Yes I made it to the northernmost island of Japan, Hokkaido. Below is my current position.
I got to Hakodate on a nice 1 1/2 hour ferry ride which went without a hitch, although I got there right at sunset and my hotel was an hour away from the ferry dock so I had to ride in the dark, something I rarely do. Especially in a city. But no problems. Here is the ferry from the dock in Oma, Honshu.
The hotel I stayed in had a bar with great music playing. Here is the drink menu. They don’t mess around.
A woman in Hakodate. All the older women who ride bikes wear a hat and gloves like this. They seem to take their riding seriously.
The Japanese are hygienic to the extreme. In public toilets you are requested to clean the toilet seat after use.
My second night in Hokkaido I got introduced to my new great enemy, the abu, or Japanese horsefly. These little devils are unlike anything I have seen. They silently swoop in from behind and within milliseconds of landing on you they chainsaw their way into your flesh, tearing out a chunk before you even realize they are on you. Even with a swift response they leave a big welt that lasts for a couple days. I have sworn to destroy them any chance I get. You may recall that in Canada I waged a similar war against the black flies and mosquitos. There, I had a full mesh bug suit, a can of repellant, and a butane fired repellant pad that created a cloud around my campsite. Well I could not take my Thermocell on the plane because butane canisters are not allowed, so I had to just use my bug suit and repellant. Well that was not enough. they attacked me right through the bug suit and acted as if the repellant was not even there.
So asking around, the locals told me to use peppermint oil which you can buy as a spray in convenience stores. I also bought a mosquito coil and some super heavy duty insecticide. I am prepared for war. Here is a photo of one of the beasts.
But it turns out that so far, after that one night, they not been much of a problem. My plan was and is to ride along the coast of Hokkaido, because I like riding by the sea and it’s flatter as well as cooler. Well because of the sea breeze and lack of forest, I have not had to deal with the devils. But I am ready.
Here are some views of the west coast of Hokkaido.
I passed by the Ota shinto shrine which is situated high up on a mountain. You practically need climbing skills to get there. I only walked up the very steep steps up to the first landing. If you are scared of heights forget it.
Hokkaido is mountainous, so there are tons of tunnels. I try to speed through them, because there is no shoulder and it’s loud. Plus I worry that if an earthquake struck the tunnel would collapse. Hey, I know I’m paranoid, but Japan does have a lot of earthquakes.
This one is a kilometer long. I went through one that was almost 4 km.
I camped one night by an old road that had been washed out. They rebuilt the road further inland so I had a nice spot right by the water. A cool breeze and no bugs.
The view from my hotel one day
Well that’s just a quick update. I will pass through the city of Sapporo soon then continue along the west coast to the northern most point in Japan, Wakkanai.