Onuma Koen to Oshamabe
Distance: 58 miles
Total Distance: 1616 miles
Photo Album

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We had been riding steadily up the eastern coast from Mori to Oshamambe, and still had quite a few miles to go when we decided to stop for a hot lunch. In Japan, this almost always means noodles–udon, soba, or ramen. We saw a restaurant with a large flag outside advertising “Sapporo Ramen” (the style that Hokkaido is famous for) and slowed down to take a look. At the same time, a large truck pulled in and three heavyset men piled out–they had the sun-darkened skin and large muscles of men who spend a lot of time working outside. One of them smiled at us and waved vigorously. “Come!” he said in Japanese, “delicious!”, and then ducked inside.


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Explaining our route on a poster of Hokkaido

When we parked our bikes and stepped into the store, we found the three men at the far end of the restaurant on a raised tatami mat platform. They beckoned us over and rearranged the furniture so that they could inspect us more closely. After introductions and some discussion, we learned that they were locals and came here often for lunch; although they had no suggestions other than “water”, we ended up ordering two huge bowls of soy-sauce flavored ramen.

As we ate, they told us all about the surrounding area and had lots of questions about where we were going and how far it was to Hawaii. I did my best to field all the questions, despite a lot of laughing on their part. I noticed that as we talked, only two of them took part–the third just stared at me with a concerned look on his face, as if he were trying to remember something. It was starting to make me feel a little awkward until he burst in on the conversation: “Goho!”

“What?” I asked.

“Goho!” he repeated, “you look like Vincent Van Goho”

The other two stared for a few seconds, and then burst into loud applause and agreement. “He does!” they said, “yes, the beard, the eyes, he is Goho!” And so I was, for the rest of the lunch. I tried to explain that I had two ears and looked nothing like the impressionist painter, but they would have none of it.

In the end they treated us to lunch, and we were very glad we met them–I can’t say that we had a lot in common, but they were very kind to try and make us feel welcome. It was typical of what we have seen in Hokkaido so far–very friendly people who go out of their way to greet travelers.

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The guy in yellow thinks I look like a crazed nineteenth-centry post-impressionist painter

Our ride from Onuma Koen to Oshamabe was nice, but fairly uneventful. We rode along the coast for most of the day, after climbing out of Onuma and descending down to the coast. At the end of the day, we stopped at a campsite in Oshamambe, and Vicky got to see her first cherry blossoms! The park there had a late-blooming variety, and it was wonderful to see the blossoms scattering across the grass in the evening breeze.

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Komagatake volcano finally peeking out of the fog in the morning as we leave lake Onuma

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Our campground in Oshamambe

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Vicky enjoying the playground

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There were lots of bugs at the campground, so Vicky tried out her mosquito net

Tomorrow, we’re heading for Lake Toya and a region that was devastated by volcanic activity in 2000–there should be plenty to see along the way!