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November 2, 2013
Day 30 - Itoigawa

Itoigawa is a rustic small city on the shore of the Sea of Japan, where mountains of the Northern Alps meet the sea. The home to many farmers and fishermen, Itoigawa never fails to serve a variety of fresh local food.

The area is rich in nature and experiences fully the four seasons, with a hot summer and a snowy winter. Itoigawa has been a member of the UNESCO network of Global Geoparks since 2009. It is home to multiple sites of geological interest, including the Fossa Magna Park, which features an exposed section of the earth fault that separates Japan into East and West.

Today's Report
Itoigawa - the final leg

A small stone carving for a good marriage.

I met THE Thomas Koehler at Hotel Kunitomi Suisenkaku yesterday! It was great to be able to finally meet the man who started it all, in person. We had dinner together before retiring for the night.

With Thomas and Markus.

Today marks the end of the tour with many activities lined up for both Karolina and I. I started my walk on the Salt Road with many of the tourfs supporters and organisers. The view along the way was absolutely gorgeous, thanks to the perfect weather conditions. We were also able to see Yake-yama, an active volcano. We were taking so many pictures, that at one point, we were lagging behind, and were almost going to be late in meeting Karolina! We managed to make up for lost time by having a quick soba lunch. Soon, we arrived at the Fossa Magna Park where I was able to see Karolina again after a month. I was definitely happy to see her again and it was a sweet reunion.

The salt road marker.

Yake-yama with snow on the top.

On my route, we had one guide whose family carried salt along the salt route. He definitely looked the seasoned professional and was very knowledgeable about the fauna on the route. He and other staff from Itoigawa Geopark were pointing out edible fruit and mushrooms, picking them for us to try (the fruit were delicious but I didnft try the mushrooms.)

Picking fruit

He made a boat from a leaf!

There was a short ceremony at the Fossa Magna Park, and a speech by the Mayor of Itoigawa. We also posed for what felt like 33,037 pictures (a million would be an exaggeration) at the ceremony. There was also a taiko performance at the ceremony which was very impressive to watch and listen, easily my favourite part of the ceremony.


The taiko performance was very cool.

We then headed to our final hotel, Hotel Kunitomi Annex. There was a reception at the hotel to wrap up the Tour. It was great to see most of the people we met at the Kick Off Ceremony at the Swiss Embassy once more here in Itoigawa. Things have come a complete circle!

Posing with our darumas.

My graduation cert!

Ifm glad that Karolina and I successfully completed the Tour. This month has flown by for me, and Ifll treasure the friendship with all the people Ifve met, the different experiences and memories. If given another chance, Ifd would love to be able to do this again.

Thanks for all the kindness, friendship, and memories. I love Japan!

With the Itoigawa mascots.

With the AJRA representatives.

I don't know how to read a shamisen score.

Group photo at the Fossa Magna Park

The white jagged line behind us is where east meets west.

The power lines look like cows to me.

Camera crew following us in a taxi (I didn't think we were walking that fast..)


Kiwi no moto.

Mata tabi, named because they give you enough energy to travel (tabi) again (mata)

The group walking the old salt route.

The view is just gorgeous.

All aboard the party bus to the start point.

Today's Program
Today's Walk: Walking along the Shionomichi Salt Route

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The last stage of the tour is a walk through nature along a section of the old Shionomichi Salt Route. In olden times, salt was brought by ships into the port town of Itoigawa and transported to the inland castle town of Matsumoto via this route.

Our walk starts at Shiroike Pond, whose calmness is known to manifest in mirror reflections of the surrounding scenery. From the pond, we hike along the historic Shionomichi through the woods, which present a rich variety of flora and fauna, as well as several monuments and structures that are vestiges of the former trade route. On parts of the walk we pass by paddy fields and nostalgic rural areas with the odd house appearing every once in a while.

The trail leads us to a grand finale at the Fossa Magna Park, where the North and South walkers meet to celebrate the completion of the tour. Our walkers will explore the park together and witness an exposed section of the earth fault that separates Japan into East and West - a fitting finishing point for a fruitful journey.

Date November 2, 2013
Start Time 10:00
Start Shiroike Pond
Goal Fossa Magna Park
Distance 8 kilometers (about 3-4 hours)
Terrain Today's walk leads mainly downhill on nature trails. Proper shoes are required.
Weather Average daytime high: 18 degrees Celsius (64 degrees Fahrenheit)
Average nighttime low: 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit)
Weather Forecast for Niigata
Access Shiroike is not easily accessible. A bus service will be provided to participants of the walk from the parking lot at the Nechi valley entrance at 9:30. The parking lot is about a 500 kilometers from Nechi Station as shown on the following map:
Lodgings The most convenient place to stay for the night is Itoigawa.
Search hotels in Itoigawa through Agoda, or Japanican

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Daily Quiz
The deadline for answering the quiz question for day 30 has passed.

Which shinkansen trains are scheduled to stop at Itoigawa Station from 2015?

9%   Tsurugi trains
15%   Asama trains
52%   Hakutaka trains
6%   Kagayaki trains
18%   None of the above

The correct answer is: Hakutaka trains

Hakutaka trains along the Hokuriku Shinkansen are scheduled to serve Itoigawa Station when the new line opens in 2015. Kagayaki trains are scheduled to skip the stations. Asama trains are scheduled to operate only between Tokyo and Nagano. Tsurugi trains only between Kanazawa and Toyama.

Current Standings: (after 30 days)

28 Points: Csabba, AlexanderStankov
27 Points: gladhiola, almoehi, ZoomX2, mikaelus
26 Points: Rabbityama, Proxy707

More about the quiz

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