Japan day 34
Japan day 34
Wakkanai-Cape Soya-Wakkanai 77km
Wakkanai has that feeling of a town at the end of the line. Though it lacks nothing in terms of modernity, it’s evident that nobody passes through here on their way to somewhere else…..unless, of course, you’re a daft cyclist on your way to Cape Soya. In the summer, there will certainly be a steady flow of travellers heading out to Ristri and Rebun, two islands to the north west that I will visit before I leave. But today’s brief was to finish this Cape-to-Cape journey, some 32km to the NE, and still with the favourable wind of yesterday. But this sortie out to Cape Soya had a return journey to Wakkanai…..in other words, a day of mixed feelings about the wind. (Now some of you may be wondering why this man doesn’t just catch a bus back to Wakkanai……well you obviously don’t know me well enough…..I really am that stupid…. 😦
I’m sure you already know that End-to-End rides are all about earning a ‘gong’ at the end….but the only ‘gong’ awaiting you is not a reception committee waving flags and throwing streamers, but simply to have your photo taken at the finishing line
……thank the person who kindly took the photo (in this case a young Japanese couple who wanted to have their photo taken with me……ah, the problems of celebrity!) and go and find yourself a coffee (or something stronger) to celebrate.
Well, I looked around and couldn’t see anything that might serve me coffee, or anything else for that matter. In fact, during this down-period between the winter and summer seasons, businesses go into hibernation. I headed up the high street of this tiny frontier village….everywhere was lifeless…..except for a tiny food store.
Watching out for empty boxes on the floor (bad joke!), I went in, purchased a pot noodle, asked the lady to fill it with hot water, and prepared to head outside to eat it when…..(and here comes another ‘only in Japan’ moment)…the lady said something I didn’t understand, but her body language implied I could go through to their house and eat in some warmth and comfort, sitting at their kitchen table.
Now remember, in the shop I was just a paying customer, sitting in her kitchen I suddenly became her guest (change of status)…..so along with my pot noodle, she served me some sweet omelette, made me a cup of coffee…..and when I left she gave me one of the gift pens from her shop. I was touched. And she then did the very Japanese thing of waving me off, until I had disappeared around the corner.
In a memorial park nearby, with commanding views of the Cape,
there were a variety of monuments, amongst them this memorial to the sinking of the American submarine Wahoo SS 238 in 1943, which had been responsible for destroying a lot of Japanese shipping, killing hundreds.
The memorial, however, is dedicated to the dead on both sides…..a post-war gesture that bids to nurture permanent peace between the two countries.
And for those who like a few post-ride statistics: I originally estimated this to be a 3000km ride between the two Capes, but I have personally clocked up 3074km, some of it additional because of sight-seeing, going off route….etc.
At my average pace of 120-130km per day, excluding all sight-seeing and stopovers, as a straight ride it would take just four weeks to complete. And if you want a little more warmth and less wind, (but you’d miss the cherry blossom), May would be a better month. By the time you get to Hokkaido in late May/early June, the campsites would likely be open, and the weather more pleasantly warm.
However, my journey is not quite over yet. After a rest day tomorrow, I’ll catch a ferry, and spend a couple of nights on the remote islands of Ristri and Rebun, as I did on Stewart Island, at the finish of my End-to-End of New Zealand two years ago.
Ristri has a Mt Fuji look-alike volcano dominating the entire circular island, and both islands (because of their Siberian aspect) have a high alpine climate, even at sea level. Certainly not time to be ‘casting the clouts’ yet!