Winter in Japan means much of the country is no place for motorcycle touring but across Tokyo bay lies Chiba which is little risk of ice.

I have not explored there much despite it being only 18km away because 12 of those km are ocean. The ferry is around $50 return for my big bike and the need to arrive in advance of sailing each way leaves a short but expensive day out. Not sure why overnighting there alluded me before, perhaps because it seemed too close or was another expense.

Outbound – it’s a little damp

The weather has been fine winters days about 9 degrees – until the morning I left ha-ha. But it gave me chance to test my new Macna pants which I will review shortly.

It was light rain that soon eased. That kept people home and let me hike up to this small castle in the town of Tateyama and have the place to myself. I processed this image and couple others in HDR projects to breath some life into the dull greyness.

Still some coloured leaves at end of year! This is only colour on this gloomy morning so you get selfies instead of scenery. It’s six degrees with an Accuweather ‘Real-Feel’ of 1 degree, but it was still good to have wheels rolling. I had grip heaters on level 9 and was wearing merino thermal base layer along with excellent snow boot socks and was perfectly warm.

Besides testing some gear this ride I wanted to feel out if this area would offer me a sufficiently interesting place that is ice free to do overnight rides this winter to reduce the depression stuck indoors gives me. And it would lend some weight to me abandoning further attempts to return to Australia. With $5000 airfares and $3000 quarantine fees the Australian government policies are cruel.

Not shown at this scale but there are a mind boggling number of small back roads that meander between farms and over small mountains. I kept thinking this would be great to explore on a small light dual purpose bike. Conversely if riding in winter when its going to be 5 degrees does the big fairing and screen on the FJR remain the sensible choice. Something for me to weigh up.

About 3.00pm the clouds break up some hazy sun arrives. There was a family at this park that were visibly shocked seeing me arrive then when I also walked to the viewing area where they had gone they ran away back to their car. This sort of stuff happens all the time and I normally omit from my ride reports. It would be easy to be offended but I laughed about in under my helmet a couple of times leaving. Such an inward looking monoculture here, but I view it to my advantage.

Chiba is an place where I think you need to string together lots of small pieces of roads to produce a good ride and avoid the traffic rather than simply follow set roads. It’s something I used to do previously in Northern NSW where a days riding mostly consisted of various small sections of roads spliced together. That takes lots of exploring but I am off to a good start having read suggestions and found most were pretty good.

I have another ‘lens only’ camera to test. This time an oddball item Casio sold in Japan four years ago. I got it cheap enough to be a toy and was not expecting much but it’s fantastic and I after I do some more testing will post a review.

I’m guessing this area sees zero tourists. More ‘deer in the headlights’ when I arrive my hotel. Front desk staff are lost when I fill out the registration form in English handing it to each other despite also giving them my Japanese drivers licence for ID. Once I am in my room they calm down and look in the computer and find my booking which of course is a different room. Maybe the hotel business is not a good choice if foreigners scare you I thought but again just laughed.

New pants are great!

The Return

It’s brisk but sunny as I leave the hotel. Hopeful today will be fine.

This time of year I am normally in SE Asia which I was reminded of leaving Ichihara with a sight and smell familiar of riding in Thailand – end of rice season burn off. It’s illegal here but the farmers union is so powerful politically that authorities dare not touch them and the farmers say screw the environment we do as we like.

I can’t imagine fishing as my pastime, jetboating perhaps. But if you have found and are pursuing your passion in life then that is all that matters not what anyone else thinks.

Today with a short route I can explore old railway lines and spend time just fooling around like this – as is my own particular interest which I am sure the fishermen would not want to do.

I also found this old tunnel that dates back to 1899. Too small for rail it must have been just for foot traffic and high enough for horseback.

The weather was turning grey again. This view tower once had a nice vista but now there is a large factory built across the road.

I arrived back at the western coast to find an impressive viewing deck that looks across to where I live – just shame the weather is poor. A spot I will revisit on a sunny day.

Moving south I came upon a large goddess of mercy statue at some religious enclave. Whilst you can find traditional temples everywhere in Japan there are also many new religions some open some very secretive but the government watches them much closer ever since the 1995 deadly gas attack by the Aum cult.

All the photos this ride are from my new iPhone 12 – however they are not a good indication of it’s ability considering the gloomy grey light.

I zig zagged back inland to visit what I knew were some of the popular rider roads and the highest view point I could find in the area which remains modest so no risk of black ice.

Then I rode down route 182 and found what is the Mt Glorious/Putty Rd* of Chiba. Perhaps fifty or more bikes on this superb riding road.

I still had heaps to see when the sun was starting to dip and I needed to make for the ferry.

Mr Blue Sky, nice of you to make an appearance for the sailing home.

Chiba was much better touring than I expected despite the uninspiring grey light. Hopefully there will be a few chances to revisit over the winter months to get a break from cabin fever.

People are wishing 2020 good riddance. I lament the time having been lost and am not wishing time to pass quicker just things improve faster. For now I wait and see what 2021 will deliver.


* Those are roads in Sydney and Brisbane Australia which very popular with riders (and also police)

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