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Islands of Japan Motorcycle Tour – part two

Wakayama to Ehime

Day 3

(Part one can be viewed here) I woke up early as I do every day on tour because it is like a Sunday ride day every day. No buffet breakfast at this hotel the restaurant was under renovation so I went to the 7/11 which in Japan has wide variety of fresh made food and bakery items and was generally taking my time before setting off to the ferry as in my mind it was just down the road. I tried to chat in my limited Japanese to a fellow rider who had a new Honda Africa Twin. Nice looking bike but I would be worried with spoke wheels getting a puncture. No easy repair via plug and go or can of inflation goop. I got going and immediately realised I was much further from the port than I thought and would have to get across town then ran into the morning traffic. Hmm this might be close.

I was watching the time slip away in heavy traffic so started to filter to the traffic lights, then even more aggressive filtering in the traffic as it really looked like I was not going to make it. Once in the industrial part closer to the port I had to take things a step further as I was stuck in endless traffic lights that Japan loves to install at even the most minor junction – so I just started to ride through the red lights after stopping to see there was no traffic. There are no red light cameras in Japan and people generally run the yellow into red like they used to in Australia before cameras came into being. This was a bit cheeky but doing so made a big difference and I just made it with minutes to spare for the ticket purchase cut off then at the boat they were waiting for me the last to board.

I could have had a nice breakfast on the ferry and vowed not to put myself in this situation again. The ferry from Wakayama to Tokushima is large and comfortable with plenty of space to lie down and take a nap on the carpeted areas that Japanese ferries mostly have instead of seating. Price was close to yesterdays ferry despite this being much longer sailing at around two hours. I took a nap and before I knew it I was waiting for the ok to go down to the car deck and get ready to disembark.

Islands of Japan Motorcycle Tour first appeared on Motorcycle Paradise May 2017 

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The ferry mascot is a school girl in various short skirts around the boat, you get used to this sort of thing in Japan.

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A few riders boarding after I disembarked, perhaps having extended their golden week holiday a little and going home now. Bikes always load first and disembark last. The ferry was half empty on the way over so I had no issues arriving late but when they are busy if you arrived after the hold is full of vehicles you probably would not get on since everything is packed in like sardines.

The GPS was saying one thing, the road signs another exiting Tokushima. As usual the road signs were right and I had to double back to get on the right expressway north to Takamatsu. The skies were grey with low clouds. Japan seems to often have these overcast days with low skies and a haze greatly limits view distance much like smog/smoke haze does in Thailand or Taiwan but it isn’t pollution rather a mist of sorts which will burn off quickly if the sun comes out. However often you never see the sun as the sky remains a thick impenetrable blanket of grey the entire day.

It was a relatively short ride north to Takamatsu on the expressway.

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I stopped off for lunch at one of the expressway service areas. Another ‘Don’ type rice bowl with topping fast food chain, Sukiya. I chose their Korean style kimchi dish which was pretty good and under $5.00 Aus. Cold water and hot Japanese style tea are usually complimentary, here pickled ginger as seen in the small packets is also free which go well with some dishes.

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I had a lookout or two planned for each day since I like that sort of thing very much as readers may have noticed. Today however the weather was such that it ruined the view at Yashima Plateau.

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It is a shame this would be rather nice on a sunny day. I moved on to the port to find a ferry to Shodoshima. Despite not being remote few people I have spoken to have been here. Time to explore the port while waiting. As usual though nothing much except a few vending machines. Oh well I shall try another beverage – not bad, better than average.

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I took lots of photos on the ride out, the scenery with the naked eye of the 100’s of islands was still enjoyable, however a camera cannot cut through the haze nor substitute the colour that is diluted to grey in these conditions so none are worth posting. Here is a helmet hair selfie instead.

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I set off to the middle of the island to another high view point. The roads were terrific.

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Alas the weather made the views hard to capture. But it was a fantastic spot with 270 degree views over the island and the surrounding oceans. The photos with the phone lack the detail to clean up with post processing and unfortunately my Lumix LX100 yet again let me down. I took a few photos in raw format with exposure and focus locked to later compile into a panorama and edit but it only took one in focus. This actually proved to be the straw that broke the camels back as the saying goes for me and this camera as the way it focuses is inconsistent and I made the decision to sell it after this trip. I will return here again as it would rank up with the best views in Japan on a clear day I think.

I rode down the other side via some nice roads and then along long the coast, very scenic again, still not able to capture it very well.

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I like to play around with google maps and look at the images that people take and add to the maps. That is how I find these view points and what lead me to the final place I had on my route for today. I rock perched on top of a hill that was said to be a nice view but not well known.

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Just finding the access was difficult, a very narrow road snakes it way up from behind a bunch of houses with no signage. Then there are stairs that go on forever. I got to the end of what was visible from the ground to turn and see this ahead of me still.

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Above this is a small shrine and then the path becomes a chain and rope and rough sandstone rock to climb. I had a sit to catch my breath and weigh up continuing as I spotted a number of the pegs holding the chain to the rock had detached themselves. It was fair to say probably not entirely safe from this point.

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But I came this far so on up I go as the view reveals itself to be grand even in the poor conditions.

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Shodoshima. One of the many less visited islands of Japan. A place I firmly will return to see more of another time.

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I was totally tired tonight arriving to my room about 7.00pm so after a long shower I grabbed a ready made meal from the 7/11 nearby and ate in my room with a couple of fake beers. Let me explain that. Tax on alcohol in Japan is next to nothing, a litre of Jim Beam costs as low as $8.00. But they do tax the most popular drink, beer by applying a round about fee to hops. So they make drinks that taste like beer but are not beer as they have no hops and these beer like drinks sell for about a $1 a can in the supermarket and at a slight markup in a 7/11 on he shelf next to the regular beers.

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An item from older days still in this hotel. Coin operated TV box. When I first visited Japan you would find these in use in Ryokans (traditional inns) Not sure if any still in use, I do not watch any TV in Japan. It consists entirely of shows that revolve around cooking and talking, every channel, 24/7. Only time I used one of these boxes was in 2001, I was in Kyoto and the 9/11 attack was happening. It was late night Japan time and the only way I could turn away and go to sleep was when the 100 yen coin time ran out and I had none to replace it.

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Day 4.

I woke up at dawn and the weather app was saying partly sunny so I decided to skip breakfast and ride back to the lookout in the middle of the island before the ferry to try again to capture it. I went off and got about half way and then I said to myself wait a minute Warren have you thought this through, it might not be far but you then have to get back into town which will have traffic even in a small place like this. There was still no break in the clouds so with the memory of the Wakayama ferry mad dash still fresh in my memory I turned around. Sitting at the dock with a banana and iced coffee I wished I had not skipped the hotel hot breakfast haha - but all part of the adventure.

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Sailing out of Shodoshima the clouds finally lifted and so did my spirits!

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This was really a nice voyage, the ferry stopped at some of the islands in route which I did not even realise were populated and would like to visit in the future. So tranquil sitting on the deck cruising past the islands.

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Upon disembarking I grabbed some takeaway lunch and sports drink as the day was turning into a steamy one. I have my own cool bag and ice brick I freeze each night in hotel fridge. Then I made my way along a terrific bit of tar called Washuzkan Mountain road. This must have been a toll road once as it is segregated from the surrounding roads making for a very fun ride to another lookout point I found on google maps. And this one was rather special. You really need to enlarge this to take it all in.

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Lunch with a view of one mighty bridge at this spot today.

And now it is time to ride it. All this held up by those small cables.

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So happy to have fine weather for this.

My route today goes like this. Mostly designed to visit the viewpoints of the bridge then overlooking the islands of the inland sea. Of course some good roads along the way mixed in but today is all about scenic vistas.

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I made my way down to another spot that is not really on the tourist maps, I found it again in google images. Shiudeyama is located on a small peninsular jutting out into the inland sea. Lovely ocean side ride down there.

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And wonderful views after a narrow ascent then short walk.

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I stopped at another angle view under a shady tree for awhile watching the big cargo ships sail by one after another. It was very peaceful.

Making my way inland a short distance to the mountains I wanted to visit a cable car to see if I could go up to see over the area from a great height. It was a hot afternoon and as I got closer to the ropeway I sense the drop in temperature like on day two indicating a storm was brewing. Soon clouds had moved in and views had been lost so I rode on to the mountain roads I had lined up for this afternoon. In route I came by chance upon the first concrete dam built in Japan.

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The storm was just ahead of me. It became very dark and a few drops but I could see on the radar it was moving in same direction so I just pulled up for awhile at a rest spot then a few km later I stopped again to put my liner in as the temp had fallen to 15 in the mountains. Two aspects of Japan, the modern industrial and the old just a short distance apart.

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I slowed again having caught the edge of the rain and while the wet roads were a shame the storm presented a photo opportunity.

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This mountain road on the north west side (route 47) was terrific, a two lane extended descent that would be a great ride in the other direction. Fairly remote I saw no other cars but well surfaced and good surveying.

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What an amazing day from Shodoshima this morning. There is so much packed into Japan to see.

Join me again soon as I continue this motorcycle ride to the bottom of Japan and beyond to the Goto Islands.

(part three now posted here)

6 comments

  1. Anotther great read , pics look fine to me. Accommodation seems pretty cheap in country Japan .

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    1. Hi Andrew, the weather started cloudy but then turned out very nice this trip. Accommodation can be really cheap, I generally go for hotels I can book easy but the mom and pop type business hotels not on the net are even lower price if my Japanese was better as are the love hotels that I see one rider here uses.

      More on this tour soon.

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  2. What a difference the sunshine and blue sky makes. So many beautiful views. It must have been hard not to stop at every viewpoint.

    I don't think I've ever seen a coin operated tv......

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    Replies
    1. I have seen coin operated air conditioners in old roadside motels but the tv did not make sense to me then I found you have to pay a tv licence here for every tv set and perhaps hotels got slugged a high fee once so that might have been part of reason originally.

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  3. You could have put a few of those non-beers in your make shift esky and had some cold one's along the roadside with some of those fantastic views.

    Loving your pics and tour report.

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    1. Now that's an idea for summer for sure Steve.

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