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Old 07-22-2009, 10:12 PM   #1
Edmond Dantès OP
The Kanto Pain
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Location: Château d'If
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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:
This 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.

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Old 07-23-2009, 05:06 AM   #2
Edmond Dantès OP
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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.
View Larger Map

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.
The toll on the freeway from Tokyo to Sendai was about 5,000 yen ($50).

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.

Bridge to Godaido Hall of Worship. This is part of Zuigan-ji temple that I intend to visit tomorrow.
There are some very beautifully carved animals under the eaves and on the supports for the roof.

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!

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.
I like their style.

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.

Edmond Dantès screwed with this post 08-29-2009 at 07:14 PM
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Old 07-23-2009, 05:33 AM   #3
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This trip would be nothing less than complete if you don't wait the 33 yrs to enter that old temple!
1980 XR80s Deceased, first ever teardown.
1987 XL185s Deceased, at the bottom of the ocean.
1985 750 Interceptor Sold still alive somewhere.
2006 XR650L heavily farklefied Tendering in the garage.
2012 F800GS Triple Black Let the mods begin.
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Old 07-23-2009, 05:40 AM   #4
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Nice! Love to see more of Japan, thanks for the glimpse

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Old 07-23-2009, 05:51 AM   #5
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Thumb Great!

Extremly interesting to see Japan. Gods spee and safe riding!
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Old 07-23-2009, 06:19 AM   #6
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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,
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Old 07-23-2009, 06:34 AM   #7
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Old 07-23-2009, 01:44 PM   #8
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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!
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Old 07-26-2009, 07:39 AM   #9
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Thanks for your ride report! This is very interesting, I have a Uncle that lives in Sendai that I have not seen on over 40 years. I wonder if he is still alive. Keep the pictures coming, they are very good.

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Old 07-26-2009, 09:02 AM   #10
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This is really cool


Thanks for this RR. This is really cool.

Japan is facinating. The culture just freaks me out. It is so...... foreign! Very hard to get ones mind wraped around the whole thing. Beautiful people.

May I ask: What work do you do? Are you originally from a Scandinavian country? Do all Fire Departments carry bathtub extraction equipment?

Thanks again for taking the time to post your ride report. Judy and I look forward to more.

And welcome to Adv Rider.

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Old 07-27-2009, 01:35 AM   #11
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I have a Uncle that lives in Sendai that I have not seen on over 40 years
Mr. Davis53, you should try and get in touch with your uncle. Family is family after all.

May I ask: What work do you do? Are you originally from a Scandinavian country? Do all Fire Departments carry bathtub extraction equipment?
Jed, pleased that you are enjoying the RR.
You enquire as to what I do? Well, I am tempted to lie and say that I test ride Hyabusas for Suzuki or that I am part of the Honda Rearch Group at the Hamamatsu Factory in Shizuoka. But alas nothing as exciting as that.
I teach at a high school. I am fortunate that the school is of rather good standard, the students are intelligent and self motivated.
It's a great job that pays well, I can save, invest and pay into pension funds. I get loooooong vacations. I like working with young adults. It's comparatively stress free and there is no way I could work in an office or a 9 to 5 so, it suits me just fine.

I teach conversation skills, vocabulary acquisition, idioms, reading, listening, basic meat and potatoes stuff really.

My nationality: British.
The flag on the back of my bike is a St. George's Cross. The flag of England and the English. The flag does indeed look Scandinavian for real. I often give Japanese people ten guesses as to where I am from based on the flag and few win.

Thanks for reading Jed.
PS. I didn't get the firebrigade to extract me from the bath tub in the end. I called the girls at the local nursing college instead. LOL.

Edmond Dantès screwed with this post 07-27-2009 at 06:54 AM
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Old 07-27-2009, 02:07 AM   #12
Edmond Dantès OP
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Location: Château d'If
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Wake up to sun lit sleeping quarters!

And hello Mr. Blue Sky.
Mister Blue Sky
Please tell us why
You had to hide away for so long, so long...

The building on the right of picture was the public bath house.
It is closed down now and looks to be used as a garbage pick up spot.
The two doors at the front of the building are separate men and women's entrances.

Today we ride up route 45, The Rikuchu Kaigan Coastal National Park checking out the beaches, then turn onto the 455 and check out the caves at Ryusendo.
Beach Cruise in a larger map

Nebama Beach on Route 45
Looks like a good safe swimming beach.

Tunnels through the mountains. No twisties! No twisties! No twisties!

Namiita Beach.
The guide book says that this is one of the few beaches in the world where waves come in but do not go out. What the heck does that mean???
Beautiful beach though with a lovely pine forest running along side it.
Squint one's eyes and that could be a beach on Oahu, Hawaii.

If it wasn't for the spirit of adventure, I'd have sat on that beach all day.
The Honda Varadero was named after a beach in Cuba, Varadero beach. The bike appreciates a good beach for sure.

Would probably still be there....

Check out this parking sign. Park it over there? Gotcha!
No wonder there are no cars on the road, they are all in the sea!

Up the coast road.

Just difficult to make progress, too many beautiful spots.

Mother Nature Calls
Hope the Japanese government don't see that one, they'll frog march me out of the country.

Weighed a ton, think I put my back out lifting it.

Jodogahama Beach

Check out the dude behind us lying on the stones. That has to be uncomfortable. I told him there was a sandy beach just around the corner.

Walking the bridge prior to crossing on the 270 kg (600lb) Vara.

Mercédès on the bridge afterwards searching for me in the river below.

Ryusendo Cave. One the three largest stalacite caves in the country. At present the length of the cave is known to be 3100 meters, 700 meters open to the public. The cave is still being explored and a total length of 5000 meters is estimated.

Between a rock and a hard place for real.

Some cool light effects.

Crystal clear spring water gushes out from several deep pools in the cave.
This one is 120 meters deep. The deepest cave pool in Japan.

Difficult to do the place justice with my elementary photography but the caves have some of the clearest water of any caves in the world.

Home to billions of bats as well.

Top side it's fish on sticks!

We meet a guy who is driving around looking for enduro races to participate in. Really funny guy.

He said that he lives away from his wife and kids due to work obligations.
He has bought this CR250 on the quiet. If his wife finds out, all hell will break loose. Hope she doesn't surf ADVrider!

He wouldn't let me ride it. Said I was too big!
I was inspired though:

Next up Sanno Iwa Rocks.

Formed during the Cretaceous period 100 million years ago.

I am beginning to see two of everything!

I need a lie down. I need a hot bath.

In search of a hot bath I go...

This way, sir.

After riding all day... bliss.

And yes, it's baths for everyone day.

Spick and span, ready for action tomorrow.

And me, I'm bushed. Will sleep for England tonight boys.

Edmond Dantès screwed with this post 07-27-2009 at 04:44 AM
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Old 07-27-2009, 03:35 AM   #13
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Japan have a great attraction on me

And what a great bike! Always in my heart
Marcello aka [zAv¡]
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my photos , my friends
our passion
my report little bit of Chianti, Corsica, Italian C2C by night, L'Aquila: a month before the Earthquake
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