Road 425 opens up again and follows a shallow river to Shimokitayama. You can see Neda waiting for me in the far right
Along the road, we see signs for Shimokitayama Onsen (hot springs resort). These seem to be a big thing in Japan. We must try one of these onsens while we're here. But right now, the thought is to abandon this too-narrow road and head back down to the main road. At Shimokitayama, we take 169 which spits us back out to the coast in Kumano, one of the larger cities in the Mie Prefecture.
whew! We don't really have a set route through Japan, we're just winging it by looking at interesting lines on the map. But this was a good lesson in what kinds of roads to look for...
Our slow and plodding ride has eaten up much of morning, and speaking of eating, we're getting hungry!
One of the first buildings we see as we ride into Kumano looks like a restaurant
We walk inside and discover that it's a sushi restaurant! Our favorite food!!! If you think those stacks of dishes were high, you should have seen my pile.
To our relief, this place wasn't automated at all. It didn't even have one of those snaking conveyor belts that you grab plates off of. You ordered directly from the sushi chef, and then you watched him prepare it in front of you.
Now, we don't know much Japanese, but when it comes to sushi, we know ALL the names of the various seafood. We were totally in our element here, requesting our favorite dishes with confidence: "Saba sashimi! Toro! Ebi nigiri! Maguro! Ikura maki!" To the untrained ear, it sounded like we were native Nipponese. Every time we ordered a dish, our sushi chef laughed in delight at these gaijin speaking fluent sushi.
The fish was so fresh! It tasted just as good as the highly-rated, fancy-pants sushi place we went to in Tokyo. Towards the end, we were just ordering dishes not because were hungry anymore, but because we were so happy speaking Japanese!
I looked at the bill. To my surprise, it was half of what we paid for in Tokyo, and we had ordered so much more as well. Wow, this place was great! We were all smiles and waves as we left and we thanked our chef on the way out: "Arigatogozaimas!"