Throughout the night I heard footsteps nearby as Okura-san continued his rounds, checking everything was still safe. Somehow I managed to sleep through the time he got close enough to leave a note on my tent peg.
“Ganbare!! Gureisu!! by your friend Kura”
Which I think translates as “Do well Craig!!”
Three more police stops on the way out of town. The first a simple deal. The second took longer but still no passport check. It’s an important lesson to learn that just because someone doesn’t speak your language you should not assume they are stupid. I’ve been on the receiving end of that assumption enough times on this trip. This time I was speaking their language but they still didn’t come off as the brightest tools at the picnic.
“I’m walking from Cape Sata to Cape Soya”
“Walking?” *acts out walking to be sure I’m using the right word*
“Yes. It’s a long way. Today is day 78″
We discuss that I live in a tent and that after finishing the walk I might stay in a hotel. Actually thanks to Tania’s mum we will be staying in a hotel. Then a bus turns up.
“Is this your bus?”
“No. I’m walking”
The third and hopefully last police encounter was with some plain-clothed detectives just after lunch. They started by asking for my Alien Registration Card. With all my moving about I haven’t been able to get one of these yet and today is the last day I’m allowed to be without it. So I played dumb until one explained he was a policeman by showing his badge.
“Ahhhh, passport?” I said and that changed the subject nicely. My favourite part was after I had said I’d be arriving in Sapporo tomorrow.
“Do you know how far that is?!” He said, as if I was stupid, crazy or both. He hadn’t listen when I said I walked here from Cape Sata
“Yes. 55km”. That shut him up. A few minutes after I was allowed to continue I saw the 54km sign. I’m pretty good with distances.
If you’re ever driving along Route 230 south of Sapporo I advise you to stop at Nakayama Pass and check out their photo galley/museum. There are some beautiful landscape shots and a special exhibit right now is a darkened room with huge photos of owls at night and sound effects.
I took an unpaved road from the pass hoping to bypass the heavy traffic and massive police convoys of the main road. For about 2 hours it was great. As the road started to get overgrown I was stopped short by a rustling in the bushes. It was the Japanese equivalent of a badger, often seen as a statue outside restaurants holding a bottle of sake. It noticed me too and as it turned to flee it let out quite a snarl. If I hadn’t actually seen it (only 2ft long), that noise and the racket it made escaping down the hill would have made me walk all the way to Sapporo tonight. As it was I had enough trouble just getting where I am now. The dirt road stopped and I had to fight my way through the undergrowth for a long time. There were stinging nettles taller that me and bamboo as thick as that on Ishizuchi-san. Something in there was giving off a white power and when I stumbled onto the main road again I looked like a statue from Trafalgar Square that the pigeons love to sit on.
Word of the day: te-ga-mi = letter
P.S. One more Japanese conversation I had, this time with a guy in a minivan that pulled over and tooted at me
“Where are you going?”
“Soya Misaki” (Cape Soya)
“No, Soya Misaki”
“Toya is back that way!”
“Ssssssssoya. Misaki. North Hokkaido”
“Aahhh. Do you want a lift?”
“No thanks. Only walking”
“Hahaha. Good luck”
Distance today: 47 km