45 Shimokita: Cape Rocky End

After dropping the kids at school, the wizard drove me to the north-east edge of the Shimokita peninsula, Shiriyazaki (Cape Rocky End) which lurches out into the Pacific. We sat on a grassy bank beneath the lighhouse eating a packed breakfast of sour plum riceballs. The perilous Cape is famous for its wild kandachime (Horses Standing Cold); we saw a few in a field on the way out – all were standing warm.

The narrow road to Cape Rocky End passed through thick cypress forest, a white wood of wind turbines owned by Tohoku Electric and a grey quarry plundering a couple of mountains.  Signs and fences warned of the nearby Higashi-dori Nuclear Power plant, owned by the big spending Tokyo Electric.  Japan needs atomic power, the wizard said, not to feed its electricity grid, but to counter the nuclear threat from North Korea and China.  Once you have nuclear energy, nuclear weapons are only a short step away.

We drove south down the Pacific coast, stopping at a cliff edge, 100 feet above the ocean.  Standing on black rock on a steep, narrow path used by seaweed collectors, the wizard waved at three things: “Pine……….rock…………sea…..that`s the Shimokita peninsula.”  The scenery was powerful and dramatic, but not frightening – it was too warm and sunny.  A February blizzard might be different.

The first town we came to was the squid boat port of Tomari which features in the documentary film Rokkasho Rhapsody; the wizard lived and worked here for 7 years, acting as both a priest and a counsellor at the Junior High school.  The name Tomari is originally a native Ainu word meaning to overnight, the wizard explained; it`s a warning to stay overnight as there is nowhere nearby to stay.

When I mentioned an interest in staying in Tomari, the wizard said he could help.  He not only booked me a room , but I discovered later, also paid for it and ordered an extra-large serving of raw squid for my dinner.  He was magic.

A dirt track shortcut over the handle of the axe took us back to the Dragons` Den.  I had the afternoon to pedal the 40km back to Tomari in time for squid supper.  The steady climb passed through isolated farms, fields and forests.  Stopping for breath by a row of sunflowers, a rumble of thunder came from Mutsu Bay, then it began to rain.  One of the gods had flown out of the filing cabinet and was trying to tell me to hurry up.

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