01/03/2015

Day 9: Kaga Onsen & The Super Rindo Road

Ubagataki waterfall on the Super Rindo Road
Monday, 14 July 2014

Continues on from Day 8: Noto Peninsula

This morning was our last in Kanazawa and we started the day with breakfast at the Dormy Inn Hotel.

After breakfast we checked out of the hotel, paid for our parking, and showed our payment confirmation to the parking attendant who retrieved our car from the parking elevator!

Today’s plans revolved around seeing some of the many sights around Kaga Onsen, the city of which is about 50km to the south of Kanazawa.

We started the day pretty early, which meant that our first stop was to be Shirayamahime Shrine, as most other attractions were not yet open. We had actually planned to climb Mount Hakusan today, but unfortunately I wasn’t feeling up to it!

My excuse is that the climb up Mt. Fuji was brutal, and the large amount of walking we had done in Minakami and Kanazawa had rendered me quite tired.

Perhaps if Hakusan was a more normal sized mountain, but at 2702 meters high, and with a 10 hour long hike (Fuji 2.0 I felt). I wussed out.

Definitely next time though!

The mountain actually contains Okumiya which a satellite shrine of Shirayamahime and gives me a nice link back to today's actual activities.

We found the main, ground level, branch of the Shirayamahime shrine mildly interesting, and we had a good little look around.

The name is an alternate reading of Hakusan, (白山), and as you might suppose the shrine is dedicated to worship of the mountain.


We unfortunately wandered down some stairs only to find they didn’t go anywhere, so we got a bit of taste of mountain climbing on the way back up.

By the time we had climbed back up, it was nearly time to head to the insect museum. The last remaining minutes were killed at a chemist while looking for razors.

The Ishikawa Insect Museum cost 410 yen to enter and was filled with lots of interesting critters!

The first area had thousands of mounted insects from Japan and around the world and was incredibly fascinating.

Some of the biggest insects were terrifyingly HUGE!


There were also lots of pretty butterflies and many cool beetles.

Here’s some interesting facts. The beetle order (Coleoptera) contains more individual species than any other and in fact one in four of all the animal species on the planet are beetles.

 There are currently 400,000 described species of beetle, which totals 40% of all known insect species described so far.

Actual total estimates for the number of different species range from one million to perhaps one hundred million.

There wasn’t a particular focus on beetles in the museum, they also had a lot of bees and wasps and some ridiculously huge stick insects.

Back to beetles though, we saw some that were bigger than our faces!

Not including the antenna or legs!


Apart from the pinned up dead insects there was also a section that had live specimens you could pick up, as well as a butterfly house full of lots of different types of flowers and butterflies!

The butterflies were really friendly and it was lots of fun when they landed on us!

The museum seemed to be a popular place for school groups and there were heaps of small children running around.

Paragliders at the top of the Shishiku Highland ropeway
We finished our visit with a view of the area from the roof of a small tower that was part of the building.

Next on our agenda was a visit to the nearby Shishiku Highland which is a recreational area located on a 650 meter high plateau that can be access by a ropeway.

We were unsure if we should actually go up as although it was not rainy like yesterday, the sky was very foggy and it didn’t look like we’d be able to see anything from the top.

We decided me might as well check it out, but this turned out to be a mistake as it was incredibly foggy at the top.

The facilities also seemed pretty run down and there were some super creepy play equipment lurking in the fog.

This was also about the point that Kate and I got separated in the mist.

We both wandered around for quite some time until we finally managed to find each other back at the ropeway station.

For some reason I wanted to hire a golf cart and/or hire a board to slide down a grassy slope, but Kate talked me out of it (there was no one else around) and we headed back down.

 
This would be creepy even without the lack of people and fog
On the way back we did at least get a decent view when we dipped back below the cloud layer.

The only other people around looked like they were waiting for the fog to clear so they could go paragliding.

Perhaps it would have been more interesting in winter or if the sky was clear.

Our next stop was the Tedori gorge, located a little bit further down the valley.

The gorge was actually really good, and we walked down to a relatively small, but otherwise fantastic waterfall!

After dipping below the cloud layer on the way down we got a decent view of the valley

No one else was around, and we had a bit of a rest on the cool rocks nearby before wandering around some of the plant dense walking trails.

They didn’t really go anywhere though so we soon returned back to the car. While we were walking around I saw some signs mentioning boats and indeed you can actually go on rafting tours (in summer).

Our next major destination was a drive along the Super Rindo road which is a windy mountain road (Rindo means forest road) connecting Hakusan City in Ishikawa with Shirakawa-go in Gifu.

The road reaches an altitude of 1400 metres and has many hiking trails, waterfalls, and views along the way.

Before arriving at the start of the road we stopped in at a herb house with the thought of having lunch there.

Snake!!!

We had a look at the restaurant, but as nothing took our fancy we instead just bought some delicious herb biscuits and continued on our way over many cool bridges.

Perhaps because it was a super road, upon arrival we had to pay a toll to pass, and what a toll!

It costs 3240 yen one way or 5020 yen for a round trip!

Thankfully however, as long as we didn’t exit out the other end, we’d be able to just pay the one way price, which is what we did.

Our first stop was at Odaninoyu Onsen, where we walked down a twenty trail to the Ubagataki waterfall. Slithering across the steps down, we saw a snake!

At the bottom we passed through a little clearing called “Snake Valley Park”, which I guess explained that encounter.


In front of waterfall there was a little onsen, but thankfully no one was using it as there was no privacy around at all.

The waterfall was quite wide, pretty interesting and very beautiful.

Apparently it’s one of Japan’s top 100 most scenic waterfalls. It's the one at the top of this post.

Once we’d had a good look we hiked back up to the car and continued on through the mountains to the Fukube-no-Otaki waterfall.
















This one is located at an elevation of 900 meters above sea level, cascades water down another 86 meters and was conveniently located right next to the road.

View from the top of Mount Sanoboiwa
Next we stopped at a view area that usually has good views of Mt. Hakusan, however it was a little too cloudy for that today.

Beyond the viewing area we passed a rest house, but didn’t stop as there looked to have been some sort of accident.

There was a couple of ambulances next to a grass/plant covered cliff and a heap of police cars. I hope whoever was involved was alright.

What the hell is that on the cliff face!

The road became quite windy in this area, and we followed it all the way down to the Shirakawa-go toll gate where we turned back around.

We wanted to go on another walk, so on our way back we stopped at the rest house and got some drinks from the vending machines.

The main store was closed and the ongoing incident might have involved the store owner or an employee.

A little way beyond the rest house we stopped at the Sanboiwa Parking lot, which is located 1450 meters above sea level.

The walk itself was reasonably short, but involved quite a brutal slog up to the top of Mount Sanoboiwa which has a height of 1736 metres.

Who's job is it to climb this ladder?!

From here we had the option of continuing for another 15 hours to the summit of Mount Hakusan.

However, we opted to instead just enjoy the lovely view of the surrounding mountains and a nearby lake.

There was still some low clouds about and it was actually quite cold, moreover it was getting quite late in the day and we needed to make sure we didn’t arrive too late at tonight’s Shirasagiyu Tawaraya Ryokan as we had included dinner.

Thankfully we managed to make it all the way back in time, though we didn’t have much to spare.


Upon arrival the hotel staff took our car, parked it, and after checking in a friendly old obaachan type lady showed us to our room, explained some things and asked when we wanted dinner and measured us to get the right sized yukata.

I’m not sure how much English she knew, but we conversed in Japanese.

We were instructed to go enjoy the baths, and then come back for dinner which will be served in our room, which we did.

This was the first time we’d had dinner in our room before, and many courses kept coming out!

Each time the lady explained what the food was in Japanese and then tried to think of the English phrase.


I don’t think there is an English phrase for most of the food though, so mostly we just got told “Fish” or “vegetable” as an additional explanation.

As usual the rice was extra super delicious!


Unfortunately some negi (shallots/scallions) were included in one of the meals, I had to point this out as Kate didn’t want two servings and it makes me very sick. The lady was very apologetic, and I was given some cutely cut fruit as an apology.

To finish the meal we had delicious ume shu (Plum wine)!

After dinner our food was cleaned up and some hotel staff came into our room to setup the futons.

Wow.

I think it took them about 30-40 seconds total!

Once our beds were made it was time to go to sleep!

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