22-23/6/16. What a glorious start to the day! We had a beautifully peaceful night in the campsite beside the river and a lovely ride down the gorge for the first few km.
Our original plan had been to head straight through Nagoya, a major conurbation that is one of the centres of the automotive industry, but a chat with Jacquelyn and Robert and a look at their maps had led us to take the valley route and then go south along the coast to Ise, where there is a major shrine, before taking the ferry across the mouth of the bay. This would not entirely avoid the industrial/urban area but would considerably reduce the time spent there.
There was then a brief spell on a major road before we got back onto the quiet “white roads” (as shown on a map) following the river down the valley. It was a very rural scene – such a contrast to that on the days into Kyoto and “much more like it” – with many paddy fields and quiet villages. There were stretches when we rode along the top of the dyke beside the river which gave us a good perspective of the steep mountains on both sides.
As we approached the sea, the mountains finished abruptly – and so did the peace as we entered the city of Kuwana which adjoins Nagoya. To avoid riding alongside (using the foot/cycle path) one of the several major roads through the area we experimented with “wiggling” through back streets in vaguely the right direction. Although much quieter, it was no prettier and still resulted in some close encounters with large trucks while being longer.
So we abandoned that idea and went back to the main road.
We left Kuwana and entered Yokkaichi without noticing we had done so! After some searching (principally involving comparing a picture on the web with the building in front of us!) we found the “ryokan” or hotel that we had booked. The outside looked OK but inside was rather shabby and smelled strongly of smoke (not uniquely among Japanese hotels in this respect). It looked to be a traditional working man’s resting place, an example being that there was only one bathroom, Christine being given a ticket to use the public baths a few hundred metres away. For ¥9,000+ (upwards of £60) we were not impressed – but it did include dinner and when we got to that things looked up considerably! It was more than acceptable with a selection of small dishes of fish, both raw and cooked, some lovely beef and tempura vegetables.
Almost as soon as we arrived at the hotel the rain started and continued heavily throughout the night but, thankfully, it had just about stopped by the time we were ready to set off.
Although it was still urban we were able to ride along the seawall for long stretches, but every now and then we had to head back inland to the main road to cross rivers. As the road was Route 23 it reminded us of the Sustrans route from London to Brighton which has sections alongside the A23 – segregated so safe but noisy and smelly – something to be endured to get to the next pleasant part.
Increasingly, though, there were patches of greenery in the form of paddy fields and as we approached the campsite where we intended to stay we even saw a small wood.
The campsite, a commercial one, is very pleasant but there was a major trauma when we erected the tent – there are several holes in both the outer and the inner tents. We have covered them with tape but this is only a temporary solution. Intriguingly and thankfully, the ground sheet which was on the outside of the package when the tent was rolled up is not affected.