Today was the day I would finally reach the coast, I would begin my pilgrimage south in search of warmer climates. I was a climate refugee desperately seeking better pastures and like a migratory bird I was to head south for the winter.
My generous hosts and put me in good stead with a show of true Japanese hospitality, feeling satiated and full of energy I set off back to the road.
Within minutes I found myself in a convoy of 5 other bikers. I had never ridden in a convoy before and a quickly came to see the allure of it. I think it goes back to gang mentalities and the feelings of belonging, by yourself you feel a bit vulnerable and weak, but with a group you feel powerful and strong. I didn’t actually speak to these guys but rode behind them for an hour and felt part of the team. It’s also handy to follow them as they’re going to find you nice roads, why would I turn down insider knowledge?
With a salute I said my farewell and before I knew it.
Unfortunately this place and the whole coastal ride would have been some of the hardest hit by the 2011 Earthquake and subsequent Tsunami…so it goes. As I rode down the coast it struck me as odd the number of nuclear reactors placed on prime beach front property.
Riding the road was an exercise in frustration, Japanese drivers are slow, the roads were only ever one lane and there was plenty of traffic lights. Japan also has the knack of using all available space, I don’t think there was a break in medium density settlement down that whole coast, apart from the nuclear reactors. You can see from my GPS reading for the day that I averaged about 50km/h while moving for the whole day.
The grass is always greener, I was yearning to get back to the freedom of the hills, despite the cold. Finding a camp site again was no easy feat, with patches of free grass impossible to find, with the darkness only making it more difficult. I spotted a sign for a lighthouse and I figured there was always space and grass around light houses. Well I was wrong but I managed to find an abandoned hotel…maybe I was in luck.
I thought maybe I could just put my mattress down or even pitch the tent in a room. I was however worried that the place would have resident homeless people or drug addicts, so I left my motorcycle gear on, put on my head-torch and with quite a bit of fear and trepidation went to have a look.
This doesn’t quite do it justice, you’re seeing photos with a high powered flash, rather than my pitch black with tiny head torch. I was actually quite surprised at what was left behind, there was a lot of crockery, cutlery, tables and chairs etc. Looting is not a Japanese past time it seems.
I eventually opted against the free night offered at this hotel, I would feel too much like Goldilocks. Worrying if a bear would come wake me for sleeping in their house and by bear I mean heroin addict, did Japan even have those? In any case I was spooked out and I don’t think I’d sleep a wink in there. To confirm my suspicions of the spookiness of the place, as I was leaving a giant bat took off, seizing my heart for a few seconds and adding a new found speed to my exit.
Walking around the corner from the Hotel Pine Flower I finally managed to find my patch of grass and it measured perfectly.
From here I could hear the ocean and let it’s rhythmic melody soothe my stressed heart.
I had not escaped all danger however, for the Children of the Cabbage were sitting…waiting…
..I wonder if I would survive until morning.