Wednesday 6 June, 2018
Day 7 / Yoichi to Cape Kamui via Shakotan
[Missed Day 6? Read the previous post here]
We wake up at 6:45am to the sound of the Japanese group from the previous night getting ready to leave. I can’t really get back to sleep so go for a run by the river instead. The landscape is beautiful and I’m blown away by how green everything is although it’s already pretty hot at 8am.
Cheye is waiting for a phone call from Australia so I chat to the owner of the guesthouse for a bit. He shows me his Google Mini and requests a few songs including Michael Jackson and Bob Marley. We talk about travels and I show him some photos from my trip.
We leave at 11:45am, which is a bit later than we’re used to.
As we head off we spot the Space Apple that we were looking for yesterday, which is a museum, market and activity area, and not an empty playground like we first thought.
It’s pretty hot today but there are quite a few tunnels on our route which are quite cooling and helps us stay out of the sun.
I get a bit anxious riding through the tunnels as they are loud, with cars and trucks racing past you, and you can’t see a thing unless you take your sunnies off. You are normally riding on a raised path next to the road but on occasion there is no path and you have to stick to the shoulder which is a little nerve wracking. The tunnels can also be quite long with the longest one today at 2.2km.
We decide to stop at the town of Shakotan with the plan of finding accommodation there so we can drop our bags off and cycle to Cape Kamui. It’s a bit difficult figuring out which buildings are guesthouses so we go to the information centre and ask.
The girl at the counter doesn’t speak English so she pulls out a translation egg which she talks into in Japanese and it translates her words into English. Pretty nifty! I tell her I am looking for a hotel but she tells me (via the egg) ‘Today it is difficult to find a room’. She tells me the next town, which is 20km away just before Cape Kamui, should have accommodation and she calls a guesthouse to help us make a reservation. I speak to the owner of the guesthouse (who speaks great English) and we make a booking for two people. We grab a quick lunch from the convenience store around the corner and carry on.
After a few more tunnels and curves around the coast, we make it to Shinsei Guesthouse.
It’s a traditional style Japanese room with onsen and restaurant downstairs.
We ask about the food situation as we notice there are no shops anywhere nearby and they tell us they can make us something vegetarian for dinner. We check in and take the bikes to Cape Kamui which is about 4km away.
Despite being only 4km, the ride there is pretty tough with a big uphill and headwind the whole way. We eventually make it and lock our bikes up.
It’s a decent trek to the top of the cape, and quite windy, but the views are amazing.
It reminds me a little of when I walked the Great Wall of China, only by the ocean.
During our walk back we start chatting to an old Japanese man named Hiro from Osaka.
He tells us about Hokkaido in winter and that everyone comes to ski. We tell him about our trip so far and get a photo with him before parting ways.
Once back at the guesthouse we decide to use the onsen which is relaxing. I could stay there all day but dinner is at 6pm so I finish up and we make our way down to the restaurant.
Dinner is amazing. Despite the restaurant specialising in seafood, the chef has made us a full vegetarian bento set. Tsukeman Ramen (cold noodles with dipping sauce), tofu salad, miso soup, seaweed, pickles and kimchi. It’s delicious! Cheye also orders some beers.
We head outside for a walk and the town is empty. It’s cold with a sea breeze and feels like we are the only ones in town. We make our way back to our room and our futons have been made up for us to crash out for the night. It’s still early, not even 7:30pm, so we switch TV on to the baseball and make some Japanese tea. We decide to have an early night so we can make an early start tomorrow.
Distance cycled: 52km from Yoichi to Shakotan, then 8km round trip to Cape Kamui
Roads: Paved coastal roads and wide footpaths, some decent hills including one at 9%, lots of tunnels ranging from 130m to 2.2km long.
Japan Travel Tip #7
Learn some basic phrases. This goes for any foreign city but there is still a big of a language barrier in Japan, especially if you start travelling to the smaller cities. Things such as ‘hello’ (Konnichiwa) and ‘thank you’ (Arigato) are obvious but other helpful phrases include:
- Excuse me ‘Sumimasen’
- What is this? ‘Kore wa man desu ka’
- How much is this ‘Ikura desu ka’
- And for the vegetarians: I don’t eat meat or fish ‘Niku ya sakana wa tabemasen’