2 days on the coast: Akita to Murakami

My ride started in Akita with another amazing Japanese breakfast with every imaginable fish and fish-like thing you can think of. They even had a natto bar- natto is fermented soybeans in a slimy disgusting mucousy substance that makes it the most revolting thing you could possibly eat. The bar allowed people to customize their soybeans so possibly they would be less or more disgusting depending on your preference. It’s the one Japanese food I refuse to eat.

The restaurant at breakfast was filled with all middle-aged Japanese women, well over 100 of them, and me. I haven’t seen a Westerner since I started. 


My hotel in Sakata was on a busy road outside of town so walkable dinner options were limited. This place was across the street so I figured why not. Conveyor belt sushi. The food was very good but the ambience…well that was another matter. If the lights were any brighter they would have had to issue welding masks to protect your retinas from being seared. It was like eating in a Walmart. But damn it was good, and great value. I was so full walking out the door I was hoping for a pair of giant chopsticks to come from the sky and pick me up and set me in my bed.

I’m not a great fan of coastal rides. They are usually flat- and really, how much of the ocean can you look at- it’s the same thing over and over again, it never changes. I much prefer the twisty mountain roads, they are way more interesting plus the climbs are a lot more fun. And Seaside areas tend to be overcrowded and just plain overdeveloped. The first day was a bit Boring, flat, and straight.

Mountain slopes often had this really bizarre concrete cover over them- they didn’t really modify the shape of the mountain just poured concrete over it.


But the next day was different. It was a nice coastal route with small farms with row on row of greenhouses. There were steep hills that fell right into the sea…which meant lots of tunnels. Most of which had nice separated bike lanes. It was a small road that wound through seaside villages and fishing ports. It was a good day on the bike.


Nice bike lane in tunnel


Huge objects maybe 20 feet tall that will become a breakwall.





It took me quite a while to convince this woman to let me to take a photo as she was laying out her dried beans






There is salmon hanging all over this town


My hotel in Murakami is a small recently remodeled Ryokan. Murakami is a charming little town with quintessentially perfect Japanese specialty shops

I asked the woman who owns the ryokan for a soba place for dinner and she suggested a small restaurant a few hundred yards away. Nothing was an English: they didn’t speak it, the menu had no English and it didn’t even have pictures. I said in my horrible Japanese for them to make a recommendation. The women were very accommodating or trying to be accommodating, but the man behind the bar in the kitchen who was the chef was visibly annoyed because I couldn’t tell him what I wanted. Finally I got across I wanted soba noodles and tempura and that was it for now. I told him in Japanese how good it was: oishee! He started to warm up. Then I saw him with a bag of what looked like very small mussels. I asked him what they were and he told me. I never heard of them before but I had him make me some…oishee! A really great meal with Sakae for about $18. If…if…if you could find a meal like that in the US it would cost four times as much.

Gotta love the food, though fruit does not appear in a traditional Japanese breakfast. In a ryokan, like this morning, you don’t get a selection (no buffet like western hotels) so you eat what’s in front of you.  One item this morning was a bowl with squid, octopus, and fish roe in it… I hate it. And with all the salmon hanging all over town yes there was salmon on my plate, and it was fantastic. 


~ by Robert on September 29, 2014.

3 Responses to “2 days on the coast: Akita to Murakami”

  1. I love the visual of the giant chopsticks!!! The hillside with the earth retaining coffer wall looks fantastic (literally) interesting land art…..


  2. Great photos as usual. Don’t think I’d enjoy Japanese breakfasts.


  3. What a great blog for an armchair traveler like me! just sent a link to my friends the Arens who lived there for three years and traveled the outback on the weekends. Will send it to a cycling friends next. Hope that’s okay! Edy Keeler


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: