I love looking at maps. They are like a magic portal to some unknown future adventures. And, since I’m living in Japan and seemingly obsessed with riding my bike around the entire coastline of this island nation, the map that I spend the most time looking at is that of Japan.
That it how my latest adventure was conceived and is the reason that I’ve jumped up Honshu’s coastline to Sendai where I will be riding north along the coast to Aomori some several hundred kilometers to the north and then, time and leg strength permitting, taking a big left towards Akita in the west.
I started the first hopping on the Shinkansen at Tokyo station and heading north for Sendai. The one-way non-reserved ticket costs JPY 10,360 and the trip takes about 2.5 hours. A bit pricey for such a short train ride, ney?
I arrived in Sendai station, went out the East Exit, unfolded by bike, and rode six blocks over to Route 45. This is busy double lane rode that makes a beeline strait towards the coast and Sendai harbor. There are plenty of chain restaurants, convenience stores and other shops along this road.
I hadn’t eaten on the train and decided I’d better get some carbs in me, even if I only did plan on riding for a short distance. I stopped at a Heiwa Ramen chain restaurant and was pleasantly surprised at the both the quality and quantity of my meal.
For just JPY 630 I feasted upon a large bowl of ramen, a plate of gyoza, and side bowl of rice. Who says Japan is expensive?
Fueled up, I jumped back on the bike and having ridden less than 30 minutes from Sendai Station, I hit the coast and Sendai Harbor. It’s definitely not the most picturesque place, but it was the coast and I was starting to head north, so hey, that’s good right?
Having just did a night climb of Mt. Fuji two days earlier, and having recuperated by staying up late watching the World Cup and drinking beer, I had already decided that my first day on the bike should be a short and mellow one.
With that in mind, I rolled into Matsushima, just 28 kilometers from Sendai Station and decided that I would stay there for the first night.
Matsushima, a group of around 260 small islands, is heralded as one of the Three Views of Japan. It’s rather touristy, but there are some impressive temples and carved caves that date back to the Heian and Kamakura periods which is like close to a thousand years ago.
I found a room at a minshuku for JPY 5,200. The fee didn’t include meals, but I got a decent sized room and the place was just a 10-minute walk to many of the local attractions. So, OK, Japan can be a wee bit expensive.
Speaking of which, I had a ginormous sashimi dinner with the “appropriate” amount of beer and sake, and it only set me back JPY 2,900. I mean, I was there for like two hours! Who said Japan is expensive?
The only things to note regarding the bike ride from Sendai to Matsushima are that just as you approach Matsushima there are three tunnels. The first two tunnels have a smaller pedestrian and cycling tunnel to the right of the car tunnel. The third tunnel has a large path on the right inside the car tunnel. So, if being passed by large noisy trucks in dark tunnels isn’t your thing, jump over to the right for these three.