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Motorcycle Paradise

Big Japan Motorcycle Ride part five, the gambler

I depart Nagasaki day twelve into steady rain. I had experienced nice weather in other key areas so did not feel too disappointed.
But it did ruin the plan this morning to visit Iki island north of Nagasaki, a old coal mine full of abandoned buildings.
Oh well, next time. I stayed in the room awhile then forced myself out into the gloomy conditions.
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Regular readers may recall I was sampling every type of iced coffee sold in Japan. There are at least 50 different varieties in shops and the millions of vending machines but this is the clear winner.
Rode past a sign mentioning the western most point of mainland Japan so had to turn around.
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While there the rain returned in earnest so I sat it out for a extended period.
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I felt surprisingly at peace just listening to the rain on the roof and dripping from the trees. Took me back to my childhood sitting on a front porch under tin roof.
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Trying to ride north west the conditions were poor. I decide to abandon todays route. 
You have to know when to hold them, know when to fold them know when to watch the rain radar and take evasive action.
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Took shelter in a 7/11 awhile before making dash to hotel.
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If this photo had sound you would hear the rain lashing the window in front of me and a orchestral version of the Monkee’s Daydream Believer being played on loop inside the shop.
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Tonight I ventured out in the rain to a ‘Joyful’ restaurant for a Japanese take on western food known as Hamburg steak. About $6 and I asked for only 1/2 rice as putting on weight already this trip.

Day thirteen the rain has stopped and forecast is clearing with gusty winds. I thought take a chance to try see the Kawachi Pass viewpoint I missed yesterday.
The gamble didn't entirely pay off.
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But it gave me an indication of how nice this will be on a fine day.
The look of the place in these conditions reminded me of Ireland. I decided to ride out to the Ikisuki island bridge missed from yesterdays ride to try a little artistic photo in the conditions.
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Turning around they were stopping motorcycles from crossing the bridge due to high wind. Ah guys the FJR weighs more than a small planet, the bridge will fall down before I am blown off. After some stubbornness they agreed and let me go.
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I enjoyed some superb roads next riding down into the Saga prefecture. Never seen this area mentioned anywhere for good riding but just delightful.

Climbed up Mt Hachiman knowing the view would be limited. It was a nice ride anyway.

I cut my route through rest of Saga concerned my side trips this morning would push the day out and jumped on the expressway.
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Quite effortless to knock over a couple hundred km of expressway on a bike like the FJR. Big screen, comfy seat, cruise control.
I vaguely remembered a nice ramen shop on the highway but it turned out to be 1km past my exit ramp, ah what the hell.
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It was worth it on this cold day. 10 km now to the next exit, that’s a blink of the eye on the FJR wound up. Not many places you can ride like that without worry. Feel sorry for guys in Australia and France.
The side road back to my original route then proved to be excellent. I am starting to think there are no bad riding roads in countryside Japan.
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The road through Akiyoshidai appears to be grass meadows but closer inspection is all volcanic rock where only grass has been able to take hold.
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Meandering through rural Japan this afternoon. The sun plays in the patterns of the newly planted rice in the flooded paddies as I ride by.
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A short cut in Japan can often turn out to be a minor road. No prbs on my light offroad bike.
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Arriving at Hagi my zoom lens breaks. I have not taken to the Lumix GX85 which continues to have a front focus issue like the LX100. This may be the proverbial straw, but latest compact cameras are priced at twice what a good new phone costs. Very hard to get a idea of what is actually worth buying. People are ‘fan boys’ of brands which to me seems as intelligent as rednecks arguing Ford Vs Chevy.
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Cold afternoon in Hagi. Have to don my motorcycle jacket to go outside. I did my washing in the hotel coin laundry and watched the sun set.

No.3 of my things that underwhelm in Japan* are coin laundry clothes dryers. The heat is toned down. So whatever you would normally need time wise double it. I put 500Y of coins in now to make certain.
* for readers whom English is not first language – not everything I write is meant to be taken serious… Winking smile




To borrow from a famous movie “Do you want to see the most beautiful thing I have filmed”

Amazing weather next morning. I am riding an arc across Yamaguchi and Hiroshima on day fourteen.
Really looking forward to today which is exploring lesser known roads.
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Riding through valleys like below with the odd small town usually with a beautiful park and tourist info centre that has fresh local produce on sale.
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A world away from the big cities.
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Morning coffee stop.
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Remote farm soon to plant their rice.
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Small temple in mountain.
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The finer details, missed if in a hurry.

Just love exploring this kind of area in Japan. Eventually I made my way to the Suzanami Skyline near Kure.
This is a phenomenal riding road. Up there with the likes of some of the best skylines in Japan. Impossible to photograph. I offer you the view from half way down the southern side.

See the bridge, it leads to the area I island hopped on my inland sea tour.
There is a much higher viewpoint at the top but I ended up just relaxing and taking all this in at leisure while watching the many bikes out on this Sunday afternoon.
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Classics from the 80’s and quite a few two strokes. No matter how many 1000 horsepower your latest hyper bike has it doesn’t have an a ounce of that cred.

Made it into Takehara with time to walk around it’s historic district.
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The guy who brought whiskey to Japan started from here.
Masataka Taketsuru was ridiculed by people who said we have sake what do we need that for. But determined he went to Scotland to learn whisky making taking up chemistry at Glasgow university in 1918. He romanced and married a Scottish lass Jessie Roberta Cowan, from Kirkintilloch who returned with him to Japan where he worked to establish Japan’s first whisky at Yamazaki. In 2013 a single malt from Yamazaki won the worlds best whisky title.

In an effort to showcase more local culture I decided to dine at one of the fine local establishments.
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Not sure on the pronunciation.

Thanks for visiting. Feel free to leave a comment or look at my gps routes on ridewithgps.com user warren.

(part six now posted here)

4 comments

  1. My apologies to everyone that had commented on recent posts. I was not aware that turning on a Google+ feature for the blog forced people to use Google+ to leave comments. Since so few people use G+ compared to Facebook that would limit future interaction by readers so I have turned it off again however that removed the comments made.

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    1. Just to follow up on this. A comment that has been lost was a reader asked was the Suzanami skyline photo from my Ricoh Theta camera? That photo was from my Lumix GX85 using 40mm lens and stitching a few frames together. If you compare to the next photo where I am seated note the colours washed out by the smaller sensor Sony QX10. I've decided to sell the GX85 and get a larger sensor based on the improvements in dynamic range.

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  2. Yeah, that was me Warren. Thought you were ignoring my questions/comments because I ride mountain bikes more than my motorcycle but now I see that you had an i.t. problem, so all is forgiven.
    I also asked on another post what you do for a living in Japan if you don't mind answering? I mean, what would drag you away from Brisbane (and this awesome winter weather?)
    Cheers
    Dave

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    1. Sorry for late reply still having problems with the comments.
      It’s really complicated personal reasoning as to why. I not only left Brisbane but left everything

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Hey go right ahead and post something here. I'd love to hear from you and your comments will be published soon as I review them - this is just to stop spam otherwise I end up with 50 'cheap viagra' advertisements posted here.