Japan

Day 68: Why not camp in the middle of Osaka?

After cuddling cats in Onomichi we take another shinkansen back to Osaka, Japan’s second largest city with over 2,5 milion inhabitans. We arrive early in the evening, around dinnertime, by the time we have navigated out of the (HUGE, ENOURMOUS) train station and assebled our bikes we are starving. It takes a while to find the right restaurant and by the time we’re fed we figure we might as well go have a beer because…

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Japan

Day 64-67: Island Hopping

The Seto Sea is Japan’s inland sea and it is dotted with small islands. Over the next three days we will cycle from island to island, connected via elaborate bridges or sometimes a ferry. We start in Etajima, just south of Hiroshima. There are several cycling routes but the one we had our eyes on is, of course, closed, so we’re taking the one that goes straight over the hills in the middle of the…

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Japan

Hello Kitty Express to Hiroshima

Only in Japan: taking a Hello Kitty-themed bullet train (shinkansen) where one carriage is entirely pink and the restaurant car has a life-sized Kitty for photo opportunities. We take this train from Kyoto to Hiroshima to skip some of Japan’s most build-up areas where riding is less fun. We skip to the West. From Hiroshima, we’ll slowly island-hop and cycle Eastwards again towards, eventually, Tokyo. After the usual packing up the bike, hauling it through…

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Japan

Day 56-63: The Old Japan

Sidewalks in Japan are ridiculous. They are everywhere, even along stretches of highway, and everyone cycles on them (even though technically you are supposed to cycle on the road I think) so that is good. They provide you with a nice refuge from busy traffic. Also good. But sometimes they also end abruptly, leaving you stranded on the wrong side of the road with no way to continue. Or they’re full of plants. Or they…

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Japan

Are We Ever Going to Get Out of These Mountains?!

After our successful summit of Norikura pass (twice!) but our failed attempt at, you know, actually passing it, we were resolved to try again the next morning. We carefully counted our food options. Our ‘base camp’ was miles away from any supermarket, but with our emergency noodles and curry we would have enough food to see us through another attempt. The next morning, again, we woke up with frost on the tent and blue skies…

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Japan

Cycling the Highest Road in Japan: Norikura Pass

Planning a cycling trip is hard: you already know that almost nothing will go according to plan, and there are many uncertainties (earthquakes, typhoons, closed roads, technical failure…we’ve had all of it). But already before we started there was one big fat question mark hanging over the trip: will we be able to cycle Norikura Pass? Norikura Skyline Norikura Pass is Japan’s highest (paved) road with the saddle at 2716m, much higher than either of…

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Japan

Day 46-51: Through the Alps

Day 46: Sad Spaghetti We finally manage to leave Nikko. Although it was nice to have a day there, it just feels like we haven’t really been moving much the last few days. Not to worry though, we’re about to enter the Northern Alps and there will be plenty of challenging climbs, starting today! Out of Nikko we head straight towards a series of switchbacks going up to Lake Chuzenji, from where we will summit…

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Japan

Day 45: Unexpected extra rest day in Nikko

We have a small to-do list for today: find a post office to send home a package with souvenirs, find breakfast, look at some temples and, most important, find a bike shop because the emergency repair on my tire is not going to get us far. It is literally held together with duct tape. Breakfast and post office are no problem, post offices and konbinis are in nearly every town. A bike shop is also…

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Japan

Day 43-44: Onsen heaven + bike issues

We try to stretch our budget as much as we can, but some things just have to be experienced (and thus paid for) when touristing in another country. For Japan that would be enjoying a Ryokan, a traditional accomodation with meals and usually hot springs included. If we’re gonna splurge we want to do it right, so we found one of the most remote ryokan in Japan that we happened to be someehat nearby. To…

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