Today I explored the beautiful Kitayamazaki Cliffs along the Sanriku Coast. I met my guide Mr. Toshiki at 11am, and also met Mr. Kumagai and his family. Mr. Toshiki would be my morning guide, while Mr. Kumagai would take over for the afternoon.
We took a quick picture, then Mr. Toshiki and I drove down to an area a few minutes from our meeting place.
From there we walked along the beach to a cave hidden by rocks, then through it. It was pitch black inside, but luckily Mr. Toshiki brought flashlights!
From the first cave, we headed into a second. The first cave had been dry, but this second cave was definitely not. As I sank up to my ankles in water, Mr. Toshiki asked if I wanted to turn back. Since I was wet anyway, I said to continue, but the water got deeper... and deeper... I was beginning to get worried as the water became hip deep, but after a few more meters, the water receded a bit. Safe!
On the other side was another beautiful secluded beach:
After the storm the night before, a lot of seaweed called "konbu" washed up onto the beach. It is used to flavor soup and other dishes, and Mr. Kumagai is a fisherman who collects it, dries it, and sells it. Also on the beach were lots of sea urchins (uni), another local specialty.
Finally tired of taking pictures, we headed back through the Very Wet Cave to the car and on back to the Kitayamazaki Rest House for lunch.
At that point Mr. Toshiki had to go back to work, so he turned me over to Mr. Kumagai, whose family runs the Kitayamazaki Rest House. I had lunch there, and chose an interesting local specialty...
While I ate lunch, Mr. Kumagai talked about the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, and his memories of that day. He was in fact at the exact beach I had stood on previously, along with about 30 other people. Because they were standing on sand, they didn't even feel the earthquake, so were quite surprised when several landslides started! Luckily, everyone left then and got to safety before the wave came, but it was a close call!
After lunch, I went with the family to several different lookout points to see more of the cliffs, then down close to the beach. There were A LOT of stairs!
The older kids were eager to go, as we were promised ice cream for a successful trip. After a long time and several rests, we finally made it all the way to the bottom.
...And then had to go back up. I am happy to report we did eventually get that ice cream! I said my goodbyes after we ate, then started the drive back to my hotel in Miyako.
On the way I stopped at one more lookout point, where 5 cliffs line up in a row:
My hotel is the Miyako Hotel Sawadaya, about an hour away from Kitayamazaki. My room is in Japanese style with a nice view over Miyako City.
Dinner at the hotel was huge and delicious. I love the detail in every dish, especially the pumpkin leaf and carrot flower. Care goes into the presentation of every dish, and most are almost too beautiful to eat! ...almost. I was hungry!
I'm heading to Miyagi tomorrow. See you then!