Friday 6 September 2013

Day 13 Mano Bay - Ogi, ferry to Naoetsu, cycle to Arai (?) and thenlocal train to Nagano

Total: 30 miles cycled

We woke in our 70s Ryokan to broken sunshine. The forecast was for more rain, but the early morning was being kind to us.

We needed to make a decision: stay longer on Sado island or go back to the mainland and cover more distance.

The thing is, Sado is very pretty and surprisingly rural- I think we were expecting it to be more of a resort (it holds an 'Earth Festival' in mid-August with the Kodo Drummers and other internationally acclaimed artists, and many people had told us it was beautiful).

So in essence, we were seeing similar wild landscape and coast we had experienced on Hokkaido, but would be doing a circuit of a small island (25-30km across its slim-hipped middle and about 100km long). However, there are 2 parallel lines of worthy mountains to the north and south, and crystal clear diving waters.

We cycled along the coast to Ogi, amazed as eagles swept down to the road in front of us, wingspans atleast 1.5m. We had seen large birds of prey circling since Hokkaido, including about 50 standing in a field, which was very odd.

The wilds of north of Japan around Hirosaki and the ancient beech forests to the west, down to Niigata, are home to Japanese Golden Eagles, but I couldn't swear we actually saw these.

Bird-watching by bike is a rough

As clouds rolled in we had made our decision: even beautiful coast can be grey and foreboding in a storm, so we'd be better moving on.

A last dip before leaving in a beautiful secluded lagoon was declined after a big black snake slithered off a rock in front of me and dashed for the undergrowth. Coca, standing in said undergrowth, wasn't keen on moving from the spot so I stamped whilst singing loudly, hoping this would be enough to alert any more snakes to our presence and we both then ran quickly back to the bikes

We caught the ferry at Ogi, pausing to look at the traditional flat-bottomed boats, constructed like half-barrels, with ladies in wide conical hats waiting to offer rides of the bay.

Ogi to Naoetsu took about 2hrs 30mins, and in the port we took directions to Joetsu and Route 18, and then cycled on towards Arai, finding a local train to Nagano at around 5pm.

Reassembling the bikes at the station, we cycled through the very vibrant city centre until we found a hotel for the night.

The local market cafe bar provided a great dinner including a slab about 30cm long of juicy baked
tuna cheek. Here we met a group of Japanese students, busy enjoying their Friday night, who generously included us, asking lots of questions and laughing a lot.

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