Friday I saddled up the bike with the inflatable SUP, tent, tarp, and fishing gear and made my way to the Japan Sea. Even caught a fish. (An edible one this time.) Check out the video below.
The other day I posted about my arrival at the Iwami Seaside Park on my weekend Motocamp, SUP & fishing trip. Well, it turns out, that while the bugs were biting on Friday night, the fish were biting on Saturday. I ended up pulling in a Flathead (コチ in Japanese) while trolling over crystal clear water just a few hundred meters offshore.
I figured I might get lucky and pull in a flounder, as I see them skirt away from my shadow fairly often, but I was a bit shocked by this fish. My reaction was something like “What the hell are you?!?” Luckily there were a few old guys surf casting near my take-out, so they filled me in on the details. Apparently, these only grow to about 60 cm locally, so at 50 cm this was pretty good catch. They suggested I slice it up for sashimi, but we ended up just tossing it on the grill. Good eating. Not bad for my first edible catch from the SUP.
Kokufu beach is a rather popular surfing location in Hamada. Every weekend you are guaranteed to see a lot full of cars with Hiroshima license plates as the watermen make their way to the Japan Sea. It is a good starting point for me on the SUP, as going left is good for a 10k paddle to the Hamada port, and right is a quick paddle past Tatamigaura to the Iwami Seaside Park.
As I was camping with family and friends at the Seaside Park this last weekend, Kokufu made a nice turn-around point for my morning paddle on Sunday. The water was nearly smooth as glass, and paddling was smooth. The views, along the coast and below water, made for a relaxing trip.
Just before rounding the point to the park I spotted a few medium-sized fish off my bow as I passed through some seaweed. Once around the point is was all sand-bottom and nice cruising. While the water looks rather shallow, the area with the sandy bottom is probably about 10 meters deep. I love cruising over these areas, as it feels as if you are flying low over a desert, or a lunar landscape. Which reminds me that I did not add music to the video. That was intentional, as the near-silence of paddling is one of my favourite aspects of the sport. I hope you enjoyed it as well…
Ever since I picked up my motorcycle and starting conversing with other riders, both in the area and around the country, I have been asked if I had been to Akiyoshidai yet. It seems that it is a bit of a requirement for anyone within a 500 km radius, or even wider if you are an ironbutt rider. So, as it is only 124 km from home, it was to Akiyoshidai that my son and I planned our first motorcycle camping trip together.
The planned route was dead simple: take route 9 to Masuda, route 191 through Hagi, and then route 28 to the campsite. This would bring us down along the coast of the Japan Sea for most of the ride, affording some rather beautiful views along the way.
Google maps claimed we could make the trip in about 2.5 hours, so I had hoped to get on the road by 9:00 to allow for a lunchtime arrival in Akiyoshidai. As to be expected on one’s first camp trip involving more than one person, one of whom being a late-sleeping tweenager, we got a bit of a late start of it. The start was made a bit more awkward as the curious housewives from the surrounding apartments circled around me as I started the packing process before 9, so we had the added pressure to get moving so that they could all get back to their kids and morning coffee. Complaints aside, it is always nice to have people lining the dock as you pull out on a voyage, so it was nice to have them all there.
Our late start down the coast on route 9 meant that we were in a bit of traffic to begin with, but it mostly opened up as we exited Hamada and left the stop light zone behind us. It was a beautiful day, and the blue skies and calm sea to our ride made for a pleasant ride. Taiga and I took turns pointing things out to each other over our bluetooth headsets, and basically enjoyed those strange conversations that happen when two people are trapped together.
We made our first stop to stretch our legs and take some photos as we arrived in Abu, just northeast of Hagi. Abu has some beautiful views, as there are a number of islands just off the coast. We took the opportunity to have some fun with my iPhone’s panorama option. Did you know that Taiga had a twin? 😉 After Abu, we took one more quick stop at the marina in Hagi to grab a snack, hydrate, and take some photos. Hagi is a nice area to drive/ride through if you ever have the chance.
Ready to Go
Taking a Break in Hagi
Two Taigas & the Japan Sea
Father, son, & the Japan Sea
From Hagi it was a short hop down the remainder of 191 to route 28 before we reached our campsite; the Akiyoshidai Refresh Park. We arrived at around 13:00, only to find out that the front desk for the campsite does not open until 15:00, so it we decided to keep riding and take the scenic route through the Akiyoshidai kart plateau. The road only takes about 20 minutes from beginning to end, but the views are spectacular. We stopped at a few spots to take photos, but we simply could not capture all the beautiful views. They were simply too numerous.
Once we arrived at the official viewing spot, we took a break to play with a miniature schnauzer that some other visitors had brought along. We chatted with them for a while, and in a very Japanese gesture the wife offered us some small candies as they offered up their seats and walked away. Taiga and I stretched out right there and took a short nap to recoup after the long morning on the bike.
Taiga at Akiyoshidai
Nap Time at Akiyoshidai
Having recovered a bit, we hopped back on the Akiyoshidai road and pointed ourselves back towards the campsite. We checked in without incident and set about putting our tent up. There is something to be said about the simple interactions had when two people put themselves to the task of setting up a campsite. This was truly one of the best parts of this trip with my son; the simple, and often obscure/strange conversations we had while either working around the campsite or riding on the bike. It is these conversations that make a trip like this.
The roads, the views, the different locations are all beautiful in the moment, but it is the bonds forged in the simple conversations that have the most lasting effects.
Settled in at the Camp Site
All set up and nowhere to go
Having fun with the tripod
What are you looking at?
We had checked in behind three other motorcycles with Shimane number plates, and we set ourselves up far enough down the line so as not to bother (or be bothered by) them later in the evening. This turned out to be an unnecessary precaution, as Taiga ended up making fast friends with them as we met them along the path to the camp’s onsen (hot spring). We joined them in the rotenburo (outdoor bath) and joked and laughed a while. I joined them for a vending machine beer in the onsen lounge, and then we ended up spending the night around their campfire sharing food, drink, and good conversation. Overall, it was a great ending to a fantastic day.
We took a little break from riding today and walked about one kilometer down to the Safari Park in Akiyoshidai. We took the bus tour, and we were able to feed the lions through small windows. Not a bad place to visit, but it was a little more expensive than expected…