The route described here ends almost at the very tip of Honshu. To vary things a bit, you can do a number of things:

- From the ferry to the Shimokita peninsula, go along the north end of the peninsula instead of the south, past the lighthouse at Shiriya-zaki, and then down and into the crater. This is doable because the ferry leaves so early in the morning, but you may be hard-pressed to get all the way around and into Osorezan and then out again and to the nearest train station in a single day. Note that there IS a different path leading into Osorezan; it's called the Asunaro-Line and can be accessed via a road that goes inland at Ohata-cho on the eastern side - but on the map it looks like it might be only suitable for mountain bikes. There is also a rindo (forest road, generally meaning unpaved) that goes straight THROUGH the northern end of the peninsula and meets up with this same Asunaro Line going into Osorezan. This might be a nice option for mountain bikers; there is a hot springs and the autumn leaves are supposed to be lovely. Note that, this far north, autumn comes quite early! The photo above shows the rugged coast just south of Shiriya-zaki.

- Head south down the eastern coast toward Sendai and the beautiful Matsushima Bay area. This is only an option if you have several days and energy to spare. If you don't want to go that far, the Rikuchu Kaigan coast just south of Miyako is lovely (though the highways that are the only way to see it aren’t), and I can vouch for the coast around Misawa and Hachinohe - very different from any other part of Honshu, wild and flat and uninhabited, much more typical of the northern island of Hokkaido. There's also a great youth hostel, the ranch-like Kawayo Green (shown at right).

Incidentally, speaking of Hokkaido...

- Several ferries go to Hokkaido from Shimokita and environs; see "Getting Away" under Nuts & Bolts. This is Japan's true wild west, with more cows than you'll see anywhere else in the country. Several Hokkaido trips are featured on this site; a cross-Hokkaido trip is here.

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