A spectacular ride on Shimoshima Island - Six Wheels Through Japan Part 2 - CycleBlaze

A spectacular ride on Shimoshima Island

This spectacular setting and the experiences we have had here will make for some wonderful memories. Our campsite was so quiet. It felt like our private piece of paradise. However, it was so cold in the night, neither one of us slept much. Basically we wore everything we could, including  our down coats. 

This is what 6 am looks like at Wakamiya Beach. Barry gave me a nudge and said the magic words….it is 6 o’clock, let’s go to the store. Last night, the women at the store told us that they opened at 6 am and they encouraged us to come up whenever we liked…for 3 reasons. First of all..to get warm (they were so right). Secondly,to use their bathrooms which are nicer than those at camp (once again, true and even with a bidet) and thirdly to have hot coffee from their vending machine (so good).
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We sat in the cafe part of their store  where people have coffee/tea and we looked out the window at our campsite and the sea.   It was a lovely morning to watch the sun come up with the birds for company, also busy with their start of day. We had to poke ourselves that we stumbled on to such a beautiful place. Being cold last night is already becoming a memory. 

It’s just us, the birds and the women working in the store sharing this special time of the day.
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There is a stone walkway that surrounds the area of the campground close to the sea. It is a nice touch. Not only is it attractive, it gives us easy access for our loaded trikes.
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As we sat in the store, the women wanted to make us a treat. Do you like green tea.? …yes. Soon this lovely tray appeared with green tea and sweet treats. Such genuine hospitality we are enjoying.
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What a beautiful view.
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It is getting time to move from our comfortable vantage point and pack up.
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Fishers are heading out to check their nets and start their day as well.
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This island is very accessible by foot at low tide. We watched a man walk out in his white rubber boots with a pail to perhaps collect something for his meal.
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We love our Japanese tent, the Ripen by Arai. These hand made tents are super lightweight, very rugged, tall enough for Barry to sit up in and there are two vestibules. We tried to find a lightweight tent in Canada for cycle touring but they are typically double the price and not very durable.
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Due to the cold, damp night, our tent was pretty wet. The rising sun has done its job and now Barry can finish the job.

Speaking of lightweight Japanese camping gear, we are enjoying our Soto Windmaster stove and the cute pot bellied titanium kettle/pot made by Snow Peak.
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On to our second breakfast…coffee, peer girt (yogurt drink) cake we bought at the store and jam. How is it that food tastes best while outdoors at camp?
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It’s funny…we were up at 6 but we have managed to spend much of the morning, either at the store or at camp enjoying where we are. It will be a short day of riding.
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Ready to head out and explore Shimoshima Island, the largest of the Amakusa Islands. We aren’t in a panic to move quickly as these islands are pretty small (this island is about 44km long and 21 km wide) and we don’t want to pass through it in a day.
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Amakusa Archipelagois an interesting group of islands, known for their beauty and beloved by cyclists who tour here.  Shimoshima’s coastline is about 300 km and is washed by 4 different seas…Ariake Sea, Amakusa-Nada Sea, East China Sea and Yatsushiro Sea.

Before heading out, we wandered up to the store to say farewell to the women who have welcomed us with warmth and hospitality. This neighbourhood store is like a Michi-no-eki in its truest form. Everything they sell is sourced locally…fish, meat, eggs, produce, baking goods, etc. They also have a craft and gift area…all handmade. While we were there, local farmers and neighbours were dropping items to sell. A truly community endeavour.
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Saying farewell to the woman who looked out for us. It was her turn to be “on duty” for the campground last night.
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Wonderful rose bushes grow alongside the roads and at this campground. There is a feeling of grace we enjoy travelling in Japan. The welcoming, gentle nature of the people we meet and the wonderful flowers we see are part of this.
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This shelter is part of the campground and a useful place for Barry to cook and enjoy a bit of shade. The white block building is where the toilets are.
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Another flowering bush at the campground.
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We are officially away from the campground and riding our trikes. Santa seems to live permanently at the ferry terminal. Barry went for a visit.
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A statue of a young Samurai at the ferry terminal.
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Looking back at Kyushu from a beach on Shimoshima Island.
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Daikon drying on the line by the road
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Cormorants are a familiar sight for us as they are also a presence on the Gulf Islands where we live in British Columbia.
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Just when we needed it, a Michi-no-eki pops up. This Michi will have a focus on dolphins as they are often seen here. There are about 300 dolphins in this area and people come here for boat trips to catch sight of them in their natural habitat.
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Prints of fish have been a feature at many restaurants and sushi places we have visited lately. Fish printing or Gyotaku has become an art form in Japan. True gyotaku must follow three key steps: catch it, print it, and eat it.
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The above fish print is a print of this huge fish caught by this man. As a result, the print has been made in honour of his feat. The fish weighed over 80lbs.
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Dolphins are a theme here.
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Food is usually good and well priced at a Michi. We really enjoyed our meal…beef udon soup.
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Photos of dolphins in the area.
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Amakusa Island doesn’t have the usual Convenience Stores we have grown used to..like Lawson’s, 7 Eleven or Family Mart. yamazaki Stores are more common here and we really like them. They are known for the baking and cooked meals that they make on site…always good.
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Dolphin themed street lights.
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A unique sight…Tori Gates in the sea. A shrine for something nautical related perhaps?
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Now I remember…note the round shaped rock to the right of the Tori Gate.
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It is the so named “boob rock” which resembles its namesake.
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Charmaine RuppoltFunny! "Boob rock"! :)
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2 months ago
A hawk (we think] or a type of eagle having a chat with a crow about the meal he doesn’t want to share.
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This type of day with good roads, light traffic and the beautiful scenery are what a touring cyclist yearns for.
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Steep cliffs by the road with reinforced walls allow us to ride directly alongside the sea.
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Interesting shore line…once again, reminiscent of some of our shores at home.
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A huge thermal hydro power plant.
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The open seas of the East China Sea.
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Charmaine RuppoltLovely photo of the open seas of the East China Sea! :)
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2 months ago
This sweet cat looks well fed and ready for affection. In these small towns we see large numbers of cats but they look a bit worse for wear and are afraid to let us get very close.
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A vegetable drying on the screen. We don’t’ know what it is, but we do know that we had this in our soup at the Michi. And it tasted good.
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We decided to stop for the day at a hot spring town called Shimoda-Onsen. This woman was assigned the task of escorting us to our room and to explain to us everything about our room. Unfortunately, she had no idea how to operate the translator device. It was a comedy of errors. The only sentence that she got the device to translate was,” you customers are fun!”
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This wee woman was older than us. She would insist on carrying the heaviest of our bags, until Barry would insist and give her a smaller bag. In her excitement at using the translator device, she would not raise her finger to allow translator. I would take hold of her thumb and try to get her to let go, but she had a vice grip. We shared lot of laughs with this endearing woman who had a great sense of humour.

A few minutes later the young man who had checked us in and who knew how to operate the translator arrived at our door. I guess the woman reported back to him that the room was not large enough for the two of us to sleep in . He said that we were being moved to a much larger and more expensive western style room. We would not have to pay any additional money. Wow!
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The view from our first room.
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Our hotel…Michelin approved.
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It is a grand old hotel. The emperor and his entourage stayed here.
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The public lounge area in the hotel with Kumo the mascot.
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We didn’t have an ocean view from our upgraded room. However we shared a roof top deck area with a cool mural . We were told that at 5:00 pm we would view one of Japan’s 100 Best sunsets.
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The mountain view from our room.
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Our lovely upgraded room.
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Charmaine RuppoltThat's a spacious hotel room!
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2 months ago
An albino boar on display in the lobby
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We went for a walk to explore a bit and find the grocery store. We were drawn by this incredible Christmas light display and were excited to see that it was at the hot spring foot bath we had read about.

The unmistakable huge foot feature tells you it is the free foot bath that is highly regarded. It had closed for the day, so we will come back in the morning for some foot therapy.
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Exquisite lighting with lanterns at the ceiling created a magical setting.
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  As we admired the lights, we met the woman who had created this. She was so pleased at our reaction. The opening was supposed to be last night, but a wiring problem delayed it. The lights had just come on before we arrived. Lucky us.

We have been seeing posters for Amakusa Romantic Fantasy. We didn’t realize that it is a light up event in a number of locations on these Islands for the period late Nov thru to Feb 14. This hot spring from an underground source is called the Shimoda Onsen Footbaths
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We enjoyed the artwork outside the hotel onsen showing Santa and his helper, the resident cat relaxing by the sea and their heated tent.
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The Onsen at the hotel was excellent.
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Looking good Barry. He looks ready for a visit to the Onsen.
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Today's ride: 38 km (24 miles)
Total: 1,473 km (915 miles)

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