ROTD-Cycling across Japan in 55 Days
On October 18, 2018, me and two of my friends landed New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido. The long-planned cycling across Japan program finally starts.
As an enthusiast of bicycle touring, I have rounded Taiwan for three times. I will never forget the feeling of cycling around the island for the first time, and that’s why I fell in love with cycling.
Except for Taiwan, Japan is like my second hometown. I grew up with Japanese animation and video games. Even though I couldn’t understand Japanese, that never spoiling the fun. I started to digging into more Japanese works during the high school time, I also started to realize why Taiwanese or my generation have a yearning feeling for Japanese travel.
This "Cycling across Japan" is my 15th trip to Japan.
Many people like to travel. But I think travel by cycling is far more interesting than other means. The beauty of place and scenery can be multiplied several times. It could be tough, but it’s also alluring.
There are many reasons why it is Japan. Such as my own interest in Japanese culture, clear seasons, safe, short flight time, etc ... There’s uncountable reasons- actually it’s a simple word "like". It’ll be more fun if you mix things you like together!
So I started traveling in Japan with my camera and bike. Isn't that sounds perfect?
Had such a perfect combination, in addition with right season- from Hokkaido in October to Kyushu in December, almost the same time as maple leaf turns red all along the trip. I have been so exciting from the planning few months before.
But life doesn’t have to be work or play. Therefore when I decided on this trip,
I also asked my company for leave without pay. I also prepared myself for different consequences.
Finally, the company I has worked for almost eight years is willing to provide me the opportunity to take a rest. I would like to express my appreciate for that.
There may not be many opportunities for a long journey in a lifetime. For me, this might be the only time I can travel across Japan even though there are other chances in the future for traveling abroad.
I knew I should not be worry and enjoy the trip, but things don’t always go as planned. I could clearly sensed the opposition and concerns from my family for going a long journey like this.
In fact, I had lots of dramatic thoughts before a long journey like this also. Even for a familiar place like Japan, there’s still many bizarre and suburb area I had not been to.
My desire for the trip overtook my hesitation. I choose to move on anyway.
This time I had to face all the happiness, surprise, discomfort, loneliness and fear alone. Fortunately I was accompanied by two friend for the first ten days, therefore my trip was full of laughter and secure from the beginning.
But things always turns. On the eleventh day, I suddenly became alone. Ten days of excitement turns into serene, I feels deeply depressed. I have no one to share.
Now I realized that I was not as strong as I thought. I feel amazed but true to rediscover myself in this way. Maybe a long journey is not meant to change the mentality of life, but rediscover more about the true self.
Interestingly, I regained joy by the beautiful scenery and tough riding on the next day.
I want to thank some friends for their help in making this trip smooth and comfortable before the main story.
Some of them heard my plan and offered me some useful goods for travel. Others are my initiative to put forward my proposal and plans, they may not go well in the end, but I still thank those who are willing to listen. Some gave me encouragement and support, and some of netizens chat with me in my blog. Also some friends spare their time to pick me up and drop me off at the airport.
Two months before departure, I crashed during a training session on a long downhill section at 50kph. The good news is I suffered only scratches. The bad news is- there are 22 large and small wounds, and it takes time and money to recover.
In terms of equipment, my CANYON bike has no local distributor and can only be delivered from Germany through the official website. Fortunately there are many kind friends in the CANYON community, they are willing to sell me or have their relatives send the bike from Germany. And II want to thank the bag maker WOHO for instantly repaired my saddle bag for free which was damaged due to the crash.
There are nothing what others must do for you, so I feel only grateful for everything I got.
I always felt like I was already traveling before the departure.
The climate in Japan from October to December is completely different from Taiwan. The temperature differs intensively for such a long journey, and inevitable wind and rain will be a severe test for the clothing.
Atlas is my old friend since I’m working in Xindian. Atlas Xiaobitan is the best place to buy equipment. They promised to help me soon as they heard I was going to cycling across Japan. In the end, I mix Atlas's 2018 winter line with some of my original equipment. Cobbled up the gear for this trip.
I also carry the conviction of cyclists and take more good photos as I can on this journey. Letting more people be interested in cycling may bring some feedback.
These travel notes are the essence of 55 days, It took me a few days to select the picture that best represented the atmosphere of riding in Japan. And I added some content in it, so it’s not just a photo, but a photo with story. I hope it would help you experience my ride in Japan.
Get yourself a cup of coffee and favorite music. Let’s relive the memory of traveling across Japan in 55days.
In mid-October, the weather in Hokkaido is like winter time in Taiwan. The temperature even drops to around 0 degree Celsius in the morning and the night.
I would not wear too much while riding, so I had to face chilling wind every morning until my body gets warm.
The straight road with ascents and descents direct into the mountain is the signature view of Hokkaido.
It looks just like waves, stitching farmlands and cliffs into a beautiful scenery.
The most recommended is indeed the roads in Furano and Biei! Thanks to fewer tourists in autumn and winter, they are all rural field roads that can be trampled on. Except for the highway still with a lot of traffic.
Daisetsuzan Asahidake is the highest peak in Hokkaido, and it is also the place where it first snowed.
I climbed up to Asahidake's hotel by cycling, had a good meal and hot spring, then go for a snow mountain hike in the next morning. What a dream proposal!
From Sounkyo to Obihiro's National Road 273, the area where even mobile phone signals cannot be reached.
The landscape is made with original forest and there’s chance to see deer, fox, and bears... (hope not the last one...)
I’ll never forget what I saw after passed a chilling long tunnel at the summit- It’s a coffee shop and a panorama view of trees and elevated highway.
It was dark in Hokkaido at just five o'clock, and that day we saw the night view of Lake Toya.
The moon, like the main lamp, lit up the lake.
In the evening, I went to Hakodate's famous Hachimanzaka. In order to take pictures, I climbed the slope several times ...
It's really steep here !!
I feels kinda lonely on the next day after saying goodbye to my companions. The lively days suddenly quiets down.
But I forgot I was alone soon as I saw the beautiful scenery of red leaves of Northeast area.
If I had to pick a best picture of this journey, this is it.
It was in urgent when I arrived the place because it’s only 1.5hr to five o’clock. I walked quickly to the spot, but unable to get a good shot due to the backlight. Few minutes later, luckily a light sprinkled on the woods and colors emerged.
I’m satisfied finally. I started late on that morning cause of rain and fighting with steep climbs after then. I’ll take it as one of the three toughest parts of the journey in the end.
There are so many tourists from Taiwan for the red leaves in Northeast, the hostel I stayed last night was almost full of Taiwanese. I also met tourist group from Taiwan today, they cheered and praised for me.
It was raining then sunshine repeatedly. I rode hard in TT mode for 143km and suffered backache. I would never wear the backpack again for a long distanced ride.
I detoured for a place not in the plan- Komoro Kogen Museum.
The scenery there is beyond my imagination.
I sat on the wooden stool with 360 panorama view, eating delicious sandwich and dessert, with the warm sunshine sprinkled. It’s the happiest moment.
It’s hard to pick the most beautiful mountain road in Japan. “Shibutoge” two day before was great, but today's section of “Cheshan Plateau" has another feeling. Both of them has full of scenery.
Slides down from Cheshan Plateau, another famous spot “Suwako” shows up. It was one of the reference location for the film “Your Name”.
I passed this lake on the way heading for Hakuba-mura. It will be my favorite lake if I had to rank them, even though I didn’t stay for a long period.
It’s not because its size or depth, but I can had vertical perspective view of houses and red leaves across the lake. I am fascinated by such pictures.
身為TNF的粉絲，白馬村的「THE NORTH FACE GRAVITY HAKUB」，
As a fan of TNF, “THE NORTH FACE GRAVITY HAKUBA” is one of the shops where you can drink North Face coffee beans. The friendly staff brings hot coffee and toasted hot dogs. I had a great rest day here watching the Northern Alps outside the window and typing my diary.
Finally I leaved Nagano Prefecture, pedaled into the quaint city of Kanazawa, where I stayed for 2 days.
Kanazawa gives me an impression of Kyoto, with traditional Japanese culture and luxury lifestyle. I’m wondering if I saw too much goods made with gold plates (laugh).
Nijo Castle at night, cost me the most expensive ticket of the journey…
It's up to you to say worth it or not. Although I think it's worth it, I feel poor because of being poor.
能與愛車坐在一起的單車咖啡店「FRANCY JEFFERS CAFE 」。
The cycling cafe that can have a sit with your ride “FRANCY JEFFERS CAFE”. Fulfill the dream of a cycling enthusiast. It may also work in Taiwan if located not too remote.
My original schedule was disrupted this day cause I failed to get a room on Saturday. I arrived Takamatsu city in Shikoku at noon, so I picked Naoshima- The island of art for cycling around the island.
騎士的家「CYCLO NO IE」，為挑戰島波海道的騎士為主服務的青旅!
Cyclist’s home “CYCLO NO IE”, the guesthouse focused on challenger of Shimanami Kaido! I got full sense of belonging this day.
I missed the chance to finish the full line on this day. Riding to the wrong shrine and got flat tire. I spent my worst day in Shimanami Kaido.
I’ve stayed 39 hotels in 55 days trip. I would like to give my best score to the 36hostel in Hiroshima.
It was great in every aspect- the price, interior design, service and location!
Miyajima Shrine resembles a dragon palace.
The Moji Port- It means I had arrived Kyushu and it’s the last area finally.
That indicates the two months long journey was about to come to its end.
Ogura- Meeting with friends in a foreign place.
A waterfall seems can use for meditating.
But I don’t have to actually because I’ve been soaked wet by the chilling rain after then.
I didn’t ride my bike for the whole journey. For me, I only rode the route I wanna go due to limited time. Sometimes the weather turns bad, being carried by the train is an option.
There are many definitions of go around Japan- Four points plan, all prefecture plan, even crossing by the train. I would like mainly go by bicycle if I could, and sometimes detour into the mountain for the scenery.
I choose Aso as the last cycling route in Kyushu. And It’s nothing but happy that I could ride in a place like this.
As if from an alien planet, Aso's spectacular scenery is definitely different from other places of Japan.
The route of the Aso Crater was the final challenge of my trip.
I had to restart lots of thing after coming back from the journey. But I always want to say thank you to many friends who helped me to accomplish the trip.
Atlas sportswear, Unicode’s lamp and armband, Outdoor Gears community’s host for lanterns, Giant bike store for packing my bike, WOHO Bike for repairing my bags, colleagues and friends, every one of you followed me and cheered me up!
At the time I always had the idea that when you want to do something, with a strong will,
And actually go in that direction, then you will eventually reach the place you want.
On the day I returned, I revamped the idea.
By this journey I realized people should be grateful for people who make your journey came true. When I pedaled freely with beautiful scenery, I gave my honor to the predecessors who built this road therefore I could rode on it.
While in the city, there’s a lot of people working hard to provide every kinds of service. And I can traveled easily because of convenient phone and apps created by the developers. I had to bring a heavy map book when I cycling around the island for the first time, now all you need is a smart phone to find great restaurants or hotels.
This world is really amazing!
It needs people around the world worked hard to have me going ahead, I thought my effort is all that needs before. Actually I’m weak by myself, but I have lots of friend who willing to give me a hand and waiting for me! Thanks to all of you along the road and my will!
My journey have only one person but not really alone.
I rode 2252.3 km and climbed 20122m elevation in the end.