Tsuchiura to Itako – Sunday 26 May

Boy … is it hot again today …

Nice continental breakfast … I prefer Japanese traditional myself, however John was happy.

At a loss of what to do today a ride on the lake ring-ring road was an option but it would mean a 100km trip. I was particularly interested in the Suigo Itako Iris Festival, it opened yesterday and on for a month.

A trip to the tourist office at the station – after several options, the lovely lady suggested a 50km ride to Itako and we could get a ferry back. Set with maps in hand, she phoned the ferry company to book us on the 3pm ferry.

Back to hotel to get ready, the reception gave us fresh cold water bottles …

Off we go … the route is easy to follow as it is marked on the road. We hug the lake and enjoy watching the fishermen, lots of stone and wooden breakwaters. On our left kilometres of Renkon (lotus root) crops which was very interesting the workers are out in their waterproofs sloshing around in waist deep water, a high pressure hose like a fire hose is being used to loosen up the roots I gather. Large potato shaped vegies are piled up. There are also long roots which I guess are also part of the plant.

The land is very flat with small hills in the distance. The lake is huge, rice paddies take over from the renkon. We pass by small lakeside villages. It’s very hot and a small headwind.

We make it to Itako and see signs to the Iris Festival – lovely gardens along a canal … I think another 3 weeks and it will be stunning. Small bridges across the canal give great views.

As part of the festival a reinactment of a tradional wedding is performed … we were lucky that it’s happening today at 2pm … we can see the start. Ladies in traditional dress … umbrellas are all out for sun protection.

We leave to catch the ferry about 4km away …. I thought … the map was a little ambiguous, nice tailwind. By 2.30pm John said ‘something doesn’t seem right’ recheck the map and our surrounds – back we go … headwind this time to within minutes of the festival … 2 ferries berthed,

‘Are you two Australians?’

‘Yes!’

‘You are booked on this ferry you have 19 minutes before we leave’

By this time we are parched and hot from the to’ing and fro’ing.

‘We’ll be back in 5 minutes’

A 7/11 is up the road … John picks up some cold beers and we enjoy the ferry ride, 1hr 20min we are back to Tsuchiura.

The ferryman is very friendly and we talk about the hot weather, ‘this is very unseasonable … it’s hot for us too!’

Back to the hotel … shower and aircon on … we watch the finals of the Sumo tournament … and why not … it’s the number one sport in Japan! Later on the news doesn’t need any interpretation … there is definitely a heatwave, record temperatures have been reached everywhere especially Hokkaido.

I look on my garmin connect app and our temperature range while riding today was 27°C to 38°C … that explains it all.

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