Japan, June 2014: Day Twenty Three

So today marked the start of the rainy season in Japan. Every June it pours, and pours, and pours… We don’t expect to see the sun again on this trip, so we will be mostly shopping. Yay!

The most obvious thing to do would have been to find somewhere indoorsy to explore – like a toy and car museum – instead we opted to drive up another of Gunma’s mountains. Forgetting that the shops don’t open until at least 10am, we killed some time in Seven-Eleven before picking up a new memory card in the local K’s Denki (PC World) store. Opposite K’s was an Auto R’s; which is read as Auto Arse, basically Halfords, so we called in there too.

We were heading for Akagi (home of the Red Suns if you’re and Initial D fan). It’s a longer, more gradual ascent compared to Haruna and it took a long time to get to the fun part of the mountain pass.

Because Akagi is a lot more remote than Haruna, the road appears to get a lot more use and abuse from the local racers. There were shiny new sections of crash barrier along the lower half of the road, whereas they’ve almost given up repairing the parts around the twister top section. As it was raining, proper raining, any ‘drifting’ by us would be extremely involuntary and would almost definitely result in a hefty repair bill. Compared to Haruna, there was a lot more evidence of guys and girls having fun on Akagi. The yellow centre line was almost black in places, the raised ‘cats eyes’ put there to discourage and disrupt drifters were obviously being used as clipping points; instead of reducing the drifting, they were making it more competitive.

However, with the extra activity on Akagi, more people have had the opportunity to get it wrong. The barrier was scuffed and dented for the entire length of what I like to call the Initial D run – the section used in the manga/games. It’s good to see it being abused like this and fortunately the speeds of the drifts would rarely be high enough to cause anything worse than a beaten up machine.

We reached the summit and headed to the shrine beside the lake at the top. The store was small and one old man looked after the site. This was a grim day in June, it must be awful up there in the winter. We felt obliged to buy something to keep him fed and watered, so picked up a couple of Akagi related charms and headed back down the mountain. The weather was so awful, there wasn’t really any point trying to take photos.

I had planned to visit Usui, but with the weather this bad and with navigation issues (we took a wrong turn on the expressway) we ended up back in Shibukawa. At least we have something to do when we visit again. The afternoon was spent looking around the local shops before heading back to the hotel. I’ve picked up some kind of bite on my leg and I’m not feeling too awesome, so I’ll be having an early night before we return to Tokyo tomorrow.