Touring the Sanriku Coast – II

12/04/2014

Ishinomaki – Minamisanriku

Oshika Peninsula

Today would be a deplorable mess with some half-arsed personal planning doused in a contingent of anti-social roads. Traipsing the Oshiku Peninsula regrettable. Situated just 45 miles away the Peninsula makes it the closest part of Honshu to the epicentre of the 2011 quake and again would make this one of the most heavily affected parts of the coastline. By the day it was now becoming easier to see why Miyagi was one of the most devastated prefectures. All around me new roads, bridges, tunnels, sea walls and debatably new housing being pieced together on a grand scale industrial effort. Inside just a couple of miles I would find myself inundated with herds of construction vehicles, some 20 to 30 would pass by the minute. My very presence an obvious hindrance, with no sidewalks or hard shoulder’s I would give way frequently to allow for safe passage. The terrain formidable, a bulk of the roads consisting of loose gravel would make for an uncomfortable ride along a succession of hills rising up and down in a rollercoaster like fashion occasionally revealing battered, heavy depopulated fishing coves. A staple part of the local economy that for years has survived on its fishing industry now faces a difficult challenge to reclaim its former years of glory.

Oshika Peninsula

By early afternoon I’d find myself incredibly famished, it was here that I began to think of nothing else but food. My shortcomings of a general all-round lack of brain matter meant that I’d scoffed all of my food during the early part of the morning and it doesn’t take too much trudging up and down hills constantly for you to burn up the calories. Of course this region being heavily stricken by that of a gigantic natural disaster almost beyond human comprehension hasn’t allowed for too many convenience stores to arise. An ideal that I had naturally taken for granted as normally all one has to do is whistle and a 7-Eleven will pop-up out of nowhere like a cheeky Tunisian gigolo. I now longed for a hideous 30 mile sprawl of convenience stores and fast food joints that I would traditionally grumble about. Consumerism suddenly had sex appeal, surprising how an empty stomach can bring about such a change of heart. This is when I decided to form a mostly non-sensical game in my head whereby I question what depraving acts I would be willing to torment myself with in order to obtain an all important and clinical food fix. It went a little something like this:

Q1: Would you kiss a rabid badger on the lips for a Mars Bar?

A: Hmm…yeah go on then.

Q2: Would you play naked twister with a Sumo Wrestler in exchange for a packet of Fizzy Chewitts?

A: はい.

Q3: Would you devour your own flesh trumpet in an attempt to relinquish ones very own starvation?

A: What??? No!!!…What??

Q4: Would you be willing to admit to anyone that reads this garble that your a crazy person….for one single yet decadent Twiglet?

A: Definitely.

And so on and so forth. Needless to say I was a pretty hungry lad and with every hill I climbed and every corner I rounded I nuzzled with this slight notion that I might just catch sight of a shop. And every time my hopes would be consequently dashed, hopes that I felt were melodramatically melding into dreams that would quite possibly never come true.

The sight of Onagawa Town, or lack of perhaps being the more appropriate description would direct my mind away from my hunger for a while, and in turn would again see my heart plummet. An omnipresent cartel of construction vehicles were decorating the land with dirt bought in from the surrounding mountains, raising the ground level back up to which had sunk significantly during the earthquake. The wind now becoming desperately repulsive kicking up swathes of loose dirt and sending it in the direction of a flock of tourists that had just turned up on a tsunami tour bus. The bulk of them heading over to one solitary capsized four storey building, all that now remained of a town centre completely obliterated, again hundreds of precious lives lost.

Minamisanriku MinamisanrikuMinamisanriku Minamisanriku

I pressed on further, still as hungry as ever, around copious bends, through dark, claustrophobic and dingy tunnels and then finally up my last accent of the day before light became the difference, and also my saviour. Just as I was coming around to the idea of eating my own flesh trumpet I happened across something quite miraculous. From some 80 metres or so above sea level it was at first like a mirage, a radiant glow of green, red and white. I squinted ever so slightly to try and focus upon what felt like some sort of unheralded epiphany. It was a 7-Eleven, it was indeed an epiphany! I raised my hands to the air jubilantly and looked around for others to share my joy with. Yet there was no one. I was cold and alone to which was a standard, but only temporarily very, very hungry.  I journeyed down the hill, my mind racing with thoughts of what I was going to gorge upon. My surroundings getting ever darker by the second, but the exuberant glow emitting from 7-Eleven would only get brighter the closer I got to it. Upon arrival the store itself looked as if it had only been slung together some 4 minutes previously, please note that this was no complaint, merely an observation as I parked my bike up and quite literally ran into the store as if I had only minutes left in which to consume food or I would die instantly. I filled my basket with all manner of supplies; noodles, burgers, tinned fish, chocolate, crisps, cream cakes, corndogs, more chocolate, boiled eggs, fried chicken and for good measure some more chocolate. All piled in without hesitation, my stomach knowing exactly what it was doing, surviving. I promptly paid for the goods and then scuttled outside excitedly into the cold of night. The proceeding moments however were somewhat hazy in what I firmly believe to date to be that of a food frenzy. Everything I could get my hands upon related to calories or gaining weight became harvested, piles of wrappers, cartons, crisp packets, chicken bones and plastic bags lay discarded around me in heathen-esque fashion, litter that appeared to be piling up around me by the second.  Food first, environment later was my motto of the moment to which I firmly abided too. Passersby looked on at me in amazement or perhaps confusion as the feeding continued. And then suddenly my stomach began to ache and I felt a little dizzy, I’d had my fill. I sat down in amongst my own squalor, feeling that the righteous thing to do was to un-button my top fly and let my tubby guts flop out, but I couldn’t because I was wearing shorts and I wasn’t fat. But I was otherwise content, so that would have to be enough. I let my food digest, picked up my litter and then sought out a place to spend the night.

Oshima

The odds of a tsunami actually hitting during my brief stint along the coast were vastly slim, but for a thin sliver of self-harmony and peace of mind I would again seek out higher ground. Back on the road it was now eerily quiet and not a motor-vehicle stirred. I could see very little of my current surrounds bar a row of dim red lights simulating a path before me. The distance revealed to me a small illuminated shrine upon a hill. A steep yet short climb away from the main road would lead me to its summit. At the foot of some steps leading up to the shrine lay a small park, it was a designated evacuation point should a tsunami strike. I set up camp under a climbing frame and soon after lost consciousness.

STATS

14oc Bright/Windy             08:30 – 19:30

Today milage: 78.9m        ODO – 908.9m

Run time today: 9:13        Total RT – 97:28hours

Average speed – 8.9mph

Cal – 30916k

Oshima  Megaton

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About dsd_uk

In 2014 I cycled from Tokyo to Tokyo. In 2015 I started writing a book about cycling from Tokyo to Tokyo. In 2016 I finished writing a book about cycling from Tokyo to Tokyo. In 2017 I will not be cycling from Tokyo to Tokyo! www.Tokyo-to-Tokyo.com
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