Ichinoseki to Morioka
Distance: 57 miles
Total Distance: 1370 total
Photo Album

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Today was a long, mostly unremarkable day of riding (we are trying to make it up to Aomori as soon as possible), but it ended up very nicely with some new friends and a great dinner.

While in Ichinoseki, we had decided that we would prefer to spend as much time as possible in Hokkaido, as we have heard that it is wonderful for camping and touring. Unfortunately, the tradeoff is that we won’t be able to spend as much time in the Tohoku (northern Honshu) region. Our plan now is to take as direct a route as possible Ichinoseki to Aomori, and then to take a ferry from there to Hakodate.

Of course, the quickest route to Aomori is not always through the prettiest of areas–we will be following a major highway (Route 4) almost the whole way. We got a good feel for this today, as we spent almost the entire time riding through a wide valley that reminded me of California’s central valley–a mix of farms, processing plants, and small buildings that occasionally came together in a great enough density to be called a city before thinning out again.

Tired of the dust and noise of the road, we stopped and got a great lunch of noodles and bread from a fancy department store; we ate while sitting in a rare green area near a river and then headed back out for a campground near Morioka.

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A typical breakfast on the road--sitting on the curb outside the convenience store

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With few exceptions, this is pretty much what we saw all day

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Mmmm...curry bread

In the late afternoon, we headed away from the 4 to reach our campground; we eventually found it far away from the highway in a tiny farming town near the mountains to the west. As we pulled into the campground, we saw a couple of motorcyclists unpacking their gear and setting up camp. Motorcycle touring is very popular in Japan, and in the summer the northern parts of the country are filled with young men riding around the country visiting national parks and camping in public spaces.

As we pulled in, I called out a greeting and went over to talk to them for a little bit–Tasuke and Kazu were from Sendai, and were returning from a short trip to a cave in the northwest. We talked for a while about traveling and our experiences so far, and before we parted they invited us over for dinner! They wanted us to experience “real” Japanese food, so while we set up camp they went out shopping and prepared the food.

After a while, they called us over and we spent the rest of the night talking and enjoying an amazing variety of dishes, including miso soup, yakiniku, natto sushi, marinated liver, and pickled vegetables. At the end, they brought out a couple of small cakes to celebrate our engagement! For me, it was a perfect image of modern Japan–a tough-looking biker in leather pants and a shirt proclaiming “Metal Rollers” presenting us with strawberries and angel food cake.

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Dinner is being prepared

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Kaze models for us

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One last picture before heading to bed

We finally had to trot off to bed, as it was getting pretty late and we had a long day ahead of us. Despite the long day in the dust and traffic, we were still glad we had taken this route as it gave us a chance to meet some great people!