Our visiting spots on the island (Part 2)
Short Hiking Around Black Lava Desert
On the way back to the northern area of the island, we dropped by “Ura-Sabaku（Black Lava Desert）”. We drove off the main street, and moved into the narrow road called “Tsuki-to-Sabaku Line (Moon and Desert Line), they were heading for the huge area covered by black lava by foot after leaving our car at the parking lot. Mt. Mihara located at the center of the island and it is still an active volcano that has erupted a few times in these recent years. Black Lave Desert was created by repeated eruptions of the mountain in the past. According to some books, magma from eruptions burned out almost all of the plants and grounds, and no plants grow due to blowing strong wind so that most of the area is covered by the black color of lava.
The lava mass was very light, and the feeling when stepping on the ground was also very light and dry, which create unfamiliar sounds. Although I cannot find any right words to express, it was a very interesting feeling which I have never experienced. Moreover, the landscape from there was magnificent to enable us to see both the ocean and mountainsides, so I will recommend you visit there if you are interested in the natural phenomenon of the Earth. You can reach the center of the black lava desert by 20-25 mins walking, so it is not a hard activity at all.
By the way, we planned to go on hiking around the crater of Mt. Mihara on the 2nd day, but we gave up due to bad weather and very strong wind. We felt fear that we were browned away by the strong wind. We also witnessed that some of the hikers who dressed in light wear and they forced to go on a hiking, but we strongly recommend not try to force them to do in case the condition is not good. Although you may want to carry on even under such a situation, sometimes we also need the courage to give up. Nothing is important other than your life!
Oshima Onsen Hotel (Mt. Mihara Hot Spring)
We chose Oshima Onsen Hotel as our accommodation because it has pure hot springs in which the quantity of water is abundant due to the benefit from an active volcano, Mt. Mihara. Besides, the hotel has both inner/outer bathes and you can see the whole picture of Mt. Mihara from the outer bathtub when it is fine weather (Unfortunately, it was rainy when we stayed there, so we could not enjoy a great scenery from the bath … sigh).
They served us “Camellia oil fondue” for dinner because the camellia flower is one of the special products on the island. It is the dinner style of the hotel that we soaked seafood and vegetable in a batter, then put them into the oil to deep fry by ourselves. Camellia oil was very light and didn’t have any annoying smell, so our stomach didn’t feel heavy although we ate plenty of foods. “Ashitaba”, a green leaf vegetable that seems like spinach with a bit bitter taste, is another special product on the island. As the vegetable contains a full of vitamins and minerals, it has been popular among people like healthy food. Especially, deep-fry Ashitaba was so crispy and tasty! Camellia oil fondue is also enjoyable as a kind of food entertainment.
By the way, camellia oil is used for many products for souvenirs, especially beauty care for women. The oil contains more than 80% oleic acid which is effective for anti-aging, and keeps moisture and is hard to oxidize. If you apply to your hair, you can regain the gloss and better quality of your hair. As for my souvenir, I found an interesting product for my nails. It seems like a calligraphy pen, but the liquid in the small tank is camellia oil. You can gradually apply for a small amount of oil through the brush. I think it is a very unique and epoch-making idea, isn’t it?
The facilities of the hotel are not new and look like a completely retro style with the nostalgia of decades ago, but the room is quite large for 2 people (I guess that 4-5 people may stay in the same room). They also have a kind of sky lounge at the top of the building and you may enjoy starry skies at night when it is fine weather. For your reference, the hotel opens its hot spring facilities for day trip hikers from morning to late afternoon. In case you arrive at the island very early morning by ship or after having hiking around Mt. Mihara, you can drop by the hotel to relax and wash away the sweat.
What we could do when it is a rainy day on the island!?
Although we planned to have hiked around Mt. Mihara on the 2nd day, we had to give up the activity due to terrible weather. To tell the truth, it seems relatively hard to find alternative activities other than outdoors on the Island. If you are interested in the museums, you can visit the “Izu Oshima Volcano Museum” and “Camellia Flower Museum” at Toritsu Oshima Park. If you want to attend some workshops to create something, you can visit “Oshima Furusato Taikenkan” to have some experience although you need pre-booking.
However, my husband and I were not such kinds of persons, so we decided to visit cafes near the airport for lunch and top of the hills for having some tea. The cafe near the airport called “Kimama-tei” is a western-style log house which has been owned by an elder couple. The atmosphere inside was so comfortable and felt ease although there are a full of customers (Everybody thought the same thing as us…). They prepared many different menus, but “Ashitaba Pilaf” is their signature dish, and of course we ordered it without a doubt. Ashitaba pilaf has a different texture from deep-fry Ahitaba which we ate yesterday, and we could taste much bitter flavor. Green salad, tomato soup, black currant sherbet, and black coffee in the set menu were also tasty. We sat on the counter and enjoyed chatting with the male cafe owner for a while (The wife was a chef and the husband was a waiter at the cafe).
After all, the heavy rain never stopped when we left the cafe, all we could do was visiting another cafe called “Chagoya” located at the top of the hill. I heard that the lady who is the owner built the cafe house by herself. As it was a top of the hill, there were just a few customers other than us and we spent a relaxing time over rare cheesecake and tea until our departure time of jetfoil. It is said that the landscape from the cafe is also great when we have fine weather, according to some word-of-mouth on the internet.
Anyway, it was a little a pity trip for us because of the bad weather, so I need to re-visit to have trekking of Mr. Mihara some other day!!