Today we will tour the Tsugaru Peninsula. There was rain in the night or rather early this morning but my nocturnal peregrinations were not inconvenienced. This morning, there are many camper vans in the car parks. One of them is especially swish and I see some people get the guided tour. We have can coffee and left-over bread. This is the first time we have not been fully prepared for a meal. D. wants to wait until the michi-no-eki vegetable stalls open so we hang around. I walk across the road over to the sea.
There is a small, pointed island with the ubiquitous shrine just off-shore and across the bay wreathed in cloud is Mt. Iwaki. The morning is rather warm, but grey, with the sun trying to break through at times. At last, we set off leaving this small place of multi-story buildings, spa hotel and fishing boats. Heading for Cape Tappi, at the end of Tsugaru peninsular.
Cape Tappi 竜飛岬
The coast road is an extensive ribbon development with some substantial houses. The ones on the seaward side, with large sheds full of fishing paraphernalia, running out to the beach and those on the other side backing on to fields or wasteland. The road is narrow, in places, and two vehicles cannot pass. This has clearly been a wealthy area for some generations, judging by the houses which are old but well maintained and modernized. As we get closer to the end of the Tsugaru peninsular the sea becomes more Nihonkai (Japan Sea) of the Tsugaru Straits and less Mutsu Bay and the living noticeably harder, with smaller houses pressed between the sea and the Damoclean cliffs. Some of the villages appear almost deserted.
At Cape Tappi D. goes to the post office that has a small, green dragon on the roof. The kanji for Tappi reads “flying dragon”, apparently.
Then we head up to the lighthouse and views of the strait and Hokkaido. We can just make out Mt. Esan and Mt. Komagatake but it is hazy, with bad weather threatening all around. Heading back, we stop at a viewing point. We can see where we have been and way to the south Mt. Iwaki, the top still in dark cloud but a clear view of the bay. D. mentions some blind shamisen player but I am unfamiliar with her and her connection to the bay.
The main view is of the trees – mountains and valleys covered in trees – stretching away, seemingly, forever. The colours are beautiful. Not spectacular, just various muted shades of withered brown and yellow. We move on towards Lake Jyusanko stopping on the way for lunch at Takanosaki. Here there was a free campsite, on top of a headland, with a wonderful view of the sea. From the campsite, we walked down to some lava rocks jutting out into the sea linked by a couple of bridges. We watch small sanma (Pacific saury) hanging, in the water, against the flow.
Then to the house ‘Shayokan‘ where Dazai Osamu (famous writer) was born which, as he himself noted, “was without interest or charm, just large”. Our campsite for the night is Ashino koen, on another lake in a large and, it appears, increasingly unmaintained park. The site is deserted except for a small truck with a crane on the back in which a middle aged gent appears to be living. There is also a small tent that may or may not be connected with him.
We dine on mushroom stew.
＊’Shayoukan’ at Kanaki city 500yen/person
＊Ashino Koen auto-campsite free
The author is a long term resident of Japan who has and continues to travel the country extensively. Avoiding highways where possible, the author has driven from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Wakanai in Hokkaido covering 20,000 plus kilometres and counting.