Warren
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Tsushima at it’s furthest point from Japan is less than 50km from South Korea.

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History or war buffs might recognise the name as where a famous naval battle took part in 1905 during the Russo-Japanese war. It was the first using the then new wireless telegraph technology and histories only decisive battle in modern steel ships.

Here is the actual ship the Japanese admiral sailed in, the Mikasa which is preserved in Yokosuka a town close to where I live.

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This trip originally was to South Korea. However because that involved exporting my bike from Japan to another country I ran into paperwork issues.

After switching plans to visit Tsushima the day before I am due to leave a typhoon is announced so I cancel again. Eventually I set off. 

Day One. Kanagawa to Aichi prefecture

Rather than a long ride all day across the expressway to the west coast I broke it up into two days with a simple first day to Aichi prefecture looking for the colours of autumn.

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Although starting to disappear it is full service at many gas stations here still. These roof hanging pumps are common in city areas. Paint still looks shiny despite just getting washed twice a year and living under a plastic cover.

Weather is that low clouds and grey skies that affects Japan quite often. The highway parking areas in Japan are great, besides all the services you can find gems like a Kushitani riders stall.

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I ride some nice roads to Gifu area but the leaves have not changed colour much here. I am about a week early it seems.

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The sun appeared briefly for 30 minutes then it clouded over again. Never mind the roads were great fun.

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Day two. Aichi to Kyoto prefecture

Woke up to rain and 11 degrees despite the forecast being optimistic yesterday. I see an alert that there is another typhoon coming. Number 22 for this year. Japan has some amazing riding – but it rains so much.

Glad to be riding the FJR1300 today. Cold and damp. Riding the armchair today with its decent fairing and electric screen raised I was shielded from much of the rain and wind.

I visit an avenue of trees I saw featured on the net for turning orange in autumn but they are still green. I have a new gadget this trip. A Ricoh Theta I picked up 2nd hand from Amazon.

With time to spare I stop for a coffee and try do the math’s on retreating from the typhoon back north. The ferry to Tsushima will not sail in a typhoon and I don’t want to be on the road in one.

Feeling a bit down so I decided to open my wine I had packed for Tsushima tonight and the location is a good one for doing that – a Japanese ‘love hotel’.

Basically I was unable to find anything else last minute so grabbed a room in a love hotel. But turns out to be fabulous value for about $40. It is huge size room for Japan with spa bath and big bed.
Take a look.

After some fine red wine from Chile tonight I boldly say to hell with you typhoon no.22 and decide to ride on tomorrow and maybe spend a day holed up somewhere when it arrives.

Day 3. Kyoto to Shimane prefecture

Breakfast delivered to my door, I’ll have to consider these love hotels more often, undercover parking so the bike is dry in morning. Guess if you are prudish type this sort of place won’t appeal but I have no qualms whatsoever about staying here.

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I did not get around to making a firm plan for the typhoon coming, enjoying the wine too much, but I’m sure something will come to me. Some pleasant country roads to begin.

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Then some of my favourites in Tottori. Route 29.

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I stopped for a nature break when slowing for a rail crossing then by chance got to enjoy something lovely.
A small rural train station, the photos inside the wooden waiting room were from a old movie made there. (pan up in the 360 image below to see the old photos near ceiling)

Just as I walked outside to the platform I was in time to see a single carriage train arrive decked out in Hayabusa livery.

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For some reason this small experience lifted my spirits considerably.

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Some excellent riding this afternoon through scenic valleys with small villages by passed and forgotten.

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I took a random side trip seeing some sign about a highlands, turned out to be ski park but along the way was this hot spring foot bath just on side of road in middle of nowhere. Only in Japan.

Then expressway to west coast. The expressways are elevated giving a terrific view of the country side but with no place to stop. I did anyway for a quick photo

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I arrive as the sun dips low. Izumo is another rust belt town. Japan is corroding away, in more ways than one.

People who have never been to Japan continue to tell me how it is so expensive. That was back when Miami Vice was on tv, 30 years ago. Not that anyone believes me. Espresso coffees now at all the convenience stores about $1.50 , 1/3rd Australian prices and as I have posted before family restaurants offer many meals from around $6. 

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Day 4. Shimane to Yamaguchi prefecture

Some easy riding through the countryside of Shimane prefecture this morning. Something about this region makes me always enjoy visiting here.

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Sorry but I was enjoying things so much I did not stop to take many photos, fantastic low traffic country roads like below.

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Almost skipped my morning coffee hit.

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I took the expressway next to cross the central ranges that lie between Masuda and Hiroshima. Well more precisely I went under them in a series of very long tunnels.

Enjoyed to see first real sign of autumn with two gingko trees however this was high up and as I descended to route 186 known for it’s autumn colour I again had arrived a little early. But still a great ride.

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I brought forward some of tomorrows ride plan to visit a few lookout points as the weather was fine.

This is a view of some of the inland sea I visited before. Haze is higher than I can filter out in software from the farmers burning off after rice harvest. The rice farmers of Japan have considerable political power so despite it being illegal to burn off they all ignore and nobody does anything.

Next I rode on to Yashiro island, or that is what google calls it but it may be Suo-Oshima.

The road up to the first viewpoint was just an overgrown track, but fortunately it had been sealed originally so was still manageable on the FJR.

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I decided to spend the rest of my spare time today sitting up here soaking it up as I had the place all to myself. Very peaceful.

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Day 5. Yamaguchi prefecture

Just holed up today in hotel as it rains outside. I slept in then wrote this report. Did my washing, worked on new routes back through Shimane and Tottori. Cancelled and booked new hotels.

If you visit Japan then try some of the ramen you make yourself. I was going to say instant but these are far from that, you need to follow a few steps with them, but the results can be amazing, nothing like instant noodles in the west.

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I shall end part one here. Tomorrow I brave the typhoon to get to Fukuoka then I hope on to Tsushima!

PART TWO

9 Comments

  1. Wow, you threw a few new tricks in there. I like the route following video and the others you posted as well.

    When the sun shines you really do have stunning views. I can see why you love to ride there (typhoons aside)

  2. Excellent post Warren. Are you working for the Japan tourism board because you sure are doing a fantastic job promoting Japan.

    I liked the 360 deg views, where is you bike in the first one?
    Nice videos too, wouldn't want to drop the FJR on that narrow little road, it'd be a hell of a job picking it up again and probably nobody on that road for days if you needed assistance.

    Love hotel eh, I guess it's lonely riding Japan on your own!

    • Hi Steve, I wish I had a job with them haha.

      My bike is just down the road a bit in the first 360 photo. You should be able to zoom and see it but the Ricoh hosted image won't embed in Google sites as of writing so testing a few 3rd party image hosting sites that have limited functions.

      That road got worse actually I am filming the better part since I am riding one handed holding the camera.

      I do sometimes wish to be riding with someone but then it is like a big adventure by oneself even if I miss out on things I cannot read on the way 🙂

  3. Great write up and pictures Warren! You certainly make riding in Japan look easy and attractive. Have you picked up much of the lingo in your time there or can any banana-bender get by?
    Those photos with the Ricoh are amazing. Is it simple to operate?
    Anyway, I am looking forward to the next installment!
    Cheers
    Dave

    • Hi Dave,

      I have struggled to learn the language and reached a point where I have given up. If I stay I will have to stop all this riding and focus on that but for now I stumble along with a few words. Sometimes I regret when someone wants to talk to me but those times are rare and most Japanese go to great lengths to avoid interaction with foreigners.

      The Ricoh is very easy. One button operation but it works best on a small tripod via smartphone.

    • I should clarify my statement above, Japanese people are not unfriendly, rather it is a matter of awkwardness, for want of a better description, that means it is easier to avoid interaction with foreigners.

  4. Looks great mate. another excellent trip report

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