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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 foods.

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

This Itoigawa walk marks the end of my We Love Japan Tour adventure.
We were a good sized group this morning. The sun was shining as we head off from Nou harbour where we actually cycled for about 2 hours to central Itoigawa.

The begining of the walk

My steed

The Japan Guide team taking a break during our very taxing bike ride!

We stopped a coupl of times along the way to see a beautiful old Hakusan Shrine as well as Beitei Iwa, basically a big rock formation in the sea created by an underwater eruption millions of years ago.

Hakusan shrine

From there we cycled to town where we had lunch and then proceeded by train to the goal of the WLJ Tour, where, after one month, Raina and I met again. The place we met is the Fossa Magna park in the Itoigawa Global Geopark, a place of very strong symbolical meaning as it is the place in Japan where the two tectonic plates on which the country stands, join. There is a visible fault line actually, which I found quite impressive.

So there we are. One month later. North meets South in the exact spot where japan is divided into two. Raina is covering the ceremony so please check that out!

At the goal!

During this months I have met an incredible amount of people, shared as many great meals, heard even more amazing stories. Those of the people I met on the Sanriku coast - be it Jodogahama or Ishinomaki will stay with me forever and I look forward to my next visit to see how they are doing, and what great things they will have achieved by then.

So after all of this, do I think Japan is safe? Yes, I did have 5 earthquakes - including one when I was driving and a 7.3 one in the middle of the night - one typhoon, a sprained ankle, and a very clingy cold - courtesy of the Siberian winds of cape soya - but I also traveled about 3000km alone in my little Toyota rentacar - driving on the opposite side to the one I’m used to, hiking up or even sleeping on active volcanoes, traveling through tsunami stricken areas or the breathtakingly beautiful Fukushima province, and the worst thing that happened to me was the blond moment that lead to my sprained ankle. So yes absolutely, Japan is a wonderful, welcoming and safe country, where people always go out of their way to help you - quite literally sometimes, as when people drove 20 minutes in front of me so I wouldn’t get lost or drove back home to fetch a bandage for my ankle.

These are some of the many reasons why yes, I do love Japan!

Today's Program
Today's Walk: Cycling from Nou to Itoigawa

The last stage of the North Route first leads along a section of the Joetsu-Itoigawa Cycling Road, a spectacular seaside trail that follows the coast of the Sea of Japan for 33 kilometers. The trail passes by beaches, parks, tunnels and coastal towns along the way. Bicycles will be returned at Itoigawa Station.

At 13:10, we will take the train along the JR Oito Line to Nechi Station and walk to the Fossa Magna Park, where the North and South walkers meet to celebrate the completion of the 2013 We Love Japan 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 9:30
Start Nou (Marine Dream Park)
Goal Itoigawa Station
Distance 14 kilometers (about 1-2 hours) to Itoigawa Station
Terrain Most of the trail along the Joetsu-Itoigawa Cycling Road is on dedicated cycling tracks. There are a few gentle up and down slopes.
Weather Average daytime high: 18 degrees Celsius (64 degrees Fahrenheit)
Average nighttime low: 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit)
Weather Forecast for Niigata
Access Nou Station is a 13 minute train ride east of Itoigawa Station along the JR Hokuriku Line. Marine Dream Park can be reached from the station in a 45 minute walk.

Note that bicycles are not available for rent at Nou. Participants will have to organize their bicycles independently.

Lodgings The most convenient place to stay for the night is Itoigawa.
Search hotels in Itoigawa through Agoda, or Japanican


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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