It turns out that misaki means cape so I can retire that word from the name Cape Ashizuri. This seems to happen a lot in English descriptions of Japanese places eg. Mt Fuji-San or Yoyogi Koen Park. Don’t these people know that redundancy feeds the devil?

In any case, I made it to Cape Ashizuri. After this morning’s temple, it was mostly descending to the coast, cruising through mountains and past small farming hamlets and then along the coast and through fishing villages. While Sapporo still lies under snow, agriculture is in full swing here with many fields being planted but other looking ripe and especially mandarin and orange trees everywhere, heavy with fruit. There are lots of small stands by the roadside where you can take a bag of mandarins and leave money in a tray. Unfortunately for me, the bags are too big for me to carry.

I think the distance between today’s two temples was even further than the number my map book suggested. It does seem to be wildly wrong about the distances at times. As I followed the coast road, I passed a few surfing beaches. The waves were pretty small but there still seemed a fair few people in the water.

I stopped at a roadside rest area for lunch and spied another pilgrim bicyle but this one was a three-speed mamachari, with gear loaded in a plastic box strapped to the rack and plenty of decorations to show that the owner is a pilgrim. After photographing it, I found its owner and he wasn’t nearly as scruffy as I thought he might be from the look of his bike. He was clean-shaven which is more than I can say for myself. I didn’t understand him very well but I think he said this was his second pilgrimage on the bike and that he’d fallen off it some tome earlier in the pilgrimage. I think he pushes it up the hills and coasts down them. He certainly seemed one of the more devout people I’ve met, praying for me nicely as I said goodbye.

Eventually I reached the peninsula that the cape lies at the end of and I followed the street signs directing me to the cape. When I had studied the map earlier, I had looked at the roads and decided to come in on along the east coast and leave along the west. There was another road down the middle called something like Ashizuri Skyline and even without that clue, from the way it was squiggling, it clearly went through mountains. It was clearly a road to avoid that late in the day. As you can imagine, by the time I realised I was on it, it seemed too late to turn around and go back. Besides, I didn’t feel so bad even after 110km already and there was no chance I’d run out of time to get to the temple.

In the end, I’m glad I went along it. It was about 7km of climbing mostly between 6 and 10 per cent but the road was good and the views, when they came, were fabulous. And after all that climbing, I was rewarded with 7km of fun descending down a steep and windy road. I managed to keep the Trucker at 50kmh through some of the corners and the brakes are working well enough that I could still get out of the ones I overcooked. I also managed to keep up with a Prius that had overtaken me.

By the time I got to the bottom, I was pretty happy with myself. While rolling along to the temple I saw the two walkers who had given me gifts the day before. Obviously they’re mixing walking with driving. I waved at them and said hello before going into the temple grounds. As I was leaving, the man was coming in looking for me and tool me to the signing counter and made them give me a souvenir because I’m an Australian doing the pilgrimage by bicycle. So now I have a little mobile phone decoration with a plastic pilgrim on it.

Although it was starting to get on, for the first time this trip, the night air was warm, not chilly so I decided I might as well push on to a camp ground on my map about 25km away. About halfway there, I pulled in to a konbini to get dinner and there was another cyclist sitting out front having his. He had also made a mistake and gone on to the hilly road but had turned around and gone back the other way. I impressed him because the place I started from today was where he had started from two days ago. On the other hand, he impressed me because he was about to do 50km even though it was almost dark. This gave me a bit of confidence and I took my time having dinner. Unfortunately, when I got my headlight out, I realised I’ve lost the bit of elastic that holds it onto the handlebar. I also discovered that if I hold the light in my right hand, I can’t use the front brake on the downhill bits. With that bit of incompetence sorted out, I was soon on my way. Bit I rode the last 10km on the footpath just to be safe.

When I got to the camp site, it was not open for the season yet so I’ve wandered in and pitched my tent under a tree. I can hear frogs croaking in the river and waves tickling the shore. 150km today so I hope I get a good sleep so I can have another big day tomorrow.

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