Wednesday 19 February, 2020
Day 3 | Togi to Wajima
[Missed the previous post? Check it out here]
We start the day by visiting the former Longest Bench in the World, extending to just over 460m along the beachfront.
It was surpassed back in 2012 by Switzerland with their bench measuring at over 1km.
We pop out for a quick breakfast at Family Mart. Today we decide to follow the coast for the first 10km before heading back onto the main road along Highway 249.
The coast is fresh and cool but not nearly as cold as yesterday. In fact, we have to remove a few layers along the way; I’m down to two layers on top and Cheye has finally removed his jeans!
We keep an eye out for the Sekinohana Rocks but cycle straight past the turn off without realising until we’ve gone 1km too far. We stop for the view which is pretty awesome but are just too far to see the famous rocks.
After following the highway for much of the way we hit a climb that lasts about 2km but nothing too major. After reading a few blogs we’re expecting at least another 8km of incline but are pleasantly surprised when we hit a tunnel, which lasts about 1.2km. It was a bit scary making our way through as there were several patches of almost complete darkness which you can see in the video below.
We emerge from the tunnel to a wonderful decent that takes us all the way into Wajima town. It kicks off with a snow covered backdrop and the snow slowly disappears the further down we go.
We arrive in Wajima way ahead of schedule, too early to check in, so end up cycling around town checking out all the different bakeries.
Of the five we see on the map only one is decent, a French bakery called Rapport du Pain.
It’s the first place we visit and decide to go back for a second visit after being disappointed by the others.
If you ever find yourself in Wajima make sure you visit them to grab yourself a coffee and a slice of their pizza, especially on a cold day like today.
We decide to spend a bit more time exploring, making our way through the quiet streets.
As we cycle around, we spot a strange looking display outside someone’s house. It looks like an art installation of random things and upon a bit of research I discover it’s called ‘Tin Shinkansen’ and there to make a bit of a statement from the traditional streets of Wajima.
I try to translate the writing at the top of the train and it says something along the lines of “Wajima – A Happy Place! Lower The Taxes.”
We swing by Family Mart for a quick bite before checking into our accommodation at around 4pm.
The owner of the Ryokan is lovely and a real character. He speaks minimal English but gets excited once he realises we are cycling the Noto Peninsula and wants to take photos of our bikes.
He also takes a photo of us for his Instagram page @shinbashi_ryokan
Inside, the ryokan is ornately decorated with local Wajima lacquerware and artworks.
Before commencing our trip we knew the importance of booking as much as we could in advance, from accommodation, transportation and tickets to sights and events. I had booked all our accommodation apart from one night in Noto, which happens to be our destination for tomorrow. All my online searches result in nothing and it seems all the accommodation available are local Ryokans that only take bookings over the phone in Japanese. While in Tokyo the other day, I had asked the hotel manager to assist with booking a place I had chosen but they refused to do bookings for international tourists. I ask the owner in Wajima if he is able to help us book a place and he also gets rejected by another two places that won’t take anyone other than Japanese locals. Eventually we have no choice but to settle on a place I had previously found about 4km out of town. It’s not ideal but as there’s nothing else nearby it will have to do.
After we settle into our traditional Japanese room, the owner knocks on our door to ask us a few questions about our stay.
He’s using a cool translation egg to communicate with us which has a woman speak in English. Before he heads off he asks one last question: “If this is a cookie, please eat it” the woman’s voice translates. I’m confused and think something has been grossly lost in translation until he reveals a box he has been hiding behind his back and hands it to me – it’s a box of Noto Milk Cookies. He tells us that the Ryokan is his father’s business and the cookies are his own business. We thank him and he wanders off. He has also left us some chopsticks and yuzu mochi on the desk as a gift.
As it’s off season it appears we are one of only two rooms booked for the night. They have only set up the female onsen which we can both use instead of having the male and female ones running. I sit in the bath for a bit and it’s so relaxing, although so so hot.
We have dinner at a local restaurant Yabu Shimbashi which has been recommended to us by the guesthouse owner.
We order some meal sets consisting of udon, soba and rice which are very reasonably priced and all vegetarian.
The food is delicious and it’s nice to have something other than Family Mart meals even though we enjoy them very much.
Still we head to Family Mart afterwards for some sweets before heading back to the warmth of our room to prepare for our ride to Noto tomorrow.
Distance cycled: 56km (46km of undulating coastal roads and a steady 2km climb before a huge descent into Wajima, plus an additional 10km cycling around town)
Accommodation: Shinbashi Ryokan
Breakfast & Lunch: Family Mart
Dinner: Yabu Shimbashi