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Edmond Dantès 07-22-2009 10:12 PM

Japan 6 Days
Living in congested, cramped Tokyo, I thought it would be in the best interests of mental health to ride up to the Tohoku (Northeast) region of Honshu the main island of Japan for 6 days and see what is going on up there.
I hope to ride on roads best suited for my motorcycle as much as possible: The brilliant Honda Varadero XL1000V. That means avoiding tight twisting roads which Japan is famous for. Riding tight twisties for 8 hours a day on a heavy bike is not what I will be looking for on the trip.
I will ride a loop from Tokyo up to Iwate Prefecture and back trying not to cover the same roads twice.
I have never been up to the Tohoku Region before, so I am totally up for this.
Here is a picture of what I will be escaping from: is an intersection about 10 minutes from where I live. There are no less than 16 lanes of traffic passing through this intersection. It is apparently the busiest in the whole country.

The gear that needs packing. I do not have a GPS system, so it's old school paper maps for me.
The Vara and myself fully-loaded!
Outside my apartment. The June rain is still lingering.
My girlfriend, Mercédès seeing me off. Her family has a house in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture. I will rendezvous with her at the house in 2 days time.
As her name, Mercédès suggests, she will take the train. Sensible option.

Edmond Dantès 07-23-2009 05:06 AM

Friday morning up bright and early. I didn’t sleep well the night before, I was too excited, anxious, nervous, scared….. I wonder what it must be like for people actually embarking on a really epic journey around the world the night before?
I live on the west side of Tokyo and need to ride up to the north side and pick up the Tohoku Express that runs out of Tokyo and right up to the northern regions of Honshu. I head to Sendai which is about 400 km and takes approximately 6 hours.
A great run up the expressway with light traffic. I take the Vara up to speeds that would take a lot of charm and explaining to wangle my way out of a speeding ticket/ suspended license.

Stop en route for some lunch. Only bike in the parking area. Haven't seen another bike on the freeway yet today which is very rare.

Noodles for lunch.

Nice bike parking sign Kanji thingy.

Get up to Sendai at around 2 pm.
http://<IFRAME height=350 marginHeight=0 src=" &geocode=&mra=ls&dirflg=d&sll=37.186579,140.361328 &sspn=3.124295,4.779053&ie=UTF8&ll=37.169072,140.3 50342&spn=2.57991,1.30258&output=embed" frameBorder=0 width=425 marginWidth=0 scrolling=no></IFRAME>
View Larger Map</SMALL>
<SMALL>Over 7 hours riding the Varadero and not a single ache or pain. Sublime machine. Thirsty though. It burnt its way through a full tank of 25 litres and then some. I forgive the bike's drinking problem because it's such a comfortable beast.</SMALL>
<SMALL>The toll on the freeway from Tokyo to Sendai was about 5,000 yen ($50). </SMALL>
<SMALL>Not a lot to see historically for the traveler in Sendai. The place was totally destroyed in WWII. About 50 km up the coast is Matsushima (Pine Island) though. This is a bay dotted with over 250 islands all covered with twisted pine trees. Matsushima is considered one the most beautiful places in Japan. I figured I'd go take a look and see what all the fuss is about before searching for my hotel in Sendai.</SMALL>
<SMALL>Bridge to Godaido Hall of Worship. This is part of Zuigan-ji temple that I intend to visit tomorrow. </SMALL>
<SMALL>There are some very beautifully carved animals under the eaves and on the supports for the roof. </SMALL>
<SMALL>The interior of the hall is said to be very beautiful housing 5 statues of Buddhist figures. You would have to wait around a while to see inside though because the hall is opened only once every 33 years!</SMALL>
<SMALL>This looks like a nice crib. I was tempted to knock on the door and see if they would let me crash on the floor for the night.</SMALL>
<SMALL>I like their style.</SMALL>

After asking half the population of Sendai for directions, I finally find my hotel.
The Japanese like to be vague.

Me: Excuse me, do you know where this hotel is?
Vague Dude: Oh, that one. Yeah, it's over that way.
Me: Over there?
Vague Dude: Yeah, pass some buildings and then turn right.
Me: Very helpful.
Vague Dude: Indeed.

Very clean business hotel. 4,000 yen ($40) for the night.

Treated myself to a nice soak in the bath after a long day's ride.

Then outside, lo and behold a steak house materialized before my very eyes. I'm there!

And in a flash I was back at the hotel and before you could say boo to a goose, I was in the arms of Morpheus and sleeping like a new born.

Natnewt 07-23-2009 05:33 AM

This trip would be nothing less than complete if you don't wait the 33 yrs to enter that old temple!

GB 07-23-2009 05:40 AM

Nice! Love to see more of Japan, thanks for the glimpse :thumb


hakpoh 07-23-2009 05:51 AM

Extremly interesting to see Japan. Gods spee and safe riding! :norton

emijah 07-23-2009 06:19 AM

Hi, I'm planning to go to Sendai around autumn. I live in Ibaraki, so I'm planning to go up the coast and come back on the highway. Looking forward to the rest of your trip. Cheers,

dpouwel 07-23-2009 06:34 AM


Booker909 07-23-2009 01:44 PM

After hearing so much how expensive Japan is it's nice to see you can get a room for $40. Keep the pics and commentary coming!

Fustercluck 07-23-2009 04:07 PM

Fantastic, thats one place I have always wanted to ride and even live in. More pics pls!

TouringDave 07-23-2009 04:45 PM

NipponDero touring! Love it! :clap

mcc66 07-23-2009 08:10 PM

Good to read ride reports from Japan. Look forward to reading more and seeing LOTS of pictures. Thanks

JMead11 07-24-2009 01:14 AM

I am dying to go to Japan myself....more pics please!!!!

Edmond Dantès 07-24-2009 02:35 AM


Hi, I'm planning to go to Sendai around autumn. I live in Ibaraki, so I'm planning to go up the coast and come back on the highway.
Emijah, I hear ya. Riding in Autumn is just brilliant. October is defintely one of the best months to be on a bike here. Look into the Rikuchu Kaigan run. Route 45 that runs north out of Sendai.

Thanks for your encouraging comments and interest everyone.

Roughshod 07-24-2009 03:02 AM

Brilliant! A Honshu roadtrip in progress! And on a Varadero. And some Bashu moments. Love to hear about the bike, handling, etc; and photos! Are you hopping up to Hokaido? Perhaps some Haiku for ADVing? Drive safe and have a great trip man!

Edmond Dantès 07-24-2009 03:44 AM

I woke up feeling a little discombobulated and groggy. Best I find a convenience store and load up on caffeine!
The plan today is to return to Matsushima, check out the grounds of the Zuigan-ji Temple, then up to Saigyo Modoshi no Matsu-koen Park which is supposed to offer good views of the bay, and head up the coast to the town of Kamaishi.

Looks like a 200km run from Sendai to Kamaishi taking about 5 hours.

http://<IFRAME height=350 marginHeight=0 src=",1 41.503906+to:Kamaishi+Iwate+Prefecture,+Japan&hl=e n&geocode=&mra=dpe&mrcr=0&mrsp=1&sz=8&via=1&dirflg =d&sll=38.76683,141.346535&sspn=1.528975,2.389526& ie=UTF8&ll=38.76683,141.346535&spn=1.528975,2.3895 26&output=embed" frameBorder=0 width=425 marginWidth=0 scrolling=no></IFRAME>
View Larger Map</SMALL>
<SMALL>The grounds of the Zuigan-ji Temple.
This is a Zen temple established over 700 years ago.
These were rooms and living quarters for monks carved out of the solid rock. Impressive. I really liked the karma in these grounds. Very good aura.
Looks a bit dank.

Tall trees line the way.

A tea room.

Then I stumbled across this little gem of a shrine! Divine!

And there was no way I was gonna mess with the little fella hanging around outside it !

Dude, you da man !

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