The north, me and my bike haven’t been living as harmoniously as my ventures in the south… Not sure if it’s the rocky roads and pot holes from the snow or maybe my tyre pressures where a little off… perhaps just bad luck, but I’ve had like 3 punctures. I felt like I have been dilly dawdling with my bike every other day. When I was riding around Tsuruoka city I got another… Piss. In the morning I swapped out my tube and headed to Otaki bike shop to get the pressures checked and stock up on spares.
He was closed but tinkering around in the shop, he opened 45minutes early to attend to me. I got two new tubes and the pressures checked and went on my way… I got to the corner and my front tyre blew. What why?
I noticed the side wall was broken, must have happened when I went down the grate. So, I went back to the shop… He put the kettle on, and brought out a selection of tyres. STRONGEST please! Then his wife came out with a care package for me to continue my journey. I was overwhelmed with the service I was given. Truly a heartfelt bike shop!
I headed to Mount Haguro to check out the Pagoda and shrines.
They had so many different shines to help with wealth, art, family, good crops etc… but none for carelessness or stupidity. Guess theirs not short cut then, better keep working on that.
Next day I cycled and camped up in Yuzawa. I’ve come across so many small cities and towns in the country and their just deserted. I don’t think it’s just corona, though I’m sure this hasn’t helped. I’m guessing youth are not living in the country side anymore and moved out towards the cities. Also, the stabilization of the population has had an effect on the small towns. Guess this is why the government encourages young couples with children or the notion to have children to move remotely with cheap aided accommodation. Its definitely eerie out there.
Lake Tazawako was the next stop in Senboku district.
Enroute I went to check out some samurai housing in Kuramoto…
Traditional Japanese moss garden which I love. Mount Fuji art on washi paper. Sakura Icecream😍
I awoke to yet another flat tyre…. Jeezloweeze. Accept that this is bike travelling.... wooosaaaaa. I’m hoping this one will see me home. I found a pretty cool gravel trail near the lake after having some fun here it was time to ascend the mountain.
At the start of the climb my legs where feeling a-little goosed my body was feeling the effects of the last month and on this day, I could really feel the weight. Why am I carrying books again? I haven’t even opened them the whole trip. That camp chair I’ve only used twice… These where the things that were going through my brain as I was zigzagging my way up the hill. Backcountry ski style. The rain of course pouring. GREAT.
I stopped of at a dam and two lovely ladies asked me if I was cold? I replied I was, of course I’m drenched and wearing shorts. I explained that my legs are waterproof but my trousers are not. They laughed but looked concerned then a few minutes later came and handled me some cookies and sweets and wished me luck for the rest of the ascent. The mood boosts. Thank you, ladies, for your kindness!
Tama River Dam this runs most of the way up to the onsen. It is dreamy scenery.
I reached Tamagawa hotspring… I needed a half time dip and my bones warming up. This Onsen is a designated health resort. In Japan doctors actually recommend visiting certain hot spring spots to aid with the healing of skin conditions, gynaecological diseases and even cancer. I’m not sure how much evidence exists to back this up. But I can say the spots on my bum from saddle seat got rather irritated in the concentrated sulphur water and since cleared up. Maybe theirs some truth in it!
Getting back on my bike to continue cycling in the rain wasn’t very inviting. I had to give myself pep talk. A few more hundred meters and I finally reached the top of the pass. There was still some snow at the side of the roads and my tootsy toes felt as though they were going to fall off.
The decent was beautifiul! Hachimantai area is known for its stunning country side… give it a google as I didn’t take so many snaps. I got a room that night F**k camping.
Stopped off in Hirosaki to see the castle and to grab a cafe treat.
I reached Aomori the next evening after stopping off at every michi no eki enroute for an apple pie! Day 31 exactly 1 month after setting out from Maizaru. God I’m good with timing! I went for a celebratory miso scallop stop at an Izakaya, SOOO tasty!! The servers and chefs were interested in my bike story.
They gave me some complimentary sakes to try so I could compare them to Niigata, then some bread to soak up the booze on my way out. I still need to find camp, woops.
That scallop doesn't look very appetising but I swear....soooooo freaking good!!
Now I’m on the ferry returning to Hokkaido. This morning I really wanted to point my bike back south and carry on exploring. I have another two days cycle on the other side until I reach home. Let’s make them count.
Ferry basic seating and last nights camp.
I guess my twenty pence for today, is that a little kindness goes along way. Everytime that I have felt de-motivated on this trip. Somebody has been there with a small offering of kindness to bring a smile back to my face.
Thank you for the kindness and the sense of community from the Japanese people along the way. It’s one of the reasons I do love Japan. Look after your neighbour folks, a little love can change the world ❤