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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by naconn, Dec 15, 2017.
Awesome & Unreal!!
I'll be over there in 18 months for Rugby World Cup - can't wait.
Hi there from New Zealand!
That. Was. Pretty. Darn. Amazing!
It’s always been a dream of mine to go to Japan!
Great stuff and thank you
Hello friends. Like many of us, I have a lot of time on my hands thanks to the great quarantine of 2020. So I figure it’s time to pick up this story where I left off.
If you’re finding this thread for the first time, please take a look at the story from the start (and please forgive my many grammatical errors).
My third trip to Japan (May-June 2017) had been a rousing, if somewhat stressful, success. The TV program aired that December and I was back to my normal life working in the cartoon mines of Burbank, California. My double life as Mr. Cub wasn’t entirely over, as during this time I was commissioned by Honda to do an illustration for a Super Cub ad campaign.
Nonetheless, my work kept me stateside for the entirety of 2018 and before too long I knew I needed to get back to Japan where my 50cc sweetheart was waiting for my return.
Around February of 2019, my friends Hisanori and Alan suggested we do a group tour of Japan together (Hisanori and I became friends, coincidentally, after he saw the show and learned that I too lived in Southern California. Hisanori and Alan soon roped in a friend of theirs, Eric, a 21 year-old who had never ridden a motorcycle in his life. All four of us would meet, appropriately enough, in the Honda motorcycle dealership where Eric and Alan worked to plan our trip. Soon, we would have tickets to Japan for mid-April of 2019.
I was unemployed (a frequent occurrence in the aforementioned cartoon mines) at the time of this trip and had enough time for my typical month-long tour, but my employed friends could only manage one and a half weeks. With their time limits, we chose to tour in a more focused location: Kyushu, the southernmost island of mainland Japan. I had visited Kyushu in 2015 as part of my first tour and absolutely loved the place, and knew that its size made it an ideal location for a weeklong tour. The plan was to tour Kyushu with the gang and then ride back to Tokyo on my own.
I contacted TV Tokyo to inform them of my plans and they once again chose to film my trip. They arranged the shipment of my bike from Tokyo to Fukuoka and then the rest of the gang and I set about the surprisingly difficult task of finding Honda Cub rentals in a country awash with Honda Cubs. To make this task more difficult, Hisanori invited yet another friend to join the tour, 50-something Japanese salesman and Hisanori’s business partner: Shin. After weeks of searching we found three rental cubs and a 50cc Honda scooter from two separate shops.
During this time, I designed another series of stickers to hand out to my fans in Japan.
Eric, now financially committed to the trip, signed up for his motorcycle safety class two weeks before departure. He got his motorcycle license three days before the flight.
Soon enough, I said goodbye to my girlfriend and cat (pictured above) and flew to Tokyo. I arrive a few days before the rest of the gang so as to meet the TV crew and help them plan for the trip. The next few days I stayed in a cramped Tokyo capsule hotel, made a few excursions to do some sketching, and marked up my atlas of Kyushu with our route. With the TV crew in tow, I headed to Haneda airport to rendezvous with the gang and fly to Fukuoka.
The tour would start the next day...
Good choice of bike for Japan. Great bike. Great country and people.
This is so cool!!!
Congrats on having an awesome escape from reality every so often.
The tale continues!
Back now with part two...
At Haneda airport I met up with Hisanori, Alan and Eric and we boarded our flight for Fukuoka. In Fukuoka we met up with Shin, Hisanori’s Japanese business partner and the gang then set out for a night on the town. The next morning we would pick up the bikes.
We had four rental bikes spread out between two shops on opposite ends of sprawling Fukuoka city. Since Eric had no substantive motorcycling experience, we decided the bike at the last rental shop would be his, in an effort to save him from crossing this busy metropolis on his first motorcycle ride… this would prove to be a bit of a mistake.
Our first stop that next morning was to a small motorcycle shop on the outskirts of Fukuoka city run by a lovely middle-aged couple. Here we would pick up two rental 50cc Honda cubs for Nori and Alan and a 50cc Honda scooter for Shin. We made our way to the next shop, where I found my beloved cub waiting for me in all its rusty, faded glory. When they wheeled out the bike Eric would be riding, we were surprised to see it was a brand new Super Cub with only 7km on the odometer. I remember saying to the TV Crew something to the effect of “Oh God… he’s going to ruin this thing.”.
In the parking lot of the bike shop, I was interviewed by a local television crew and taught Eric, to the best of my abilities, how to ride a Super Cub. We then rode back to the hotel and had another night out on the town before the tour would officially begin the next morning.
That night I announced on my social media that we would be departing from the Hakata port tower (a famous Fukuoka landmark) and invited any of my interested fans to come out. Sure enough, the next morning we arrived at the tower and were greeted by a contingent of the Hakata Cub Club as well as a few other fans of the show.
Our goal that night was a campground in the mountains of Saga prefecture with a stop at the Yutoku Inari Shrine planned along the way. It was about 90km away from our starting location and, expecting a few delays here and there, we would get there just before dark.
We departed Fukuoka with the Cub Club acting as our escort out of the city, departing just before we reached our first mountain road… and on that first mountain road, on the first curve of this road, with a television crew filming, Eric, riding a brand new rental bike, lowsided and was tossed off his bike.
I saw the crash in my mirrors and turned around to help. Eric, being a new rider, forgot to wear his gloves and had minor road rash on his hands. The bike was pretty scuffed up, but was otherwise functional. His nerves, however, were pretty shot. We took a few minutes to patch up his wounds and give him time to compose himself, gave him an impromptu lesson in braking technique and were soon back on the road.
A couple hours later we arrived at the Yutoku Inari shrine, where we were met by the head priest and about ten Mr.Cub fans. We were given a tour of the shrine by the priest, were given an onsen and hotel recommendation by one of the fans. It was already running late, and given Eric’s encounter with the ground earlier that day, we thought it would be best to skip camping and stay in a hotel. So we set a new course, only to find out that the hotel closed. Trudging onward, we chose to keep riding until we could find another hotel… which we would… nearly two hours later in the town of Isahaya.
The next day we would set off for Nagasaki.
I just read this entire thread.
Awesome RIDE and great RR!
Can't wait to see the rest!
Sounds like you have had an unforgettable experience, I've always wanted to visit japan
Great RR! I binged the whole RR.........
What a cool experience, one of my cousins was a Japanese exchange student in the 70s, she always spoke fondly of the Japanese & their culture, she always said that it is a great place to visit & tour.
Do you store your bike over there?
Thanks for sharing your experiences.....
One of the directors from the TV show technically owns the bike and uses it to commute to work. Whenever I go back Japan, I just let them know I'm coming and they let me take it.
Best ride report ever! Thank you, Mr. Cub-san. I'm sure Ernie Banks won't mind sharing his name with you.
What about getting a 125 or 110 CC CUB in Japan instead of the painfully slow 50CC ?
The first trip was on a rented 110cc and the following trips were on a 50cc that was a gift. I’ve actually come to really enjoy Japan on a 50cc, it forces you to see things in a new light.
If you don’t have a free 50cc bike, by all means go for a 110 or 125!
Naconn - Fantastic - I'm converted.
I'm adding Nippon to my retirement lists - lucky a friend in your neck of the woods (SoCal) used to live there....thanks for the story - great stuff.
Great update @naconn - thanks!
My interest in your story originated back in 2015, when my employer sent me and a colleague to Japan for a two-week work related tour, on behalf of the US government.
Our tasks had us in both Okinawa and Misawa, with a long weekend in Tokyo in between.
I was unable to do any riding there, but it was an extraordinary adventure.
Attaboy Mr Cub!
Fantastic read! I've had the pleasure of visiting Japan over 40 times on business since 1996. You've captured the indomitable spirit of the Japanese very well. Even after my many visits I believe I have only scratched the surface of truly understanding their unique, fascinating, and wonderful culture. My main business associate in Tokyo is also a motorcyclist (FJR1300) and we've often discussed a tour of the country. I'm an avid Africa Twin fan so you've inspired me to plan a retirement tour of the country visiting all my clients "one last time" and hopefully find a way to get into the Kumamoto Honda Factory! Thanks for the excellent RR. Kanpai!
This has to be one of the best travel reports I've ever read.
Small light moped and bikes may be slow but there's something magical in taking your time and not having a worry about power, road limits, economic value, weight and parking, sometimes I feel like I would never experience the freedom I felt with my old Piaggio Sì when I was 18-20 years old (before it was stolen)...
For pavement touring, it really is paradise. I can’t recommend it enough.
Thanks! It’s crazy that it has been over 5 years already, there’s still more to report (when I find the time to write!)
Thank you very much! The biggest hurdle is getting a bike there, but once you’ve got that squared away it’s easy to tour the country, throw a dart and you’re either on a beautiful mountain road or 10km from one. If you tour like a sane person on a sane bike, two weeks could cover almost the entire country.
Thank you for the kind words! Slowness feels like discovering secret knowledge. It forces you to get to know a place and its inhabitants more intimately than you’d ever expect, and by spending countless hours alone on the bike you get to know yourself a little better too. In a weird way all the limits it puts on you is liberating... I’m rambling.
Quite the surreal experience. A great report and thank you for taking us along for the ride.
One day you'll regret not staying with the female fans