Day 2, or Riding & Religion 〜 二日目、宗教とサイクリング

Day two of “big fun ride” is safely completed. I’m staying in an area called Shirako, some 70 km from last night’s hotel. As expected, today’s ride was not particularly exciting. After the first hour of hill climbs, the route ran near to the coast, and was mostly flat. The comforting tailwinds of yesteray gave way to not-so-welcome headwinds, making each kilometer harder to gain. Still, there were great vistas of the Pacific ocean, dunes, and plenty of local village scenery to keep the mind busy while pedaling.

Some things I found interesting today:
Continuing work to raise all the seawalls on the coast in an attempt to keep out tsunami. This is a huge project – construction rages all up and down the coast. The coastal expressway was even torn out to enable the wall raising.


Let’s say a big earthquake hits and you have a few minutes to run from the incoming tsunami. What to do if the seawalls don’t contain the incoming water? Well, all sorts of high ground has been constructed for that eventuality. Some of it consists of raised earthen mounds, some comes in the shape of towers, and some escape places are building rooftops. Here are two of the tower-types along the road:

Another thing I found fascinating was the number of abandoned buildings in the area. Once-beautiful homes, businesses, gas stations, etc., are all slowly rotting away.

Signs of religious practice were everywhere today. Shrines and temples, of course, are to be expected, but one can also find Christian graveyards and the occasional evangelical message board. The aspect of religion that best fits the countryside, in my opinion, is Shinto, in the guise of the shrines that dot the landscape. They come in all sizes, configurations, materials, and locations. At some points along they they could be spotted several to the kilometer. Here are some favorites:

Naturally, there are also Buddhist temples in the towns and villages. Also, one finds signs of Christian activity. Here is the Christian cemetery mentioned abouve, which I found while off course in the backroads.

There continue to be the inscrutable signs (see yesterday’s post about the lake of fire). Here is another I found with a friendlier message (“the risen Christ gives eternal life”)

Probably Buddhist, but simply impressive was this bronze statue standing in the middle of nowhere:

Tomorrow I finish the flat coast ride and head into a more hilly area for another 60-some km ride. A tailwind would be most welcome, if the gods of the winds are listening.

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