A Guided Tour: Cycling the Length of Japan

•March 9, 2015 • 2 Comments

I’ll be leading a fully supported tour, cycling the length of Japan, 11 Sept to 12 Oct, 2015.

You can learn more at: JapanBiking 

Poster REV

Signs, Menus, and Translations

•November 19, 2014 • 4 Comments

I was looking through my photos and came across these shots of English words and translations.


Gotta love the toilet instructions.  This one has a wireless remote.  “posterior” is not a word we hear much.  Always lots of options when on the toilet. (click image to enlarge)


OK, so how hot could it be?  Well, you could easily have brewed tea with this water. Scalding is an understatement.


I guess hair dying is a problem in Japan hotels.


This was in an “Italian” bar and restaurant.  Looks like the glasses were printed with a small typo.


From a distance, this looked like a sign to say “no peeing”.


I have NO idea…  Fuku??


Some interesting menu items


The sign below happened a lot, especially on menus.  The title in English, and the rest in kanji.


Shirts with English words are everywhere.  Sometimes they make sense.


Kyoto: Final Images Before Heading Home

•November 3, 2014 • 9 Comments

 In Kyoto, for the last 9 days in Japan…


 Some very stern looking marchers


 This group looked a bit more cheery


 Uji is a center for tea growing. We took a short train ride there to buy some tea. 


 We met up with a large group of elderly women… Alison was at least a foot taller then most of them, but every time I tried to take a photo they stopped out of my field of view – trying to be polite – not knowing they were the subject!


 Nighttime at Shorin-in Temple



 Sometimes the attention to detail is quite something


The garden pond at Ryon-ji Temple


 Burning trash near the temple… seems like very un-Zen sort of thing to do


The Arashiyamma bamboo forest 


The only thing worse than taking a photo with an iPad, is taking a movie with an iPad.  And even worse, is taking a selfie with an iPad.  

I’m wondering: if someone is taking a selfie, and is also being photographed doing so, and I’m photographing both of them, will I fall into some sort of fourth-dimensional photographic parallel universe? B/T/W, every time she took a selfie, he took a photo of her, and while I watched, those were the only shots he took. 

The selfie-thing is completely out of control – to the point of this bizarre, obsessive-compulsive trend. These telescoping selfie arms are far too common. I wonder: are they being used in the US?


 We went up to Mount Hiei: first we cycled to the train station, then we took a short train ride, then this inclined tram (the steepest I’ve ever seen), and lastly a cable car. Mt Hiei is famous for the Marathon Monks that live up here. These are some very dedicated monks.

 Nijo Castle 


Okayama, and cycling the Kibi Plain (max speed 5mph)

•November 1, 2014 • 1 Comment

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Kyushu – Historic Trains, Hot Sand Baths, and a Charming Village

•October 24, 2014 • Leave a Comment

We took this historic train to Ibusuki.  It had well dressed staff, wooden paneling, and was more about the experience than anything else.

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Ibusuki is known for its hot (really, hot) sand baths that are on the beach. Kinda bizarre. 

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 We had dinner at the the Yatai, or street stalls in Fukuoka


Dazaifu is a day trip from Fukuoka: temples, gardens, and a small traditional tea house.

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Dazaifu, a small place had this huge museum near the temples and gardens

Note the name of the leaf blower. Nothing particularly Zen about a leaf blower.



 Quite a Starbucks!



The Last Ride

•October 21, 2014 • 8 Comments

My last ride on this trip took me from Ibusuki to Cape Sata, which is the southernmost point on Kyushu and the main archipelago. I had to take a ferry to start the ride down to the point.  

 The 3000′ high, perfectly conical Kaimondake volcano is close to Ibusuki. 

At first I thought this was a woman, but she’s a manikin. Then, a few hundred feet further there was another, then another. This went on for a few miles. Very bizzare. 

Like the rest of Japan, the mountains are steep.  

Cape Sata sits just below the 31st parallel, which is also just south of Ensanada, Mexico or Houston.  I saw the sign below near Sata.  Cape Soya is where I started my ride last year, 2700 km away, which is on the 45th parallel (same as near Portland, OR, or Bordeaux, FR). 


My last tunnel

I haven’t totaled up my miles yet, but the number won’t be particularly big; however, total elevation gain certainly will be!

3 Big Days Riding on Kyushu, one with no GPS

•October 18, 2014 • 3 Comments

Kyushu is the southern-most island of the main archipelago. My cycling routes here were mostly on narrow roads through small villages and hilly farmlands (the operative word here being “hilly”).  The first day was from Beppu, a city famous for its many hot springs, and hot sand baths, to Aso which sits in the bottom of a huge caldera, with the active Aso volcano nearby (Japan’s largest active). 

Alison and I did this hot sand bath, but unfortunately I didn’t have my camera at the time

The ride from Beppu to Aso was 70 miles, with 8000′. Wasn’t supposed to be quite that much, but for some reason my GPS decided it wasn’t going to navigate the entire route. So, I had to improvise. 

When your GPS isn’t working, a sign like this brings no comfort

Fortunately, vending machines can be in the most remote of places, so finding water is never a problem

The ASO caldera is 17 km x 25 km, or 350 sq. miles… about the size of Denver. The floor is billiard-table flat, and is ringed by a range of mountains several thousand feet high. I cycled down onto the floor from the other side, then cycled up this side to one of the five peaks that make up Mount Aso. The volcano was spewing a huge cloud. 


The second day on Kyushu my GPS started working again. This ride was 80 miles with 6500′. Two monster days considering that, while my added weight is relatively low compared to a camping bike tourer, I’m still carrying an extra 23 lbs, which includes packs, rack, contents, and all the ancillerary items like lights, GPS, etc. 

I said small roads!  I’m assuming this pine tree debris was from the typhoon. It’s really soft, so riding on this for a few miles was not a problem

These arrows went on for miles…”yea, I get it, drive on the left!”

The third day, while not huge, added 55 miles and 4000′ to make the last three days 205 miles (that, in and of itself not a huge deal), but it had 18,500′ of climbing (with an added 23 lbs). No wonder the knees ache a bit. 




Continue reading ‘3 Big Days Riding on Kyushu, one with no GPS’


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