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Old 07-24-2009, 03:50 AM   #16
Gaston Gagne
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Keep it comping! I lived in Sendai in 1981. The Matsushima shots take me down memory lane.
Cela est comment nous roulons.
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Old 07-24-2009, 04:06 AM   #17
Edmond Dantès OP
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Are you hopping up to Hokaido?
Roughshod, not this time, but it's on the cards.

I just put some Anakee 2 tyres on the Vara and it handles much better than the original Bridgestones. She's hard work in the tight stuff for real, but eats up straight roads and long curves.
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Old 07-24-2009, 04:37 AM   #18
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Up to Saigyo Modoshi no Matsu-keon Park. Man, there has to be a shorter name for it !
Some very good views, unfortunately my camera didn't think so.

Here's the best shot from the park:

Perhaps a tad too early in the day for it. Need the sun to clear some of the mist away.

Right Mr. Varadero, you thought you were a big tough guy until you met this gate. Not so tough now are ya? The gate has brought you down a peg or two has it?

Found the gate laying around in the middle of nowhere. God knows what it is doing here. I can only assume there is a shrine or temple down the road. The writing on the top of the gate is someone's afterlife name. When you die in Japan the priest issues you a new afterlife name.

Someone's afterlife name is written on the gate and on the stone to the right of the gate. Also you can see two flood lights, one either side the gate on the ground there. It must look well cool lit up at night. Had to have been a pretty important person to warrant such a gate and all. It's ruling the area!

I crank up the mp3 player now for the 200 km ride up the coast. The Allman Brothers Band are singing about being a rambling man and Jessica. I wonder who she was? What is Jessica doing now. If she is anything like the song, she must be a goddess.

The roads are well maintained and clean and empty, I have the whole day ahead of me to ride. I am on a stellar bike. I'm stoked!

A penny for your thoughts Dero San ?

Edmond Dantès screwed with this post 07-24-2009 at 04:41 PM
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Old 07-24-2009, 05:51 AM   #19
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Cool pics.. Wish I was back in Japan.. I miss the food, the nice roads, and the lovely people.
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Old 07-24-2009, 08:48 AM   #20
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An Englishman in Japan?

If you can't say anything positive, don't say anything.

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Old 07-25-2009, 03:32 AM   #21
Edmond Dantès OP
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I roll into Kamaishi at around 3 pm. Another 8 hours riding the Vara and again not a single complaint! The ergomonics! The ergomonics!
The pillion ride is reported to be top notch to boot.

Here's an aerial shot of Kamaishi taken from my girlfriend's private helicopter

In the mid 18th century high quality ore was discovered near the town and a man named Oshima Takato built the first western style blast furnace in the country here.
On January 15th 1856 he succeeded in producing pig iron at the furnace and this was the beginning of modern iron and steel manufacturing in Japan. The town of Kamaishi has palyed a leading role in Japan's steel manufacturing industry.
The town's boom days were in the 50s and 60s. Around 1970 when Japan was making huge economic strides the center of steel production was moved to Nagoya. Many of the skilled workers of Kamaishi left the town and moved to Nagoya. Quite a blow for the town.
The cureator of the museum told me that the population in the boom days was over 100,000. Today the number is 40,000 and dropping.

Only one plant out of many in the town is operational today.

I locate my girlfriend, Mercédès house. The house belonged to her grandparents and an uncle whom are no longer with us any more. Her mum lives in Tokyo and travels up a couple of times a year and an aunt and cousin who live in the neighboring prefecture of Aomori 300 km away use the house in summer. There are many empty properties in rural areas of the country. It is tradition to return to one's home town during Obon (festival in Aug) and pray to one's ancestors.

Inside I am greeted by none other than Emperor Hirohito and his wife, Empress Kojun.

Quite a blast from the past so to speak.

Emperor Showa as he was known as died on January 7th 1989. This was during my first visit to Japan. It was quite something to have been in Japan when the Showa period came to a close.

Upstairs in one of the bedrooms I come across the boys from GnR !

Many traditinal Japanese homes will have a Butsudan, a family shrine:

And usually another shrine to various other deities:


We have a ride around town and visit the Iron and Steel History Museum.
Outside the museum. Rather a damp afternoon.

Inside we find a taxidermied raccoon. Naturally.

Then shoot off to see the Kamaishi Daikannon.
A Kannon is the bodhisatta who brings light to those spirits wandering in the dark afterlight and leads them to peace.
This one was built in 1970 and stands 48.5 meters.

You can climb up inside it if you feel so inclined:

Inside is a circular room containing representations of all the 33 embodiments of Kannon.

And out onto to a walkway for a commanding view of the town and bay.

Down stairs is a stupa which enshrines a bone fragment of Buddha.
Apparently the remains have the power to expiate bad karma in the past, present and future.
I have my fingers crossed that they can expiate rain clouds for my ride tomorrow !

Down by the fish market.

The main drag. Don't ask me what the people were like, because I didn't see any ! Very quiet!

This fellow is a ToraMai. (dragon dancer) He was the only other person at large. Wonder if there is a curfew in effect here?

I decided that it would be more fun to return home and get stuck in a bath.

Had to call the firebrigade to pull me out. I was in favour of phoning the nurses at the local hospital personally.

Tomorrow we ride to Tono, a town in a long agricultural valley about 50km inland.
So it's curtains for now:

Edmond Dantès screwed with this post 07-25-2009 at 04:44 PM
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Old 07-25-2009, 08:20 AM   #22
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great travel!

I would like to travel likes yours.


Kyo Tsukete ne!

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Old 07-25-2009, 01:23 PM   #23
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What a great thread. Many questions arise ...!!!!

I think many of us would like to know how did you end up in Japan? Do you speak Japanese?

Great pics and great bike.
Thank you...
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Old 07-26-2009, 03:41 AM   #24
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I think many of us would like to know how did you end up in Japan? Do you speak Japanese?
Goran69, I first came to Japan many years ago out of curiosity and the country has been part of my life ever since.

As I posted earlier, my first trip was in 1989. It was very different from what it is now. No internet, no cellular phones, everything was so much more expensive than now.
International phone calls back then cost about $50 for about 10 minutes.

I passed the 2nd level Japanese Language Proficiency test a few years back. It is assumed that I can now read 1,000 Kanji characters and compounds.
I have had a love/hate relationship with the language for the longest time.


Kyo Tsukete ne!
Gustavo, Nihongo ga hanasemasu ka? Watashi no ohanashi wo yonde kurete arigatou gozaimasu. Yoroshiku !
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Old 07-26-2009, 04:11 AM   #25
Edmond Dantès OP
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Up and Adam. Will ride to Tono. It's a 50km hop from Kamaishi, the weather forecast is ominous so it is just as well it's close.
Tono in a larger map

There are a couple of temples I am interested in, an actual functioning waterwheel and a must see magariya (thatched-roof house) farmhouse that dates back 200 centuries and is regarded as one of the ten most important in the country.

First we are going to my girlfriend's family grave to clean it and pray.

Picked up some flowers from the local florist dude.

After visiting a grave you must return back using a different path than the one used to come by. Haven't met anyone who has explained to me why yet.

Mercédès cleans her family grave.

I head to the temple in the grounds.
And pray...

for clear skies after seeing this:

Even the statues in the temple grounds have their raincoats on today. They must know something that I don't.

The road looks clear.

The neighbour said that the bypass road is quicker and everyone uses that. Great news, I'll ride the old road with no traffic then. Thanks bypass builders!

Hmm, need to work on my road positioning skills more.

Japan isn't that blessed with natural resources.
But there is no shortage of concrete! They love building roads. All of them 1A quality.

You crossed the line snake. You crossed the line. Across this line you do not...

There are two types of poisonous snakes in the country. The Mamushi and the Habu. The Habu is found only on the islands south of Kyushu. The Mamushi can be found slithering around at any location. Can it be a Mamushi?

Looks like a wet old valley to me.

I step on the gas ! Interstellar Overdrive

Hammering down with rain. The clouds are hanging around in the hills surrounding the valley. I head for the Chiba-ke. It was the home of the Chiba family who were wealthy farmers in the area.


Shine On You Crazy Diamond

It is still a working farmhouse.

Brain Damage

Like any normal man, I head straight to the tool shed and see what they got.

Careful with that axe, Eugene

Obscured By Clouds

Pouring down. We need to retreat from this valley.

We hold up in a restaurant and try to wait the rain out.

We escape from the valley and yes, the rain is not falling back at Kamaishi.
I decide to hunt down some Relics.
Here's one:

Let's have a closer look.

Written in Katakana on the black tank badge is the word, Meguro.
Meguro motorcycles, the forerunner of Kawasaki. It can't be. They didn't produce 50cc two smokers. Ah, Autopet written on the crank casing. A Yamaguchi Autopet. Circa 1960. These were the engines thrown into the Hodaka off road bikes imported ot the US in the 60s.

Someone had fashioned a little cafe racer for themselves once upon a time. I love the handle bars.

A lady came out a shop wondering what I was photographing. I asked her how long the bike had been there. She said as long as she could remember.

I decide to while away the afternoon hanging around by the statue of Osama Takato. Tokyo has the statue of the Hachiko Dog in Shibuya as a meeting spot. Kamaishi has Takato..

The forecast tomorrow is sun, sun, sun.
I reckon a ride along the coast is in order.

Mata Ashita !

Edmond Dantès screwed with this post 07-26-2009 at 05:47 AM
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Old 07-26-2009, 07:39 AM   #26
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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.

Davis53 screwed with this post 07-26-2009 at 07:46 AM
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Old 07-26-2009, 09:02 AM   #27
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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.

04 HONDA CRF 230 F
08 KTM 450 EXC (R)

"We are all going to die of something if we live long enough!." My Father
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Old 07-27-2009, 01:35 AM   #28
Edmond Dantès OP
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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   #29
Edmond Dantès OP
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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   #30
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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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