Warren
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Part 4

Leaving Amakusa I am riding across Kyushu to Beppu. I have abandoned my original riding plan due to the arrival of Japan’s rainy season (Tsuyu) a month early.

I am fortunate to leave before rain and ride into fine but hazy skies. By chance I discover a nice road at Mount Tawara, actually the original main road now bypassed but kept open.

Also nice riding today over Mount Aso volcano.

You can hike up but here is as close as I go today. Below from Google Maps is another view you can pan and zoom.

Today I have the best picnic lunch of the tour thus far at a lovely park on the northern descent of Aso.

I continue to be delighted by regional Japan which is full of parks like this and week days you have them to yourself.

East from Aso is filled with fantastic low traffic back roads.

You could spend days exploring here and not get bored. Perhaps I need to make a plan to do more of that in future instead of dreaming of global travel which is likely still far away. I Enjoy the Silence here for long time before moving to Beppu and my hotel.

Next morning I’m taking the ferry from Kyushu to Shikoku. It’s expensive for a 3 hour sailing but saves a lot of miles and rain is approaching.

Alas the rain arrives before we dock. It’s a shame as I am riding across the Seto Inland Sea which on a fine day is stunning. Above image is heavy edited 😂, actual conditions were dismal. Below a much more cheerful image from Google Maps you can pan and zoom.

A long afternoon in the saddle. Usually I’d say “Big bubbles No troubles” on my touring bike that shelters me from the cold drizzle however the slightly tucked leg position on the FJR1300 is becoming an issue for my left knee (which I injured riding moto-x when younger). Not just comfort but up shifting gears.

Staying at the AZ hotel chain again tonight. This is a great value no fuss chain all over southern Japan, 4600Y including buffet breakfast, book direct.

In the morning I venture up nearby hills to view the ocean but it’s gloomy then no sooner I arrive so does the rain. Oh well, it will be here for me next time.

It may be damp but I enjoy riding rural Japan gazing upon daily life scenes of the rice planting season.

Just off my route I could see a hill full of flowering trees, when I got closer I found it was large park in middle of seemingly nothing requiring a hike to reach which is sadly not possible with my knee at present.

Instead I enjoyed listing to the sound of rain drops on my picnic shelter over lunch and felt completely at ease and transported myself back to listening to rain in a dusty farm shed as a child. Touring Japan does that, it takes you.

After lunch pleasant roads trace rivers in lush green valleys. Then the rain picked up so I made for my hotel.

I have rather cheekily decided to turn west from here and ride north of the central range which is predicted mostly dry tomorrow. An optimistic outlook right now as it buckets down on my way to the local Lawson convenience store which is playing George Benson’s ‘Give me the Night’ as an instrumental on constant loop.

Next morning is lovely as are the rural roads of Shimane. My gamble is looking good.

I spoke too soon. The sky in very short order returns to heavy clouds, but the roads remain dry and the riding superb.

I stop for an afternoon coffee in a small rural village and find these abandoned erotic video vending machines. Always interesting touring Japan.

From here I enjoy the superb route 314 which was fine on the southern side then emerging from the tunnel the Orochi loop is enshrouded in low clouds. Below a 360 image from Google maps to give you an idea what it normally looks like.

From here on it is mostly rain but I have enjoyed a good ride today, the gamble indeed paid off.

I’m staying at the fancy ANA Crowne Plaza tonight which thanks to Covid is same price as budget hotels. My motorcycle is alone in a parking lot full of luxury cars.

Yonago is interesting to explore. Another place to revisit. I need to start using my proper camera more as the phone this trip shows it’s limitations but moving from a jacket size camera might have been a poor choice.

Overnight rain kindly ends before I depart next morning. I’m happy with that and paying a few cents more per litre for good service.

The skies might be grey but the scenery still catches my eye and the riding around Mount Diasen is superb.

Love finding new good roads and today I strike gold with route 336 in Okayama which turns out to be another of Japans forestry access roads that seem purpose made for riders.

Lunch today is a picnic area on route 336. Very peaceful listening to the river.

I’m not a rail buff but have a passing interest being retired from the industry. Today I visit the preserved Showa era rail station of Chiwa. Still a working station although JR must be under pressure to close these old branch lines.

Not sure if the road from here is open to the north as Google shows only a very narrow looking track but street view is years out of date.

It was a very narrow mountain pass indeed that I forgot to photo but all sealed and once on the other side became a terrific two lane road.

I was not going to visit Hayabusa station but as I got closer detoured in and met a nice guy there who took this photo. They already changed the poster to include new 3rd generation model which by the way I think looks superb but not a motorcycle suitable for me.

Todays route north of the high mountains remained mostly dry while south was wet.

By good fortune being north of the high ranges I am still ahead of the rain the next morning as I ride out of Tottori prefecture and into Kyoto prefecture.

A nice ride on ‘the old road’ called the Hichiryu pass. Water is crystal clear.

Japan has some nice beaches however pale skin is an obsession for girls in Asia so here it’s the weekend and a steamy 30 degrees but nobody. Just down the road the local onsen (public bath) car park is literally overflowing as everyone soaks in hot water viewing the beach.

I’m impressed how scenic this area is.

This is the Kamanyu road and it’s right up there as far as ocean rides go.

Next I visit the historic seaside village of Ine. Beautiful spot but I see the weather is turning so do the same with my wheels.

I decide to postpone already late lunch to try catch a panoramic view from Mount Nariai before the sun is lost and kind of made it with a little gap in clouds that soon closed in. There is a five level pagoda here too but no access due to covid. Never mind, all this area will get a further look in future.

I went to find another view point in Maizuru this afternoon but the rain caught up to me so I pushed East on the expressway to my hotel.

Tsuruga is where the ferry to Hokkaido departs. I have a couple of days here to rest and weigh things up as the rain sets in.

Hokkaido looks like it will not rain every day, but it will cop a fair bit. Up there is still cold with snow in the higher areas. Not much fun in the wet as I know from past experience.

Everywhere else now looks wet. I could be stubborn and push on but I ride to sightsee not to prove anything. I’m under 500km from my home at moment so it makes sense to bail out here. Maybe I can pick this up again in summer and complete the south to north then.

In the break I can have the bike looked at. The cruise control stopped working and my old issue with stalling seems to have partially returned which is a little disappointing when it just came from the dealer.

First tour of Japan I have cancelled but I’m not doing too bad as I approach 100,000km touring here.

2 Comments

  1. A fantastic read as usual Warren. Thank you 😊

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