Unphased, we rushed to get ready for the first ferry to Rishiri, 6:30. We had to arrive early, as 2nd class passengers aren’t able to book tickets ahead of time (and there is no way that I can afford nor justify what they charge for 1st class, which is ridiculous anyway for such a short ferry ride… I don’t need my own private suite for a 90-minute journey).
Watching the boat creep closer to Rishiri was quite imposing. It was reminiscent of openings scenes of Jurassic Park (or Shutter Island). I know I keep going on about it (and maybe I have a mountain fetish), but it’s a magnificent sight.
First up, The ‘cub was getting low of fuel, so a quick top-up (¥360 worth) and we were on our way. Because the double seat that I had originally ordered from Yahoo Auctions hadn’t arrived yet (nor had it even been sent…), I hastily created a cushion for Risa to sit on (out of scrap foam camping mats), as she didn’t like sitting on the bare metal carry rack. For once, she was content. First action, breakfast! Yet another Seicomart breakfast… although we have a huge amount of cereal (care of Costco), keeping milk cold is slightly difficult, even with an insulated box (esky).
We took our onigiri (rice balls) and looked for a nice vantage, which wasn’t hard. It seemed at most it was a kilometre between parking areas/toilets/scenic vantage points. We braved the (in our mind) gale force winds, and enjoyed watching the clouds pour over the top of Rishiri-zan. It was quite a sight, the kind of sight that is usually captured and then played back at an increased speed, but it was all playing out in front of us in real-time.
We headed around the island in an anti-clockwise direction, for no reason other than it was the direction from the ferry to the first petrol station. We took our time, stopping at each vantage point, taking in the beauty of the coastline. It was a fun ride, even though it was ridiculously windy. The sunshine was quite soothing and it felt nice (though, I enjoyed it a little too much, I’m glowing red, and radiating significant amounts of heat). Sadly, the clouds obscured most of the view of Rishiri-zan, so a lot of the ‘scenic locations’ weren’t. It seems to feel that we are constantly one day behind the optimum/perfect weather/conditions.
We caught a mid-day ferry to Rebun, where I caught up with someone that I used to work with in the Yakumo Board of Education. Mr Sahashi was one of the first people that I was introduced to when I arrived in Yakumo. He spoke a little English, and is about my age, so we would often ‘chat’ when opportunities existed. Sahashi-san was transferred to Rebun in June (by choice!), so it was a good chance to say hello again. I also forgot to charge my batteries the night before (GPS usage drains batteries much quicker), and ran out of power while on Rishiri. Luckily, Sahashi-san has a compatible charger! So, two birds with one stone! I also met the ALT posted to Rebun. It would have been handy to know that he was there before we arrived, but, what can you do?
Since we were short on time, we had to dash away to see Rebun. We had about 3 hours until the last ferry returned to Wakkanai. We rushed off towards the west coast to see momo-iwa, firstly from the top, then secondly from the coast. The poor little ‘cub struggled to haul us up the steep winding roads, but it’s the little donkey that can/could. The coast/cliffs were amazing! Massive rocks, steep jutting cliffs, huge cubed stones all covered in grass/weeds in a spectacular fashion. The winds were intense and the mist was rapidly thickening, reducing the visibility (and therefore the photographability) drastically. But, we still enjoyed it, even if the resulting photos are kinda shit..
With only two hours until the last ferry departed (30minutes of that had to be reserved to buy tickets and board), we jumped back on the ‘cub and rode through the storm like winds (which were freezing me in my t-shirt/shorts to the core) to the northern cape, Cape Sukoton. It’s all lies though, all the signs claim that it’s the ‘most northerly etc etc in Japan’, from the ‘most northerly public toilet in Japan’ to the ‘most northerly souvenir shop’. But, Cape Soya in Hokkaido is further north… in fact, there is a lots of Hokkaido further north than Rebun…
By the time we were back in Wakkanai, it was about 19:30, and we were tired, hungry and sticky from all the salty winds. First stop, a supermarket to aquire food. You should try and find a supermarket in Wakkanai.. We drove around for kilometres, and all we found were dozens of Seicomarts. Eventually (30minutes later) we found a supermarket, with a range (and price) that was easily surpassed by even a basic Seicomart, so I gave up and went to one for a quick curry.
There was a fancy looking onsen behind the Russian restaurant that we ate at last night (Minato no Yu), and it didn’t disappoint. It was brand new inside, and all tastefully done. There were a huge choice of different baths and just a generally pleasing ambience. And, for the first time in the two days that we had spent in Wakkanai, I saw my first Russians! Friends who had lived there before constantly complained about the numbers of Russians roaming the streets (and generally causing havoc), but we just didn’t see it.
Full and clean, all that was left was bed. We headed back to the park on the hill above Wakkanai, and were rocked to sleep by the howling winds (that I couldn’t hear with my ear plugs in!)
What an epic day!