This day was full of events and I even encountered a local family who invited me for lunch. I had no idea what to do with this day except that I wanted to “explore the island”, so I just started riding up the North coast as you can see on this little map. It turned out that these roads were the most magnificent on Sado. I started my trip by simply following the road, stopping occasionally to take pictures of the small villages, whose residents focus on the fishing business.
Here and there, one could also find some very beautiful examples of rice farms. I did not stop for all of them, but it was true that they put rice fields in every plain space that could possibly be turned into a flat surface.
This is a good time to mention that rice is a subsidized crop in Japan, and that import of rice has been prohibited by the government – only processed rice, such as in preprepared dishes, can be imported. While being explained with food security purposes, the true reason for this may be more of a cultural one. Japanese rice is a special white sticky kind, and plays a big role in the country’s food culture. The country’s independency on the production as well as the local origin are likely to be of higher importance for the import ban than merely a standard in food safety. During my trip into small villages, I also found many abandoned vehicles on farm properties. They are usually not completely abandoned, as it seemed to me that the owners are simply changing the purpose of them. The van on the following picture, for example, was used to store many boxes of different tools. Another van I saw had its entire side cut out and farmers apparently used it as a sofa with a little rooftop to relax in the shade. When I continued to ride up the mountain hills, a family stopped at the same spot to take a picture. They started talking to me, asking if they shall take a picture of me. In the course of the following conversation, I learned that the father is a rice farmer in the Southern part of the island and that the son came visiting for Golden Week. They invited me to follow their car all the way to a bridge (see next picture). The bridge was around 50m tall, crossing a creek that washed a deep gap into the mountain over many thousands of years.
They also invited me for some a sashimi lunch at a nearby restaurant. It was the first time I had raw pufferfish and raw squid, and I think both tasted very good. The sashimi was tender and really fresh… after all, the island relies heavily on their fishing industry. After I said goodbye to the Nakagawa family, I went back up from Ryotsu port (in the Eastern central part of the island) to the Northern tip, where Futastu-kame (二ツ亀) is, the ‘two turtles’, a formation of two large rocks.
A bit down the road, there is also Onogame, the big turtle (大野亀)… and I climbed it! It was an extremely steep hike on a slippery dirt path, but I made it all the way up to 184m above the ground. It was already around 5pm, so it looks a bit dark, but the weather was actually okay 🙂
The 50km trip back home was spent dashing through the most beautiful coastal highway curves I could’ve asked for. It was getting dark and colder, however, so I was really looking forward to the hot Onsen in the hotel.
In the next blog, I will write about the trip back to the main island and the cruise to Gunma prefecture, full of frozen rice fields and mountains like the alps!