HadesOmega's Lap of Mt Fuji 2017 Ride Report

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by HadesOmega, Aug 31, 2017.

  1. HadesOmega

    HadesOmega Been here awhile

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    Introduction
    Last year I flew to Tokyo, Japan and rented a MT-07 (known as a FZ-07 in the states) and had a blast! It was my first time in Japan, I had always wanted to visit and the best way to explore hands down is on 2 wheels! I'm a big fan of Japan and Japanese culture. Last year I had lofty goals which in the end I could not attain because I either didn't have enough time or the timing was bad. Last year I had planned to ride around Mt. Fuji and with the little time I had last time I was not able to accomplish it. So this year I aimed to do a lap of Mt. Fuji and visit the places I missed last year!

    Unlike last years ride report I will be relying mostly on tracks, pictures from my camera/phone, and VLOGs. So I will be posting a lot of video. I've gone with the VLOG format because it saves time and I find it more interesting when I'm talking in the videos.

    So here's the plan. I was going to fly to Tokyo Haneda and rent a Yamaha MT-09 Tracer. Ride from Akasaka Tokyo to Hakone. Then I was going to start my lap of Mt. Fuji. I would head south and west of Mt. Fuji then around in a clockwise direction. I would end at Lake Kawaguchiko on the Northeastern side of Mt. Fuji and then head back to Tokyo. I had planned to do this in 4 days. Of course I was going to stop and sightsee along the way.
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    Also I had learned of this touge route (touge means mountain or mountain pass in Japanese) from a website. It basically connected some of the most well known touge in Japan. Last year I had rode some of them now I was giong to try for them all. They say that the birthplace of the motorsport of drifting started here. Personally I think your crazy if your going to slide your car sideways on these narrow roads. If you want to check that page out it's here: http://evomalaysia.com/apr-porsche-cayman-gts-japan-touge
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    #1
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  2. HadesOmega

    HadesOmega Been here awhile

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    DAY 0 AND PREP
    Before flying out I had to make preparations. I needed a new IDP or International Driving Permit. This allows you to operate a motorcycle in another country. The one I used from last year expired already so I went to AAA and got a new one. Haha I even used the same passport photo. The price went up this year also last year was $15 this year $20 :(
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    So unlike last year the exchange rate of dollars to yen was not as good. I had done this trip last year at roughly the same time. It was about 100yen = $0.80 now it was more like 100yen = $1.00. So already it was going to be more expensive. I got an American Airlines ticket for about $1000 round trip. This time was going to fly from SJC to LAX then to HND (Haneda). This time I got to ride on an American 787 though whoo it was a dope plane.

    Anyway I would get there the evening before I had to go check out the bike. Last year I arrived at Haneda at like 0500hrs and had to head straight to JBR (Japan Bike Rentals) to get the bike. So you can guess how tired I was when I had to get the bike. This way I would get time to rest. I had booked to stay at hostels and capsule hotels along the way through Booking.com or Airbnb. Last year I found out I'm really good at planning Japan trips.

    So like last year I opted to take my own gear. I'm very particular about my riding gear plus I had my camera on my helmet. It is a real pain in the ass to have to lug your gear around Tokyo. You can also rent gear from JBR also. I used my adventure riding gear pretty much except for boots I used some black leather military style boots because they take up less space. My gear worked pretty good but boy do I wish I had brought some COLD weather gloves. I had my Alpinestar SP2 gloves and when it gets to like below 5C or like 50F my hands turn into popsicles it seems. Also the bike I rented didn't have heated grips :( In November it is cool in the daytime and COLD at night.
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    Then don't forget your passport.
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    So it was October 31 when my flight was. It would be November 1st when I arrive at Haneda. At 0600hrs at SJC I hop on this plan to LAX.
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    At LAX. This airport sux it very confusing.
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    There it is the 787 Dreamliner!
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    787 Wing
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    So here I am at LAX it's about 1100 here and 0300 in Japan. I would arrive in Japan at around 1500hrs on November 1st. Yeah these inflight gizmos are awesome!
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    #2
  3. HadesOmega

    HadesOmega Been here awhile

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    Here something trick about the windows in the 787. You can adjust the amount of light or tint the window has. So just in case your wondering this flight takes like 11 hours! The funny thing is we flew back up past SF along the way then up to Alaska then past Russia and Korea then Japan. So next time it would be best to just fly from SF. But I wanted my 787 flight!
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    Spotted another aircraft over the Pacific
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    Here we are in Japan.
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    Why hello there Fujisan (That's what they call Mt Fuji, Fujisan or Mr Fuji) that's my destination eventually!
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    And I've made it to Haneda Airport! My Japan adventure begins!
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    #3
  4. HadesOmega

    HadesOmega Been here awhile

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    So next order of business I need commo! Just like last year I rented a wifi device/hotspot. Without this device I'd pretty much be dead in the water because I use this phone for navigation on the train network and on the motorcycle. Plus I need to upload my pictures of course! This year I got a wifi device from Japan Rail Pass. Which is basically Global Communication when I found out later. I sprung for the unlimited data this time also. You can get coverage pretty much anywhere in the Japan.
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    Then I had to get cash. So lately I've been having bad luck getting cash in foreign countries. I didn't know my withdraw limit is $500. The 711 ATM machine at the airport only lets you take out 30,000 yen at a time, that's like $300. So I go to take out 30,000yen. I actually wanted to take out $1000 worth of yen because that's what I figure I would spend while I'm here. Also remember Japan is a CASH society so cash is a must. Anyway I try to take out another 30,000yen and it's a no go the machine won't let me, it said something about an invalid card. So now I'm kinda worried. Now in my VLOG you'll find out that later that I found out my withdrawal limit is $500 so I could have taken out an additional 20,000yen and it would have let me. =/
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    The ATM machines at Haneda airport. As soon as you exit from the customs inspection area just go left and they're right there.
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    Next order of business I need a new cash card for the densha (train). There are pretty much 2 types of these cash cards the PASMO and SUICA cards. Last year I bought a PASMO so I wanted to mix it up and get a SUICA also. I got the one with the monorail on it. I kinda wanted the one with the penguin. So I'm like hurting for cash because I just dumped 10,000yen ($100) into this Suica card. OK we're done at the airport lets get outta here!
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    #4
  5. HadesOmega

    HadesOmega Been here awhile

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    Hop on the Tokyo Monorail but before that I take a picture of this Kawasaki advertisement. Its got the H2 on the right there!
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    Japanese Star Wars Rouge One advertisement at train station.
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    On the way to the hostel I saw this little beauty. A Yamaha Serow 125. This is a 125cc dual sport motorcycle. If you've ever watched the anime Bakuon! One of the girls rides this motorcycle. :ride
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    Also to give you a good idea where Akasaka is in Tokyo here is a map to JBR
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    Since it kind of ties into this I made some how to videos on how to navigate using Google Maps app on a smartphone. This is how I am able to get around Tokyo. Barnone the train is the best way to get around Tokyo, its the fastest and most cost efficient mode of trainsportation.
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    #5
  6. HadesOmega

    HadesOmega Been here awhile

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    So I had planned to go visit Youtube Space in Tokyo this evening and check out Roppongi Hills. I was MEGA tired because I didn't really sleep on the plane. So I was kinda up in the air whether I was gonna do it or now. So I did haha. Roppongi Hills is literally down the street from Akasaka. I take the bus down there.

    Here is Mori Tower. Mori Tower is a huge skyscraper in Roppongi Hills. Youtube Space is in Mori Tower.
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    It changes color too
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    So sadness I found out that to be able to even go to Youtube Space you need to have a Youtube Account that has more than 10,000 subscribers! Eek well seeing as I'm a small time Youtuber at like 400 subscribers no dice. There are keycard controlled gates you need to go through so people who don't work in the building can't go to the other businesses in the building. So what do I do? I settle for taking a picture of the name plate haha. Also youtube space is on the 29th floor.
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    Picture of one of the lobbies in Mori Tower.
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    So now what? Well I just kinda wander around Roppongi Hills and take pictures. Tokyo is beautiful at night. It's like a light show.
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    Tokyo Tower
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    There are some interesting sculptures around Roppongihills. Like this giant flower one. Japanese are very big on art also.
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    Another very famous scuplture Maman. It's like a giant spider.
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    #6
  7. HadesOmega

    HadesOmega Been here awhile

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    So if you pay 1800yen (~$18) you can go up to the observation floor of Mori Tower. You know me I'm a cheapass but I said oh what the hell I'm already here might as well go do it and I'm glad I did. If you get a chance to go up Mori Tower do it, if it's a clear night which fortunately for me it was. It is amazing! It's tough to get good pictures though because of the windows reflection. There is an outdoor deck but it was closed right now and it'd be hella cold and windy anyway. Also I'll that when I was in the elevator when you get close to the top floors your ears start to pop. It's that high up! Mori Tower is one of the tallest structures in Tokyo. The other ones are Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree.
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    Tokyo Tower
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    So high up!
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    Tokyo has the most beautiful nightscape I have ever seen. Better than SF. There is no shortage of skyscrapers in Tokyo.
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    Tokyo Haneda Airport where I flew in from.
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    This is Odaiba the manmade Island. You can tell it is Odaiba by the Rainbow Bridge and the ferris wheel.
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    Tough to see because of all the fog but what you're looking at in the distance is the Tokyo Skytree the tallest structure in Tokyo.
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    See the lights!
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    Also I heard they have different exhibits here. Like a Pokemon exhibit or something. This time they had a Gamera exhibit. Gamera is kinda like Godzilla but a turtle.
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    I'm monstrous now!
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    The city models are amazing
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    There is a lobby here also restaurants and cafes, most are closed right now though.
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    #7
  8. HadesOmega

    HadesOmega Been here awhile

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    So I never talked about the Hostel. Before I went to Roppongi I actually checked in and dropped my stuff off at the Hostel. I've never stayed at a Japanese Hostel before it was a lot like a Capsule Hotel though. The place I stayed at that I found on Booking.com. It was called Inno Family Hostel. It was kinda hard to find it was in a little alley. I think it was around $30. Another interesting thing about this hostel is that it's co-ed so in the same room there are women and men.

    Here is an example of the your sleeping area, it pretty much a bunk bed almost like a capsule.
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    These are the showers and bathroom
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    They've got washers and dryers.
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    This is the check in counter.
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    Common area
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    So there's no checkout process your just checkout.
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    This is the what the front of Inno Family Hostel looks like
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    #8
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  9. HadesOmega

    HadesOmega Been here awhile

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    I now present to you the VLOG for Day 0

    HadesOmega's Lap of Mt. Fuji VLOG Episode 0 - Japan Here I Come!
    #9
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  10. HadesOmega

    HadesOmega Been here awhile

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    DAY 1 - ODAWARA CASTLE, EVA-YA, TAMADARE FALLS, MAZDA HAKONE TURNPIKE, YUGUWARA PASS, AND TSUBAKI LINE
    Its the next day. about 0700. The good thing about the hostel I chose is that it's in Akasaka already so I could just walk over to Japan Bike Rentals. I got something to munch on at the convenience store and attempted to withdraw more money. I was able to get 20,000yen yipee. So somehwere along the line I'm going to take out another 30,000 + 20,000 yen and I should be set.

    Along the way I see this familiar Yamaha caferacer styled bike.
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    So I make it to JBR and get the briefing from Jonathan. He's this Australian guy that works at JBR I have dealt with him last year also. He hooked me up with the bike. To use the ETC card I needed to give him a 10,000yen deposit, good thing I withdrew some cash! Some info on the ETC card, there are many toll roads in Japan and they are equipped with ETC cards, it's kind of like a fasttrak. You just passed through the gate and it will acknowledge you and the arm will popup and your own your way.
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    I will also mention that I was wearing most of my riding gear already. Last year I had to change at JBR so it took longer to get the bike. So here she is she's a big girl the MT-09 Tracer, also known in the states as the FJ-09. I had also rented out the top case and side panniers. Last year I only got the topcase and I felt I could use more space for souvenirs and organize stuff. They worked out great. There it is the Yamakyu all decked out with touring luggage. If you don't know what a MT-09 Tracer is it is based on the FZ-09/MT-09 naked sportbike. The Tracer/FJ is the sport touring version of the FZ/MT-09. Its like a 900cc Triple, she's a big girl too! Last year I had rented a MT-07 and felt it was a lot more nimble.

    I will refer to the Tracer as YamaKyu it's the name I gave the bike. Yama because it sounds like Yamaha and Yama alsmo means mountain in Japanese. Then Kyu = 9 from the 09 designation. Yama+Kyu = YamaKyu =P Similar to the name I gave the MT-07 last year which was YamaNana, MountainSeven. Why Yama/Mountain? Because we are going to carve up some mountains of course!
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  11. HadesOmega

    HadesOmega Been here awhile

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    Before we set off I want to give a little cost breakdown on the bike rental this is straight from the email JBR sent me.
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    I also want to mention that the JBR staff DOES speak english which is another reason I went with them. Most of the time there will be NO English speaking staff at a bike rental place so you'll have have to bring someone that can speak Japanese. I cannot speak Japanese, I can understand a bit and talk a little bit because I've watched so much anime and I study Japanese culture and I've studied Kendo, but I pretty much don't speak or read Japanese, believe me I've tried.... I would also like to mention I blend in VERY WELL (maybe mistaken for a Okinawan haha because of my brown skin), I can pass for Japanese, many people come up to me and think I am Japanese and start speaking to me which kinda becomes annoying afterawhile. You definitely want to make a phrase book of somesort or use google translate if you can't, but you can get by in Japan without speaking or reading Japanese. They supposedly are taught English in school and many of the signs are in English/Romanji.

    Also when you get there you will need:
    Passport
    International Driving Permit

    Renting a motorcycle in Japan is not that cheap, but you figure its probably about as much in the states. It is far cheaper than importing and shipping your bike though. I also should mention the open explore option is the GPS unit. They have 2 self guided tours. One is Scenic Guided Tour and the other is Open Explore. The Scenic Guided Tour they pretty much custom tailor a ride for you on the GPS and you just follow it and you can stop places they have for you along the way. What I chose was Open Explor, so basically I get the preloaded GPS unit but there is no track to follow. They give you a guidebook for the region you're in and you punch in a number into the GPS and it'll take you there. Since I kinda know my way around this area because I did a similar ride last year, I went with Open Explore. Another difference is they book the hotels for you everyday also on the SGT option.

    Also usually how I do a yen to USD conversion I just lop off 2 zeros from the yen price and it will give you an approximate USD price. So lets say the Tracer rental was 17900yen, that would be about $179 or $180. For the time this was pretty accurate because the dollar was weaker when I took this trip, it fluctuates a lot right now as of this ride report it is 100yen = $0.88 which is like $0.12 stronger than when I went. Just a little info on the yen for ya! ;)

    Got this straight from my email:
    Your booking request details are as follows:
    Item Item Price/Day Quantity Price/Day
    Yamaha MT-09 Tracer 17900yen/day 1 17900yen/day
    Yamaha Tracer side cases 900yen/day 1 900yen/day
    Yamaha Tracer top case 900yen/day 1 900yen/day
    ETC card 800yen/day 1 800yen/day
    Open Explorer 2400yen/day 1 2400yen/day
    22900 yen/day
    Pickup: at Japan Bike Rentals Tokyo Office from 02-Nov-2016 9 AM
    Drop-off: at Japan Bike Rentals Tokyo Office by 05-Nov-2016 9 AM
    Duration of Trip: 3 days
    Total Cost 68,700 yen

    So you can see I rented the MT-09 Tracer, Side Cases, Top Case, ETC card, and Open explore option. It wound up coming to 22,900yen which is about $230 a day. Also the trip was actually more like 4 days it like they subtract 1 day from the total days. So long as you get it back close the time you rented it. I'll tell you now I was late coming back because of complications and they were totally cool with it as long as you let them know in advance.

    So total trip cost was 68,700yen or $687. Pricey yes but to me TOTALLY WORTH IT! So LET'S RIDE!
    #11
  12. HadesOmega

    HadesOmega Been here awhile

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    Alright let's ride! So first order of business is ESCAPE FROM TOKYO. As much as I love Tokyo it's a nightmare to ride around. The best way to get around Tokyo is train so let's get outta here. So here is where JBR is at in Akasaka Tokyo.
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    Getting out of Tokyo. So I will tell you now that I had to readjust to riding on the left side of the road. I still get confused and even now back in the states sometimes I get confused. My best suggestion is if you get confused what side of the road to ride on is follow a vehicle in front of you.
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    So before I set out Jonathan set my GPS to take me to Odawara Castle. So that right now I'm just following what Ms. Garmin tells me. Well remember I said I get confused? Well here is where I get confused. Ms. Garmin tells me to make a left turn here and I ride past the left lane and look at the right lane and am thinking hmm the cars are pointing at me. Haha so I missed the turn. So I ride down the street for a while and bust a U turn. I don't know if it was legal or not, there are signs on the ground that have a U turn symbol and an X if it's not legal to do a U turn. Another thing about the Tokyo is there are police EVERYWHERE.
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    So I'm riding around Tokyo and trying to VLOG about the previous days events but I stop like halfway because I need to focus on getting outta here first. I wanted to ride down Omotesando also. Omotesando is a popular shopping district in Tokyo kinda near Harajuku. So anyway it wasn't that spectacular and eventually I manage to make my way to the Tomei Expressway entrance that takes me out of Tokyo.
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    #12
  13. HadesOmega

    HadesOmega Been here awhile

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    HadesOmega's Lap of Mt. Fuji VLOG Episode 1 - Escape from Tokyo
    #13
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  14. Gone Troppo

    Gone Troppo Somewhat bemused observer

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    Great! More.
    #14
  15. HadesOmega

    HadesOmega Been here awhile

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    So I'm riding on the Tomei Expressway, it's a boring but scenic ride through the less built up area west of Tokyo. I get enough time to VLOG about the previous day's events and what I am doing this trip. At the end of the VLOG I stop at Hiratsuka Rest Stop and take a little rest break it's really cold today =(
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    I see some Harley riders here. So if you don't know Harley Davidson motorcycles are SUPER popular in Japan. You will see lots of them riding in groups like this one. They like that shiny American steel!
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    Another chopper
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    Harley Sportster Forty-Eight
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    The Yamakyu
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    The motorcycle parking area
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    Green Tea Cafe Au Lait yummy nice to drink a warm beverage right now. I got it from this vending machine that show's you the process of making it from start to finish inside the machine. It's in the recap VLOG video its pretty funny and entertaining.
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    Now here are 2 interesting vehicles. The one in the front is a Toyota Estima. Also known as the Toyota Previa in the states. This is actually a newer model Estima after the discontinued it in the states. Then notice there is a Peugot back there, they stopped selling those in the states long ago.
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    There you see a Estima leaving the reststop. This is like the model we have in the states.
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    A Blurry Picture of Hiratsuka rest stop
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    Here you see a Honda CRZ and a Mazda FD-RX7
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    #15
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  16. HadesOmega

    HadesOmega Been here awhile

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    HadesOmega's Lap of Mt. Fuji VLOG Episode 2 - Day 0 Recap VLOG
    #16
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  17. Romero

    Romero Been here awhile

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    I used to work in Motorsports as a mechanic for Mazda Factory.....first Formula Mazda then Touring Car.....Love Mazda pics!!
    Thanks, and nice RR...I liked your last one as well!
    #17
  18. Romero

    Romero Been here awhile

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    Oh a G Wagen pic would be cool, I think I asked that last RR!!
    #18
  19. Gone Troppo

    Gone Troppo Somewhat bemused observer

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    Great pics. Keep them coming.
    #19
  20. HadesOmega

    HadesOmega Been here awhile

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    At the rest stop I took a little break and put my ram ball mount on the handle bar of the YamaKyu so I can use my phone to navigate. It pretty easy to navigate with Google Maps because all you have to do is look up what your looking for and tell it to go there or click on the map. You can also star or mark the destinations on the map for later use.

    So next stop Odawara Castle! There were a buncha riders that I rode with for a little while. Even though the weather was kinda crappy people were still out riding.

    So not far from the rest stop I got pulled over by an unmarked police car. Right after a construction zone I accelerated out of it at like 100km and didn't notice that the speedlimit was like 70km. I pass by 2 silver sedans no marks at all. Then a few miles err kilometers down the road a policeman is telling me to pull over. He had one of those little magnetic police lights and was talking to me through a loudspeaker. Busted! So I had thought that he was saying to please slow down but he motioned for me to stop. Then it was just an awkward conversation trying to explain to him that I was a foreigner riding a rented bike. JBR actually has a little card you can give them that explains what's going on if you get pulled over but I didn't have it handy. Anyway I told him it was a rental I speak english and I said gomenasai a bunch of times (gomen-nasai = sorry). I showed him my IDP also. I guess I should have tried to tell him I'm from America also. He told me to slow down the speed limit is 70km. He even wrote 70 on his clipboard. Haha the whole event is in my VLOG, he looked really awkward when he found out I'm a baka gaijin haha (baka gaijin = stupid foreigner). Then he just drove off. I guess it was just bad luck because people regularly drive 10 or 20km over the speedlimit I touched 30km over for a second.

    THen the rest of the way was kind of uneventful driving through the town of Odawara.
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    HadesOmega's Lap of Mt. Fuji VLOG Episode 3 - Busted Already!
    #20
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