Japan 2013, On Tour

Day 3: Takikawa to Tomakomai

This was a tough day. A long, hard slog to Tomakomai. I was cutting across country again. Today my route was more direct, pretty much a straight line down south to Tomakomai through Iwamizawa. The road to Iwamizawa was busy and uninteresting – a lot of traffic and a lot of big outlets and garages. It also rained early in the morning and remained overcast all day, which didn’t help the dreary at atmosphere .

The advantage was that I was able to find a supermarket to pick up some food which had run out sooner than I had anticipated over the last two days. The road got quieter at Iwamizawa when I left the main route to Saporro I had been sharing and followed my road to Tomakomai. Soon I was back in the inland Hokkaido I enjoyed: Rural, sparsely populated and calmer. I stopped at a Ramen place somewhere near Kuriyama. It was a great family run restaurant, mum, dad and teenage son all working in the kitchen and on the floor. The food was delicious.

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It was a good thing I stopped for a big bowl of ramen. After I had, the wind picked up and I faced a stiff headwind on the final leg to Tomakomai. The road was long and straight and the going was hard at times, but I finally arrived on the outskirts of Tomakomai.

It isn’t the most pleasant city to cycle into, and especially not after a big downpour. I wasn’t sure where I could set up camp and ended up asking a motorcyclist outside a convince store I saw consulting a map. He very kindly pointed out the nearest campsite, about 15km from where I was and even made a photocopy of the map for me. The hospitality of the Japanese people continues to amaze me.

It was getting dark, and 15km was too far for me to ride to the campsite so I found a quite patch of coastline outside the city and set up my tent there. I didn’t dare set up further into the beach towards the city: the weather was quickly worsening and I was afraid if it degraded further a rough sea would suddenly soak my tent with a large wave.

That night was stormy. It rained the whole night through, almost as soon as I set up my tent. But there was something enjoyable about it. I had reached the Pacific Coast by bicycle and now huddled against it, facing the storm with nothing but a tent.

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