You’re going to Japan? … it has lots of hills!
This is my last blog post for Japan. Yesterday was filled with packing the bikes and our luggage to scrape into the 30kg limit.
The town turned it on with the Shrine Festival … a procession of colourful floats that paraded through the streets … drums, flutes, tradional dancing on the floats … it went on all day with 1000’s of people involved.
The evening was spent with 4 other cyclists we had met along the way on the road and through the Japan Cycling Navigator FB site – we all happened to be in Sapporo together an opportunity to talk about our travels and experiences, what a great night.
Sue: I’d like to go away for 3 months and as it will be my 60th … push the boundaries and do something we haven’t done before … Japan??
- Steven Herrick’s travel books – ‘Bento, Bicycles and Bathhouses‘ and ‘Kimchi and Kimonos’
- Japan Cycling Navigator FB and website and Hokkaidowilds.org.
- My son who has wanted us to travel to Japan for some years.
We cycled 4591kms … the hills were not at all that bad; the most climbing in a day was 945m. Tunnels are very scary and some without cycle paths. The longest tunnel was over 5km. One day we went through 21 tunnels; the hills, farm land, coastline, lakes and forest all amazing – I never tired of rice paddies – I prefer the country to the big cities.
We caught short ferries between islands and one 19hr overnighter from Oarai to Tomakomai to fast track to Hokkaido – no train travel as its too difficult with bikes on trains in Japan.
Couldn’t do it without Komoot (a mapping device) and syncing it with my Garmin made life so much easier it enabled me to map to the doorstep of our accommodation.
Accommodation was generally easy to find however at times we sought assistance from the tourist office. Golden Week was the worst … escalated prices beyond belief. We stayed at hotels, ryokan’s (traditional Japanese rooms with futon beds and straw matting floors – that straw smell will remain in my nostrils for quite some time), a few Love Hotels the first will remain in my memory – round bed which rotated 360° and lifted to another floor level adorned with mirror panels. (I’m not sure who got the most laugh … probably the two ladies who showed us the room and had to explain the bed controls), Guesthouses, Youth Hostels.
The bikes were very reliable – this is their 4th overseas trip, John had 2 punctures within the first few days then was puncture free; I had none. I had a complete set of brake pads changed once.
I loved – the onsens; Japenese people were so helpful; ability to park your bike outside fully loaded and it will be there untouched when you return hours later locked or not; convenience stores good for a snack, coffee and free wifi and extremely clean toilets; toilets were available everywhere; supermarkets – they had a sitting area with a microwave oven to heat up any purchases and eat there; security – you don’t have to watch your valuables like a hawk … nobody will touch them or steal your wallet from your back pocket; hotels have a microwave oven and coin laundry at very reasonable prices. Food was good and fresh … I still like rice and noodles, water drinkable from the tap, bakeries in rail stations and supermarkets were amazing.
Love that the Japanese have kept their traditional even if it does my head in – constantly changing slippers; when you enter a place (some restaurants, accommodations or shops); go to toilet; go outside – all different slippers – walking upstairs is very tricky.
The cycling network on facebook was extremely helpful with routes, general advice and friendships.
The weather – perfect, only one day we were held back due to rain a few days were spent riding to a hotel in the rain otherwise perfect.
12 weeks … done and dusted with some fabulous memories, friends, stories to tell. A great country to explore on 2 wheels.