We set out early on the morning of the 1st Jan. Just like in the UK, this is one of the best days of the year to be on a bike, because everyone else is sitting at home eating and drinking. It was cold and windy, with the threat of rain so we didn't hang around.
Being the Year of the Dog in the Japanese calendar, it was only fitting that the first sentient being we encountered was a stray dog (we'd not met one here before). It ran along beside us for a little way, then darted out under our wheels so we stopped to grab it. It was only at this point that we first realised its owner was nowhere to be seen. We were wondering what to do when it ran off purposefully down a side street, so we assumed it knew where it was going. Beyond Odawara the road started to get hillier and the sun came out. We got to Atami with plenty of time to spare. The boat is some sort of hydrofoil thing that sounded and felt more like a plane. Bikes need to be bagged just like for trains, so we dismantled Garth.
Hotel Akamon is vey close to the Motomachi pier on Oshima. We were
warmly welcomed by the proprietor, who insisted that we park our bike
indside as rain was threatened, and we were soon warming up in a lovely
hot bath. Oshima is a highly volcanic island, so onsens abound.
Our room was really nice. In fact we worked out that it was the one
pictured in the tourist guidebook that we had bought.
rather posh hotel in a famous seafood area, of course they had pushed
the boat out for our first dinner - and scoured the rock pools too, it
seems. We counted 15 distinct species, more than half of which were
shellfish. Each of us was wholly responsible for 8 deaths, and had a
part share in many more. The piece of resistance was some abalone thing
flipped on its back and cooked alive over a naked flame. Of course
having dropped a live lobster and bags of mussels into boiling water
I've no real excuse to be squeamish but it wasn't the most appetising
thing to see at the table. It didn't even taste of much (yes, we ate
them). By the end of the meal, the table resembled nothing so much as a
battlefield strewn with corpses.
I didn't take my camera to dinner that night, but here's what we ate on
a subsequent evening.
|The first day, we cycled up the main volcano - Miharayama, which last erupted in 1986. The lava flows are still clearly visible. We stopped for a coffee at the end of the road here, and the rain was just starting to fall as we set off for the summit crater. Unfortunately with all the cloud, we had few views. The path round the top was steep, rough and loose, so even with our fat tyres we had to do a fair bit of walking.|
other side we found the
Oshima Onsen Hotel, and warmed up in their hot baths. They were barely
open, and didn't have much food, which was a bit disappointing. But we
were carrying some food, and once we'd warmed up we rolled down the
hill to our hotel.
|The next day was
bright and sunny, but rather cold and very windy. Our plan was to ride
round the coast, hopefully visiting a couple of attractions as we went.
The roads were still deserted and the views were great - but the
pictures don't show how cold it was. Sadly just about everything round
the far side of the island was shut, including the fish-drying business
"kusa-ya" (perhaps "smelly house", certainly smelly fish!). Below on
the left you can see the layers of different types of volcanic debris
that have built up over the years.
the paucity of stops, we actually got right round the island back to
the main town for a late lunch. I thought that a noodle shop was a safe
choice, but inside there were tanks full of shellfish. Undeterred, we
ordered the simplest ramen, which had some handwritten kanji I couldn't
decipher. The steaming bowl arrived with part of a crab corpse and
mammoth whelk hiding under a chewy chunk of seaweed. The kanji turned
out to mean "seashore". Oh well.
Rather than return directly to the hotel, we then headed out of town a little way to the volcano museum. That had lots of good pictures and videos, both local and from around the world.
|The next morning
was still windy, so we had to cycle a short way round the coast to the
more sheltered port to cathc the ferry (the "harbour" for the main town
is merely a pier which sticks straight out into the ocean). The
crossing was not rough, however. On landing at Atami, we decided to
just get the train home rather than start a fairly long bike ide with
limited daylight. Unfortunately the train station is a long way fom the
port, especially when carrying a disassembled tandem! It would probably
have been less of a struggle to assemble it, ride to the station, and
parcel it up again. At least the trains were quiet so we got to sit
down for the journey home.
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