Raiden paddling (diary) – by Haidee Thomson
July 17, 2022, 8:30am meet at put-in
Members: Alex, Simon, Ben, Rob & Haidee (stayed at Chris’ cabin 2 nights Sat 16-Mon 18 – Mon was ocean day public holiday)
The day started out hot and sunny, late July is definitely summertime in Hokkaido. After meeting Alex, Simon & Ben at the put-in and off-loading the kayaks and gear, the guys shuttled the vehicles. Meanwhile, Alex and I hung out with the kayaks at the put-in, looking for shade among the boulders and occasionally stepping into the clear water to cool off and check out the smooth rocks below. Rob & I had checked out this put-in the previous day and at that time the wind had been blowing a particularly horrid stench all over the area, so we were relieved that the wind direction had changed for today and all unpleasant aromas were gone.
The water was impressively translucent. We launched one by one off the rocks and into the calm clear water. The previous weekend the same crew had paddled together around Kamui-misaki. This was Simon & Alex’ second weekend in the kayaks, and Ben’s second weekend in Timba’s sit on kayak, so everyone was feeling more confident and ready to explore. It wasn’t long before we came across a cascading waterfall with a small cave and surrounding greenery and rocks that felt very Lord of Rings (ish) – a theme for the scenery today, with the blue sky, it almost looked tropical! These falls are called Binno-misaki.
Our route along the coast followed an old road that is no longer accessible by land. It is remarkable how so much infrastructure can be created and then left to remain with no further function. The old tunnel entrances are all filled in, and the remaining structures have warning signs to stay away lest the concrete give way around you. We landed for break in a spot where we could climb up onto the old road and enjoy lounging on the flat concrete with an elevated view of the ocean.
Paddling on, we discovered a gap between rocks just large enough for a kayak to pass through, a challenge for kayak control and manoeuvring. We all took turns to glide through the gap trying not to scrape our paddles or sides on the rock. Eventually, the feature that really peeked my imagination came into view, it looked like a dragon with its head in the water, the scales on the neck visible above the water, just waiting to rise up if we should try to pass. The rock had a reddish tinge which added to the dragon-like nature of this point. This point is known as Benkei-no-katanakake Rock 弁慶の刀掛岩.
We started to feel the need for sustenance in the form of lunch – peanut butter and jam on home-made rye bread for Rob & I (these have become a staple for our paddling adventures). Rob suggested a spot by the road, but I wondered if we could stop elsewhere and avoid the noise of passing cars. I pulled out my phone to check google maps satellite and saw something that looked too good to be true just around the point. A waterfall passing under the old road with a nice-looking beach – we decided to check it out and as we passed the corner, Simon let out a joyful whoop as he sighted the waterfall and beach – yay for google maps satellite! The rain had started to fall and fortuitously there were overhanging cliffs that provided dry spots to sit and enjoy lunch. It was a beautiful spot to land, eat and relax while keeping dry from the rain.
After lunch, we donned our rain jackets/paddling jackets and carried on around the coast towards Rankoshi. Along the way, we passed a massive cave which we cautiously ventured into. Some bats were spotted and we quietly retreated. We’ve come to expect swallows at the entrance of sea caves and if they are deep enough, bats at the back.
Along the coast we encountered plenty of Japanese cormorants/shags (ウミウ) and seagulls (maybe Slaty-backed Gull （オオセグロカモメ）. We saw some juvenile birds on the rocks, in the case of shags, their colors seem lighter than the adults and they are hesitant to fly away. Seagull chicks still had brown fluffy down feathers. The adult seagulls would warn us if we got too close with distinct calls and if that was not heeded, they would resort to fly by diving – this is definitely a sign to move out of their territory. As we rounded the final point, the giant wind turbines of Rankoshi coast came into view, like towers in the mist. The sandy beach welcomed us back to shore and we hauled out and tried to de-sand and de-salt everything on arrival at the cars. A large puddle had accumulated in the carpark which worked well for rinsing off the kayaks. We’d started out in the hot sun and ended in colder rain, it was a day full of discovery shared with friends. Raiden-misaki is definitely a beautiful kayak destination in the right weather.