Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hokkaido to Tokyo

Sept. 23. Hokodate Hokaido to near Hachinohe. 257 km + 2 hour ferry
The alarm went off at 6:00 am and after a quick shower I was on the road. The coffee didn't help wake me up but i new once I was on the ferry I would be able to sleep. And sleep is what I did. When the boat arrived in Oma I was almost not feeling hungover. No time to be hungover, I had some twisties to ride. So I filled my camelback with water and ice and headed south on a small toad that wrapped its way around the cliffs and mountains of east coast on the peninsula along the Tsugaru Straits. The Scenery was beautiful but the further I went south, the windier it got. Soon I crossed back over to the west coast and I was starting to get into the areas where the Tsunami hit. I stayed the night in a hostel that had a "park golf" course. Its like golve but smaller course with bigger balls. I didn't play.. because I am only good at putt putt golf. I enjoyed a very hot soak in the Japanese bath and went to bed.

A few other bikes waiting for the ferry. 

Crazy coastline

Great roads. 


Making break wall pieces

Sept 24. Hachinohe to Camping on the coast. 255 km
I rode the coast all day. The devastation from the Tsunami is still very visible after 2 years. Whole villages reduced to foundations and streets. It was an eerie feeling when I realized that I was riding through destroyed towns, not just grassy fields. There was construction everywhere trying to rebuild the damaged roads, bridges and breakwalls. The rubble for the most part was cleaned up. In Japan, I always feel like the days are short. There are a few reasons. First, Russia to Japan was a 2 hour jump. This meant I was used to waking up at 8 and the sun had just came up. Now I was wasting 2 hours of sunlight if I woke up at 8. This was compounded more now that it is getting dark at 5:00 pm. Second, with the slow speed limit, It is hard to cover ground. The days of covering 500 or 600 km like in Russia or Mongolia were over. Japan has rules unlike the other countries I rode through in the past 4 months. And finally, the further south I go, The sun rises and sets quicker. So in the early afternoon as the sun was going behind the mountains, I started looking for a hotel. There was one 10 km away in the next town. A half hour later, I was parked in an empty parking lot next to a foundation where a hotel once was in what used to be a town. The next hotel on in the GPS was 4 km south but it was full. So I rode out on a peninsula on a road that seemed all but abandoned. It emptied out onto a tarmac parking lot for a shrine. This was the end of the line, it was dark and I was tired so I set up camp. I was standing on the left side of my bike eating some sausage, crackers and cucumbers for dinner when something moved rapidly on the right side of my bike into my vision and dissapeared. I said "OH FOOK ME!" out loud. The hair on the back of my neck rose and a wave adrenaline surged through my body. At that moment in time, I believed in ghosts. I took a few deep breaths and try to calm myself. I'm on a deserted road near a shrine. Is there a reason this road is deserted? Just then I shifted my weight and I saw it again. Seems my headlamp shined my mirror making a large light shape move across the bushes next to the bike. Ok.. this is good I have a reasonable explanation for what just happened. I didn't sleep very well that night.

Lady finding seaweed

Drying seaweed

Good place to nap

Damage from Tsunami

Sweet duc

Sept 25. To Sendai 268 km
Still a bit riled from the night before, I packed up my camp and got out of there in a hurry. I started the day on some nice twisty roads but I avoided a few bigger cities using the expressway. This is where I learned just how expensive it can be. Its about 10 to 30 Yen per km. So 100 km is going to cost you $10 to $30. But some roads are even more. 50Km between Kyoto and Osaka will cost you 2000 yen, or about $20. I pulled into Sendai in the evening. The first location for the youth hostel in my GPS was a fireman training school. The second location was a nice quite Hostel in a very cool part of town. The streets were just wide enough for 1 car. There were many nice little restaurants. I ate at a cool little bar called Savanna. The owner recommended I try the fried chicken. It was quite good. It seems the Japanese like their fried chicken as much if not more than Americans. It shows because in my opinion, they can do it better.

Packing up the camp spot in the morning

More Tsunami damage

Even more tsunami damage. There used to be a village here. 

Sad to see an old 2stroker in this condition. I know people in the US who would pay a lot for this bike.. even in this condition.

Sept 26. Sendai to Tskuba . 375 km
I burned main roads mostly all day to try to get to Tskuba. I had a hot date with a Costa Rican girl named I didn't want to miss out on. I pulled into Tskuba with an hour to spare. We chatted about Japan, latin America, traveling, and her masters degree over some great Chinese food. It was nice to order with someone who could speak some Japanese. It was also nice to have the company of a beautiful smart lady for a few hours. 

Sept 27. Tskuba
I felt like I needed to see Ale again again so I decided to stay 1 more day in Tskuba. I explored the city some and tried to get caught up on some stuff. Later Ale met me for dinner and drinks. It was a great night.

Sept 28. To Tokyo. 94 km.
I had the GPS coordinates for "Asakusa smile Hostel" and a KTM dealer in Tokyo. Earlier I had sent a list of parts that I needed to them. The list: Cush drive damping rubber, swingarm brake line guide, mirror clamp for brake leaver, A few small pieces to rebuild the front brake, and counter shaft seal/o-ring. I decided to go to the KTM dealer first even though it was on the west side of town and I was coming form the northeast. They had a few of the parts I needed but most of them they would have to order. They said they would be there by the 2nd. This was ok because I planned to stay in Tokyo with the Latvian girl about that long anyway. I forgot about this thing called "rush hour". When I left the KTM shop, it was just starting. Luckily in Tokyo, the guys on scooters and bikes ride like madmen. So you just follow them through traffic and you can actually make some good time. Just remember you have bags on the back. This is a good reason to keep your bags no wider then your handlebars. If your bars can fit, your ass can also. While I was in Sakhalin I met a Latvian girl from the UK who was working in Sakhalin for a month. She said she would be flying into Tokyo after she was done in Sakhalin so we made plans to meet up. I found the hostel and we proceeded to have a few beers and make plans for the next few days.

This nice lady helped me order parts. 

They sure like their Dukes/SMs here in Tokyo. 

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