Japan day 19
Japan day 19
Toyama-Joetsu 128 km
Over a leisurely breakfast with Taka, I learn more about his family (daughter married in the US, and a son in Toyama), how he learned his English (music, radio and travel), more about his collection of guitars
and the beautiful Japanese cedar wood house he had built for himself
in a traditional old Japanese design. Most original houses like this were destroyed during the war and, of course, new houses these days have a more contemporary design.
Taka wanted to accompany me out of the city
and put me on the coast road, which would be my best route for the day. And I was not disappointed. It took me along a stretch of road that had some considerable history in the development of communications between east and west Honshu.
My light relief from a full-on in-my- face wind came after 40km, when the snow-covered Alps started descending directly onto the road. This meant that, to build the road, they had to carve huge swathes out of the rocks, and put in these overhang tunnels for miles and miles….
.hence providing me with shelter from the wind. I couldn’t believe my luck. What had started as a very challenging day, suddenly changed complexion…..and since cyclists were banned from one the tunnels, following the original road along the cliffs, I came across a monument
commemorating the centuries of dangerous passage along this coastline, where countless lives were lost….until, of course, this road was built.
The views were spectacular….something that had also been appreciated by the British missionary, Rev Walter Weston
who, during his three periods of missionary service in the late 19th century, virtually pioneered alpine climbing and trekking in Japan. It would seem he’s venerated as the father of mountaineering here in Japan.
The pace towards Joetsu got faster then, suddenly, I caught sight of Yamaguchi
across a very busy highway. I ‘risked life and limb’ to join him for a chat, and despite our mutual lack of language, I learned he was a sushi restaurant owner, but he was now on a mission to cycle the entire coastline of the four major islands of Japan. Frankly, my jaw dropped…..he showed me his entire route, and I reckon it will surpass 20,000 kms.
Just before we mounted our respective bikes to go in opposite directions, he ran across the road to give me 2 little ‘chocos’ (chocolates), giving me a thumbs-up and saying “Segoi!” (fantastic!)
I have to say, Yamaguchi made my day.
But not just him…..when I arrived at Joetsu, and eventually found the agreed meeting point at Takada Station, I was to meet Canadian, Matt, who helped to make an improving day even better…..but more of that in another post.