We woke up early in Shibuya with the feeling that we would not sleep this comfortably again and headed to the airport to fly to Wakkanai, Hokkaido. Everything went as planned and we were finally able to unpack our bicycles and confirm the expected misfortunes: a warped wheel, broken reflectors, and plenty other things that made us waste precious time fixing before leaving the airport. By 4:30pm we finally departed to Cape Soya, some 25km away and we were getting worried. Nevertheless, on our way there our first impression is that the respect the japanese drivers show to cyclists is unbelievable. Even if they have enough space to overtake us they will try to leave a gap as big as two metres.
Finally, after many “false” capes we arrived at Soya, our starting point.
On the way back we stopped at a convenience store – they are everywhere in Japan – and the curious shop keeper asked us whether we were cycling to Wakkanai to what we answered ”no, Kagoshima”. He burst into laughter and about one kilometre later he stopped his car in front of us to offer us a map of Hokkaido. Well, these people are really kind!
At this point we already knew that we were not going to be able to ride as much as we had planned since the sun was starting to set and it was getting dark. At dusk we were attacked by mosquitoes and other huge bugs that really enjoyed our taste giving us the perfect opportunity to test our repelent – it works.
As we proceeded South we entered wilder territories pretty much without any towns and one or two cars passing by us every five kilometres. On the other hand, in the interval of 30 minutes we saw hawks, foxes, rabbits, and deer. By this time it was really getting dark and a thick low fog was falling on us.
After riding in complete darkness apart from two bike lamps for a while we were getting tired after the long day and we thought that it was time to figure out where we were going to sleep. We checked our map and decided to head to a nearby camping site. Unfortunately we made a mistake in the road: both of them headed West, both were the same length, one was not in our map. We soon discovered why as we climbed and descended 150 vertical metres in 6 km through a local unpainted, unsigned and unlit 3 metre wide road. As Ivo tried to check that we were in fact going West he took longer than usual to find the North star due to the sheer amount of bright dots in the sky. It was absolutely beautiful but our minds were rather focused on whether we could outrun a bear if we cycled downhill.
We finally managed to get over the top and proceeded to an incredible descent in the dark that we both would love to repeat in better conditions. Eventually we came across a completely isolated nice little house with beautiful Japanese gardens. We tried to ask for accommodation using the set phrases we had learnt but the hosts were obviously afraid and notoriously expressive in the way they tried to send us away. We bowed, apologised and proceeded to the main road. A few kilometres ahead we found a place that seemed good enough and made us give up on the idea of the camping site. Looking back at the picture we still wonder if that was a good idea.
In the end we only cycled a disappointing 49km plus the 25km approach to Cape Soya. Our morale was not the greatest.