent some random time. Juzer and Abi started a small photo shooting while Mausam, Noha and me watched this funny scenery. Time seemed to be standing still at this place. After a while we climbed up the shore back to the car refreshed by the awesome nature. We followed the Niyodogawa (Niyodo river) which delighted us with its beautiful scenery even in the pouring rain. I love rainy days and the sound of raindrops fallen on the roof. In the back of the car I couldn’t hear them. Our DJ Awesome Mausam entertained us with a bunch of great music from Arab and Indian music to early 90’s pop. Abi even managed to dance somehow in the front. In a small village close to Kochi we stopped at a restaurant for lunch. We also filled up our supplies in a local store. This little stores selling vegetables are common in Japan’s countryside. They offer fresh and local vegetables which are super cheap and tasty. We both tons of tomatoes, cucumber and other vegetables. Back in the car we continued our way to the waterfall and the rain went heavier, which didn’t affect our mood. The parking lot at the parking lot was quite empty. No wonder, there not that many who wants to visit a waterfall in the pouring rain. It was hard to organise ourselves, since we wanted to swim in the waterfall’s pool and it was difficult to find and change clothes in the overloaded car. I didn’t brought any swimming clothes, but luckily Maussam borrowed his sports trousers. After a felt eternity we walked down to the waterfall on a muddy and slippery mountain path. Somehow we managed to bring only one umbrella for seven people on a journey during rainy season in one of the most rainy regions of Japan. Smart. But we used our sleeping mattresses instead and it worked out very well while looking extremely funny and made us laugh a lot. The waterfall was super nice and I’m sure on a sunny day it must be breathtaking. Breathtaking on the this day was just the water’s temperature. Bravely, Juzer, Abi and me entered the waterfall’s pool. Since the flow in the pool was very strong leading to the drain we hold hands and entered the pool together. We had a lot of fun. I tried to swim a little bit closer to the waterfall itself, but due to the heavy rain in the last days the flow and power of falling water was too strong and it was too dangerous to try seriously. We enjoyed our bath in the pool and it was more than refreshing. After a while my body temperature sank and I was shaking. The rain got heavier and the girls where leaving to the car, while Juzer, Abi and me took some pictures. Everything was wet, when we climbed up the path and arrived at the car. The atmosphere in the car was horribly and changing clothes was difficult. Juzer and Abi used the open trunk’s door as a shelter while I changed at the bag seat. Back in the car we became slowly warm again and since the car was moving the wet atmosphere got better as well. At the next Konbini we stopped for a hot drink and some snacks. It was still pouring rain, but we became professional to load and unload all seven of us in the car within seconds. The sun was setting and it was still a long way to today’s final destination: a free campground next to famous Shimanto river. It didn’t stop pouring rain and soon Juzer had to drive through the darkness. He drove almost the whole day and had to carry a heavy load. Shimanto river was huge and in totally darkness we tried to find the campsite. We drove on a small road on the damm. Somewhere in the meadows next to the river must be the campsite. Pouring rain. Juzer slowly drove down to the shore. Darkness. Next to us a large meadow. Nothing. No campsite. Puddles went bigger. Suddenly the car stopped. Juzer opened the door and water almost entered the car. No we were in a serious situation. Silence. Slowly Juzer drove the car backwards on the the narrow street in completely darkness. The way back was painfully long. In a corner he managed to turn the car around and to drove us out safely off the situation. But, where should we go now? Even though we maybe could park the car somewhere, we couldn’t sleep on a flooded meadow next to a bigger growing river. Thanks to the modern century we found a campsite and park next to the Ocean. Since Japan’s cost consists mostly of cliffs at least we would be safe of water coming from the ground. We checked out the viewpoint which was a circle of parking space with a toilet. No shelter. In an emergency ok, but since we were mobile and it wasn’t that late we had the chance to find something more suitable. The public park on the cliff at the cost was a huge area and we found a large public toilet. Nobody was around. There was a meadow surrounded by small trees. Under other circumstances a great place to pitch the tents. The rain calmed down and we took a look around. We climbed a hill and on top were some square meters to pitch our tents. We had a 360° view of the Ocean and the park. An amazing place, but in the clouds over the Oceans were flashes lighting up. This place would be as beautiful as dangerous during the this night. And we had another problem: two of our tents were not waterproof. We discussed to sleep in the toilet, when a police car came. We run back to the abandoned car, but when we arrived they were gone. Would they came back again and check out the location? What if we camped around or even sleep at the toilet’s shelter? I only have good experience with the police and sleeping at public places, but this time we were a huge group and had a car. It might be hard for the police to understand the way we acted. I found another public toilet and parking space at the Ocean directly next to the beach. I navigated Juzer there, but in the darkness we weren’t able to find it. The car stopped and we discussed what to do next. It was humid and hot in the car and we all were exhausted. A hotel or guesthouse? For seven people at a long weekend very difficult. We decided to check out the official campsite, which looked very fancy. And indeed it was. The reception was already closed, so we just entered with the car. There wasn’t any shelter and the place was too fancy to sleep in the wash house. We were about to leave when we saw a stuff’s person closing the gate. Our chance to might find a dry place for tonight. He offered us a hut with four beds for a discount price and after a short discussion we agreed. We entered the lovely wooden hut and it was amazing. All of us were happy to be at a dry place with lots of space for all of us and our stuff. We even had a balcony. It felt a little bit like a class’s trip in school. We loaded all our food in the middle of the ground, started eating and did playfully random stuff. This event was a very special one, at midnight it would be Abi’s birthday, so we kind of locked him out pretending we need some girl’s privacy to prepare a little surprise for him. We had a cake, some candles and decoration. Just before midnight we sent him to the bathroom and switched the lights off. He came back too earlier, so we adjusted the time a little bit and surprised him while entering. He looked so happy and our surprise was successful. So, we turned the music on and danced and celebrated together. Our poor neighbours. After sharing the birthday cake and more dancing we decided to play Uno. This game is supposed to fuel emotions, but we had a lot of fun and enjoyed it. After two rounds it was time to sleep. It was a long the and the next day full of adventures was already awaiting us.
July, 14 th 2019 Komo Cape (Ainan)
In the clouds. I woke up by Marwa’s and Moona’s giggling. I’m very impressed how people can be that energetic in the early morning while. When I opened my eyes, Marwa boiled water and made a coffee for me. So cute, I cannot remember when somebody served me a coffee in the morning the last time. After my lovely coffee and a hot shower I felt like newborn. We had a relaxing breakfast altogether before we packed our stuff and squeezed everything once again into the car. We made a short break at the viewpoint at the nearby park we checked out for a camping spot last night and enjoyed the amazing view of the Ocean and the surrounding park. I was a little bit disappointed that we couldn’t have slept there, if I was ever there again, I definitely would pitch my tent there (if there isn’t a thunderstorm). Today the rain was way less and we decided to have a look at Shimanto river. This river is famous for is unbelievable and breathtaking deep blue color. I remember when I stayed at Yumi’s place in Yokohama who recommended that place to me. Coincidentally we parked at the place where the free campsite was supposed to be. There wasn’t anything, not even a public toilet, which are literally everywhere in Japan. I wonder who listened this place as a campsite in google… Unfortunately the river lead much water due to rainy season and was very turbulent. No sight of its amazing color. Anyway, the place was nice, so we randomly run around, played frisbee and reduced our snack supplies. A bunch of playful kids. Back on the road we enjoyed our little party car with and DJ Awesome Mausam and gave his best again. Like yesterday we followed a road along the river and stopped several times to make nonsense and enjoy our time together. Today’s final destination was Cape Komo, one of the most western point of Shikoku. It was a way shorter journey, so we had more time to enjoy the places on the way. Just before the cape we visited a viewpoint with a tower. We could see the Ocean and explored the park around. It was a very peaceful place. There was a small animal shelter with chickens we could enter. Inside we behaved like people who have never seen chicken before and enjoyed petting and feeding them a lot. It was already lunchtime, so we went back to the village we passed before. It was hard to find an open restaurant, but finally we sat in a Chinese restaurant. Tired and with fully bellies we left the restaurant and filled up our supplies in the supermarket next door. Even though all of us was full of lunch, there was still space in the ice cream stomach, which we filled up successfully. The road to the cape was very beautiful, we were quite high or better said the clouds were hanging in the mountains where the road passed through. We stopped in the last small fisherman’s village. The Ocean was incredibly blue and clear. After leaving the village the road went wilder. For sure, not many cars are passing by. The curves were tight and it was fun to drive along. To the left the deep green mountains, to the right the deep blue Ocean. Suddenly the car stopped. An eagle stand in the middle of the road. Not moving. It was an impressing animal and after a while it allowed us to pass and flow away, kind of leading us the way. We arrived at today’s camping spot and it was amazing. We parked the car and started exploring the area. Public toilets in Japan are amazing and this was one of the best examples. We walked around a corner and started screaming. There was it. The perfect campsite. A huge shelter on top of a cliff, surround by a soft deep green meadow. The shelter was big enough to pitch all our tents beneath if it would start rain again. But right now it was dry, just the dark grey clouds passing by and hanging in the mountains around us. A small path was leading down to the cliff. This was one of the most breathtaking places I have ever seen in my life and I was grateful to spend a night here. After exploring we unloaded the car and pitched our tents in that amazing scenery. We enjoyed just being there and everybody had the opportunity to relax. In the evening we had dinner on our huge blanket altogether while watching the sunset. We sat on the bench next to the Ocean and just talked for a long time until the moon was mirroring in the calm Ocean’s surface. I was so happy to lay in my tent this evening. The soft grass below me, the Ocean in my ears and the moon in the last blink of my eyes before I fell asleep.
July, 15 th 2019 Ōsaka
Marine day. This special national holiday is made to honor the Ocean. I woke up very early and when I opened my tent‘s zipper I couldn’t breath for a moment. I kind of forgot at which fantastic place I fell asleep yesterday and now the view was even more breathtaking. The blue Ocean was calm and the still rising sun colored the sky in colors I’ve never seen before. I sat there. In front of my tent, on the green soft grass on a cliff and staring the Ocean. The colors were surreal. It seemed there were Instagram filtered. The soft grass next to me was unbelieveable green. The sky was violet and fell in the Ocean‘s deep blue. Silence. It was magic. My fellows were awake and enjoying this scenery as well. There was an atmosphere of deeply happiness among us and we all were connected by it. No words. No language. It was one of the beautiful places I ever woke up. I stared at the Ocean for a while until I began to prepare and enjoy my breakfast. I soaked this scenery into my soul while slowly waking up. We our stuff and loaded the car and leaving this place felt so wrong. Today’s final destination would be Osaka and it was off my ability to imagine to be back in the busy city by night. We all shared the same emotions and imagined to escape. We just grow a little family. But there were still some hours left together and we continued on the curvy ocean‘s road. Maybe it was a little bit too curved, since we had to stop abruptly and one of us lost their breakfast. From this point of view it was good that we soon followed the highway. We were fast, the sun was shining and it was pure fun to be on the road. The highway went through the mountains and offered us an amazing view while our Dj supported this atmosphere even more. We were heading Matsuyama, to take a bath at famous Gobo Onsen. This very old and traditional Onsen was Hayao Miyazaki‘s inspiration for its movie „spirited away“, one of the most famous anime world
wide. We arrived in Matsuyama were soon and the sun was shining with all its power.
Even though the old Onsen‘s building was under construction it was an impressive building. Unfortunately some of the bath rooms were closed, but atmosphere was nice and very traditional. Dipping in the hot water after a few days on the road with no proper shower felt like heaven and I left the bathhouse feeling like a newborn. We walked a bit through the city, enjoyed the sunshine and bought some souvenirs for friends and coworkers (in Japan you always bring something even from a weekend trip, usually it‘s some local snack, which is offered everywhere). After the bath we were pretty hungry and decided to avoid the tourist‘s restaurants and headed to a Nepalese one. Mausam, who is from Nepal gave us some extra informations and we enjoyed the food and being altogether for the last time a lot. With superfull bellies we went back in the car and started our way back to Osaka. We had to drop off the rental car at 8 pm and there wasn’t that much buffer time. Back on Honshu, around Hyogo, we got stuck in traffic and no car was moving anymore. Even as a passenger it was super stressful and we just wanted to finally arrive at Osaka. It was already dark when we arrived at Juzer‘s home and there was only a few minutes to unload the car and say goodbye, since the car must have been dropped off. We forgot to refill the gas and now we were fighting for every minute. In Japan you have to be in time. No buffer zone. In the very last minute, literally, Juzer and Mausam successfully managed to drop off the car in time! Good job! On the way back home I felt happy, tired and empty at the same time. I was thankful that I could have spent such an amazing time with such wonderful people and colorful souls. Can’t wait to start into next adventure with you, my friends!