It is no surprise that Japan is surrounded by a lot of coastline. In fact the nation is one of the largest and most extensive archipelagos in the world, super-ceded in this respect only by Indonesia and The Philippines.
Other than the rugged, narrow mountain roads Yoko and I like to drive on, another major focus is driving the endless meandering coastline roads around the country. Since all of Japan is mountainous and volcanic, the coastline is very rocky and irregular in most places which make for some interesting driving. Roads are often cut steep into the rocky banks allowing for wonderful ocean views, but roads are often extremely narrow with hairpin turns and can be extremely dangerous, especially when most of them are improperly signed or lit. Good luck when a large 5-ton truck is coming at you! Backing up 200m to a pullout to let it pass is quite usual.
Driving the coastlines of Nagasaki, Ehime and Ishikawa Prefectures in particular, have another benefit worth investigating. BEAUTIFUL SUNSETS ! Lots of them and very often. This photo was taken north of Kanazawa City in Ishikawa Prefecture, on the Noto-hanto. This area was rocked by a major earthquake, I believe it was in 2007, and many centuries-old seaside villages and their livelihoods were forever affected. Still, there is a quiet, comfortable charm in the people here, people who have lived in the area for generations and appear quite unaware or aloof about what is happening in the urban parts of the country. It is very refreshing to visit, and if you like seafood, Noto-hanto is a superb place to eat local crab!
But there also are the sunsets. Since Noto-hanto faces more or less straight west and the view of the sunsets are completely unobstructed, it is quite surprising to see a beautiful sunset nearly every night regardless of the season. Important to remember when driving, is that the roads are very hazardous and extra defensiveness is required for maximum safety. Other than that, enjoy!
Martin Werner Zander, Partner in the Smith’s School of English Franchise Company
Owner, Smith’s School in Kotoen