|This morning we head for the caves, the signs are elusive but the road is great no traffic and really twisty. Arriving close to where I think we should be we spy some people in a car park so I go to ask. Hope answers me in perfect english you are here she says, it turns out she and her brother Nathan are spreading the Bible round Japan. Their mother is Japanese but their father is American so they both have American accents but speak perfect Japanese. They have an ‘army’ of helpers on mopeds delivering leaflets and they use loud hailer’s on their vehicles which is fairly common in Japan. They give us a spare detailed map with a camping spot and some apples and pears, we wish each other luck and head for the cave entrance. We have to admire their dedication they cover every road in an area before moving onto the next and are away for weeks at a time.The cave appears shut but a sign says open at nine it’s five past. We watch an elderly lady cycle up the hill park her bike on the side of the road and kick about in the undergrowth, looking for mushrooms or chesnuts we surmise, she knows we are watching her but seems unbothered, she gradually saunters up to the cave and starts to unlock everything, the garage area reveals the gift shop some food and a postcard or two. Now ready we have to don plastic hard hats and she seems pleased we have headtorches we part with our cash and enter. It is in terms of beauty a very disapointing cave very dull colours and few stalagtites/mites but is a great adventure cave especially as we are the only people in it and left to our own devices, there are few steps and lots of crouching and clambering a low budget cave with only a few strip lamps. It reminded me of Swildons a cave at home in Somerset but with lighting. It is the largest cave in Japan we only did 700m the rest needs equipment.
Heading now for Miyako we detour off on a penisular to view the craggy rock coastline but resume to Miyako. We find wi fi and lose a couple of hours catching up on things. I search again for rider houses in the area but these are mainly in the north. As seems to becoming normal for us we find ourselves in a town when we’re just losing the light only this time we’re not too worried as we have the campsite to head for. As we sit in a traffic queue a Honda C90 pulls alongside ‘do you have time for a chat’ the rider asks ?. We stop round the corner at the 7/11 Mr Yoshima backpacked round the world 30 years ago including England and would like to help us, ‘where are you staying?’ We reply probably camping he disapears off to make a phone call, he has secured the floor of a ‘pub’. We follow to Torito Moto a biker friendly restaurant/bar. We are expected to spend about £20 in the restaurant (not difficult in Japan) in order to stay the night, after a quick discussion we say thank you but we are on a tight budget we will camp. There seems to be a bit of confusion and Mr Yoshima comes back saying would you like to meet the owners. We relent knowing it’s going to rain tonight and not wishing to be rude. After being shown an upstairs store to put our stuff in we are expected to bathe before eating the public baths are just round the corner. I’m really not keen and drag my heels grumbling and muttering under my breath. We share a bathroom roll so only have one of everything shampoo etc. I can’t see how it will work when we will be separate. We duely arrive and have to pay £4 each for the privilege. Kev takes the shampoo bottle I’m left with two little free sachets from our last hotel. As usual it is shoes off almost as soon as in the door our boots are so large they don’t fit in the small cubbyholes so go on top. Now in a largish room with lockers a couple of chairs and a mirror on on wall I am given a basket for my clothes. Next is the bathing room dominating the room are two large deep hot water filled baths all around the edge are taps and shower fittings at regular intervals. Two ladies are on opposite sides at the taps. I go nearish one to copy the procedure. Collecting a bowl I kneel at the tap and proceed to wash myself after washing my hair twice I now have no more shampoo I’m now at a loss the lady next to me is intent on washing herself about twenty five times. I decide right or wrong to jump into the bath bit it’s lovely really hot and soothing I try the next one even hotter and deeper, after what seemed like 15mins I get out and rinse off the lady is still washing. I give up and leave I can’t get any cleaner. Kev soon joins me at the restaurant and we go to eat. The owner is madly into bikes he and his wife have done some travelling in the past, he brings us a bewildering but delicous array of food including mussels which we have never tried before and are suprisingly tasty. It gets to a point we have to say no more as we are full. Mr Yoshima has suprised us with his generousity by arranging to pay the bill in advance with the owner. It turns out when the restaurant owner produces a visitors book for us to sign that this is one of the elusive rider houses we were looking for. They clear up then leave us alone in the restaurant showing us where the loos are and light switches. We are offered the floor of the restaurant area, no shoes ever touch this floor but as we have everything we need in the store room we stay there. It rains absolute cats and dogs in the night are we are thankful to be in the dry. We leave some money for Mr Yoshima towards the bill and write our thank you’s it has been an amazing experience only possible from the outstanding generousity of these people. To trust stangers alone in your restaurant with nothing locked away could only happen in Japan thank you.
The streets are still flooded from last nights rain so donning our waterproof trousers we head for Tono.