Saturday 22 February, 2020
Day 6 | Wakura to Takaoka
[Missed the previous post? Check it out here]
Today is our last full day of cycling the Ishikawa Prefecture before we catch the Shinkansen towards Imabari. The forecast is rain but it doesn’t pour as expected although there’s still a bit of a chill in the air.
We stop by a few places to grab some breakfast; first to 7-11 then to Char Bell B, the same bakery from yesterday, for some more delicious baked goods.
I spot some cute looking cookies but decide to grab a bun shaped as Anpan Man, a Japanese superhero whose head is made of ‘anpan’ (Japanese bread filled with red bean).
We follow the 1, 159 and 18 highways and there are a few more turn offs so we have to refer to the maps a bit more often today. We end up following the main roads for most of it, with wide footpaths along the way for much of it.
There are a few areas where the footpath is too narrow, overgrown or covered in debris after the rain or just non-existent but for the most part it was ok.
It’s pretty chilly to start but warms up to about 9 degrees and the rain seems to hold off for most of the day.
There is a massive tough climb up the 18 highway. Fortunately there aren’t many cars and I end up snaking my way up the hill as the gradient peaks at about 20% at some of its steepest points, although it ends up averaging about 7% after we check out the Garmin later on.
I struggle as my knee is in pain but push on as I don’t want to do the walk of shame. Cheye however seems to cruise up without a sweat!
After we hit the summit it’s pretty much downhill all the way into Takaoka. The video goes for about 12 minutes (it’s a long downhill!) and apologies for the giant rain drop in the middle of the screen for about half of the footage!
As we approach town the traffic builds up and the area becomes reminiscent of Sapporo, where we cycled a few years back. We get back along the coastal road for a bit before making our way inland. At around 1pm we decide to stop in at a Lawsons on the side of the road for a rest and quick lunch.
We arrive in Takaoka at 2.30pm and check into our hotel for the night, which is a short cycle from the main train station. We contemplate cycling the extra 20km into Toyama (where we will be catching the train from tomorrow) but decided we are happy to stop after the massive climb.
After settling in we head out for a walk and plan to drop by Melon Pan Ice (Melon Bread Ice Cream) but they’re closed, probably because it’s so chilly outside! We decide to head straight to dinner at Soup Curry Maruna. The walk is cold and windy, and gets darker the closer we get. In fact it’s the perfect weather for soup curry, which we have been wanting to try for a while.
The eatery is pretty empty when we arrive with only two other tables occupied. We sit down and order some vegetable curries.
You can fully customise the dish and request additional toppings, different levels of spice and rice portions depending on your appetite.
I stick to a safe level of 1 or 2 but Cheye decides to go level 5, only because that’s the highest level permitted for first time visitors. I believe level 11 translates to ‘As Requested’ as someone must have requested something hotter than 10!
The menu also gives you instructions on different ways to eat soup curry.
We can smell the dishes coming out of the kitchen as the waiters walk pass and it smells so good. Our dishes finally come out and we can’t wait to dig in.
The curry is amazing…so so good! You can always tell when something is delicious when Cheye and I eat in complete silence, and we barely say a word during the entire meal. If you ever find yourself in Takaoka, I highly recommending checking this place out. It’s a bit hidden but totally worth it.
After finishing up we head back towards the hotel and drop by the local grocery store to buy some stuff for our train ride tomorrow. We soak up the big cold city feel of Takaoka after having stayed in small towns over the past few days.
We pack our things up and plan for our movements for tomorrow towards Imabari before having an early night.
Distance cycled: 55km, mostly flat except for a massive hill at the midway point up to about 20% gradient
Accommodation: APA Hotel Takaoka Marunouchi
Breakfast: 7-11 and Char Bell B
Dinner: Soup Curry Maruna
NOTE: Looking at the map below, we realised later that we could have just followed the coast all the way to Takaoka. For some reason our maps weren’t giving us that option and kept on telling us to go over the mountain, but when we searched for directions in reverse out of curiosity it took us down the coastal road.