Mar. 28th, 2017

On the road map we could see a small road from our lodgings towards a valley which was noted for its beauty. We very quickly discovered that 'small' was something of an understatement. As the road climbed higher, it seemed to get narrower and the curves sharper. At one point, where the road bent round a particularly sharp radius curve and had a drop on both sides, I actually got out to check that our Fiesta-sized car would actually fit. From the outside, the road was actually more generous than it felt from within. Even so, I still edged forward cautiously, just in case. As with other scenery, the road wound through heavily wooded slopes and was really quite exciting. "I don't like this." was all Junko could say - at fairly regular intervals. What was completely astonishing was that, at the top, there was a couple of hundred metre long tunnel to the other side of the hill. How in heaven they managed to get tunnel boring equipment up that road still defeats my imagination. Especially as the descending road was no better than its sister.

On the descending road we came across a robust steel cage at the roadside. At each end were heavy doors that stuck up vertically and the inner floor strewn with, I think, rapeseed plants. Surely this could only be a wild boar trap. But, how was it triggered. I had to investigate. I could see the latches holding the doors up and the spring-loaded crank levers operating them, but the trigger mechanism was invisible. Finally I noticed a small twin with a very fine black thread wound around it. It was holding a short metal bar that I realised was attached to the crank mechanism. The thread ran down the side of the cage and across the middle. Virtually invisible to the naked eye in daylight and certainly no nocturnal animal would stand a chance of seeing it.

All over this island, it would seem, are solar panel installations. At least, we've seen quite a few on our travels. Nothing huge, but big enough. How do they operate? Who owns them? I wondered. Then, the other night on TV there was a news item about the inauguration of the biggest solar array in Shikoku. This, it appears, was locally owned and operated and they sold the power to the national grid. I can only assume all these other, much smaller, arrays are also locally owned. I wonder what it would take to get such public spirited action going in the UK? Of course, I also wonder what financial guarantees are offered here, now they seem to be rapidly disappearing in the UK.

Having travelled some way down the pretty valley we spotted on the map, a comparison of our map and tourist maps displavyed in parking spots hinted that we may not be able to drive out. Walk out, yes, but not drive. Having seen no other vehicle for miles, we spotted some folk emerging from a car dressed for walking. Coincidentally, they were not local. Two Americans and their local Japanese friend. As the friend was local, she could confirm our suspicions that we would have to retrace our steps. Junko breathed a sigh of relief when we realised we didn't have to go back up the very steep windy road, but could go round. It would have been nice to go at least part way with our new-found friends on their walk in this fabulous countryside, but time was pressing and we were probably imposing as it was. The American woman had lived in Japan for 3 years and spoke the language pretty well. This was just a 10 day trip to meet with some old friends,so we bid them farewell and headed back down the valley and eventually to our next port of call, Ozu.

The guest house is owned and run by a very young couple and is quite quirky. The bit we're staying in appears to be essentially self-contained and they live in the house at the back. Whay is quirky is the interconnection. The toilet and shower area is built like the inside of any house, but it actually outside. The outside wall of the kitchen is the inside wall of this 'toilet' area and, the narrow passage beside the shower links through to the owner's own house. Still, everything required is here, so we have settled in for a couple of night's stay.



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