Hokkaido Japan (In Search of Space)

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Edmond Dantès, Sep 3, 2013.

  1. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

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    <small>

    My last ride up to Tohoku took me up as far as the Ryusendo caves, Iwate Prefecture. (See my: Japan 6 Days link below)

    This time I hope to explore the area north of Ryusendo on Honshu and also the prefecture of Hokkaido.

    A 7 hour run up the Tohoku Expressway gets me up to the city of Morioka and over to the coastal town of Kuji for the first night's camp. Before the events of March 11th 2011 I could have bedded down for the night at my wife's family home in Kamaishi, but all that remains of it now is a flat piece of ground. The good thing was that no one was staying in the house when the sea came in at the time.

    The camp site at Kuji. 200 yen ($2) for the night. It was a bit of a bitch to find, but the location, right on the coast was awesome.
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    </small>Kuji is famous for the Ama female skin divers. These ladies drive down to 10 meters without breathing equipment to catch shellfish.
    Sorry, no pic of any Ama, but here is one of a soggy tent and dripping Varadero:

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    #1
  2. LethPhaos

    LethPhaos brb

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    In! I toured around Japan for 3 weeks by Shinkansen but never made it to Hokkaido, so looking forward to your pictures :)
    #2
  3. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    IN! Just nipped back and read your first Japan report---great stuff! I've been an inmate for just a while, but it seemed to me that reports on Japan were under represented. I think sometimes we in the States have a conception that Japan is just Edo end to end, but that is not the case at all. I'd love to ride there sometime.....absolutely on the list. That Nikko shrine complex in your earlier report blew me away.
    #3
  4. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

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    Thanks for the interest guys.


    <small></small>
    <small>View Larger Map

    Follow the coast road out of Iwate Prefecture and into Aomori. Many is the person who will jump on the ferry at Hachinohe for Hokkaido, but I reckon the Shimokita Peninsula has much to offer and is worth a look around. As you can see, the Shimokita peninsula is shaped like a hook. I call it the Hook of Honshu, but I am sure it has already been called that in the past.

    The morning's ride is to Cape Shiriyazaki, the most north eastern part of Honshu. The road leading up to the cape was simply awesome, very long straights cutting through forests of pine.
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    The Cape Crusader
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    Wild wild horses
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    Some video footage:
    <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/puxSB2hsozA" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" width="420"></iframe>
    </small>
    #4
  5. CaptnSlo

    CaptnSlo Derelicte

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    I'm a big fan of Hokkaido landscape photographer Shinzo Maeda and have always wanted to check out the beauty of the island in person. It seems like motorcycling would be an ideal way to do so. I'm looking forward to your pics and write-up.
    #5
  6. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

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    Unfamiliar with this photographer, but will definitely check out his work.

    From the Shiriyazaki cape I head to the coastal town of Ohata and then down to Mutsu to pick up supplies before heading into the remote Yagen Valley to camp for the evening. The paved road leading into the valley soon turns to flat rindo (unpaved forest road) after the hotel.
    There are 3 onsens, all of which are free. Wiki Travel calls the Yagen Valley one of the most beautiful mountain valleys in Jp. I have to agree, it's a pretty fine valley.

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    Pitch the tent in the campground 500 yen ($5) for the night and then jump a nice hot bath at the Kappa-no-yu (&#12363;&#12387;&#12401;&#12398;&#28271;), The water was hot as hell!

    The Eponymous Hot as Hell Kappa
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    The next morning I jump another bath. The water was still incredibly hot..
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    Then I take the opportunity to ride the valley without carrying that weight, Boy you don't have to carry that weight, carry that weight a long time:
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    Footage of riding the Yagen Valley:
    <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/9KEKCFPZinw" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" width="560"></iframe>
    Master Po: Close your eyes. What do you hear?
    Young Caine: I hear the water, I hear the birds.
    Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat?
    Caine: No.
    Po: Do you hear the grasshopper which is on your front tire?
    Caine: Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
    Po: Young man, how is it that you do not?<sup id="cite_ref-4" class="reference"></sup>
    [​IMG]

    Break the camp and head to the port of Oma to find a ferry.
    [​IMG]
    #6
  7. windmills

    windmills Gnearly Adventurer

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    Hey! Here's something different!

    I have always been intrigued by Japan, its great to have a chance to look at it from a bike, thanks. :D

    Looking forward to the wilds of Hokkaido.
    #7
  8. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

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    :thumb

    Reach the port of Oma in good time.
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    Roll on
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    Tied down
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    Sayonara Honshu
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    Hakodate Yama from sea
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    90 minutes plain sailing from Oma, we roll off at Hakodate
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    #8
  9. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

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    As seen on this cheese cake map of Hokkaido, Hakodate is located at the southwestern part of the island.
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    On the subject of maps, those cheese cake maps are OK after a fashion, but tend to get a bit stale after a while.
    Anyone coming to Japan to tour by motorcycle or bicycle would do well to get a MAPPLE Touring map. (1,600 yen $16)
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    The Mapple maps are availbale according to region, and are the dog's dangly bits.
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    Even though it is all in Japanese, any friendly Japanese person will be happy to stencil in the English over a beer in a bar.
    The icons for Rider's Stations (the motorcycle helmet icon), Spas (the hiragana 'yu' mark), gas stations, campsites and scenic spots, etc are simply indispensable.

    Check into a hotel 3,000 yen ($30) with a simple breakfast, and then head to the cable car and up to the top of Mt. Hakodate to see what this celebrated view of Hakodate at night is all about..

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    Lucky to have a full moon this evening:
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    The Russian Orthodox Church a short distance from Mt. Hakodate

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    Right, I can hear the Hakodate Beer Hall calling to me!
    #9
  10. jab1026

    jab1026 Adventurer

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    Nice place.. I'm in!
    #10
  11. twinrider

    twinrider pass the catnip

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    Nice pics... A couple friends and I will be heading up there later this month on the same ferry. Two GSs and a Super Tenere, will be riding tarmac and unsealed roads. Where in Kanto are you? Should get together for a ride sometime.
    #11
  12. CRNHSKR1

    CRNHSKR1 Adventurer

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    Spent 4 years in Misawa in the Air Force back in the early 90's. Absolutely loved it.

    Visited most of northern Japan from Sendai to Hokkaido. Awesome place with fantastic people, thanks for sharing!
    #12
  13. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

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    Twinrider,
    living in Setagaya, 5 minutes from the Tomei Entrance.
    The offer to join a ride out is much appreciated.

    Would love to be able to tour Hokkaido again this month with you guys. Two GSs and the Super Ten, definitely the right tools for the job:thumb

    Please let me know about any future trips you may have planned. It would be great to tag along.

    Best of luck for your upcoming Hokkaido run. I do hope the weather is kind to you.

    Paul
    #13
  14. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

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    <iframe marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=hakodate&daddr=%E6%94%AF%E7%AC%8F%E5%9B%BD%E9%81%93%2F%E5%9B%BD%E9%81%93276%E5%8F%B7%E7%B7%9A&hl=en&geocode=FVlXfQId6lljCCkhTbzVLVyeXzFbw3iWKn19kQ%3BFX3PiwIdhz9rCA&aq=&sll=42.285437,140.844727&sspn=1.60115,3.180542&dirflg=d&doflg=ptm&mra=dme&mrsp=1&sz=8&ie=UTF8&t=m&ll=42.285437,140.844727&spn=1.60115,3.180542&output=embed" frameborder="0" height="350" scrolling="no" width="425"></iframe>
    <small>View Larger Map

    Today's ride will take us up through the Onuma National Park, around the Uchiura Bay, on to Touya Lake, and finally to Shikotsu Lake campsite.

    Onuma National Park has three main lakes,
    </small> Lake Onuma, Lake Konuma and Lake Junsai.

    Was very impressed with Onuma National Park. It's located only 30 kilometers outside of Hakodate. Made a note to spend more time here in the future.
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    Lake Onuma with Mt. Komagatake
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    Around the bend - Uchiura Bay
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    Touya Lake
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    Venting
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    #14
  15. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

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    Beginning to realize why Hokkaido is a riding mecca in Japan

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    Some nice trail around Lake Shikotsu
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    Camp set up at Lake Shikotsu. 1,000 yen($10) for the night! I asked the park attendant if that price included a pole dancing show and a young maiden pouring milk over my shoulders. He said something about a big storm causing damage to the area a while back and the need to raise funds for repair work. Furry muff.

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    Lake Shikotsu
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    Some video of the day's events:
    <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/A55bYObuakc" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" width="420"></iframe>
    #15
  16. twinrider

    twinrider pass the catnip

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    Thanks for the well wishes Paul. Will definitely be praying to the weather gods. I lived in Setagaya for years, now in Yokohama. I think I met you briefly at the Nankai shop in Ota-ku a while back unless there's another giant gaijin riding around Tokyo on a Varadero. Will PM you my contact info so we can get in touch.

    Jim
    #16
  17. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

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    Twinrider,
    That must have been me!:rofl

    Sounds good.
    #17
  18. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

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    Awoke to find that every moth in the area had decided to congregate on my tent and hold an egg laying competition.[​IMG]

    Moth eggs on tents can't be good for its long-term future?
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    I Start pulling them off and get creative with their flight patterns.
    A man approaches at this point and introduces himself as a Buddhist monk.
    I apologize for my treatment of Siddhartha's creatures.
    [​IMG]

    It turns out he is a ronin monk, spear fisherman, and long term (16 years) traveler in his van.
    [​IMG]

    Much appreciated was the steaming hot pot of coffee he brought over for me.
    After discussing the meaning it all, he broke out his weapons cache and started pointing a loaded harpoon in every-which direction. I thought this a good time to beat a hasty retreat before something went, twang.
    [​IMG]

    <iframe marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=%E6%94%AF%E7%AC%8F%E5%9B%BD%E9%81%93%2F%E5%9B%BD%E9%81%93276%E5%8F%B7%E7%B7%9A&daddr=42.8680963,141.3459607+to:42.9854385,141.4562737+to:45.103224,141.7970848+to:%E3%82%AA%E3%83%9B%E3%83%BC%E3%83%84%E3%82%AF%E3%83%A9%E3%82%A4%E3%83%B3%2F%E5%9B%BD%E9%81%93238%E5%8F%B7%E7%B7%9A&hl=en&geocode=Fb-4iwIdSMxrCA%3BFYAdjgIdqMRsCCmjXpfjZC51XzEn_exI7hBtPg%3BFd7njwIdkXNuCCnpIgxnPdV0XzHHlNZBuu7vcQ%3BFXg4sAId3KZzCCn76_n69SkOXzGOk3cBuwOxPg%3BFYrktAIdrF53CA&aq=0&oq=Wakkan&sll=45.259422,142.03125&sspn=1.523452,3.180542&dirflg=d&doflg=ptm&mra=dme&mrsp=4&sz=8&via=1,2,3&ie=UTF8&ll=45.259422,142.03125&spn=1.523452,3.180542&t=m&output=embed" frameborder="0" height="350" scrolling="no" width="425"></iframe>
    <small>View Larger Map
    Today's plan: Ride the east section around lake Shikotsu - cut through the mountains to the expressway - bypass Sapporo on the expressway, head to Fukagawa - head to Rumoi - up the west coast of Hok on Ororon Line and Sarobetsu Line- Wakkanai - up to Soya Misaki and to a campsite on the east coast.

    I ride the awesome east part of lake Shikotsu. The road twists and turns right on the lake side. The morning light was superb.
    After playing around with the GoPro I realize I had not pressed the record button properly, and had therefore no footage of the lake side ride.
    I was kicking myself....
    [​IMG]
    Still, I plan to be near the lake again at some point, and thus have another bite at the cherry.

    Up on the west coast I start to find the space I was searching for:
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    The multipurpose map comes in handy here. Like to see you try that with a GPS?
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    Along the fantastic straights of Sarobetsu and Ororon Lines:
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    As anyone who rides daily in a traffic light laden, congested city can appreciate, these roads are heavenly:
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    Going Straight
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    The sky darkens. Time to unpack the wet weather gear:
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    </small>
    #18
  19. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

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    It was interesting to see the signs in Wakkanai written in Japanese, English and Russian.
    Then it's up to Soya Misaki, the northern most point in Japan.
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    The winds were really strong around the cape and I was feeling too tired and lazy to unstrap my heavy tripod from the bike's crash bars, so I mounted my little point and shot camera on my light weight tripod and sadly this is the last picture the camera will ever take:
    [​IMG]
    A huge gust of wind blew the tripod over and smashed the front lens of the camera. Gutted because we had done a lot of traveling together. I had bought it in Phnom Penh, Cambodia after a similar accident had destroyed my former point 'n' shoot in Vietnam.

    Oh well, at least I am safe, the bike is fine, and my other more expensive cameras are undamaged.

    On the east coast I locate the campsite at the remote Sarufutsu Koen Campsite 400 yen ($4) for the night.
    Pay the park attendant and go to start the bike to find the bike will not start. There is enough juice in the battery to power the lights, but not enough to power the starter motor.

    Dead as Disco Dancing!

    [​IMG]
    With every attempt to start it the battery gets weaker and weaker. I decide to swear at the bike for 10-15 minutes, but that doesn't seem to help.

    Nothing I can do now, it's getting dark. I decide to pitch the tent out of the wind before it gets too dark, get a good night's sleep and worry about it in the morning.

    Surprisingly the next morning the battery was as dead as the dinosaurs and I wasn't just dreaming it.

    [​IMG]

    I suspect the regulator/rectifier, one of the Achilles heels of the Mk1 Varaderos. I do know my Vara is still using the original flat sided (shitty) regulator that was bolted on at the Hamamatsu plant. As I neared 50,000k on the clock people were telling me to change the regulator and monitor the fuel pump connections condition.
    I am carrying tubes to bypass the fuel pump if it goes south (the other Achilles heel of these bikes), a spare clutch cable and clutch lever, but like a bell end, I didn't bring along a spare regulator/rectifier. The new heat sink types are supposed to be of much longer lasting design..... oh bugger!

    I kick myself for not buying a spare reg/rec for the trip
    [​IMG]

    I ask the locals for advice:
    [​IMG]
    I've heard it said before on this forum that until things go wrong it's just a road trip, but when things go wrong it becomes an adventure.

    I manage to get the bike started by getting a jump from some dudes in a car.
    There is nothing for miles along the coast. I decide to try and reach a town away from the coast. The bike starts acting weird like there's a poltergeist in it. Speedo and Rev meters rising and falling of their own accord, the clock and trip meter resetting and flashing.
    Finally the bike dies in the middle of nowhere. I see a farm several clicks up the road and start to walk towards it in the pouring rain.


    The farmer jumps out of his skin to see me. I must have looked a sight in full wet weather gear appearing out of nowhere in front of his tractor.
    We put the battery on charge. It is taking a charge. Not a good sign. That means it's not the battery and something else is fooked.

    I have a good chat with the farmer over coffee while waiting for the battery to charge about Holstein cows, his ruined marriage, his daughter's college degree, and farming. He said that you can never take a day off in farming. His wife hates cows and left him. He has no son to take over the farm when he retires in 6 years. His daughter wants to be a doctor (and hates cows as well). I told him I love milk and drink several liters a day. This seemed to cheer him up a bit.


    I jump on the bike and poltergeist it towards a small town the farmer told me to make for.
    The bike just makes it to the edge of the town before giving up the ghost.

    [​IMG]
    #19
  20. Donsesso

    Donsesso Adventurer

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    :lurk
    #20