We lodged at the Routein Hotel Natori (ルートインホテル名取) yesterday, a mere two stations distant from the Sendai International Airport (仙台国際空港) terminal. The vicinity surrounding the airport lacked accommodations, yet the presence of a well-connected train line allows travelers arriving or departing from the airport swift and easy access to the bustling area near Natori Station (名取駅).
Dominating the scene was an expansive Aeon shopping complex directly facing the hotel. While Aeon shopping malls are now a ubiquitous sight across Japan, this particular one stood out as the largest and most impressive I have ever seen.
Following our dinner and an extended indulgence in the hotel’s onsen, my feet remained notably sore from the extensive stroll along sun-drenched concrete roads. As is often the case with business hotels in Japan, a flyer advertising massage services was placed on our room’s desk. Its allure proved irresistible, and so I contacted the front desk to inquire about the availability of a masseur.
Remarkably, the masseur arrived at our door within a mere ten minutes. As I indulged in a foot massage on the right side of the double-sized bed in our own room, Erik reclined on the left side of the bed, engrossed in his IT-related tasks. I asked the masseur about the rapidity of his arrival, to which he revealed that he had stationed himself in his car nearby, anticipating potential calls from various hotels in the vicinity.
“There are many business hotels here, so I usually stay in the area during the nighttime hours to be ready for whenever I get a call.”
This morning, I was so surprised to see the entire sky was white. It was not just cloudy but was white, with thick fogs. “What is this sky?” It was a complete change from the sunny blue sky yesterday.
We felt even a bit chilly, which was not that bad thing though, since we knew today’s MCT route was going to be again walking along the coastal line through the super open area all day.
The hotel offers a free shuttle bus to the airport for their guests. So we decided to take advantage of it, instead of taking train back to the airport. Saving time, money and a bit of energy for another long walk awaiting for us.
Inside of the airport, we dropped by a convenience store where we got breakfast and snacks for today and nice clean bathrooms to got ready for walk. This area seemed to really try to promote traveling by bike. We had seen bike roads and bike racks while we were walking, and now there were even coin lockers to store travel bike bags and boxes in the airport.
Well, in fact, today’s MCT route was also walking on a long long bike road.
We started walking through the moor again but pretty soon several new greenhouses in which leafy veggies were grown came in sight. Then, we proceeded by huge waterless rice paddies, that is, a wide open plowed muds field.
I was seriously running out of my stock of how to describe/express about this continuous walking through the middle of nothing but just flat places. My capability of finding the positive side of it was endangered too.
Of course it may be different if what we saw was the sea of fresh green rice swaying in early summer breeze or the golden carpets in fall. But then, the sunlights and heat would be much more terrible. Very difficult tradeoff.
After approximately two hours walking, we crossed a small bridge (広浦貞山橋) from which the building of MCT Natori trail center (みちのく潮風トレイル名取トレイルセンター) was in our sight over there.
Unfortunately, it was Tuesday and we already knew the center usually closes every Tuesday.
Aside from their regular operation schedule, I had received a special newsletter from them regarding the temporarily close from the 31st of March to April 11, due to the prefecture’s independent declaration of state of emergency on COVID. Double punch.
So we had no chance to come back here to visit while we were still around.
Probably, after we complete thru-hike, on the way back to home…hopefully, we could come back.
Even through we were not able to enter inside, we strolled around to see its lawn garden which looked a nice camping ground, and the building. Then, we found there was some flat buildings right next to the trail center area (ゆりあげ港朝市/メイプル館).
One of them had a fresh market and a small food court.
Through all foods and drinks looked really good, we picked one of the food venders, a coffee shop. I got a good coffee which was freshly hand-brewed right in front of us. Erik got his favorites, a cream pudding and a bottle of coke.
We took a table at the outdoor deck seating area and enjoyed a long break. At the corner of the fresh market, some photo panels were displayed, showing this empty quiet area around here used to have a lot of houses before the Tunami.
The MCT route was then running through a new residential area built much more inland, further away from the coastal line. Many apartment complex buildings were connected each other with passageways at higher floor and had direct spiral slopes from the1st floor to the rooftops.
Just before crossing Yuriage Ōhashi bridge (閖上大橋) very busy with traffic over Natori river (名取川), the MCT route literally cut through a shopping center with a big grocery store, a drugstore and even a 100 yen shop. This should be the best place to get foods and other stuff before entering the following really long distance bike road that has absolutely no shops alongside.
While crossing the bridge, we seemed to step over the city border line again and entered Sendai city (仙台市), the prefectural capital of Miyagi and the biggest city in Tohoku region.
But, we even didn’t realize it, since 1) we didn’t notice the border sign and 2) all we saw was still same huge open flat land.
We kept walking along the north shore of the river to the ocean for a while. When the trail hit the river mouth, the river bank road turned a bike/walk-only road, Sendai-Watari Bicycle Path (仙台亘理自転車道) running along a long canal parallel to the ocean coastal line.
I assumed this bike road used to run through never-ending pine tree forests spreading wide and long for wind production purpose.
We passed a lonely pine tree standing alone by the canal.
We also passed a newly rebuilt shrine.
Both side of the bike road are now either wild glass fields or leveled compartmental grounds where thousands of young short pine trees were planned for regrowing new forests.
The bike road was straight. Like, really straight.
And asphalt paved, of course
Occasionally, the road passed by those familiar man-made hills for emergency evacuation. Some of them have picnic parks, not this side of the slope but the other side closer to main driveways. If you don’t mind walk over the hills, these picnic parks usually have bathrooms and vending machines in case you need them.
We also passed some Tunami remains kept in their original sight.
A half destroyed bridge, an elementary school which was a bit too far for us to see the exact conditions inside the building, and a small area in which we could see only bases of buildings (or houses) and tunami scars on the ground.
But even with these “things to see,” we reached the new level of boredom today during walking along this bike road. Adding to it, even harder pains than yesterday in my feet.
During the later part of the ten kilometers just walking super straight line without anything particularly interesting around, we were exercising our best zen mind and patience. When finally the shadow of some factories were appearing in our sight on both side of the road, I even felt happy to see them.
They were at least indications that this all day boring walk was ending soon.
Exited from the bike road, we crossed another river (Nanakitagawa river 七北田川) and another busy bridge (Takasago bridge 高砂橋).
Over the bridge, it was very busy industrial area around Sendai sea port with a lot of big warehouses. We walked for the last bit of today’s route along the multi-lane driveway while endless lines of cargo tracks passed us.
Today’s estimated distance was supposed to be only 22km on the map. Turned out, we ended up to walk 26km. I don’t know how that happened since we didn’t really step away from the route today.
Longer distance and what is worse, completely all on asphalt.
My feet and hip joints were screaming in agony.
At last, we arrived the business hotel for tonight.
This hotel was our first “supply point” of MCT thru-hike. Just before we left home, we sent out two boxes from a nearby convenience store to this hotel. (Yes, for that reason, we had booked all accommodations until here before we left home.)
In these boxes (One for mine and another for Erik,) we put our camping gear and a few extra stuff that we were not sure if we need them or not for MCT thru-hike.
The boxes were waiting for us and handed to us at check-in. Everything inside were fine but the cardboard boxes already had a few small holes and scratches. As we didn’t think they would survive one more delivery, we went to a big home improvement store right next-door to get new and sturdier boxes. We found a white thicker cardboard boxes for storing paper documents for long term. These white boxes survived through the repeats of open, close, hand-out, send-out, and delivery and stayed almost intact for 50days of our MCT thru-hike.
After 5 days of walking, we already found a few goods in our backpacks were not necessary. We put them in the boxes to omit even a tiny bit of weight from our shoulders and backs. Also we didn’t need to pull out any camping gear from the box yet.
After re-organizing our gear, we closed the box and sent them out from the hotel in the next morning to the next supply point.
This business hotel’s onsen had a massage room. Two days in a row, I took a 80 minutes body and feet massage and so did Erik.
Our MCT Thru-hike : from late March to mid-May, 2021
|Start||Sendai Int. Airport||Finish||Sendai port|
|Total Elevation Gain/Loss||14m/ 15m||Highest/Lowest Altitude||4m / 1m|
Dormy Inn Express Sendai Seaside ドーミーインExpress仙台シーサイド
- The first and most reliable source of information is the MCT official website
- Do a daily check for updates on detours, route changes, and other heads-ups about the route
- Get the MCT Official hiking map books
- Download GPS data provided by MCT
- MCT hiking challenger/alumni registration