Author Topic: Japan 2023  (Read 3811 times)

PH

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Re: Japan 2023
« Reply #15 on: October 21, 2023, 07:56:55 pm »
fantastic report and photos Ron.  What a way to celebrate retirement!

RonS

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Re: Japan 2023
« Reply #16 on: October 21, 2023, 10:46:26 pm »
  Thank you, Paul, for the kind words.  My wife asked me not long after my return if I missed the routine of going to work. Without hesitation, I answered "Not for one second."

  As promised, I’ll finally post about the trip.

  The first week saw me head east from Chitose, then northwest toward the coast when the temperatures forecast for my planned inland route were for 34 degrees with high humidity. Once at the coast it was an easy task of pointing north until I reached the end of the road. I had with me a “Touring Mapple” road atlas for motorcyclists, which shows all the things needed, such as campsites, onsen, convenience stores, etc. It made it easy to plan the stopping point for the day. I would just find a campground with a nearby onsen. Most onsen were attached to hotel complexes with restaurants, so at the end of the day I would pitch the tent, cycle or walk to the onsen for a scrub and soak, have dinner, then head back to the tent all clean and fed. I think when I take my next tour that’s not in Japan, that will be what I miss the most, the opportunity for a nightly wash and hot tub.
By the end of the week I had reached Wakkanai, the northernmost city in Japan. It would be all south from there….after a ferry ride to the west…..

Photo 1;  Arriving to the Sea of Japan coast

Photo 2: View from the free campsite in Shosambetsu. This site also had the onsen highlight of the trip, with west facing floor to ceiling windows, where I relaxed in the hot pool and watched the sun drop into the sea. No picture of that. Cameras are forbidden.

Photo 3:  View from the next campsite in Teshio. The silhouette is Rishirifuji, a small version of Mt Fuji, on Rishiri Island. I would soon be riding around its flanks.

Photo 4:  Japan has about 3.8 million vending machines, sometimes seemingly in the middle of nowhere. This one would be my only source for drinks in the 75km between Teshio and Wakkanai, as there wasn’t a single store on the whole route.
 Note the 2L bottle of tea in the holder. Before I left town I stopped at the convenience store for breakfast, and got chatting with a southbound motorcyclist.
After our chat, he went back into the store, came out with said bottle of tea, and handed it to me, saying "There's no shade and no stores to Wakkanai. Take this." These random acts of kindness would be repeated many times in the weeks ahead.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2023, 10:55:30 pm by RonS »

John Saxby

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Re: Japan 2023
« Reply #17 on: October 21, 2023, 11:04:34 pm »
Great photos. Ron.  What landscapes!

And,
Quote
the Arkel mounting system is so secure that the handlebar bag does not move at all. Ever. I think John will second my opinion.

Seconded for sure.

In 2012, I did an up-the-Rhine-and-down the Danube tour, from Nijmegen to Vienna.  I used my ti-framed Eclipse light tourer, with my Arkel h'bar bag fixed to my handlebars.  In Mainz, I went to a bike shop to attend to some derailleur problems.  I unhooked my h'bar bag, and the German woman who was the service manager looked at it and said as she stroked the fixing clips (I'm not making this up, BTW), "Ooooohhh -- what's that?  We don't have anything like that here."

On lighter tours & overnights, I use lightweight Axiom h'bars bags.  For anything longer, the heavier but more functional Arkel goes onto Freddie.

Cheers,  John

Andre Jute

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Re: Japan 2023
« Reply #18 on: October 22, 2023, 02:32:41 pm »
Views and colours to die for.

navrig

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Re: Japan 2023
« Reply #19 on: October 22, 2023, 11:10:50 pm »
Sounds and looks fantastic.  Great photos.

I'd recommend Crazyguyonabike for a blog.  I kept one over most of my 12 week tour this year.

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=3d2&doc_id=24869&v=1Y

You need a routine.  I used a tablet and a phone.

Type the text in Google docs - it's easier to edit and spell check.

On the tablet
Export your planned route from Komoot.
Copy the URL for the actual route from Strava
Create the new page on crazyguy
Upload the Komoot gpx file
Paste the Straval URL
Paste the text from Google docs

On the phone
Upload the photos

It took me about 20 - 30 minutes per day

RonS

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Re: Japan 2023
« Reply #20 on: October 24, 2023, 06:40:30 pm »
Thanks, Andy,  for the tips and link to your journal.
I could relate to the title, as Hokkaido is the dairy capital of Japan, and my quest of a daily ice cream or gelato was similar to yours.

RonS

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Re: Japan 2023
« Reply #21 on: October 24, 2023, 08:08:24 pm »
  Week two saw me going in somewhat of a circle, ending in Teshio, where I had been the day before Wakkanai.  The reason for this is, in a senior moment, I had left the pouch containing my charging cords there. I could have just replaced most of them, but, my camera is an older model without in camera charging, and the charger for it is now both expensive and hard to find.  After ascertaining that said pouch was still there, (of course it was. It’s Japan.) I plotted a course that would take me back there and then back to the original route with only about 20km of route repetition.

  But first, I was off to Rishiri Island, home to about 5000 residents, and a Michelin rated ramen restaurant! It also has a 35km car free cycling road with spectacular ocean and mountain views.  After returning to the mainland, I spent the next three days circling back to Teshio via Cape Soya, the northernmost point in Japan, Sarufutsu, and Hamatonbetsu.

Photo 1:              I took six ferries while in Japan, and each time it was carefully secured by the crew.

Photos 2 and 3:   The Rishiri Island cycle road, complete with official highway number designation.

Photo 4:              Just another traffic free Hokkaido highway. I think maybe a dozen vehicles passed me in 60km.  The arrows above the road, present on most highways in Hokkaido, are for drivers to locate the road edge in winter. Even though the northern tip of Japan is as far south as Grenoble, France, it is directly downwind from Siberia, and gets some of the heaviest snowfalls in the world.

Matt2matt2002

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Re: Japan 2023
« Reply #22 on: October 24, 2023, 08:19:19 pm »
The pictures are wonderful.
As is you description of the tour.

Re navrig's tips on Crazy Guy journal keeping; I followed a very similar method.
However after 40+ days I began to tire of the effort.
It became a job I 'had' to do at the end of every day.

Discipline is essential.

Not sure if you've seen my Thai tour journal?
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/TimetotryThai

Very much looking forward to hearing and seeing more about your trip

Matt
Never drink and drive. You may hit a bump  and spill your drink

RonS

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Re: Japan 2023
« Reply #23 on: October 25, 2023, 10:36:46 pm »
  Thanks, Matt. Yes, I have checked out your blog.

  At the end of each day, after my hot spring soak, I enjoyed returning to the tent, strapping on the headlamp (sunset comes very early in Japan, even in summer) and making my paper journal entry. Other than a short Instagram post for family and friends, I had very little screen time. My iPad actually spent almost the entire trip packed in the pannier.
 
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Discipline is essential.
 
Quote
You need a routine.

  Discipline and routine are some of the things I tend to “forget at home” when I go on cycle trips, so I suspect that I will remain blog free in the future, as far as maintaining an up to date journal

  Back to the trip!

  Week three started with an enforced rest day. Enforced by the Teshio campground manager! When I retrieved the charging cables that they had kept for me, I said I would be staying the night. “Rider house?” asked the manager. Rider houses are bare bones accommodation in Hokkaido. They’re usually just an indoor space to lay down your own bedding, great for not having to camp in bad weather. “I’ll just camp” I replied.  “You take rider house. Big rain tonight” he said. I at first thought he wanted to “upsell” me, so I asked how much the rider house was.  “¥200” was the reply. You read that right. An indoor space to lay my head for less than 2 Canadian Dollars. The tent site was ¥400. He definitely was more concerned with my well being than making a profit. “Two nights?” he asks. I reply that one night is good.  “No ride tomorrow. Big storm!” he admonishes.
And he was right indeed.  In the middle of the night I awoke to the trailer positively shuddering in the wind and the rain beating on the roof, and it continued until the late afternoon. I spent much of the time soaking in the onsen that overlooked the campsite, watching the storm through the floor to ceiling windows.

  On my rest day I also realized that I would not have time to see all of the areas in Hokkaido that I had planned, so I plotted a route that would include a train ride.  This allowed me to see the area I had skipped at the beginning of the tour because of the heat, and make it back to Sapporo in time for my next flight.

  After leaving Teshio (with charging cords!) my route took me to overnight stays at Otoineppu, Esashi, Omu, Yubetsu and Ozora. I then bagged the bike and took the train to Furano.

  I must recount my lunch experience one day, just one more example of the kindness from the Japanese people.  I stopped at the michi no eki (roadside rest area) in Omu for lunch. Most of these rest stops, and there are over 1000 of them throughout the country, have restaurants and stores attached.  I didn’t spot a restaurant at this one, however, there was a vending machine outside that appeared to dispense hot food.  Wrong.  Out popped a frozen margherita pizza.  I figured there must be a place inside to heat it up, as I saw people at tables eating hot meals, so inside I went.  Turns out there was a cafe inside, I just didn’t see it, and the vending machine food was to take home and cook. “There’s no place to heat the food” the nice cafe lady says, so I thank her and turn to head out. “Chotto” she says, loosely translated as “just wait a minute”, and she takes my pizza and goes to talk to the lady at the tourist info booth. A good 3 or 4 minutes pass with them in conversation, then she returns with another “chotto” and disappears up the stairs, where I think there are  offices. Five minutes later she reappears, sans pizza, and says it’ll be about 15 minutes, please have a seat. I realize this lady from the cafe has taken the pizza I hadn’t bought from her and spent 10 minutes finding someone to bake it for me! Then, when she brought me the perfectly cooked ‘zza, she gave me a cup of coffee to go with it!
This wasn’t the first, nor would it be the last, of these experiences.

Photo 1:   My ¥200 per night shelter from the storm, which I had all to myself.

Photo 2:   The Teshiogawaonsen train station. To catch the train from this tiny unmanned station, just push the button that sends a signal for the train to stop, otherwise it just carries on.

Photo 3:   Part of the 35km cycling road into Abashiri

Photo 4:  Gas spewing from an active volcano near Biei

RonS

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Re: Japan 2023
« Reply #24 on: October 27, 2023, 08:09:19 pm »
  Week four.  Where has the time gone? I finished my time in Hokkaido by returning to Chitose, where the adventure began, and spent the next few days packing the bike for plane travel and playing tourist in Sapporo.  I then flew to Fukuoka on Kyushu.  I spent a day in Fukuoka unsuccessfully trying to line up a bike box for my flight home  while waiting for the 2330 overnight ferry to Goto Island. I spent the next three days there, a place about as far off the beaten tourist path as you can find.

  Photo 1:  The old highway between Asahikawa, and Fukagawa, which has been converting to a bike trail.

  Photo 2:  My first “wild camping” of the trip. It was a Saturday night and the commercial campground was full, so I just rode to the next town and pitched the tent beside the michi no eki.   It wasn't really “wild “as although the restaurant and store close at 6 PM, the toilets are open 24 hours per day, and it was only two blocks to the onsen for my nightly soak.

  Photos 3 and 4:  Some of the quaint fishing villages on Goto Island.

RonS

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Re: Japan 2023
« Reply #25 on: November 13, 2023, 10:26:50 pm »
  I’ll finish off my Japan story with this post. Warning. It's a long one because there's a story at the end I feel compelled tell.

  After visiting Fukue Island, part of the Goto Island chain, I ended my cycling portion of the trip by making my way from Nagasaki to Onomichi. There, I met my daughter, who had come from Canada and rented a bike, and we spent the next few days riding the Shimanami and Tobishima Kaido cycling routes, ending in Hiroshima, where I boxed and stored the bike and panniers for my flight home.

  Now to the story from my very first day on the road, which became a recurring theme on this trip, the kindness of strangers.
  The first afternoon, I was sitting at the ice cream shop, perusing my Touring Mapple and enjoying my Matcha soft cream, deciding where to go for the evening. I did not want to go too much further as I was not yet used to the heat and humidity. From behind I heard “Excuse me.”  I turned around and there was a Japanese lady wearing a kimono. She said “My friend is having a festival in his backyard. Would you like to come?”  When she showed me where it was,  it turned out to be about 14 km back where I had come from, but it was an opportunity not to be passed up. I figured I could just come back to this town (Naganuma) in the evening as there was both a campground and onsen nearby, so I proceeded to go to the festival and spend the afternoon there, having a wonderful time.  As darkness started to fall. I bid my farewell and headed back towards Naganuma.  I was following farm roads, however, I wasn't paying attention to the map as my phone battery was almost dead. I was just checking it every now and then. Oops! I was zigging when I should've been zagging. As a result, did not get into Naganuma until after 8 o'clock expecting to have been there at seven. I decided to just have a quick bite from the convenience store and head to the campground. When I got to the campground there was a notice on the door….“Office closed 7:30.”
 By this time I was tired, hot,  and covered in sweat. I just decided to find a piece of grass to pitch my tent and deal with things in the morning. I hadn't made it more than 50 meters when seven Japanese children descended on me, all yelling at the same time! My knowledge of Japanese is limited to little more than  telling people that I cannot speak Japanese, in Japanese, which I proceeded to do. When one of the parents finally came over, I explained to her that I couldn't speak Japanese, that I was from Canada and spoke English.  “English” she says, and  calls over one of the other parents. It turns out he could speak English. When I explained my predicament he just said  “You can just camp with us!”  I thought “What a wonderful gesture”  and took him up on his offer. It turned out that there were three families camping there together using two of the cabins at the campground. After pitching my tent he said “We are on our way to the onsen, would you like to come along?”  A good cleaning and hot tub after a day in the saddle.  What’s not to like? A trip to the onsen and a free lesson in onsen etiquette.  When we returned to the campground they put the children to bed and said ”It's time for us to eat now.”   And out came the yakitori (Japanese version of shish kebab), sashimi (raw fish), freshly made tofu, sake…..you get the idea. We spent until midnight, talking and eating wonderful food and drink until the jet lag caught up to me and I finally had to sleep.  In the morning they fed me breakfast and sent me on my way, with gifts. Talk about an introduction to Japanese culture and the kind Japanese people.

Photo 1:   Sunset on the causeway leaving the Kumamoto ferry.

Photo 2:  The 4.1km Kurushima Kaikyo bridge at the end of the Shiminami Kaido cycling route.

Photo 3:  The “floating” torii gate at Itsukushima Shrine near Hiroshima.

Photo 4:  The Kintaikyo bridge, also near Hiroshima.

That’s it!  I hope you enjoyed it.

I already have hatched a plan for a tour next May, but that’s for another post…..

Andre Jute

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Re: Japan 2023
« Reply #26 on: November 14, 2023, 07:57:06 am »
Thank you for sharing, Ron. It was almost like riding along with you, seeing your photographs and reading your description of your tour. I can hardly wait for your next tour.

John Saxby

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Re: Japan 2023
« Reply #27 on: November 14, 2023, 06:41:07 pm »
Brilliant, Ron!  The kindness of strangers, indeed.  Long may it last  :)