Hello Fellow Friends!

Today is a one-eighty. Since we last posted we had planned adventures galore, wanting to go as South in Japan as possible along the coast line and have Sas enjoy it as much as possible.
Needless, though actually quite important to unless you can read minds!, to say, none of that has happened.

We never went South. Instead we went West and East along the northern coast line of Kyoto Prefecture and there are some major likes, some ummmms, and some pretty frustrating dislikes! Buckle up. Its a looong old post.

Ok so lets get the dislikes done first:
Payment for parking at the beach. Or lack of consistency in asking for payment!
One thing Sas and I noticed as we were researching where to go was the distinct lack of free parking for public spaces such as the beach.

When googling places the prices where either upfront – which was useful or they were difficult to find and decipher because of the ambiguous seasonal pricing. These types were the most frustrating because although priced for example at 1000yen -you were charged on a beautiful hot and sunny day with no other cars in the lot versus the same conditions but a little bit more windy with the parking lot full of surfers and you were not charged!

If you can tell me what the difference is – please do let me know because some days it was like a guessing game of beach roulette on being charged. Also-what constitutes open season versus closed season?! Again hot day versus cold day? Or by months in which the beach is in constant use, lifeguards are visible and all of the facilities are open.

Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to pay for the upkeep of showers, toilets and clean beaches even during the off season – all I ask for is consistency. Even if keeping beaches clean here in Japan is an exercise in futility.

Ok so leading onto the ummmmmss..
Google routes, cliffs, beaches and places to stay.
Isn’t technology great? I mean really – isn’t it the best thing ever?!

Well. No. and Yes.. guess it depends. After deciding where we wanted to go, I google routed it to make sure Sas and I would arrive in plenty of time but more importantly – safely. Unfortunately google maps and routes missed the memo on that one. Hair pin mountain turns, bear territory and ocean cliff routes are not the best ways to travel google – either at night, during the day or you know – ever! Even more so as a new driver-bloody hell! Never again will I follow the “best route” provided because in my experience the answer is a resounding NO. No google it is not the most efficient, best or even sane route to take in the evening and often adds an extra hour to the whole journey because you can’t go faster than 2km ph!!
Other times its been an absolute dream and really useful and I wouldn’t do without it. Honestly though there aren’t enough of them to sway it into the complete yeays!

So. next. Beaches. They fall into the ummmm selection because, again google maps -sigh- isn’t always clear. Beaches which look accessible on google maps are not in fact always accessible either because there is no obvious parking when you get there or what looks to be parking is in actual fact cordoned off to public access for whatever reason. It’s hard to find out until you actually get there. So if you fancy a journey to a destination where the destination is non existent for parking for you to enjoy or you simply have to drive on by – then cool! Isn’t there that saying: it’s about the journey and the roads you take and not the destination? (something like that anyway).

Finally places to stay.
If you don’t want to break the bank and stay at hotels all the time, campsites are closed or even equally as expensive as some hotels just for one night, and you don’t want to break the law by “wild camping”(I’ll get to that in a minute) then last resort and possible available option is parking in a quiet part of a 24 hour convenience store parking lot. Note: make sure it is a 24 hour convenience store and doesn’t close at 24:00. There is a big difference!

A way to get around this is to purchase something small. Cover up your car windows and either watch a movie (or have one playing on repeat throughout the night), do some work on the laptop or have a nap. Or – and this maybe wild, I know, maybe do all of the above?! This way you have “paid” for your spot in essence and you are taking your time to use said item. Most of the 24 hour stores have a bathroom which is now open-post Covid and ATMs. Watch out for 7-11 though, even if they are open 24hours they only allow you to stay for 20mins or you get fined. Now. I have stayed past those 20mins on account of giving Sas his dinner at the same time as me eating mine so they are not too strict right now however Japan is opening up to tourists again-deep sigh-so this may change.

Japan is not like the US or the UK, obviously!, and although many people do still work from home “post” pandemic mixed in with a healthy dose of day trip or weekend camping, wild camping and nomadic life per se is not something which is generally accepted. You can’t rock up to a side street or a Frescos and park in their car park and stay overnight. The police will be called. Equally so you can’t just park on a flood plane by a river and pitch a tent in a place like Kyoto or Sasayama, even if you are in a 24 hour free car park the police will come and check on you-asking for details. So pick where you chose to sleep wisely.

Ok so finally on to the major likes!
WOW! Waiting 6 years to be able to take Sas to the beach at 5am and then watch the sun rise over the mountains along the coastline is something that I don’t think will ever get old. Sas loves it so much that he is practically jumping out of the car sans harness, collar, lead and human to boot. Alright so he’s only done that once… at the beach which for Sas you know.. is pretty good! I might as well add that those zoomies were of epic proportions and someone slept well and was epically lazy for the next few days. I on the other hand had what could only be likened to a heart attack followed by even more grey hairs.

Abject fear of driving along cliff edges on coastal roads aside, the views are beyond comparison. This is a side of Japan that I had heard existed but hadn’t encountered and boy was it worth the wait!

This is living the dream. Is it easy? No. Is it hard – sometimes but is it worth it?? Oh so very much!
The mountains are great we love exploring them however not nearly as much and mountains are not nearly as exciting as being at the beach so thats where we go.

Well thats it for now.. I guess we have to give up trying to travel outside of Kyoto Prefecture from April due to some work commitments however we will be plotting, planning and going on smaller escapes away from the city as much as financially possible because I cannot stand the thought of having to stop visiting the places where Sas is so happy and carefree. So watch out for us on the roads – we will be making our great escape!

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We have a new sticker collection in our shop where you can collect stickers of Sas on his travels 🙂

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