Hokkaido Japan (In Search of Space)

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

  1. no

    no dreaming adventurer Supporter

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    right here on my thermarest
    So many lovely water views. Thank you. :lurk
    #21
  2. twinrider

    twinrider Pass the catnip

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    I had my rectifier suddenly die on my 2005 TDM900, only was stranded in Yamanashi but it was still a PITA getting the bike back home. After that I picked up JBR rescue insurance including unlimited mileage tow service for 10,000 yen a year. Will PM you that info as well... :D
    #22
  3. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

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    I am a member of the SOX road service but it is only 100km from the nearest shop. Not a lot of good in Esashi District, Hokkaido:eek1...

    10,000 a year for a tow service sounds like a good deal. Would much appreciate the details. Cheers Twinrider.
    #23
  4. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

    Joined:
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    Well there's a dude staring at me from across the road. (I get that a lot in Japan) He's riding a bicycle that is way too small for him. I take him for the village idiot.

    It turns out he is a fellow biker and is riding a borrowed bicycle from the Rider Station he is staying at to run some errands.

    He helps me push the bike to the mechanic's shop up the road.


    After a few tests the mechanic informs me that, yes, the regulator is fried and it is going to take 3 days to get a replacement shipped from Honshu to Sapporo to Asahikawa to Nakatombetsu.
    And with Sunday being a holiday, 4 days before I can be on the road again. Bummer, gonna cut into my riding time. I don't want to shorten the Hokkaido riding, so I decide to axe the planned route home along the Japan Sea side of Northern Honshu. Bummer.


    Nakatombetsu, that is the name of the town.
    Pop: People: 1,980. Cows: 30,000 Bears: unknown number

    I am invited to stay at the Rider Station.

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    The Rider Station is an old skittles alley that has been 'converted' into a hostel for bikers and cyclists to stay at.

    The sleeping quarters:

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    The common room:
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    It is free to stay at the Rider Station and everyone is very friendly.
    The utilities bills are paid for by the town, in exchange the town hopes to attract travelers to stay there and help the local economy.

    The MitsuBachiMura Lat 45 Degrees North Nakatombetsu:

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    Technically you are supposed to be traveling on two wheels to stay, but some guys who have been coming here for years told me that all kinds of people have stayed in the past: a dude on in-line skates, a man traveling around Japan by local public bus, quad riders, and even someone traveling around Japan pushing a cat in a baby carriage!

    Ko Chan and Mr. Hassey

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    Ko Chan (with a near encyclopedic knowledge of motorcycles), and Mr Hassey tell me how they work winter jobs to fund spring and summer long bike rides in Hokkaido and Tohoku.

    Ko Chan from Kyoto tells me he has been riding his BMW up to Hokkaido every summer for the last 18 years.
    To illustrate that my bike problem ain't no biggie, he unfolds a map of Hokkaido and shows me all the places and reasons for breakdowns over the years. He goes on for quite a while.

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    Mr. Hassey
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    I meet a lot of cool people at the Rider Station.

    Dudes looping the country on Honda Cubs:
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    College kids cycling around the islands:
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    Aki here rode a Mk1 Vara for many years:
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    He also has a 600cc 2 stroke snowmobile. Many of the roads are closed with gates during the winter, but the snowmobiles bypass the gates and have the roads to themselves. Wicked!

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    Big up Rider Station in Nakatombetsu!
    I could have been camping in a field talking to cows for 4 days.

    #24
  5. TwoUpTourer

    TwoUpTourer Long timer

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    Great to see another Japan ride!
    My wife and I rode Kyushu and the Goto Islands two years ago, and apart from that, reports are very sparse. We trained it up to Wakkanai, with snow 2 metres deep along the tracks, and 3 metres deep between the buildings in town, so you gotta pick your seasons. But, it did look good riding country, so you are inspiring me to head north one day.

    Enjoying the pics, particularly the ferries, as we rode into plenty of them around the Gotos, and they brought back that familiarity. And the Mapples, the best road guides there are in any language, and I can't read a word of Japanese.
    john
    #25
  6. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

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    TwoUpTourer wrote:
    +1 that TwoUpTourer

    Some good hiking trails around the hills of the valley

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    Get to shoot (with a camera) a few deer
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    While walking by Mr. Ishiguro's farm one afternoon, I am invited in for coffee and snacks.
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    Mr. Ishiguro has traveled the world and showed me some of his wonderful photographs.

    A couple of his spring photos of the area:

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    Holstein
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    Mr Ishiguro looks totally relaxed

    Whereas the city slicker:

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    With just crows, cockroaches and lapdogs in Tokyo, it was great to see some real animals:
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    His wife gave me a huge bag full of tomatoes to take back to the Rider House which would cost a king's ransom in Tokyo.

    I also met the wonderful Ms. Watanabe who runs a public bath. She lived in Nepal for 2 years and makes the most delicious chai.

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    Ms. Watanabe made me a surprise dinner one night which I ate in the reception hall of her public bath. People were coming in and out. A couple of the local people asked whether I was the foreigner with the broken motorcycle. They then went home and returned with more food for me. I have never experienced hospitality like this anywhere else in the world.
    Truly an experience and the most wonderful people whom I shall never forget.


    Ms. Watanabe hopes to open a Nepalese tea room in the future next to her bath house. I wish her the very best of luck.

    But at the end of the day, I am still a man without a bike, and pining for the fjords

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    #26
  7. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

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    What's that third bike in the back?
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    Go for a ride with Ko Chan and Hassey for the afternoon.
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    All seems hunky dory, jackanory, yoridori midori.
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    Have a smile on my chevy chase the size of the Bay of Bengal!
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    Up and at 'em tomorrow morning. Gonna ride the coastline of
    Okhotsk Subprefecture
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    #27
  8. Wildman

    Wildman Long timer

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    Very cool! Just finished three days around Mount Fuji. No time for any more.
    #28
  9. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

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    Love the lakes around Fuji. Some good riding to be had there. Did you ride the Hakone Skyline?

    <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/KMWIjYaVgPA?rel=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" width="560"></iframe>
    #29
  10. Wildman

    Wildman Long timer

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    Oh yes! :D

    My route here.
    #30
  11. twinrider

    twinrider Pass the catnip

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    Wish I had known you were in Japan, I could have given you a bit of route advice. If you had kept heading south on the Izu Peninsula you would have gotten to ride some of the best roads in Honshu complete with stunning scenery.
    #31
  12. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

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    Good route Wildman, it looks like your route took you through the JuKai Suicide Forest. I was in there once on an old two stroke dirt bike messing about and the bloody thing stalled and wouldn't start for the longest time. Scared the sh#t out of me!That is one creepy place!

    Shame you took the congested 246 route out to the wonderful coast road running to Odawara. If you look north, you can see Route 413. That is a peach.

    Looks like you rode the Izu Skline as well. Respect bro!

    Best of luck with your future traveling Wildman.
    #32
  13. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

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    +1 on that.
    #33
  14. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

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    <small><iframe marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=%E9%A0%93%E5%88%A5%E5%9B%BD%E9%81%93%2F%E5%9B%BD%E9%81%93275%E5%8F%B7%E7%B7%9A&daddr=Rausu,+Hokkaido+Prefecture,+Japan&hl=en&geocode=FUY5rgIdHCJ7CA%3BFXS4nwId9GqnCCn9jDFDlsBsXzEHWdK4N5yBNQ&aq=0&oq=rau&sll=44.991027,142.294922&sspn=0.094451,0.170631&dirflg=d&doflg=ptm&mra=dme&mrsp=0&sz=12&ie=UTF8&t=m&ll=43.739352,142.789307&spn=3.809959,7.03125&z=7&output=embed" frameborder="0" height="480" scrolling="no" width="640"></iframe>
    <small></small>
    <small>View Larger Map

    Today's ride: Nakatombetsu - along the coastline of the fore-mentioned Okhotsk Subprefecture - Over the Shiretoko Pass -locate Rausu Campsite - Soak in Kuma No Yu hot spring.

    I double back to the coastal road. Locals warned me not to cross the mountains to the coast due to the rain and very low cloud cover. I took their advice and doubled back.
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    Relative Calm
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    There is rain in the air, but it holds off for most of the day.
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    The wind however gets progressively stronger as the day wears on.
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    I begin to worry about the Shiretoko pass. Apparently it's gusty up there on the calmest of days.

    The Okhotsk Sea looks ill at ease with itself
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    The Oshin Koshin Falls
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    Typical coastline along the way
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    The Shiretoko Pass is covered with clouds and the visibilty down to a bikes length at times. Shiretoko is an Ainu word meaning, end of the earth. It felt like it!
    I white-knuckle it through the twisting route and over the pass being rewarded with glimpses of Kunashiri Island on the descent.

    I find the campsite 400 yen ($4) for the night, pitch, and head over the road to the free Kuma No Yu. The hot spring is named Kuma (bear) Hot Spring due to the large number of bears in the area. The campsite has signs plastered everywhere warning about Grizzlies. So in fact there is a large number of LARGE bears in the area.:huh

    I put all my belongs along the side of the tent facing the wind in a effort to stop the tent being blown over.

    The wind is so loud that every Grizzly in the valley could have been singing and dancing a pre-attack war dance outside my tent and I would have been none the wiser.

    The campsite at Rausu Kuma No Yu the morning after looking calm and collected
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    </small> </small>
    #34
  15. 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=%E7%9F%A5%E5%BA%8A%E6%A8%AA%E6%96%AD%E9%81%93%E8%B7%AF%2F%E5%9B%BD%E9%81%93334%E5%8F%B7%E7%B7%9A&daddr=44.0307571,145.139931+to:43.545454,144.5063271+to:43.6434345,144.3986305+to:%E3%83%91%E3%82%A4%E3%83%AD%E3%83%83%E3%83%88%E5%9B%BD%E9%81%93%2F%E5%9B%BD%E9%81%93243%E5%8F%B7%E7%B7%9A&hl=en&geocode=Fc7tnwId6immCA%3BFSXbnwId26imCCljRSTCcupsXzH7trU72Hu35w%3BFW5zmAId1_2cCCm_Y2ZJDXdtXzGrWUDcpbBs8w%3BFSrymQIdJlmbCCmdgniHSW5tXzFrYjR9ai0hLg%3BFVu-mAIdjAKaCA&aq=0&oq=rau&sll=43.611222,144.450302&sspn=0.19588,0.397568&dirflg=d&doflg=ptm&mra=dme&mrsp=4&sz=11&via=1,2,3&ie=UTF8&t=m&ll=43.71752,144.706421&spn=0.952851,1.757813&z=9&output=embed" frameborder="0" height="480" scrolling="no" width="640"></iframe>
    <small>View Larger Map

    The Shiretoko pass as seen from the Rausu side
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    Along the coast of the Nemuro Straits.
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    The Island of Kunashiri is a stone's throw away.
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    Kunashiri was along with several other islands was taken from Japan at the end of WW2.
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    As evident from this sign, Japan would very much like to have the islands back.
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    I wonder how Japan would be if Russia had seized more land after the war? People would now have interesting names: Ivan Suzuki, Yumi Tolstoy, Kentaro
    </small><small>Solzhenitsyn, the brothers Yuichiro Yuichirovich Karamazov and Hideki Hidekirovich Karamazov.

    Apparently Kunashiri has good fishing grounds which may not be fished by Japanese boats.
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    Kunashiri from the Nosuke Pen.
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    I have a ride along the Notsuke Peninsula.
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    Some interesting wetlands that suggest an African landscape.
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    The Notsuke Peninsula
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    The road inland from the coast is again giving me that space I went searching for:
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    Just horsing around:
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    The road toward Mashu Lake
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    </small>
    #35
  16. c-zulu

    c-zulu Works with Turds

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    :lurk
    #36
  17. twinrider

    twinrider Pass the catnip

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    Good stuff, one of my favorite areas of Hokkaido. Coming down the east coast did you happen to stop at that scallop factory that sells scallop burgers?
    #37
  18. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

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    The road climbs up towards Mashu Lake.
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    Always been a big fan of these caldera lakes.
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    And Mashu Lake is a belter:
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    Claimed to have some of the clearest water in the world. Transparency depths of over 40 meters having been recorded.
    This rivals, if not beats Lake Baikal.
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    No one is allowed to enter the lake.
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    Many a lake in this country is spoiled by Mickey Mouse paddle boats and pirate ships. Not this beauty me hearties!
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    For once I am not kicking myself, but jumping for joy!
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    The lake is usually covered with fog, mist, clouds in the summer, so I was one lucky camper to catch it in full glory.
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    A lad on an R1 who was following me up the mountain. He was probably not too impressed with the speed of my progress.
    I promise to let him go first on the way down.
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    From up here i spy Lake Kussharo. I will head that way later and camp on the Wakoto Hanto by Kussharo tonight.
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    #38
  19. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

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    LOL, missed that. The only thing I had on my plate at the time was the Shiretoko Pass! :rofl
    #39
  20. Dr. Greg

    Dr. Greg Tryin' to get home.. Supporter

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    A little late, but IN! My son lived in Japan for several years; he and I spent a couple weeks touring Japan during a technical conference a year ago.

    He said Hokkaido is kinda like the "Montana" of Japan; he always wanted to do a bicycle trip there.

    Very much enjoying your pics. Thanks for sharing :D

    --Doc
    #40