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My Autumn motorcycle tour of Japan continues after a rest day in Fukui.
I set off under grey skies that seem at times to touch the ground. It’s not fog or rain either but rather a gloom that descends here in winter. With views obscured my eye is drawn to other things.
A small old shrine on a hill and below a roadside park with an abandoned boardwalk.
No sun keeps the temperature low and a hot coffee goes down well.
With it not actually raining I decide to follow my original route and see how it pans out.
It is a shame about the weather as I find myself in the midst of fine autumn colours.
Things are a little slippery but I am warm in my gear and in no hurry.
I am riding in light mist that has the trees laden with water giving them a glossy colour pop. Occasionally the clouds part to present me with very pretty views.
Late lunch today as I rode on until I found a dry covered picnic area and wow what a spot (below).
However I could have done with something warm. In future when touring in cold weather I must bring small thermos with hot water from hotel each morning to let me make soup or cup noodles.
Things deteriorated from here. Not heavy rain just drizzle but no point making it harder so I abandon rest of my route and arrived dry at my hotel in Fukuchiyama.
“Fog in the hollow, good day to follow” – Alberta farmers saying that James taught me on my Vietnam ride. Hope this applies in Japan as I set off next morning.
I am revisiting some of my favourite roads in the Tottori prefecture this morning and the weather has indeed turned out lovely.
I always take a look at Hayabusa train station when passing. It has been adopted by a number of Suzuki motorcycle clubs and is filling with interesting items.
Despite being further south where logically autumn arrives later the leaves have already fallen here.
However still pretty in some places, this whole hill in late orange stage.
In the afternoon I make a rookie mistake to visit Mt Daisen, a well known colour leaf spot on a Sunday. Traffic is horrible. Eventually I give up.
Still in all a very nice day to be riding a motorcycle.
I decided to post maps that show the terrain this tour. The green is mountains. Japan is all mountains.
Slightly damp morning but I think a fine day lies ahead and bam how about this colourful start.
When questioned I often say Shimane prefecture is one of my favourites for riding which draws much surprise since this is an area not famous for anything in particular.
Let me present what I like about it: Beautiful sleepy valleys.
Empty farming and mountain roads.
Small villages connected by wide sweeping empty roads. It’s a fantastic riding area.
You know you are on less travelled roads when you don’t see a vending machine for two hours.
This afternoon I enjoy a nice display of autumn colour whilst exploring new parts.
However I keep running into road closures and the detours are pushing my arrival out to the point I decide no more today and with the sun dipping by just 3.45pm make my way down the valley to the coast.
The forecast for next few days looks great but I know not to put too much faith in it so am delighted to see clear sky when I pull back the curtain in morning. More exploring in Shimane awaits.
I came out of that valley above left after meandering along one lane roads that service old villages lost in time onto this fancy bridge in the middle of nowhere. Common thing here but still amazes me coming from Australia where government is incapable of building infrastructure.
Rural scene. On the left the town old men sit around staring at the foreigner that just arrived. The vending machines and one shop that sells everything. Then set up in front of shop is a travelling knife sharpener, one of many outmoded trades that still exist here.
My eye was caught by the reflection of the blue in the water, but no clear shot.
A small temple with a large Ginko tree creates a yellow carpet.
Really intense colours just as the sun is breaking cover from clouds. Wonderful rural scenery this morning.
While I am eating lunch at the above view area the temperature plunges and heavy clouds blow over. I take it this is my cue to leave and make my way south into Yamaguchi region.
Back in sunshine I decide to try visit another of the view points on Yashiro island. This one is the highest but also the most difficult with a challenging steep overgrown track that nearly brought me undone on my fully loaded tourer.
But worth the effort.
Tonight I could only get a traditional Japanese room. You need to make your own bed with futon but wow the size is big, perhaps I should consider this style more often.
The next morning I went to see a famous Yamaguchi view spot but found the road closed. However with a little ingenuity I could use the closed road to do a nicer photo than the upper area could have offered.
From here I took a ferry across to Kyushu. On board I caught up with a little photo editing on my new PC which is part of a range of travel gear updates I will review after the trip.
The ferry drops me at the Bungotakada region of Kyushu, which geographically is tucked out of the way of passing traffic giving it a laid back feel like Shimane. I enjoy riding more of a superb route called the Orange Line today then some exploring where I find two fantastic view points that I never knew existed.
This is a view down to Beppu where I am staying tonight. Such nice weather this afternoon.
Looking down on Yufuin the next morning from a unknown view spot whilst everyone else is crowded into the one left of image. It’s going to be a great day.
Riding up Kuju mountain I am surprised to see a thick layer of frost which then extends onto the road at higher altitude. I’m very careful here to stay precisely in the wheel tracks which have swept the road clear.
Lovely view coming down the other side that is already dry in full sun.
From here I ride the Aso caldera which is stunning today.
It was closed for a few years due to activity but today I can ride over the Aso volcano.
I lunch today on Kenny Road named after Kenny Roberts who used to enjoy riding this region when he was visiting Japan as factory GP rider.
Fantastic spot to enjoy a break. What a view!
I make my way to Kumamoto region then south to Amakusa which is known as the Treasure Islands in Japan and another place I call a favourite. This far south the weather is positively warm and I turn off the grip heaters for first time since leaving Yokohama 18 days ago.
Above the Instagram shot above and below the making of, ha-ha. At the Myui observation point.
Yes you can just walk out onto that rock, no barricade, no massive warning sign, no fines. I enjoy riding here with no speed traps, highway patrols or nanny state mentality. Starting to doubt I can easily return to Australia. But I digress.
I have two nights in this amazing region. Lots I can see tomorrow but also chance to have late start and rest. I am given another 2000Y in vouchers and splurged same on a superb bottle of wine from Chile tonight and some cheese which the Japanese don’t like so is bit expensive. Cheers to you Abe San former PM for this domestic travel campaign. 乾杯.
To be continued.