Trip Report

Japan Far North: Day 2 (In Wakkanai)

Posted on Aug 12, 2013
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Posted on Aug 12, 2013

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Reading time: 3 min

Our 2013 summer holiday cycle tour in Japan’s far north got off to a fairly relaxed start. We decided to spend the day after arriving in Wakkanai (Japan’s northern-most city) either sightseeing (Rob) or getting ahead on distance-learning work (Haidee). We both zoomed down the hill from the Wakkanai Forest Park Campground, stopping off at a monument to the nine maidens; on August 20th 1945, female Japanese telephone operators in Maoka town (Sakhalin Island) committed suicide to avoid capture by invading Russian forces.

Last updated Oct 14, 2018

Statue of Nine Women at Wakkanai, JapanMost of the wharves are accessible by foot in Wakkanai, which makes for some nice boat-watching.

Japan coastguard boat in Wakkanai Port, Japan

Lunch was one of our favorites: Omu-raisu (omlette rice). This is usually slightly tomato-flavored fried rice (usually with chicken) draped with a big thin omlette, covered with a beef-stock sauce. Delicious.

Omurice (オムライス) restaurant called “IF” in Wakkanai, Japan

As Haidee worked at Wakkanai Station (with free WIFI), I wandered around the north end of town. One of the big drawcards in Wakkanai is the Wakkanai Port North breakwater dome. This grandiose, 424 meter long piece of  Greek-inspired architecture was completed in 1936.  Now, it is a popular spot for long distance cyclists and motorcyclists to free-camp.

Famous Wakkanai Port North Breakwater (Kita Bouhatei Dome) in Wakkanai, Japan

As usual, today the town was littered with touring bicycles. Many from university students, doing mad dashes down the country, as part of university cycle touring clubs.

Plenty of university students cycling length of Japan, starting in Wakkanai, Japan

One particularly interesting fellow was a guy with an old Bridgestone bike. He had cycled from Miyazaki prefecture (at least 2000km south). He had a bottle dynamo (an electricity-generating device which spins against the bicycle tire) wired to a dry-cell battery. He said the dynamo created so much drag that he could only use it (charge the battery) when going downhill.

 

Old-school disc brakes and battery (charged by bottle dynamo on front wheel) (Wakkanai, Japan)

His back brakes were hardcase too. Some of the earliest bicycle disk brakes. He lamented the fact replacement brake pads were hard to find these days. He could only find them in out-of-the-way old-school bike shops. “They’ve got asbestos in them, you see,” he explained.

Old-school disc brakes and battery (Wakkanai, Japan)

 

 

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Japan Far North: Day 2 (In Wakkanai) Difficulty Rating

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

D

25

Time ascending

D

0

Technicality

Altitude

D

0

Hazards

D

Navigation

D

Totals

25/100

GRADES range from A (very difficult) to D (easy). Hazards include exposure to avalanche and fall risk. More details here. Rating rubric adapted from Hokkaido Yukiyama Guidebook 北海道雪山ガイド.