Oga Peninsula – Yurihonjō
As expected, it wasn’t a tremendous night’s sleep, but not being violently stabbed to death in my tent by the deba blade of a Namahage was something to be grateful for, at least. The eaves of the outbuilding – still dripping from the night’s incessant downpour – made me glad for the umpteenth time that I’d found shelter. At a little after 4:30am, the rain ceased, and the Japanese bush warbler began his sweet dawn chorus. And after a breakfast… of no breakfast, I resumed my assault on the peninsula’s turbulent interior. The peaks of Mt. Honzan and Mt. Kenashi were coated in a sombre mist as a small collection of farm houses peered out of an excess of delicate and prominent greens, which coaxed the valley below.
My right knee began to give me some hassle as I started my first ascent of the morning – perhaps a combination of yesterday’s tireless graft and the past month of non-stop cycling was beginning to take its toll. Or… perhaps I wasn’t as durable as my ego was allowing me to believe.
Breakfast however was key, and finding a trusty 7-Eleven on the fringes of Oga City allowed me to bountifully stuff my face and catch up on any carb and protein intake that my body had duly missed. It rained as I ate and I got wet, but the joy that came with a full stomach was more empowering than the damp. The two cups of coffee probably also aided my overall satisfaction.
Positively charged, I returned to the hideously un-sexy Route 7, a complete fart of a section of road that would only worsen the closer I got to Akita; to the north of which sits the city’s industrial zone. Oil refineries, metalwork’s, docklands and recycling plants pave the way, and the road was strewn with foreign objects, pot holes, and battered beyond recognition sidewalks. An endless conglomeration of Arctic lorries hurtled past me at panty-shitting speeds; the route was bloody treacherous and the rain only added to the awfulness of the situation. I could breathe a little more timidly though upon reaching the Port Tower Seline. Climbing up some 143 metres into the pallid, overcast skies, the tower near enough marks the border between the industrial renegade quarter and the city’s outer suburbs. Here I found a bicycle shop where I’d be able to grab a new rear tyre. My ‘Continental Marathon’ had served me well – I tossed it onto a hopeless pile of other rubbery memories, in exchange for a brand spanking new ‘Schwalbe Marathon.’ I would not be able to argue with the quality of either tyre.
With my new tyre, I cycled into the city centre and found Senshu Park, a well preserved site atop a hill, offering up a handful of shrines, temples and castle ruins. Yet unless one is a food connoisseur and primarily here for the nabemono hotpot, gakko pickles, junsai seaweed or morokoshi sweets – then very much like Aomori City, Akita would also hold that similar under reaching draw for the casual passer-by. I grabbed some azuki bean filled morokoshi cakes and hit the road, passing through the city’s quaint southern suburbs, before piling onto my old nemesis, Route 7.
I’d wind down the evening some 25 miles later in the pleasant Yurihonjō, my right knee now throbbing. My initial plan had been to set up camp atop the freshly mown banks of the Koyoshi River, but this was dashed as I came across an onsen next to a picturesque lake with accompanying woodland. Through the grime of my mud-caked face, a wry smile appeared… I would sleep well tonight.
Dates: 28/06/2014 – 30/06/2014
Total miles traversed: 2,754 miles
Total time in the saddle: 279 hours and 17 minutes
‘Tokyo to Tokyo – A Cycling Adventure around Japan.’
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Enjoy the ride.