I’m camped under the quiet shade of some trees. The temperature is an agreeably cool and dry 21º. The vestibule flaps are rolled all the way up on both sides, and the tent door is open to an expansive view of Wakkanai town, all the way across to the other side of Soya Bay. But, there’s something else here that is totally unexpected.
I couldn’t have asked for a more inspiring place to spend the night, which makes free-camping Wakkanai Park the top campsite in my 2-week tour of Hokkaido.
I had arrived earlier from Rishiri on the 8am ferry, arriving 2 hrs 20 minutes later at Wakkanai. I’m alone again; the Denises enjoyed riding the Rishiri cycling road so much they want to do the whole 20 kms of it. I don’t blame them; I would too if I had an extra day to spare.
According to my trusty Mapple, the campsite nearest to town is just behind it. I take a closer look at it and I’m a bit confused. All I can see is a hill rising up, stretching almost all the way to the end of the town. My guess is it’s either on top somewhere, or over the other side.
A petrol station attendant gives me directions to the campsite after I show him the map. The entry point is behind a hospital, but the bush-covered sides of the narrow road that points upwards make me wonder if I’m on the right path.
My marathon train journey begins tomorrow at 7am. I’ve got myself an empty Seicomarto box that, when cut, fits the sides of the bike bag perfectly. I’ve also made sure that when they open at 6am, there’ll be freshly made onigiri on the shelves. “Many, many..”, the friendly Seicomarto cashier assured me. Onigiri, many many of it, is going to be part of my food supply for the almost 15-hour journey by train to Haneda airport.
My dinner of sushi, tamago, fried chicken, real-potato french fries in a cup, and a can of Asahi Dry Black makes it almost a feast, by camping standards.
I stay up as long as I can to enjoy my last night in Japan. From inside my tent, I can see the moon, almost full, and in all its lunar magnificence; casting its golden glow on the night sky, over the bay and on the town below. The temperature has dipped down to 18 since the sun went down. As I slip inside my sleeping bag and zip it all the way to my neck, I’m overwhelmed with a sense of achievement and contentment, and the joy of having connected with this beautiful country — its culture, its heritage, its sights, and most of all, its people.