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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by lightcycle, Aug 1, 2012.
And your Japanese inspired dinner looks delicious!
While some may need shelter from the falling rain...
others revel in the shower of petals
Inside the Yutoku Inari Shrine
Walking around taking lots of pictures
We don't often time our travels very well. Snow and ice chased us out of Alaska and we spent a year and a half following the rainy season through Latin America. But our timing through Japan is impeccable. Cherry blossom season is #1 on Neda's list of things to see and we've now reached the beginning of the season right at the southern end of Japan. Although sakuras may only bloom over two weeks, we're going to slowly follow the blossoming season as the warm weather travels north. We'll definitely get more than two weeks of cherry blossoms!
In Japan and in other asian cultures, this orange-reddish color, vermilion, is the colour of life
The colour wards of evil spirits, bad luck and danger. It reminds me of the vermilion-laquered furniture of my family home in Malaysia.
We walk around Yutoku Inari Shrine with petals in our hair. When we get back to our bikes, they too are covered in pale pink snow
At least the rain has stopped as we climb back on our bikes. We've only got another hour's ride north to the city of Fukuoka, but as luck would have it, shortly after we leave Kashima, the sky opens up cold rain on our helmets.
At least we've kept our rainsuits on as we brave through the elements.
I'm just glad it isnt me who has to sweep up all those petals from my driveway ...
As we reach the outskirts of Fukuoka and I spy the welcome orange-and-black sign of our favorite fast food place: Yoshinoya. I tap on the communicator and ask Neda if she wants to get out of the rain and get some warm Japanese food inside of us. It's a rhetorical question, of course...
Ugh! So miserable...
We burst into the restaurant like wet dogs dripping water all over the place. At least the place is empty because it's mid-day, right in between the lunch and dinner crowds, so we don't cause too much of a commotion as we slip off all of our wet layers and hang them on various chairs and tables around us to dry. We feel so un-Japanese, making such a mess. The staff, in response, are typically Japanese, very gracious and accommodating and trying not to make us feel self-conscious. Which makes us even more self-conscious...
We feel we deserve an extra-special treat today, so we both order the extra-large bowl of Unagi (BBQ eel) rice!
Aaaahhh! So yummy!
Normally unagi is much more expensive where we're from, but here in Japan, they're surprisingly moderately priced so we don't feel so guilty getting the extra portions of eel.
We savour our hot meal inside the warm and dry restaurant, watching and waiting for the rains to subside.
Which it doesn't.
lightcycle / Gene,
Thanks for the many updates to your ride.
I'll not make a joke about the name of the city FukuOKa, your latest stop.
I do have a question though. Is Japan ok to eat in with food allergies? Perhaps this is too specific to us. With me having a nut allergy, and my daughter not able to be near or eat gluten (wheat, barley, rye), I wonder if it would be safe for us when we need to eat. In the US we can look for GF (gluten free symbols) and read labels for nuts. Recently I was talking with another celiac (no gluten) and she loved traveling Japan and claimed to find many gluten free places to eat.
Thanks again. Ride safe.
Sorry, I was not paying attention to gluten or nut allergies while in Japan.
Neda is very lactose intolerant, and we know Japan is very good country to travel through for those suffering with that. Dairy products are not normally a part of any Asian diet.
I don't recall seeing a lot of nuts in the foods we ate. Maybe in the desserts. Does sesame seed count? Lots of sesame seeds in Japanese cuisine, they also use a lot of sesame seed oil as well. Don't know if Japanese use peanut oil in their cooking. Might be something to research.
As far as gluten, you'd think Japanese food would be safe since their staple is fish and rice. But there is wheat in the ramen and soba noodles, as well as the tempura, obviously. Also, the soy sauce they use will have wheat in them as well and they use that in everything.
Hope this helps, and that you do find some nut/gluten-free Japanese cuisine. It really is our favorite food!
So back on the bikes and out in the cold pouring rain to go look for a place to sleep tonight
We've been staying at hotels and guest houses the entire time in Japan. Some of the places have tatami rooms, so we get the flavour of sleeping in Japanese-style accommodations. But none of them have been true "ryokans", which is a traditional Japanese Inn, where the entire building is wood and tatami mats everywhere. Until now!
First thing you do in any Japanese building is swap out your outside shoes for inside slippers
The Japanese are fastidious about dirt, and keeping it out of the living area. There are outside shoes, inside slippers and even toilet slippers. When you enter any washroom, you leave your inside slippers out in the hallway and don special toilet slippers:
We are really looking forward to a nice, hot onsen bath! This ryokan we've found is a budget inn. Most of the ones I found online were very fancy and expensive, which we can't afford. But this one is right in our price-range, which means we have to be prepared for basic and no-frills accommodations.
But it does have an onsen onsite - which, saying this out loud, makes for a nice alliterative marketing slogan... for gaijin.
So maybe not...
*shrug* heheh... Wuz a little bored, I guess...
After checking into our very basic and no-frills tatami room (which had a very strong grassy smell from the mats), we each went off to our separate onsens. I think we spent more time in the hot baths than we did riding to get here! :)
As mentioned, our tatami room is very basic and no-frills
But it did look better with the lights out. A nice touch with the backlit paper cutout shadows!
Hopefully tomorrow it will be less wet outside.
Oyasuminasai! (Good night in Japanese)
Looks very uncomfortable. Dragging yourself off the floor to get dressed, no bed to sit on would suck. The upside to this is if you owned the place, furnishing would be on the " low side " :)
It really is a different way of sleeping and sitting, since they also sit on the floor as well without any back support.
Having tried it for many months, I still prefer something a bit raised, but we did get used to it. It wasn't that bad to get up, get dressed, etc.
The benefits are that sleeping on a thin mattress on the floor is really good for your back, and sitting upright on the floor without back support is also very good for your posture.
The idea around tatami rooms is that they're multi-purpose. When space is so limited, the tatami room can serve as a living room, dining room and bedroom depending on what you bring out onto the floor, be it a bed, or table.
We also think they look very cool. Whenever and wherever we decide to settle down, Neda wants a tatami room so she can do yoga there and also turn it into a reading room.
What? No recliner with cupholder and built-in fridge???
Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/406.html
Well, the sun is shining outside, and quite brightly, as well. But this is how my day starts off:
My left boot is leaking and is still a bit soggy from yesterday's ride. Plastic bag sock condom to the rescue!
So remember how down I was on Internet web forums, because nobody seems to be using them anymore? I actually got a response from one of the Japanese motorcycle forums I'm on! Dale is an American ex-pat living on Kyushu island, and he replied to one of my posts, inviting us out to breakfast before he headed out for work. He told us to meet him at a diner in Kitakyushu, which was less than 40 minutes away from our ryokan in Fukuoka. Cool! We get to meet another fellow motorcycle rider!
Dale brought all of his maps with him and helps us to plan our route through Japan
Seems like Dale is a regular here. He was conversing quite fluently with the owner! I'm a member of a Facebook group for ex-pats in Japan and from all the chatter on there, it seems that the default job for gaijin is to be an English teacher. But now we're meeting so many people that have other jobs as well. Dale is a technical writer for Yamaha! We spent a lot of time talking about his experiences in Japan and motorcycling specifically! He said that on Kyushu, you never have to put away your motorcycle for the winter.
Well then, Kyushu has automatically jumped up the list for a good place to settle! :)
Dale had to take off to go to work, and we thanked him for the warm welcome and for all the information.
Dale rides a Yamaha, naturally! MT-09 Tracer!
We asked one of a bunch of Japanese ladies passing by to take our picture. After she did, the group of ladies also wanted to take our picture. Well, not of us, just of them and Neda! It seems that a gaijin girl on a motorcycle is quite the curiousity in these parts, same as I was in Latin America!
I took a shot of them with my camera as well! Neda towers over most of them!
We rode out of Kitakyushu, heading east across the bridge back onto the main island of Honshu. The road we're on takes us through Mine City in Yamaguchi Prefecture. This plateaued area is called Akiyoshidai and is littered with thousands of limestone karst formations on the ground around us. Very scenic!
Stopping to take some pictures of all the rocks
The visitor centre at Akiyoshida