Slip Sliding Away
Posted by Heliocentrism on January 8, 2011
December 25, 2010
The day started out fantastically. My mom and nephew where visiting from Ohio to spend the holidays with me. My friend, Makeeya, who now lives in Korea was visiting too.
We all woke up that morning and handed out our gifts. No one bothered to wrap any of their presents. We just gave them out in the bags they came in or some other random bag.
The plan was to drive to Kokonoe town and walk across the really high suspension bridge there. We figured that it would be really cold and windy along the bridge so we would stop off at an onsen in the the area to warm up before heading home. It was supposed to be a great day.
Things started to take a turn for the worse when we pass the car in the picture above. Sure we were driving on snow, but I used to live in Columbus, Ohio so winter driving was not an entirely new thing for me. As long as I drove slowly and carefully I thought that everything would be fine.
I stopped the see if the people from the car were okay.
“Daijoubu des ka?” (Are you Ok?)
“Hai, Daijoubu des!” (Yes. We’re ok!)
I then pressed the gas peddle to continue up the mountain, but then my k-car would only move a little. There wasn’t much traction, but we kept going. Cars that were heavier and had more horsepower zipped by us.
We came upon an old couple in a silver station wagon that was having the same difficulties we were. We all watched as it slid off the road and hit the guard rail. We decided not to go around it in case they started to slide again and hit us. That was when I realized that we were stuck once more.
My nephew, Alex, got out and helped the older couple by pushing their car towards the middle of the road where there was less snow and ice. Meanwhile a police officer stopped to see what was going on.
I talked it over with Makeeya and Alex and we decided that we should turn around. Well, Alex didn’t want to go back, but he’s just a kid. What he wanted didn’t count at that moment.
Alex and Makeeya started to push my car towards the middle of the road. Just then a van coming up the hill slid towards my car and stopped, partly blocking off the road. I didn’t want t0 drive by the van and chance hitting it. We waited for the van to leave.
The driver of the van started to put chains on his tires. The van would not be moving any time soon. We waited.
We stood around discussing how long we would have to wait until the van moved. Then we saw a group of buses headed down the mountain. There were three of them.
The first one drove pass us, the cop, and the van with no problems. The second bus seemed like it was doing the same. The third looked like it was in a hurry, trying to over take the second bus.
We all stood there in horror as we realized what was really going on. It was not trying to over take anyone. It was out of control. It slammed into the guardrail and slid towards my car.
It did not hit my car, but it came too close for my comfort. I asked to police officer if he thought it was possible for me to just push my car down the hill. He seem unwilling to give me a definite answer. But I didn’t care anymore, I had to get my nephew and my car off this killer mountain!
Since my car was just a tiny k-car I had Makeeya and Alex walk along side the car as I drove slowly down the mountain. Whenever it started to slide they would grab the car and stop it. That’s one good thing about drive a non-powerful, light-as-feather car!
Everything was going great… well, great after a few “almost sliding off the side of the road into a ditch” episodes. But we worked out a system of slow driving. When we came to a section of the road with deep ditches and no guard rails everyone would get out and walk the car as I drove very slowly.
This worked, until I almost hit a bus. There were many cars parked on the side of the road so I slowly pressed the brakes only the find that nothing happened. I tried steering the car away from the bus, but nothing happened. The car wanted to hit the bus. Luckily my car stopped about 5 feet in front of the bus. We then pushed the car off the road so that it would be out of the way.
Like before, the number of cars sliding off the road hitting the guard rail and hitting other cars increased the longer we stayed. We wanted off the mountain! We might get hit on the way down, but we would definitely get hit if we stayed there. We continued with our descent.
We slowly drove down the mountain, pulling over every now and then to let faster cars go by. When we got to the bottom of the mountain we saw three of these cars in a pile up. I drove by them, as the drivers were getting each other’s insurance information, without a scratch on my car.
How to get there:
You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.
Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.
- Emergency Numbers:
- Police 110
- Ambulance and Fire 119
- Important phone numbers to know while in Japan
- Comfort Woman
- The Commoner
- Empire of the Sun
- Flyboys: A True Story of Courage
- Geisha, a Life
- Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II’s Most Dramatic Mission
- The Last Concubine
- Memoirs of a Geisha
- Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath
- Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan
- What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
- Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan. Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
- InternationalATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to askwhatATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
- ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
- You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan. I’ve never been a tourist.)
By car –
- Take route 210 or the Oita Expressway (toll road).
- Be careful when driving in this town in winter.
- Check the weather forecast before leaving your house.
- If you do drive to Kokonoe when there is a lot of snow on the ground make sure to drive slowly, put chains on your tires, and watch out for crazy drivers who feel that they do not have to drive carefully in snow because they own SUV’s.
Kokonoe Yume Otsurihashi
- Coordinates 33°10’25.9″N 131°13’36.4″E
By car –
- Take route 210 toward Kokonow.
- Then take either route 11 or route 40.
- Look out for signs to the bridge.
1208 Tano Kokonoe Ōaza
Kusu-gun, Oita Prefecture
- Adult – 500YEN
- Kids – 200YEN
- Jan – Jun 8:30 – 16:30
- Jul – Oct 8:30 – 17:30
- Nov – Dec 8:30 – 16:00
- Close Dec 31.
Parking is free.
Frog Hot Spring
- Coordinates 33°14’32.4″N 131°19’51.0″E
By Car –
- Take route 210 to Yufu City.
- There is a place where route 210 and route 11 intersect near Minami Yufu Station. Turn here and take the very first left.
- (Do not pass the rail road tracks.)
- The spa is on your left shortly after the turn.
1176-1 Nakagawa Yufuinchō
Yufu City, Oita Prefecture
- 300YEN/ person or
- 2,100YEN/ room
- 9:00 – 20:00
no one here speaks English.