On the Road in Japan

The last 6 days I have been driver on our 3 week tour of Japan. I have driven in other countries that believe driving on the left is the proper thing to do, so really that is not much of a problem. For the most part the people here are extremely polite and that carries over onto the road. Even though I have made a couple of mistakes no one has even tooted the horn at me.

The speed limits here are very low by my standards. The highest speed limit I have encountered is on the toll roads, a four lane divided highway. The max speed allowed, and only in a few spots is 80 km/hr. Most of the time the limit is 60 or 70. On the regular highways one is allowed to go 50 km/hr. And through the towns the max speed drops to 40. The city roads are 50 or 40 km/hr. There are some who push the boundaries and fly by us law abiding folks but they are few. It is not like anywhere else I know of.

The result of the lower speed limits is one has to allow ample time to travel from one place to the next. One huge advantage for us tourists is the route finding is much easier at the slow speeds. It is not often we miss a turn because the approach is slow enough adjustments can be made and exiting on the proper ramp is easy.


In our unending pursuit of adventure we chose a couple of roads MUCH less traveled on our way to and from the Iya Valley. The routes are more or less mountain passes. Up a very steep slope on one side and down a very steep slope on the other. These roads are paved and in reasonable condition but have yet to be widened beyond the one car width they were originally built to many years ago. In some areas this is for good reason because the only way they could widen the road would be to hang the extra out over the very steep valley below. These roads are so twisty and narrow no one has bothered to post a speed limit. The maximum speed one can attain is 40 km/hr anyway and most of the time we move along at about 20. Imagine, we don’t meet a single tourist on any of these roads.

Today we take a much improved mountain road on our way to Izumo. It is pouring rain. The mist swirls about the mountains like the steam from a witch’s caldron. It’s spooky but quite spectacular. The built landscape is quite different along the way. On Shikoku Island the towns and homesteads were mountain dwellings. The buildings were maybe a bit shabby and the yards were natural. North of Hiroshima towards Izumo the houses are quite upscale, very well maintained and the yards are all manicured and kept up. It might be money but I think it has as much to do with location and the mind set of the people who live there.


We have been ‘experimenting’ with food as we progress our way through this area and that. If we can, we try the local specialty. We did pass on the deep fried batter octopus balls in Osaka. Because Debbie and I scuba dive and have a particular liking of octopus we could not possible eat one. R & L just passed as the timing when we ran into a vend0r was not appropriate. We missed out on the crepe like pancakes filled with everything from soup to nuts that Hiroshima is known for but today we found a place that serves Izumo’s famous food, Izumo soba. The cold soba noodles come in three stacked dishes. A fishy sauce is added to the top bowl and the noodles eaten. What is left is poured into the next bowl and more condiments are added. Those noodles are then eaten. This continues to the last bowl. Not sure what this procedure is suppose to accomplish but that is the way it is done. When we ordered the set meal it came with a bowl of miso soup and some tempura and rice. The noodles were OK and I think would have been better if served hot but I ate them. The miso was very good and the tempura was excellent. All in all a successful experiment.

Izumo soba noodle set meal
Izumo soba noodle set meal

No more toilet updates. Yesterday’s commode was boring. The seat had no electronics what so ever.

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