Through Wasabi Country

So we rolled for the first bike day out of 2010.

Actually, this is the first day out I’ve ever done in January. It’s a part of my ‘all year round’ biking push for this year to get more kilometres under my belt – more experience on the bike.  DG joined me on his trusty Skywave, and under a crisp – rather chilly –  blue sky, we headed out onto Route 1 with only a general plan – we wanted to head down the Izu peninsula and take a look at a hotel of all things, called Ernest house which some on the forum had recommended.

The coastal road down Shonan gets you some beautiful views, so we made a point to stop on the Seishou by-pass just to take some photos and have a cup of coffee. For 200 yen we got some kind of coffee / chocolate fusion with cinnamon from one of those vending machines which has a video screen showing the coffee being ground etc., whilst playing a pretty catchy latin American tune.

Almost surprisingly, I have to say it was actually was a very decent drink. I’ve been past this service area on every run down this road but never actually pulled in, so even though we hadn’t been on the road very long, I thought it was good stop – a lot of bikers, who are always friendly, and a fairly decent cross section of machines. Again, my CB400SF was pretty much the smallest thing there.

shonan beach

We worked our way don’t the coastal road  [135] in minimal traffic, only slightly missing our turn off onto #59, which at least gave us chance to have a bit of breakfast in a McDonald’s (shame!) whilst we decided where we were. Then, fueled up on caffeine and cholesterol, we made our way down #12 and finally onto #59.

Road #59 is a lot of fun for me – it cuts through wasabi growing country, through meandering hills and valleys, over rivers and on roads which though tarmac, often get very bumpy and are usually a single lane, with those convex mirrors to see a little around blind corners. You can stop pretty much anywhere and buy wasabi, and in a few places actually see a wasabi farm – we saw a very impressive one which was effectively in a river, since I understand that wasabi requires a lot of fresh water to grow.

wasabi farm

It’s a nice, slow, windy road, with great vistas. However, not much in the way of cafes or fuel! There are however, a selection of temples and shrines along the way, and down some side roads, so they were a bit of a photographic opportunity also.

sunset at the shrine

Right now it seems like they’re doing some work on the western part of the road, in fact, when I first did a run down it last year, a section was closed for post-earthquake repairs. That now seems largely done, though we did have to ride across a short stretch of gravel, but down the road we were stopped by another road closed sign which we elected to heed, so we turned back and took another route. I’d also done this road previously – another tree-lined winding road, which pops out back near the 414, main north-south Shimoda/Izu road.

Down the 414 we went, around the bizarre looping bridge (I think it’s called the Kawazu Nanadaru Bridge),  and kept on the road, until it met the #135/#136 junction where we took the latter for a few Kms until we went down a smaller road to the ocean and found Earnest House. The place itself looked very nice, very close to the beach, and you can imagine the whole area packed in the summer. In an adjacent building is the Paradise cafe, a nice bare wood place, where we got some good food for a not completely outrageous price.  We chatted with the staff, what seemed a brother and sister team, who both seemed to speak some English, and we ended up having one of  those conversations in both languages. A good bunch of people. I think we’re already planning a trip down there for the Spring with the family.

The trip back was uneventful – it got dark and cold, and the traffic level was a lot higher as usual on the #135, but we still made OK time, slipping down the side, and  pulling in for hot drinks as required.  All in all, a good run, and a great start to the year!

Door to door: 328Km.