20 May 2014

Seawall Cycling

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As an American living in Japan, I had to get used to the concept of the Pacific Ocean being on the East Coast instead of the West. Nevertheless, I oftentimes forget just how close we are to to it here in Misawa. You can ride from the base to the ocean in less than an hour, with minimal navigation required. Taking advantage of the good weather yesterday, the Mrs. and I decided to ride out to the ocean on our folding bikes and take in as much of the rural Japanese scenery as we could before we have to leave Japan.

Exiting the base and riding into town, it’s just a matter of choosing which road to take East. None of them lead to Rome, but a lot of them eventually lead to the ocean. We tried to stay off of the main streets and stick to the pedestrian/bike paths whenever possible, of which there are a good number. As those taper off the further you get from the city, it’s on to rural stretches of road that, while not having shoulders, have very minimal traffic.

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Even better still are the paved farm roads that are nearly absent of motor vehicles. We found one that took us straight to the coast, through vacant fields that were awash in the evening sunshine. They’re not always on a map, nor do they always actually go somewhere, but we got lucky with the one we came across.

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The farm road we were on bisects Route 338, the arterial road that runs along the eastern coast, and then dips down into the costal tree-line before disintegrating into loose gravel and sand. Though much of the coastline consists of a structured seawall, there are breaks every few kilometers where the natural terrain of sand and stone remains undisturbed. This particular seawall was wide enough on the top to ride our bikes down, so we did, as two Japanese F-2s flew in the sky above us.

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Having reached the end of the seawall, we stood atop and watched a couple surfers attempting to catch a wave and, finding themselves unsuccessful, call it quits for the day. Out here the landscape is dominated by the gray on gray of concrete and water. The ocean waves would break against the seawall sporadically as the water calmed and the sky darkened. Our shadows grew long and we decided to head back before it got too dark.

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We took a different way back, making deliberate detours and choosing roads we’d never been down before.  The ornate roofs of traditional houses and temples are one of the features we’ll miss the most when we leave Japan. They compliment the natural beauty of the landscape, and the landscape compliments them. 

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As the sun dipped low on the horizon, we made our way back to what will be our home for only a few more days. There is so much more to this country than what we’ve been able to explore, but I’d like to think we made the most of our time here. It may be the land of the rising sun, but from what I’ve seen, it has some beautiful sunsets as well.

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- Bicyclist Abroad

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