The Trail

For the best & most current info, get thee to the official English website, which is up and running at http://tohoku.env.go.jp/mct/english/

The Michinoku Coastal trail will stretch for over 900 kilometers from Kabushima, Aomori all the way down to Soma in Fukushima. It's not finished, but should (emphasis on should) be finished and made public by end of 2018. 

The trail is basically a nature extravaganza with great food: you can enjoy wildflowers, birds, breathtaking views, and the best seafood you`ve ever had, all while getting to know the local people. 

Armed with a really heavy backpack, the official maps, and hazy memories of Bill Bryson books, I hiked about 50 kilometers of the trail in Iwate and Aomori and put my adventure up on this blog (Taneichi to Kabushima Day 0, Day 1, Day 2, Day 3) (Taneichi to Kuji, Day 1, Day 2) 

Ten Reasons You Should Go on the Trail:

1. Because the main tourist attractions of Japan are crowded and sometimes overrated. 
I`m not saying you shouldn`t go to Kyoto. I just went there myself recently, and it was lovely, but it was also a bit crowded. There are many parts of Japan that are just as wonderful as Tokyo, Nara, Osaka, Kyoto and Sapporo, but because they aren`t as famous they`re shamefully underexplored.

2. Because it is hot as hell in other parts of Japan, especially during the summer. 
Plan to come to Tokyo in August? That`s like taking a vacation to the inside of an oven, while the northern coastline is cool as a cucumber. 

3. Because Tohoku is between 2 hours and change and 3 hours away from Tokyo by bullet train. 
That`s how much it takes to get to Kyoto. Meanwhile, the tip of Hokkaido is 5 hours to 6 hours by bullet train.

4. Because you get to see the “real Japan.” 
I mean, it depends on what your definition of “real Japan” is, but what I mean by “real Japan” is that you get a glimpse at rural coastal life by walking through neighborhoods. You see what veggies people are growing in their gardens. You see what konbu seaweed looks like when it washes onto shore. You talk to people. It`s better than any planned tour.

5. Because long walking paths are easier on the old bones than climbing up a mountain, and are accessible to more fitness levels. 
And because Mt. Fuji sounds like the worst thing ever. Seriously, have you googled it? I just did. Here is a small sample of quotes I found: “garbage accumulates at the top,” “pay-per-use eco-toilets,” “strenuous and the air gets notably thinner as you gain altitude,” “altitude sickness,” “mountain huts for resting at a rate of 1000-2000 yen per hour.”
The Shiokaze Trail is often paved and sometimes on flat ground. You can use some of the recommended courses to find a trip that would fit your level. Also, the course is often very close to train stations, meaning you have an out if you get overwhelmed. Just take a train to a place to stay or your next destination.

6. Because birds, flowers, and plants.
Birdwatchers, bring your binocs, because these are the birds I saw during my three day hike with little to no effort: Japanese Bush Warbler, Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Nuthatch, Japanese Green Pheasant, Common Kingfisher, Chestnut-Eared Bunting, Meadow Bunting, Eastern Great Tit, Willow Tit, Slaty-Backed Gull, Black-Tailed Gull. Heard: Lesser Cuckoo.
Flowers and plants: I can`t tell you as much, but this is a series of national parks with many signs saying the equivalent of “don`t touchy the plants” and there were people walking around with wildflower field guides, so that should tell you what you need to know.

7. Because this is a totally legitimate way to show your support for areas hit by the 2011 disaster. 
Maybe you`ve been up to Tohoku as a volunteer after the disaster. Maybe you were shocked by the footage of the tsunami and sent donations this way. It`s been over four years since the disaster, but recovery is a long process. You can still help the coast recover as a tourist.

8. Because seafood and alcohol. 
You have not eaten until you`re stuffing yourself with ultra fresh seafood after a long hike. I had this crab that was so good that halfway through I not only stopped caring about my manners, I stopped caring whether I was swallowing shell. And SAKE. Just go to any restaurant, and ask for “jizake” (the local sake) and you are good to go.

9. Because it is drop-dead gorgeous.
Just look at the pictures.

10. Because it has English language information. 
It has an official English language website with downloadable high-quality maps *in English!* Check it out! 

1 件のコメント:

  1. So, being American, I read this account backwards, left to right. Disturbing thing is, I didn't notice until the middle as I just thought it was a blogspot glitch.

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