The days have blended somewhere in between our last post about Shikabe and the peninsular whip-around that brought us into Hakodate.
For the sake of demonstration (and so I’ll remember all the stops), I’ve been logging our trip stops on this page so that you can follow the journey.
We camped outside a michi-no-eki one last time in Hokkaido at Natowa-Esan, which sits on the southeast point of the island, before treating ourselves to a hotel in Hakodate. We knew that we’d be taking a ferry of dubious comfort levels when we set out to reach Honshu, so having a comfortable bed with a shower and toilet to call our own seemed like the right thing to do. Truth be told, we were so exhausted when we got there that we did our laundry (which was later hung using another makeshift drying line inside the small room) and not much else. The sights of Hakodate would have to wait until the next day.
Our final day – morning, really – in Hokkaido brought us to the star-shaped fort park in Hakodate called Goryokaku to check out the old magistrate’s house and its surrounding green space. We then set out to the old red brick warehouse area by the Kanemori Hakodate port. A carryover from industrial-era Japan, the Kanemori port has all sorts of old shops and tourist attractions near the port. Bronwyn discovered a music box “museum” in one of the old red brick warehouse which was equal parts beautiful and sensory overload.
We had read on a couple of other travel blogs that the journey between Hakodate on Hokkaido and Aomori on Honshu could be a rather painful 3.5 hours. Reports indicated that we’d need to carve out a section of carpet for the journey below the deck and try to just tolerate the experience. While it lacked the bells and whistles of a more refined yacht, the Seikan Ferry trip wasn’t nearly as painful as we expected. We sat in some chairs in a common area and tried to edit some of our ever-expanding collection of GoPro footage together and spoke with a nice old guy about where we might set up camp once we landed in Aomori City. There wasn’t food being served, but as someone who took the Bowen Island – Vancouver ferry on a fairly regular basis over the last four years, I found the journey to be easy enough. It pays to have an open mind about everything.
Finding camp in Aomori proved more difficult than we had expected. We had a quick meal at the closest 7-Eleven we could find and set out to find a park or temple on the outskirts of Aomori to escape the din of the Aomori Port. We finally settled, mosquito-bitten and soggy with perspiration, in front of a school-type building on a river bed.
If you’ve been following this blog as we take the trip, you’ll remember Bronwyn’s post about Yakumo a week or so back that had us sleeping in a small bus shelter. The setup in the Aomori outskirts was significantly more stressful than that experience. The spot itself was fine (if somewhat bug infested), but we had to set up camp in the dark under the watchful eye of a voyeur who sat in her window across the street, at times shining a flashlight down on us. I’m sure she was as spooked with us as we were with her; I kept listening for the approach of police sirens after we got into our tent and I’m sure she was just waiting with apprehension to discover what maniacal plan we were hatching from the headquarters of our 6’x5′ nylon tent. When we awoke at 5:00am the next morning, dripping with the ambient humidity, we decided it best to get out of there and continue on.
Which brings us to last night in Ikarigaseki: we found an onsen attached to the property of the michi-no-eki and it was like heaven finding us. We even met another Japanese cyclist, Naoya-san, who was cycling from Northern Japan to Tottori in the month he has before university resumes. It was great to meet you, Naoya. We set up camp after a classic Japanese soak and we’re now on our way south through Akita prefecture, with Aomori prefecture in our proverbial rear view mirror. (NB: We really should have actual rear view mirrors. We just need to find some that will fit our drop handlebars.)
Bronwyn’s keen to write the next blog post and will probably fill in some of the details that I’ve missed here. Stay tuned!
Middle school teacher on hiatus/budding permaculturalist currently cycling the world. Sometimes he acts in plays and film. Mostly he travels and blogs about it. Christian is one of the founders of onlyamazingdays.com