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Yawata, Minoo monkeys and Motorway spaghetti

A temple we stopped at on the outskirts of Kobe as we arrived in Honshu


soro soro nobore
fuji no yama

O snail,
Climb Mt. Fuji,
But slowly, slowly!

Kobayashi Issa (小林一茶)

Our journey now drives East through the mountainous areas of Honshu, slipping between Kyoto and Nara because we return to these places after returning the van in the urban wastelands half way between Tokyo and Yokohama, to consummate our time in Japan in the cultural capital.

A plan of the temple complex

As we arrived in Honshu, we found ourselves in a bewildering spaghetti network of highways around Kobe. No matter which direction we took, we ended up traveling South West rather than the North East into the hills we sought to avoid the metropolitan paralysis of greater Osaka.

Eventually we found our way up into the hills

Then back down into farming country

And down into the rather choked secondary roads of the urban sprawl

Views of greater Osaka as we descend into the plain

After a lot of compass navigating and repeated mistakes in Osaka, we managed to take a road around the north edge of greater Osaka as far as Ikeda, driving up into hills of the Minoo quasi National Park to stay the night on an isolated side road in the forest.

The monkeys of Minoo

are NOT to be fed!!!

Minoo Nature Park

Guess what is on the Ikeda manhole covers!!

Distant views of Ikeda and Osaka from our forest hideaway

Next day we ploughed through the peripheral cities to the North of Osaka in fine weather in maniacal traffic speeding along two congested lanes interspersed with endless traffic lights, averaging about 20 kph, overtaken every two minutes by the Shinkansen bullet train careering past at some 300 kph.

The highway then became entangled with a toll motor-way weaving in and out of its elevated pylons. We nearly ended up taking the toll road to try to cross the river to Uji at Shimamoto.

... but the men in the toll booth helpfully gave us a map to show us there was a parallel non-toll lane as well.

We stopped in at Yawata to climb the forested hill to Iwashimizu jinja (a jinja is a Shinto shrine), with a beautifully decorated inner shrine under restoration.

More interminable steps like every hill shrine or temple!

Iwashimizu jinja

A Buddhist temple at the foot of the shrine

We then continued across the Kyoto-Osaka complex weaving in and out and under the motor-ways to avoid the excessive toll costs heading as fast as we could towards Uji.

The non-toll road to Uji winds right under the toll motor-way

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