The previous day, Haidee and I paddled around Daikoku Island, an island that forms the eastern natural breakwater of Akkeshi Bay. Today, we would be paddling to Cape Shirepa, the large cape protecting the bay from the southwest.
We didn’t know much about the cape, having only seen one report of an around-Japan kayaker paddling around it many years ago.
As such, we didn’t have a firm location for where to put in. A Google Satellite search suggested that the beach on the outer breakwater of Senposhi Port could be a possibility, so on the morning of our paddle we went to take a look.
The gravel road leading to the beach felt all very private, so I stopped in a an oyster processing shed to ask if it was OK to drive down to the beach and launch our kayaks.
“Well yes that’s fine,” the young woman replied. “But…”
She had trailed off in her answer, so I replied “is it a private road?”
“No, you can drive down it,” she replied.
I didn’t want to press it too hard, so I thanked her and drove down to the beach.
Once we were there, I could see why perhaps she was standoff-ish about us launching our kayaks from the beach. It was a somewhat ugly beach, with large temporary-looking sandbags piled up along the beach. Small dumpy waves churned up old, fine seaweed onto the beach. Perhaps at the end of her “but…” was “it’s not particularly pretty”.
However, the beach would serve our needs, so we unloaded quickly to get on our way.
The day was overcast and grey. The coast was uninspiring for a while, but it soon became more engaging once we approached an old deserted bay with a few dilapidated fishing shacks. A small stream cascaded into the sea.
A little further on, Haidee spotted two large white-tailed eagles. They circled us as if to get an idea of what we were.
30 minutes later, we finally made it to Cape Shirepa. Large breaking waves curled up along the shallow reef extending eastwards from the cape. For a while, we wondered if we’d have a clear path through them.
However, as we neared the cape proper, we saw there was a clear channel between the tip of the cape and the breakers.
We timidly paddled through the channel and out to the grand exposed Pacific Coast.
The photos don’t express it well, but we were now paddling up and down high crests and deep troughs of a large swell.
About 500m along the coast was Hokake-iwa Shrine, it’s torii gate, standing precariously on a lonesome column of rock, contrasted against the sky.
It was the cliffs that were the most impressive. High, sometimes grassy, sometimes rocky cliffs lined the coast as far as the eye could see. The heavy Pacific swell crashed hard into the rocky shore.
We paddled about one kilometer along the Pacific coast to the first headland beyond Hokake-iwa Shrine before turning around and heading back.
The coast further west looked inviting, and I made a mental note that it would make for an excellent overnight mission – Akkeshi to Kushiro.
Near the base of the rock pillar that housed the shrine were a group of seals, heads bobbing in the crashing surf, looking our way.
The large swell was unnerving at times, but we knew we were relatively close to shelter – the cape and the protected coast behind it was only a short paddle away.
We paddled past Hokake-iwa Shrine once more, and picked our way through the breakers along the reef to the sheltered inner bay.
A few kilometers from the cape, Haidee spied the eagles again.
Perhaps it was the way the light was falling on the coast from this direction, but the greens felt deeper and greener on the way back along the coast.
The coastal features themselves also appeared more engaging on the return.
We hadn’t expected a great deal from this paddle. We’d hoped for some spectacular cliffs and some feeling of exposure on the Pacific coast proper. We got that. But we also got more than expected – some eagles, some seals, and some nice enough waterfalls along the way too.
Overall, paddling for these two days in the Akkeshi area has ignited a desire in my belly to do a longer paddle along this far eastern Pacific coast.