No public transport goes along the final 20km of the west coast road to Cape Tappi (Flying Dragon). I planned to hitch and walk my way there. In the end, I got two lifts without even raising a thumb. The first ride was from Megumi, a civil servant`s wife who has been studying English for ten years. The second ride was on the flatbed truck konbu (kelp) seller. He took me right up the hardest part of the walk, a steep, winding road through thick forest to the observatory. He must have felt sorry for me. In the car park he tried to give me a pack of dried herring and a can of Real Gold before heading back the way he came.
Tappi was not the frightening, desolate place I had expected. With the sun shining, under a blue sky the Tsugaru strait looked like a pond, Hokkaido just a stone`s throw away. It was actually a 50km train ride away, a museum by the campsite in Tappi celebrates the construction of the Seikan Tunnel, the world`s longest rail tunnel which passes under the Flying Dragon. In a couple of years, the shinkansen will fly through. I doubt the dragon will be too impressed.
Tappi`s grey rocks are covered in green grass, a gentle reminder of home. Red tengusa seaweed (lit. heaven`s grass) lay on the stony shore and a foreign invasion of blue chicory occupied patches of ground. “You can make a substitute for coffee with chicory,” an old lady told me. She was standing in a stall in a car park selling grilled squid. “Oyasumi ni nattara?,” she invited to come in and take a rest. I ordered a chicory-free coffee and sat down. A cake appeared from out the back and a bag of freshly picked cherry tomatoes arrived from the stall next door. I felt like Prince William again.