Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hokkaido!... Shiretoko

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Route:

Hokkaido 5
Roads: 243 -> 885 -> 150 -> 975 -> 950 -> 335 -> 87 -> 334

Shiretoko is one of the last true natural places in Japan. But first, my hella awesome dinner!

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Chan Chan Yaki is a Hokkaido style fish barbecue. Salmon, trout, squid, scallops... good eats for sure. This was my first night staying at a rider's house, which is pretty much just a cheap place for riders to crash. They are all over Japan, especially in Hokkaido. The room you sleep in is something like this:

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Just a massive room with tons of futons to sleep on. Good enough for me, is it good enough for you? They are usually run by old guys who are giving back to the motorcycle touring community. I met all kinds of cool people here.

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A group of college students taking a 10 day bicycle trip. Random people taking a couple days away from Sapporo. Tokyo peeps. Old guys on Harleys whose eyes lit up when I told them about the sheer straightness of Highway 5 in California. "500km of totally straight road! My dream come true!"

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More onsens, of course, in the area.

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But take a closer look.

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Anyways... if you are an onsen fan there is an onsen waterfall here. Let me paint the picture. A torrent of hot water, cascading down the mountain. As you climb higher and higher, the water gets hotter and hotter. Behind you, the ocean. Each of the many falls has a pool at the base for soaking. This is no trickle either, but proper river sized.

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Now the reality. $15 for a bus ticket (private vehicles not allowed). 45 minutes along a dirt road each way. One you get to the tepid waterfall, you climb higher. Then you see the signs indicating danger and prohibition of entry. The fabled boiling hot waterfalls are inaccessible. Just the one at the base. Back to the 45 minute bus ride. If you are lucky you might see a deer.

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I'd like to come back here and do some hiking someday. The peninsula is road free for the most part. If you do have a car though, head along the southern side to this onsen on the water.

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Then pop across the street for some ramen.

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Wait a sec... BEAR ramen?!?

Also, I went down to the Notsuke peninsula for no reason in particular. Fairly standard, but what's this?

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An ultra right-wing uyoko propaganda bus... on a sightseeing trip. "On your left, the lovely bay of Notsuke, known for beautiful driftwood. And on your right, the commie Russian bastard's Kuril Islands... the Emperor's rightful property!"

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My bike fully loaded. The tank bag has my SLR camera with 2 lenses, which takes up most of the room. Also my wallet, phone, iPod, and toilet/onsen kit. On the back is a massive waterproof bag. I searched and searched and searched for a hard case system like this. I was totally down to spend like $600 on an awesome detachable case setup. I seriously spent about 20 hours over the last 6 months searching for this for my CB1000. Bike shops, internet auctions, the local dealerships. But it turns out the CB1000 isn't that common of a bike, and the only company that made something for my bike was Krauser, and it would cost about $1200 for a set of hard cases. I could have had something custom made, but that would be expensive too. So, in the end, just bought a massive bag and strapped it on with bungee cords. Good enough to hold my camping gear, a couple changes of clothes, and a set of waterproof gear for the rain that never came.

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Next time: In search of the fabled square sunset. Yeah, it's as exciting as it sounds. Also biting gnats.

4 comments:

Rob said...

Checked this blog out for the first time in ages. Really inspiring, as usual!

Brian said...

Thanks Rob!

SusieTron FiveThousand said...

Is the rider's house strictly for motorcyclists? I am a fan of camping/hostels because I am a no fuss traveler. All I need is a place to lay my head and use a bathroom.
Highway 5 can be so monotonous :p I tend to pick the 101 even if at some points it merges with the 1 and goes slower. Better scenery.

Brian said...

The rider houses in Japan are generally for motorcycles of bicycles, though they will accept anyone I would guess. Problem for backpackers is that they are always VERY far from anything.