Day 41: Hanamaki, Iwate to Hachimantai, Iwate

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Started the day at a leisurely pace thanks to my generous host, Conrad. Conrad is Canadian and oozes Canadian chill. If you don’t know what I mean by that use your imagination, I just made it up. He left for work at 8 but left me to leave in my own time. I grabbed him for a quick pic before he left.
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Conrad and his friend Sarah kept me good company last night as we went for Italian (Conrad paid) followed by ice cream (I paid – even, right?). Then, perhaps inspired by the ice cream, we all watched Disney’s Frozen together.
Today was a relatively short day as I continue to chip away at northern Honshu. I checked my map this morning and discovered I was only 200km north of Yamagata, where I was last Thursday. So I’m not exactly taking the direct route. But then, this trip was never about that. It’s not about going from A to B but more like going from A to Z and checking out everything in between. Sometimes I love that freedom but sometime I just want to get done, hit the target, reach my goal and go home. Sometimes.
I think everyone knows something about camping in Japan that they’re not telling me. I felt sure that on a balmy June Friday night people would be flicking to the hills to camp out, but once again as I rolled into the campsite around 4.30 there’s not a soul around. ‘Oh, whatever’ I say to myself and pitch the tent. Just another thing I guess I don’t understand about Japan.
I cheered myself up with a trip to a nearby onsen. You’re not supposed to take pictures but as there was no one else in (no one there either) I took a few snaps.

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Shrouded in cloud in the background you can just about see Mt. Iwate. From the south and east it is the perfect cone, Fuji-esque, towering above its neighbours. But from the back, the north, it is as crooked and as dark as Mordor. Something about this part of Japan has fostered a dark, cold, gloomy image in my mind. Basho called it the Deep North and Isabella Bird called it the Interior. Maybe those titles, and their descriptions brewed in my mind. Now Mt. Iwate looms over me, a jagged silhouette against a perfect star-lit sky.
Tomorrow I’m going to cycle up his neighbour, Mt. Hachimantai. Wish me luck.

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