We have a lot to catch you up on! It seems like years ago and our memories of each detail are already fading so we are going to be brief and media-heavy with the next couple of posts. I’m sure you’ll be OK with that.
So, we have cut south to the coast, we have seen Fuji-San in her grandeur (even if from afar), and now we are heading West again back along the sea. It feels good. The wind is at our backs and the traffic isn’t too bad, until we hit Shizuoka. I have forgotten how built-up Japan is and my fears are coming to fruition in the busy truck-laden roads and the hot days (even though it is now October. How is this possible?) There don’t appear to be any quiet roads with all the insanity of urbanity and it is getting to me. We buy a Mapple (the handbook for motorcycle tourers that shows which roads are busy and which should be quieter, but our attempts to find quiet roads are continually thwarted. First we think we can bike on a road right along the coast through a little village. It is beautiful! There is no traffic! The sea is a lovely Aegean blue and the cliffs (and climbs) are sensational. This can’t be right! And it isn’t. A man in a pick-up truck stops and tells us the road is closed. We go back down but get some epic footage so it wasn’t all for nought.
Next, we head to Highway 1 which is busy but seems rather direct. There is some degree of sidewalk, but nope! All of a sudden there is a tunnel and no sidewalk anywhere. I’m hot, exhausted and really don’t know why we are biking in Japan at this point. Is this the reason we haven’t seen anyone else doing what we are doing? I give up; I am a mess on the side of the road and a man closing up his restaurant tells us there is another road we can go on where bicycles are allowed. Then he gives us two bottles of juice and drives away. Things could be worse, right? Eventually we make our way through the mountains to a rest stop along a very busy highway and recalibrate with some icecream and peanut butter banana sandwiches. Apparently there is a very old Meiji tunnel nearby that is a cool tourist spot so we decide to check it out and are very happy we did. The Meiji era isn’t as far back as it sounds (1800s ish) but it was a beautiful, if not steep, ride up to see it and we found a perfect camping spot to boot!
The next day, it’s back to the busy roads of Shizuoka and I start to realize I am just going to have to get used to it. We have a Warm Showers host lined up in Hamamatsu we are very excited to get to so we push on despite the heat and the busy roads. Our host finishes work around 8 so we hang out in a mall that seems to only contain a food court and clothing stores for children. It takes a while to notice this but it is little unnerving when we do! After eating Subway (we are craving fresh vegetables!) for dinner, we buy some beer and chocolate for our host and head to his place.
Tatsuya, our host, is the epitome of what a perfect Warm Showers host. He has travelled all over the world on his bike and has a pretty good idea of all those little things someone living on the road really craves. We get to bring our bikes in to his place and keep them safely on the balcony; we get to have cold showers (they could’ve been warm ones of course, but it is way too hot for that), and our own little room. Tatsuya is even keen for us to stay an extra night so he can throw a little dinner party for us! It was an easy job to convince us, and a rest day hanging out in his lovely little apartment was much needed. We also managed to check out a new Indian restaurant up the road that had just opened that day and they even gave us a discount! That night was a very special one: Tatsu had invited over two friends who made us takoyaki!
His friends were awesome and spoke really good English, and it was so nice for me to be able to have a proper conversation with someone other than Christian! We made some new friends and enjoyed a really lovely evening together, going through photos of places Tatsu had travelled, showing them Bowen Island on Google maps and Google streetview, and talking about their favourite places that we should see while we were in Japan. Definitely one of my favourite evenings in Japan, for sure! Thank you Tatsu for your amazing hospitality and generosity! Best Warmshowers host ever.
Musician, teacher, traveller. Currently on a year-long journey around the world. Bronwyn is one of the founders of onlyamazingdays.com.