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 easily found, and it even has some mountain bike tires that will fit my wheel. Before we know it we’re out the door again, happily riding towards the temples, relieved that this tire blow out happened at least in a convenient location. Within 400m there is suddenly another BANG! and again I slowly come to an halt. Fuck, this tire didn’t make it either.

We roll back to the bike shop where the mechanic apologizes profusely. He puts on another tire -for free, of course- but I’m worried now that it’s my wheel causing the defect. It has had the slightest side wobble since a few days, which may have worn out the sidewall of my old tire faster. It shouldn’t cause a near-instant blow out on a fresh tire though, so it was most likely just bad one. Still, I’m not entirely confident in my new tire either: a nameless mountainbike tire that is awful. It is so heavy! It makes a really annoying zhoof zhoof noise! But hey, at least it doesn’t explode and that’s all I really care about at this point.

By the time we are done with visiting the magnificent Toshogu temple complex it is 13:30 and we still need to have lunch. No way there is any point in starting the big climb we had initially planned for today this late, not likely to find a campsite between dozens of switchbacks. We decide to stay in town another night and suddenly we have a whole afternoon to chill out in a cute café, sipping matcha lattes like a bunch of hipsters and catching up on the internets.

We camp in a tiny park next to one of Nikko’s touristic hotspots, under the watchful eyes of over 70 buddha statues and the sound of the river. Just before we fall asleep (at 20:00, really living the wild life!) there is a procession of schoolkids walking by within 25m of our tent, all wearing the same yellow caps and headlamps. None of them care about our little tent, if they even notice it at all. This is common here, and makes us exceedingly ballsy with choosing campsites. So what if we’re camped in the middle of a touristy town? So what indeed?

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