Looking out toward rugged ocean bays on a blue sky day. Kihoku, Mie, Japan.

Toyoura Bay, Kihoku

Kihoku and Minami Ise, on the Kii Peninsula, were regular destinations back in 2013. I had planned to do a photo project on the people and region but the plan fizzled out and got pushed aside. That was a mistake.

And in 2016 there was a short bike packing trip between Kii Nagashima and Kumano but heavy rain brought that to an abrupt end. The intent was to cycle all the way down the east coast, camping rough as I went, and then cycle back up through the centre of the peninsula exploring the remote hamlets. I promised to return by bike but Gifu and Nagano became more appealing. Another mistake.

  • The last rays of sunlight hit an Suzushima Island in Toyoura Bay. Kihoku, Mie, Japan.
  • Fishermen at dusk in Toyoura Bay. Kihoku, Mie, Japan.
  • Looking out toward rugged ocean bays on a blue sky day. Kihoku, Mie, Japan.

A recent return to Ashihama, however, reignited my interest so we jumped in the car and drove to Toyoura between Kii Nagashima and Owase, slept in the car (which we bought purposely for that reason), wandered the beaches and bays at dawn and dusk watching the fishermen and kayakers do their thing, and played with stray cats. Not quite bike packing but I can live with that.

Kihoku is the perfect antidote to life in the city.

  • Kayakers paddling out into the ocean, early morning. Kihoku, Mie, Japan.
  • Kayakers paddling out into the ocean, early morning. Kihoku, Mie, Japan.
  • Camping rough for the night. Kihoku, Mie, Japan

There are some places that make me feel like I’m travelling as I did in my youth – places that rekindle the nostalgia of my twenties where adventure lurked around every corner – and this area is one of them.

Whether it’s the combination of mountains and ocean, tiny fishing villages, or the wild coves where you can hear the call of deer in the nearby forests, something about the region makes me feel very far from home in a way that makes me nervous. That’s ridiculous of course – Japan is home, – but it’s the truth. And it’s that nervousness that makes me feel alive, adventurous, and happy with the choices I’ve made in my life up until now.


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Based in Japan since 2001 I spend free days adventuring into the mountainous regions of central Honshu and occasionally Hokkaido. In 2021, I plan to slow down and talk to more people. Feel free to email me.