Warren
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I ride to the top of Honshu in the first stage of my big Autumn tour but find it a little late in the year to be in the north so decided to retreat south then try to return to my original route in a few days time.

Nice day but it’s 4 degrees this morning. Last look across at where I was planning to go as I turn my wheels south to try warm up.

I strung together a new route last night. Many farm roads feature this morning, but I don’t ride to carve corners so much now as I do to explore.

Entering the Hakkoda mountains the curves are again plentiful, even the snow sheds are twisty.

Quite colourful here and I am hoping I can see lake Towada orange today.

Routing via the lake and Oirase Gorge I forgot it is one of the more famous leaf viewing places in Japan and despite the peak time having passed there is literally 100’s of people and heavy traffic.

I beat a path out of there as fast as is possible on the damp slippery roads.

I revisit some no name forestry roads I found last time this region but with all the fallen leaf and pine needles on the road it was bit slow going.

Riding on wet fallen leaves is not difficult but demands all your focus. Glad to return to roads where I can enjoy the view.

Do you see the fish

Nice colour at this roadside park and I had it all to myself. I guess I am a loner at heart, but I’m happy with that so this isn’t a negative.

Next day is very cold, the sun blocked by clouds. I am riding more farm roads which I quite enjoy but it is hovering around 6 degrees and I am looking for a vending machine and a hot coffee.

A ray of sun briefly illuminated this hill and I noticed what appears to be a castle sitting up high. However low clouds returned and it stayed cold and grey all afternoon. Not a camera friendly day.

Next day is 8 degrees but I am warm with my very best thermal base layer on. I decide to detour and visit a secret view spot that was on my original ride plan.

I am shooting in grey light using exposure bracketing and stacking seven images in HDR Projects to try reveal some of the colours that grey light dulls. With sunlight this would have been a beautiful vista, those hills are full of yellow leaves but only so much I can do today.

It’s really beautiful colour everywhere today in the Bandai Asahi national park but again hard for me to capture.

Above is just a single image from phone not boosted by me but the rain does some magic to late autumn leaves. It turns otherwise dry and matt looking dark orange leaves that are falling from trees to glossy wet orange.

It is steady rain now but seeing this mountain with trees mostly in late autumn stage is worth the effort.

The view down the valley is totally orange. Its amazing actually however only so much I can do in rain with this grey light.

As beautiful as it is I’ve had enough of the wet and abandon my route now to go to my hotel.

I mentioned in part one part the domestic travel campaign includes 1000Y every night so with a two night stay I decide to get a very good bottle of Primitivo from Puglia. A nice thing in Japan is the variety of wine from all over the world rather than just domestic product flooding shelves like my home country. Helps that there is a very low tax applied also.

Next morning the weather radar says the rain is moving away so I try visit some of yesterdays route I skipped.

I really want to get to a particular view point and consider riding around the cones but a short walk reveals that is not wise. Least not on a heavy tourer.

Instead I set off and do a lap of Lake Inawashiro where I enjoy some colourful landscapes.

This is another view point I wanted to explore. There is a small hike to reach it but there is fierce crosswinds which are ice cold. I retreat back to the calm and decide that is enough for today, lets relax this afternoon.

The rain returned and next day things look not too good. The white/blue dot is me.

You see the blue shade, that is snow and where my route in high mountains goes in a south west arc through Gunma prefecture i.e. right through where it is snowing.

I wait then ride west on the expressway in that gap.

I am very lucky indeed. I get to west coast while behind me is now snowing. I hold up in a Moss Burger store watching the weather radar (accidentally captured in above photo).

Eventually I ride south on coast and for awhile think I have dodged everything but get lashed by cold sleet and take shelter at a disused gas station. Riding on luck is with me and I make it to my hotel with just occasional rain. A steaming hot shower has not felt this good in awhile.

Next day is beautiful, only sign of what happened yesterday is the snow on top of Mount Myoko. Today I rejoin my original route, but a day ahead of schedule.

The Japanese alps make a very nice backdrop to my left all morning as I ride past Toyama.

Leaving the expressway to the scenic country roads of Ishikawa prefecture it’s warmed up considerably. I move from my Tourmaster Coldtex 3 gloves to light winter gloves and turn the grip heaters down a notch. Nice lunch in a road side park under big blue skies lifts my spirits.

Really beautiful ride follows on route 157 next to Tedori lake. The sun darted behind clouds soon as I got my camera out but you might still get an idea how the landscape changes here in autumn.

Now that’s a picnic spot.
My friend Totoro

I arrive Fukui prefecture, an area I used to ride when I was based in Nagoya. Fantastic roads here and so many interesting things around every corner.

I’ve posted this location before – but I sure enjoyed revisiting. Looking down at Ono.

What a great day of riding this has been.

I’ve scheduled a rest day tomorrow. There is a famous temple in this area Steve Jobs wanted to study at and so many other things I could go see but I need a day off the bike.

I again have free 2000Y to splurge and conveniently CoCo curry house is just down the road. I’m staying at a brand new Route Inn with a very comfortable room where I am kicking back and writing this update while my clothes are in a new 2 hour wash and dry combo machine. I love how everything ‘just works’ here. So many countries I have to wash my clothes in bathroom each night and security of a bike is big problem or simply getting a meal is a challenge despite English being a second language in Europe. Here almost nobody speaks English yet it is all so easy.

Japan truly is a wonderful country for motorcycle touring. I’m a lucky guy and this journey has a long way to go yet.

To be continued.

6 Comments

  1. “Looking down on Ono” is my favourite photo for this post. Wow!
    Yes, you are a lucky guy….

    • Thanks Dave, unfortunately I’m off the bike most days before the sun gets lower and gives more interesting light such as that photo.
      I find when I do have golden hour light the type of camera doesn’t matter. That is to say a phone with good light beats the best spec camera with midday sun (or no sun).
      On tour most scenes I shoot at wrong time of day or with poor light that professional photographers would never try to use.
      But that constant challenge has some value I guess as it makes me always think what can I do. But I miss the best light most every day.

  2. WOW!!!
    THe pictures are spot on mate. I loved the picnic place photo. Does it get any better than that?

    Great work. You could swap out the grey sky in Luminar and put in a sunny one, no just a though. They never look right though.
    I wouldn’t change them as thats how it actually was. My one pet peeve in photography is it not how good you are with the camera its how good your photoshop skills are and in a way that makes it seem fake.

    Excellent post mate.

    • Thanks Steve.

      My blog is my travel journal so I aim for images close to how I remember the scene. I do enhance my photos but only to get them up to what I saw on the day.

      By that I refer to how our brain and eyes are so amazing at filtering haze, rain, glare, backlight etc and have dynamic range that seems off the scale compared to camera sensors.

      Sometimes I publish something which might appear oversaturated but occasionally in real life a scene is almost unbelievable bursting with colour. Like how the burnt orange leaves look once wet from rain or Japanese rice paddies in summer which seem to glow under bright sun.

      Got some great images coming up for rest of this ride (been enjoying it so much I fell behind in my editing)

  3. I re-read that and I’m sorry I wasn’t meaning your photos. I’ve joined quite a few photography forums and facebook groups recently and on those I see so many photos that are clearly fake with the colours in them, its just not possible to have a photo into the sun and see all those colours and with such clarity. Editing for those types has taken on an almost impossible level. I only very lightly edit my photos as well. Nothing to Dramatic.

    • No prbs I took it you meant those other types. 90% of my photos have just simple adjustments, lift the shadows, reduce the highlights, add a little contrast or vibrancy. Besides preferring to keep it simple I think how other people see them is going to vary so much depending on their screen.

      Many monitors now are set for multimedia not natural so my photos may appear saturated to those viewers. More than 50% of visitors are using a phone and only see the autogenerated thumbnails on a small screen in reduced brightness mode so they might appear dull and the panoramas will be too small to make out on a phone in portrait mode.

      I usually add a bit of punch to my images to compensate for bad light but focus on better composition when taking the photo.

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