Cycling Japan 2009
On my first bicycle journey I spend almost 4 months in Japan and cycled more than 2000 fantastic miles up and down in the Land of the Rising Sun. First I went to Mnt. Fuji with Robert from Germany, later on my own into the Japanese Alps. There I met an Japanese bicycle traveler. I would meet this guy three times in the following months. I've had lots of luck during an accident, then went on a pilgrimage on Shikoku. My Japanese really improved a lot off the tourist track. Eventually I cycled down to Kyushu. Every day I've had such warm and welcome feeling in this marvelous country.
- Category: Cycling Japan 2009
Facing the days getting colder I headed further south, taking a ferry from Osaka to Beppu on Kyushu island. Fascinating landsacpes on the way to Aso, the famous hugh ancient volcano crater (arround 15 miles in diameter) with Mnt. Aso, an active volcano in its middle. In one of the towns in the crater I met my Japanese cycling friends again, and we spent a few days in a Low budget Raiderhouse together. Raiderhouses are usually cheap places to stay for Japanese motorbike travellers, however they do accomodate bicyclists as well. Great atmosphere, there are people from all over Japan, and in this case, some Spanish, Italian and Swedish folks as well. We'd cook diner together for a few dollars each, sitting arround talking and eating all night. And in the end, the owner or manager of the place would start a gamble to determine who's to do the dishes. On text day we were cycling up the caldera on a lonely steep road again, watching the fascinating Laputa rock formations and the yellow and red autumn leaves of the maple trees. On top, a marvelous view into the crater and its Mnt. Aso mountain group in the middle. Sleeping Buddha as the locals say. One day later we were hiking the volcano itself. Nice sunny day and quite a nice crowd of tourists at the sulpur like smelling, bubbeling and smoking green crater see. A moonwalk to the higher peaks in the area with stunning view into the crater from above. The Aso area is well known for its Hot springs, and with a wide choice of very cheap old and very expensive new style Onsen, we took our chances every evening to relax in the hot water for an hour or so.
From Aso my Japanese cycling couple and me cycled together to Takachiho to visit the old great shrines and lovely ravines over there. Its said that Amaterasu Omikami, Japans highest ranked Shinto kami, namely the sun godess, has been hiding here in a cave which she closed with a hugh rock, therefore leaving the world in utter blackness. The other kamis gathered and discussed how to get the sun out of her shelter, and eventually a gracefull dance made Amaterasu Omikami to drag the stone away a bit, and the strongest kami took his chances and dragged her out.
After that, we spend a few rainy days in a somewhat remote canoeing club close by, from where we headed on through the mountains torwards Yoshino. On the way, the three of us faced and and challenged a lonely 1000 metres high pass from almost sea level in the late afternoon. Reached the top close to exhaustion and found the only restaurant almost closed. But the locals had pity and delivered us to a youth adventure resort that just opend up for us, providing us with a hot bath and lovely meal. Lovely landscape, steep mountains and small valleys, a nice waterfall, lovely autumn colors and barely towns or villages...
After we paid a visit to the Kirishima shrine, we headed towards Tarumizu, which is close to active volcano of Sakurajima, and spend a few more rainy days in the local Raiderhouse. 1000 Yen for a night in the dormitory, Internet available. 230 Yen for diner that the owner of the place prepared with us together. Affordable travelling, compared to what I did in Shikoku before. On the morning we left Tarumizu, the roads and cars and everything was coated with a few millimeters of dark gray dust, the volcano had been fairly active over night. The entire place looked like a sort of a ghost town and a strong sulpur smell spoiled the scenery..
We went by ferry down to Ibuski on the other side of the Kagoshima bay, spend a night over there (in a neat little Raiderhouse with no one there except a little cute cat). On the next day, we reached Bonotsu, where a study mate of our brave bicycle ninja girl lived. Her family received us with a warm welcome, provided excellent diner and entertainment. On the next day (yeah, it was raining again) the father would drive us arround the area, showing us some of the most prominent places along the coast where in ancient times Chinese monks came and settled buddhist monastries. On we went to Chiran, visitited the old Samurai streets with the lovely stone gardens, and went to the former Kamikaze One Way airport, a place that now hosts a Peace museum with the pictures, names, ages and home towns of each of the pilots that left this place never to return. On display were as well their Farewell letters, and even English translation was provided. In the Entrance hall, a hugh painting showing a crashing down war plane with angels rescueing the seoul of the blood covered pilot. On the back wall of main hall, behind a war plane, a hugh photography of the Kaimon dake, probably the last thing the poor guys have seen from the father land, in best believe to serve their country...
The family where we stayed provided everything for us in these days, food, tickets, we even went to a Karaoke bar in the neighbouring town together and had a great time singing all together. On the following day, we cycled on to Kagoshima...