The Treasure Islands
I am continuing south on day four from Kochi, a beautiful area I would gladly choose to live if I could. Shikoku is overflowing with great riding and scenery. (lots of images loading, please be little patient)
Some people like riding the same old but for me nothing is better than discovering a new place so I am trying to detour off known routes today balanced against not missing truly beautiful roads.
Southern Shikoku has many beautiful valleys where the roads flow along the side of the rivers. On a day like this with the new foliage bursting to life all around me I cannot express how joyous it feels to be riding a motorcycle here.
Lunch at this roadside rest area with a view to the right of a crystal clear stream was so peaceful. Feeling at ease with life and myself here right now.
I found an incredible new riding road this afternoon but there was no spot with a view of the curves. This is where a drone would have been perfect. The road has no number but is marked on today’s route with green button. Then along the coast more excellent riding.
A met a couple travelling the world in an old ambulance made into camper van (#Circumbendibus). I wish I had time to talk longer, my daily distance is smaller than once but I still have some way to go before I master the art of the slow ride. I bid farewell to make the cape before last light.
Quite a hike to this point and me in motorcycle boots but it is much better than the main viewpoint.
The next morning I was up very early for the ferry from Sukumo to Kyushu. Arriving the port the office is shut and the boat moored. Ok this is a setback. I ride north to the next port which is about 100km. Being early gave me a good run and I arrived shortly before another ferry was going to commence loading. Very fortunate – even more fortunate that at that moment back in Sukumo a earthquake hit. I felt nothing on the boat.
Upon disembarking I try today’s coffee like beverage, not so good this one, Then I take the expressway south and almost catch up to my ride plan by cancelling some of today’s route. I follow this spectacular gorge not photographed well onboard, but still you get an idea.
Today’s route varied a little from above. (select Map on the menu where it says RWGPS for English). Tonight I’m in Yatsushiro a lovely regional town with large covered shopping arcade built in the 70’s that still exist all over Japan, where I found interesting old shops and a temple inside the old castle walls.
My luck continues next with a beautiful day for my arrival into Amakusa, the treasure islands in Japan. My first destination is of course one of the viewpoints – who am I kidding first stop was for coffee! Need it to be sharp today, not easy getting a heavy tourer up some of these tracks.
But worth it. Actually come to think of it, never seen any KTM’s or GS’s at these places… I want to go to that island middle of photo next, there is a track to top of the mountain offering a 360 view.
I arrive the port but have misread the schedule. The next ferry for cars will be mid afternoon and I would not make it back. The ferry office guy pointed to another place on map and said that is highest view in the region so I set off there.
On way up I take a break in small clearing and the FJR thinks with it’s screen low it will have a shot at being pinup – yeah stick to your day job, you’re old and overweight. Bit like me. I better stick to my day job of blogging and leave the jokes to someone else. How about this.
What a spot! I have seen some of this before but today is superb conditions. I think few people truly see Japan. It is a jewel of a country. (p.s. last photo was phone Vs this camera for the photographers reading)
But wait there is more… as said on tv. I decide to visit one other spot today given the weather tomorrow is not looking as good. The climb to here was very narrow so I ride right up the walkway under the pergola. Nobody is here but me. The view is much better than this photo and its a very peaceful feeling to sit here this afternoon.
All this in the same day, The best day ever.
I decide to celebrate. For me that’s some convenience store pasta and a bottle of Chilean Cab Sav relaxing in hotel. What a lucky guy I am. So glad I left the consumer life to use this period of my life doing stuff rather than collecting stuff. No amount of money or luxury items will give you back these years, and opportunities lost later.
Day seven is overcast and damp so I enjoy a rest. Small ride this afternoon but the weather is gloomy. There is so much yet to see here, I certainly will return and explore the treasure islands again.
My routes for yesterday and today don’t match my riding. if you would like to know where those viewpoints are, or anything about riding in Japan contact me. Alternatively you can view my best motorcycle roads Japan map which also has the viewpoints.
Next morning I set off across Kyushu to the east coast, the weather is overcast but hopefully no rain. I’m riding in the Aso region today, known for its great roads and where Kenny Roberts used to enjoy riding when in Japan.
Above is Kenny Road, named after the legend. It’s a fantastic ride even on a day like this. However soon after I ran into rain and had a couple hours of cold drizzle. I sprayed my Gore-tex gear with waterproof coat before this tour and seems to have revived it from previously not working well. All bar the seat of the pants where water defeats the Gore-tex quickly.
I still enjoy riding in Japan if it is not steady rain. There are little things to see around every corner. A temple from the Edo period and a elaborate treehouse abandoned.
I had a viewpoint for today’s lunch but abandoned that to be dry and warm inside a convenience store. Some have small dining area, all have hot water urn to make your own instant udon or ramen which is great on cold day. Late afternoon the rain cleared to give me nice ride into Beppu.
A beautiful morning greeted me on day nine and I decided to change my plans. I was going to visit Himejima island before taking the ferry to Yamaguchi but the beautiful roads of Yufu were calling me.
Today was all about the ride, I was enjoying things so much I didn’t photograph it. I splashed out on a Moss Burger for lunch visited the Orange Road on the peninsular jutting north east from Beppu. This is a fantastic ride with excellent surveying and no cars. I miscalculated the time needed and had to jump onto the main road then break a few rules to make the ferry. Another area I must return to.
Met some guys catching ferry, one of whom had spent two years on Gold Coast Australia and now works for Honda. He said the CBR1000R scares him. On Japanese roads I never use 1/3 the power of the FJR but you do need some occasionally or would be stuck behind vehicles constantly.
And so I set sail for Yamaguchi and the Seto inland sea, a region of Japan that has some terrific scenery. I shall continue this ride report soon.PART 3 PART 1