Imari to Nagasaki – 31 March

If you don’t trust me; trust Komoot!!

A lovely stay at Ne doco? A great Guesthouse and host Mysa.

A very chilly start today max 11°C and it was 9°C and a very cold wind. I am thankful for my new Uniqlo rain jacket – it did a great job to stop the wind.

Komoot synced to my Garmin 820 has been a god send – getting on our way through the towns and our destination. I am a big fan!!

Stops at 7/11; Lawsons and Family Mart are great for a snack lunch and the cleanest of toilets and free wifi.

On the road through the town of Imari viewing the hills; farming and light industry. John got a flat – glass … easily fixed and off we go. Hills were prevalent but manageable. Traffic full of Sunday drivers out and about enjoying the many visas of cherry blossoms with their picnics.

At times traffic wardens were at the ready directing traffic in popular viewing areas and parks.

We stopped at Saikaibashi Park along with many others for a pic or two.

We hugged the coast with amazing views of the nearby islands and mainland as we swept past inlets and fishing villages.

The hills are terraced and heading towards Nagasaki we cycle through orange groves and large green houses growing strawberries.

Not all the locals were picnicking – we saw a couple of baseball and softball games being played.

There were too many amazing pics today. I just love the houses with the gloss roof tiles and trees manicured to mimic bonsai.

It was a great day – the temperature stayed around 9-11°C.

Still very cold outside our ramen noodles hit and warmed the spot for our dinner.


Karatsu to Imari – 30 March

No no – you can’t go out to a restaurant – you can’t leave until you check out 🤷‍♀️

A lovely ride today – do we go the direct short way (30km) or around the coastline … coastline got the thumbs up despite a 30% chance of rain.

We had a good night’s sleep … John was happy in a proper bed with mattress. However, he had booked us into a ‘Love Hotel’ I don’t know who got the biggest shock – us or the ladies showing us the room. They were laughing at how many bags we had … then we asked where a restaurant was … haha they said you can’t leave here until you check out in the morning … ummm they had food we could to order in the room.

For us the room was 2 levels and we couldn’t go up the stairs they said … we had to go via the circular/rotating bed … haha. Mirrors adorned the walls and ceiling, the decor was lavish, a bath big enough for 2+. Everything provided that can be imagined for 2 people while awake in bed, or rented on request.

Oh well that was a little more Japanese culture – google ‘Love Hotels Youtube’ a lot of Japanese live with the family and the walls are very thin – it apparently is common to spend a night for privacy in a ‘Love Hotel’ sadly John has booked 2 more nights in one (before we knew what they are) … haha.

Back to our ride today … leaving Karatsu and heading to the coastal road Route 204 – spectacular scenery of the coast and nearby islands. The cherry blossoms are just part of the landscape now all in full bloom.

Lovely little fishing villages are prevalent, we have a few climbs – well worth it for the views.

We veer from the coast for a while and do a bit of climbing – farming land with green houses and plastic covered ploughed rows with what looks like lettuce or something similar sprouting up, onions are a popular crop. A lot of the hills are terraced and ploughed ready for crop planting.

After the climbing we head back to the coast – pass the bridge to Fukushima and hug the coast to Imari. Our accommodation is a traditional guesthouse – thin mattresses on the floor – John is very thankful for the normal pillow not rice.

A nice restaurant for dinner recommended by our host washed down with a beer. It was 4.2km of which we rode and thankful for our lights as it was dark on our return. Also thankful for our puffer jackets as it gets quite cold in the late afternoon/evening.

We did not get any rain today … yay!!

Fukuoka – Karatsu – 29 March

Lovely acts of kindness today

Off to a rocky start – nice breakfast at Veloce – western style cafe – bacon/egg bun and good coffee. Komoot at the ready but somehow we were heading east not west. I think I added a pin on the map or something … oh well … overhead in front of us a huge highway … oops underneath a cycleway then a deadend. Stopping to ask 3 young teens … one said he would run and we follow to get on track …he said he likes to run. 3km later we are directed on track – Komoot is happy = we are happy. The young teen hasn’t broken a sweet. We had done a circuit of the harbour.

Still quite busy as we leave Fukuoka we pass high rise apartments and office buildings then out in the suburbs. Cherry Blossom trees adorn the streetscapes. Hey a bike shop a quick stop to check we are going in the right direction … John has a nature break and the shop owner proceeds to inflate our tyres and a photo of us – lovely man.

We are hugging the coastline – clarity is good and many islands to see. Rocky outcrops and very large sandy beaches is our vista today. At times we go inland through agriculture areas … I smell onions. A small field of canola … I see tourists with cameras in the field as we pass by.

We stop by the beach to see croquet being played and a lone road cyclist stopped for a chat. Turned out he was headed in the same direction .. follow me, he said the rest is history – we said we can do up to 25km/hr and he sat in front all the way to Karatsu. We enjoyed a coffee with him – more culture – learning to operate the coffee machine at a 7-11 store. Before Karatsu we rode through a very old pine forest – very shady as the trees all met above the road.

We parted with our cyclist, Suzuki, after 40km.

Karatsu Castle was worth the visit with panoramic views, again adorned with cherry blossoms at full bloom.

28 March – Fukuoka

Another bloomin’ day in Fukuoka

John didn’t think he would be in Japan on his 65th birthday I’ll bet.

Another fine day – no better than a leisurely bike ride. I am so proud that I mapped a route on Komoot, successfully synced it to my Garmin and followed the route to Nishi Park. Better still I think John was impressed and felt a little less anxious about the days ahead – he was quietly worried about my mapping skills. Ahha … I said perhaps you can learn how to do it … an old dog new tricks … ummm.

Nishi Park is another focal point for cherry blossoms on a hill overlooking the harbour.

What a difference a day makes, the trees were in full bloom and breathtaking – the park was popular with locals picnicking.

A nice lunch at a cafe along the way … not noodles … we pick from the picture on the menu – very nice and a cost of approx A$15.

A ride to Maizuru Park – the most popular bloom spotting by far … lots of food outlets – I mean 100+ and people everywhere and picnickers. Most trees were full bloom or a day away … people including me snapping away with mobiles and cameras for that perfect shot.

A lot of admin was done today; booking accommodation to get us to Nagasaki; mapping out the routes to avoid too many big climbs.

We stumbled across a great restaurant for dinner on our way back to Maizuru Park. John had a grilled curry and I had octopus and mushrooms in garlic.

Onto the park to see the blooms by night – 100’s of trees lit up with changing colours – food outlets doing a great trade.

Tomorrow we leave to Karatsu – I feel there is no wifi in the hotel so the blog may not go out.

Fukuoka – 27 March

Oodles of noodles …

The thin mattresses and rice pillows proved comfortable. I just love the kimono to lounge around in.

We had a city bike tour booked today. The morning was spent with Mayumi from Travelinsight Japan on a city bike ride. We visited many interesting places; Shrines and temples – the largest sitting wooden Buddha in Japan … very impressive. More culture, how to enter these places correctly.

A short stop at a local confectionery shop for some homemade dessert and tea. Very nice.

More cherry blossoms however a few days from full bloom, the tourists are out and about taking pics among the trees. It is common to see picnickers under the trees with a bottle of Sake – something of a tradition from long ago.

Lovely fine day, fog/haze stopped the opportunity for great views of the nearby islands. We rode along the seaside and the fishing boat harbour and a lunch stop at a very local Ramen outlet, lovely experience and great ramen.

It was a bike great tour thanks to our knowledgeable guide Mayumi.

Further walking around our surrounds and discovering even more shopping centres.

Dinner at a restaurant that makes their own soba noodles. When you’re on a good thing ….

Fukuoka, Japan – 25/26 March 2019

The day has arrived for a very new adventure – Japan. This is totally out of my comfort zone – language, culture and hills. I think I can handle the food without hesitation.

We hugged the Western Australian coast up to Exmouth in the first leg – enroute to Bangkok. A lovely sunny day with spectacular views of the coastline despite the slow moving category 4 Cyclone Veronica causing all manner of damage through flooding and high winds in Port Hedland and surrounds.

A short 2hr stop in Bangkok then onto Fukuoka. Waiting for our departure – John said, ‘spot the blonde’ haha … then a group of young girls appeared – they were English speaking and a few blondes … it turned out they were from Melbourne.

Arriving in Fukuoka 7:30am through immigration/customs/assembled bikes on the road at 9:15am. My cycling app Komoot was very effective and syncing it to my new garmin worked successfully … yay.

Culture to the max today – too much info – I used the bidet at the airport. The toilets are warm – I didn’t press the 🎶 button though – I’m sure there will be another opportunity in the weeks ahead.

Our accommodation is a Ryokan – a traditional Japanese style inn – 3pm arrival means 3pm!! We arrived early and grateful to leave our bikes and panniers there while we did a reci of our surroundings. I think John is a winner with Japanese food. A food court under a shopping centre – chicken katsu hit the spot just pay extra to microwave and miso soup included all for ¥500 – $7 enough to share.

Cherry Blossoms are a couple of days away from full bloom but still looking lovely in the parks.

Back at our digs – I can’t wait to rest my head on the rice pillow and thin mattress. At the front door of the establishment shoes are removed and slippers put on … they will do my head in … I can see myself tripping up the stairs. There are separate slippers for the toilet – one has to do a quick shuffle when going to the loo between slippers.

John was worried that someone would steal his age-old runners … not likely I say … however, I wonder if I could pay someone to take them.

There are many covered shopping areas close by so a quick beef/pork curry and another dish with salad and miso … I’m loving miso.

The traditional bath – after walking our feet off today there is nothing quite like a soak in a hot tub. Our Ryokan is equipped with an onsen … a communal bath … separate for men and women … there is quite a process and I am thankful that I researched this before coming here. One must wash completely in low showers sitting on a stool and rinse off before entering the hot tub. Quite a liberating experience.