6/23/14

Selling Number 8

Owning a motorcycle in Japan. No, owning and ridding a motorcycle in Tokyo. It had taken 10 years in Asia to get here and now it was to end. 

As my Japanese coworker commented when I showed him my licenses plates after having just returned from the DMV, "Shinagawa, central Tokyo. Not some far out place. Cool" 

You see in Japan there are no 東京 区(Tokyo City) Kanji plates. The most legit plates are the 品川区 (Shinagawa City) plates. These mean you live right inside central Tokyo. Not only that I had proper paid parking.

The motorcycle was old and not lacking in eccentricities. However years of ridding had prepared me. It was a dream come true. Elevated highways that cut among the buildings. Tunnels that led deep under the city. Narrow roads that went past temples and the original Kanto neighborhoods. 

For now my time was up. I sold the bike back to its original owner, because he had taken such good care of the ¥80,000 motorcycle. His care, diligence, and willingness to negotiate had enabled me to ride a true piece of Japanese engineering art. 

This ride would take the motorcycle back to its owner and me to the completion of a nearly impossible goal.   


Nagano, Japan

Tokyo- Hokkaido: Afterward


I had ridden 9-days to stand in the cold in-front of a monument for a few minutes. Seems this entire trip had just summed up life.  

The trip had begun like most, with anticipation. It’s exciting setting off for a destination that is not easy to reach. Initially the temptation is to rush to the goal. However in doing so you end up missing everything along the way.
There was the cold and rain. Realistically I should have brought better gear with me. It would have made the ride so much easier and likely longer. But at a certain point equipment restricts the freedom you set-out to enjoy on a motorcycle.
Luck was on my side. Aside from the motorcycle eating through a bit of oil and being grumpy to start on cold mornings, it ran flawlessly. There were no accidents. A smartphone ensured I never got too lost.

Making it back always leads the enviable question, what is next? While the route is still sketchy, the trip is going to be epic.   

Tokyo- Hokkaido: Day 12

Sunflower Ferry from Tomakomai, Hokkaido to Oarai near Tokyo

Disembarking the ferry

Tsukuba, Japan

Tokyo- Hokkaido: Day 11

 The original Bikuri Donkey

 Ramen Sakurajima, arguably the best ramen shop in Hokkaido. The silence and respect the patrons had for this bowl of ramen reminded me of church. 
This might be the best bowl of Ramen I have ever had

Hokkaido, Japan

Tokyo- Hokkaido: Day 10

It has been said the terrain and buildings of Hokkaido resemble Europe more than Japan.
Hemp growing wild in the mountains outside of Sapporo

Hokkaido, Japan

Tokyo- Hokkaido: Day 9

 The street signs in Wakkanai are in Japanese, English, and Russian
 Coastal fishing village in Wakkanai 
Small fishing port
 Cape Soya
Cape Soya, Japans Northern most point

Hokkaido, Japan

Tokyo- Hokkaido: Day 8




 The 232 Coastal Highway
 Halfway point from the Equator to the North Pole
Cape Noshappu in Wakkanai

Hokkaido, Japan

Tokyo- Hokkaido: Day 7

Rain and cold. Hokkaido typically does not share mainland Japan's rainy season, but this year it did. So into the mess I rode, taking the fastest route from Hakodate to Sapporo.

Arriving cold and wet, I first warmed up and then headed out to pour a beer for myself at the Asahi Extra Cold Bar. 
Sapporo, Japan

Tokyo- Hokkaido: Day 6

Deep in the Shimokita Peninsula lies a Osorezan temple. A Buddhist monk found the place after years of trying to locate a worldly embodiment of purgatory. It lies in a valley alongside a lake. As you descend into this place the smell of sulfur builds in the air long before you arrive. 

In the Buddhist tradition it is an old man and women. One wishing to cross the red bridge that takes one to heaven must first take off their clothes to have them placed on the branches of a tree. Their weight upon the branches determines whether a person crosses the bridge to heaven, must wade across the river through purgatory to find heaven, or is sent to hell. 

"Purgatories Faint Road to Heaven" lies packed in fog saturated with the stench of sulfur. 

 Oma Port waiting to board the ferry to Hokkaido
Hakodate Port

Shimokita Peninsula & Hokkaido, Japan

6/17/14

Tokyo- Hokkaido: Day 5

 Lake Towada in Towada National Park
Morning fog over the Oirase River
 Mt. Osore's Bodai Temple
 Bodai-ji
 Osorezan
Shimokita Peninsula

Aomori, Japan

6/16/14

Tokyo- Hokkaido: Day 4

 The samurai mansion Aoyagi-ke
 The samurai mansion Bukeyashiki Ishiguro-ke
Samurai with a handgun

Kakunodate, Japan

Tokyo- Hokkaido: Day 3

 Forest Green Tree Frogs
 San-shin Gosaiden 
 Brown Tree Frog
 The alpine pass up Gas-san

 Hachigome (Gas-san's eighth station)
 Kyugome alpine plateau on Mt. Gassan
 View from near the summit of Mt. Gassan
 1000 year old tree with the Goju-no-to five storied pagoda
The 600 year old Goju-no-to pagoda 

Yamagata, Japan

Tokyo- Hokkaido: Day 2

The sleepy town of Inawashiro
Bandai-Asahi National Park via the Bandai Azuma Skyline road
Azuma mountain range from the summit of Mt. Azuma-Kofuji
 Japanese Tree Frog in Bandai-Asahi National Park
Hyla japonica

Fukushima, Japan

6/15/14

Tokyo- Hokkaido: Day 1


Sessho-seki- "Killing Stone"
 Mt. Nasudake
View from the peak of Mt. Nasudake

Nikko National Park

Tochigi, Japan