After the great time in Kamikochi in the Japanese Alps, my Japanese friend and I cycled together to Takayama. On the way, we had to climb a pass with 1800m at its highest point. My friend carried about 25 kg of luggage, and rode a racing bike with barely any gears for such roads, but he managed well... Way down it was easy living, we stopped by in some ancient village with public outdoor foot Onsen (that is volcanic water directly from Mother Earth, quite hot and somewhat smelly. Reaching Takayama which is also called Little Kyoto for its traditional houses and many many temples and shrines, we decided to put up our tents in the public park (which you can do in Japan after sunset). In the park, we talked to some locals, and we were offered to stay at their house, and dine and drink with them. Such a great night, thanks a lot Atsushi! The following day I spent on my own visiting town since my mate went on with his own tour. Takayama has an outstanding traditional Japanese town center and a big number of old Buddhist temples to visit. I strolled around, and decided to stay in a youth hostel in an old temple, where I met nice people again. Next day, rain... Decided to stay one more night, and spent my day in the local library reading Kanji books.
A great 100 kilometer trip in the mountains again, leading to Shirakawagou, and beautiful ancient style village with reed roof houses (Gassho houses). No camping there, so I go on towards Kanazawa. On the way, even more less known villages like Shirakawagou. Beautiful landscape all the way, few cars only. Up and down the small street, crossing bridges and tunnels... Close to sunset and physical exhaustion, I finally find another UNESCO World Heritage village, this time with a camp site. From the camp site I enjoy the nice view down the small valley. One more camper is here, a girl with a 600cc motorbike from Osaka. We prepare our diner on the camp fire. That means, I'm cooking water for my instant noodles and she shares all the nice stuff she just bought in the village. In most tourist spots, restaurants are closed by 5 or 6PM... A local comes by, throws some big lumps of wood into my mini fire and serves Sake. Next morning before sunrise, the fog lays so nicely in the valley. It seems like heaven, cloud seven...
Kanazawa and Fukui
Spent three days camping on various beaches around Kanazawa, watched the famous Park, the Geisha and Samurai residences. Swimming on a deserted beach in the Japanese Sea at sunset - incredible! Met an Toyoto manager at Tojinbo and talked to him and his son for quite a while. Next day, I visited the world famous Eheiji temple, a center of Zen Buddhism in the middle of old woods in the mountains. Incredible place, unfortunately I can neither meditate with them nor stay. Such things require prior booking. How can I do that, if I don't know in the morning where I'm gonna sleep at night?? Actually, that night I almost failed to find a place to stay. Some kind farmer brought me to a camping site way uphill with his little transporter. Great help, doumo arigatou gozaimasu!
Taking a break on Lake Biwa-ko
After almost 1000 kilometers on the bicycle and a number of rather cold nights in my summer sleeping bag, I am happy for the offer of a Japanese kanu boat builder to stay in his camper on the shore of Biwa-ko, the biggest lake in Japan. Enjoy the view of the nearby Restaurant and the hospitality of its stuff, we bake German style breadies and I can even make my fish banana pizza (thats my special recipe). So I stay three nights in one place, enjoy early morning meditations and watching the sunrise on the opposite shore. Met a French couple with their bicycles that came literally all the way from France by bike, traveling now since about 18 months. Great guys!