Biking Around Japan (Some Pictures from Week 1)

04/22/2018 — Osaka 66.05kg 2823km

It’s Day 24.

This bench has no backrest, but it’s a good reminder to straighten my back and relax my shoulders. My posture’s taken a hit and my ass kind of hurts. I haven’t really been stretching.

It’s 6:09PM and the sun’s already tucked under the bridge a few stretches away. I’m sitting in a park next to a river in the city. Not very descriptive, but that’s how I feel about Osaka; busy as Tokyo, but not as colourful.

The roads are wider, but just as crowded. I can’t camp anywhere. I can’t park anywhere. Not much to see. Osaka is grey.

But the food is undeniably great. I just came from the best okonomiyaki I’ve ever had. Lunch was Srilankan curry; spicy — especially for Japan — but very good. The scenery here is nice too. Right here, I mean. The sky is streaked with light clouds, and light clouds make for good sunsets.

There are two kids and their dads (or coaches) practicing baseball on a small field to my left. One dad swings — nice hit. The ball flies maybe 60 meters across the field. That could hit someone.

I’m looking at the bridge again. The sky’s gotten a little darker, and I should start writing. It’s been a few days since I said that, so I say it to myself again. My laptop’s in my bag, and my hard drive — I left the hard drive with my bike. It has all my pictures.

Maybe I should go get it. Maybe I’ll just stay here. Car headlights are moving left and right.

I’ve been pretty tired recently. And the sky looks particularly great today.

It’s still Day 24.

I decided to ride to a Starbucks. It’s 9:35PM and the girl next to me just dropped her phone on the ground. I forgot my hard drive again.

I’m biking around Japan for a few months. A good friend helped me buy a bike. A good friend borrowed me a tent and sleeping bag.

I’ve passed the 3-week mark, and I’ve ridden around 3000 kilometers. A few of them in rain, a few of them in the soaking rain, and a few of them in beautiful weather on beautiful roads.

The nature of this kind of travel only gives for short encounters, but small conversation is quite frequent, and sometimes I meet great people.

On day 10, I met some great friends in Okazaki and went to a local festival — the small seaside city is famous for sailing competitions and oranges. That weekend was a ton of fun.

On day 16, another rider found me in the rain in Toba and took me to dinner with his family. Apparently you can pay your way out of the Yakuza instead of giving up your pinky like before (3M Yen ~ 30K USD).

On day 20, I camped in a parking lot and met the guy car-camping next to me. He’d been doing this for the past 3 years around Japan. Before we went to sleep, he went in his car and dug out something like a bigger yellow grapefruit. “Let me know when you get to Hokkaido,” he said, and handed me the grapefruit.

The first few days were the most tiring. There’s too many routes and stops to choose from, and none obvious to follow. In the morning you try to route plan the day, but you end up route planning every few hours; sometimes every few intersections.

Your mom asks you, “Do you have a plan??” Yes I do, mom. I’m going West. I think.

You haven’t figured out how arrange your luggage, so you repack everything, every day.

You realize perforated gloves aren’t very good in the rain.

You’re making a lot of decisions by guessing, but no research and no sleep means you suck at guessing. Sucking at guessing means more mistakes, more time, and more circles.

Sun’s set and you still don’t know where you’re sleeping for the night. AirBnB’s are booked out, there’s people everywhere and you don’t know where/if you’re allowed to camp. You take the obvious option and sleep at a love hotel.

Small things happen often, like dropping your helmet, your bike battery dying, or getting hit by a car.

Luckily everyone gets out with a small scuff, and you thank god for hard panniers.

Still figuring things out, but I’m having fun.

It’s 2:04AM and I’m sitting in my tent in a small park ~30 minutes NW of Osaka. The floor is sandy and I’m surrounded by houses. Last time some little kids came up to my tent at 6 in the morning. Not this time I hope; I’m really tired.

I’ll find the rest of the pictures tomorrow.


It’s Day 25.

It’s 8:53 AM. I’m at a Starbucks again. I have the hard drive this time.

Someone was knocking on my tent at 5:40 today. Not the kids again, I thought.

It was the police.

Week 1: Tokyo -> Chiba -> Tokyo -> Saitama -> Kanagawa -> Shizuoka

Day 0 (Tokyo -> Chiba)

leaving Tokyo in an hour

Day 1 (Chiba -> Saitama)
Spent afternoon figuring out why bike wouldn’t start

sleeping in a love hotel (alone) ;(
but good night scenery

Day 2 (Saitama -> Hakone)

nice views on the hakone turnpike
everyone is here
but weather turns bad quickly

Day 3 (Hakone -> Izu)
Rode a lot and got lost a lot. Ashinoko Skyline, Izu Skyline, Nishi-Izu Skyline, lots of Skylines

cherry blossoms in full bloom around town (Hakone, Kanagawa)
riding along izu skyline

Day 4 (Izu -> Yaizu)
Went up sketch side road and couldn’t get down

riding along izu coastline
lunch at a fishing port (Numazu, Shizuoka)

Day 5 (Yaizu -> Yaizu)
Not a typo

tea fields on the oigawa locomotive (Shizuoka is famous for)
hit on right pannier (driver and I let it go)

Day 6 (Yaizu -> Tenryu)
Lost a bolt, rode up a mountain, and first day camping

day 6 — ??
about to buy the wrong bolt (bought it)
visiting first shrine since leaving (Akiha Shrine, Shizuoka)
found lucky campsite in the rain
Brought all luggage (don’t know why)

More later maybe


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