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Old 07-27-2009, 05:47 AM   #31
deardara
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awesome RR
I love JP!
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Old 07-27-2009, 07:38 PM   #32
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Very nice

I went to Kamakurra beach near Tokyo and was turned off Japanese beaches (very spoiled coming from Australia) and said only mountains and lakes for my trips now but you have found some sweet ones. Ill be in Tokyo for the next month see you
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Old 07-28-2009, 01:16 AM   #33
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I went to Kamakurra beach near Tokyo and was turned off Japanese beaches (very spoiled coming from Australia) and said only mountains and lakes for my trips now but you have found some sweet ones. Ill be in Tokyo for the next month see you
Mac, did you get my PM? I leave for Bali this Fri, July 31st. Will be back in Tokyo on Aug 30th. Would be great to meet if you are here and have time.
Would be totally into a ride out.
I like your KTM and ride reports.

I hear you on the urban beaches over here. Nothing compares to Bondi, Bronte, etc.
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Old 07-28-2009, 03:20 AM   #34
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The plan today is to take Route 283 from Kamaishi to Hanamaki IC, at Hanamaki pick up the Tohoku and head all the way down to Koriyama in Fukushima, then Route 49 to AizuWakamatsu. About a 400km ride.
http://
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Get up to the bypass early.

And head to Hanamaki. Anyone coming up the Tohoku heading north with a view to seeing the Rikuchu Kaigan National Park and not too fussed about seeing Matsushima would do well to continue through Sendai and exit the Tohoku Express at Hanamaki. This would save you a boat load of time and you would not really be missing that much.

Some nice architecture on the way.
I love the Zorro Gate on the right of the pic.




I get on the expressway and start clocking up some kilometers. The road is clear and the Firestorm/Superhawk engine in the Vara is going to work. The needle on the speedo was past 160 kmh /100 mph when a gust of wind caught the peak of my helmet and threw my head backwards. I was suddenly looking up at the sky. To make matters worse the mouth piece of the helmet was now over my eyes and I couldn't see a thing. I managed to pull my head back but still couldn't see jack. I started slowing the bike down, eventually pushing the helmet back in place. If the strap hadn't have been tight around my chin, the helmet would have blow straight off. The whole episode scared the living daylights out of me. I had been saying to myself that the peak was too high and it needs to be lowered. I learnt a lesson today.

Get to Inawashiro-Ko Lake in the afternoom.
The conditions are not too good. Heavy cloud everywhere.

The lake doesn't seem at one with itself. I like my lakes to be calm and peaceful personally.

When the conditions are right you should have a super view of Bandi Mountain. A volcano that blew it's top in 1888 and threw rocks up to 70 km away. I can only see the foot of the valcano today. Most disappointing.
There are several volcanic peaks in the area. The Bandai Azuma National Park has some of the best and most interesting mountain scenery in the country. Not today though, can't see sh.....

I decide to check out some history for the afternoon and wait until tomorrow to see if the volcanoes will show themselves.

Tenkyokaku


A villa built at the beginning of last century by Prince Takamatsu. In 1924 Emperor Hirohito (Showa) spent his honeymoon here.


Some model homes at modest prices:


Another Mega-Kannon


Head into Aizu-Wakamatsu. This city boasted the strongest castle in Tohoku (Northeat Japan) at the end of the feudal era.
During the civil war fighting of 1868 between forces trying to restore the Emperor Meiji and forces loyal to the Tokugawa shogunate, a detachment of teenage army cadets known as the Byakkotai (White Tiger Corps) found themselves cut off from the fighting on Iimori-yama Mountain. They were just meant to be a reserve unit and consisted of young kids, 16-17 year olds, sons of the samurai in Aizu. The unit saw the castle on fire and came to the conclusion that all was lost. The soldiers then commited seppuku, ritual suicide. Out of the 20 children, 19 commited suicide and one was saved by a monk.

Foot of Iimori-Yama


Staute of the kid that befriended the dog and survived the ordeal.





Good little museum that taxed me linguistically.






From what I can make out, the guy with the grasshopper beard was a member of the outfit. He apparently befriended a stray dog and while looking after it lost his comrades. He survived the war. Quite a lame excuse if you ask me. I don't think that that would cut the mustard in any other army somehow, a courtmartial at the least.


Temples and gates on the mountain





Sazaedo, a type of Buddhist shrine that could well be unique in Japan.
Inside, ramps spiral upwards clockwise and anti-clock wise meeting at the top after two complete revolutions. The top bridge at the top passes over 33 Kannons. So it is possible to walk in and out without retracing your steps. Very much like the practice of not taking the same route twice at grave sites in temple grounds. Interesting.






A painting depicting the series of events


19 grave stones

for 19 loyal, brave samurai


Views of Aizu-Wakamatsu from the mountain




I go off to look for my hotel. Which is always an adventure.
Finally locate it after many travails.
I like the location.

Cozy little room. 3,800 yen ($38) with an all you can eat breakfast in the morning. Very good spa with a lovely foot-bath outside the hotel by the river.


Take a bath, sip a Yebisu Beer, contemplate the wisdom of riding a motorcycle at 100 miles per hour, Senor Zorro, and the tragic death of 19 teenagers.



Rode 400 km today on the Varadero and not one single complaint.
Reckon I need to invest in a taller screen, and best go ahead and bolt on some crash bars while I'm at it as well.

Edmond Dantès screwed with this post 07-28-2009 at 04:29 AM
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Old 07-28-2009, 03:31 AM   #35
Gaston Gagne
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I'm enjoying the "overnight" updates. I remember that Aizu-Wakamatsu as well. The onsen at Hanamaki was one of the better ones that I've been to.
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Old 07-28-2009, 04:08 AM   #36
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I am really enjoying this RR.
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Old 07-28-2009, 04:10 AM   #37
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The onsen at Hanamaki was one of the better ones that I've been to.
Gaston, didn't really look around too much at Hanamaki. I do appreciate a good onsen though.

Pleased you are enjoying the pics and read.

Best wishes.
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Old 07-28-2009, 04:51 AM   #38
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Great photos and commentary.
The beauty of you RR is that it gives the reader a taste of 'real' Japan.
I really appreciate the cultural and historical references and the photos make it look like Bonsai made large.
Great that you include some prices as well as I've been under the impression that Japan is a really expensive place to live or visit.
Given your stature you would really stand out in Japan...do you get many offers to play Basketball?
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Old 07-28-2009, 01:51 PM   #39
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Talking

Great photos and commentary!
Like many other posters on this thread I'm very interested in Japan and would love to visit there one day.
I had to study its history in school and am a fan of its movies both old and new. Japan is a real rarity on this site so your thread is a real treat!
Thanks very much for your many pics.
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Old 07-28-2009, 07:50 PM   #40
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Thanks for this RR - as they have all been saying very interesting - I was in Aomori ken at a YH in the summer of '81!
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Old 07-28-2009, 11:59 PM   #41
Edmond Dantès OP
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Given your stature you would really stand out in Japan...do you get many offers to play Basketball?
In land full of 5' 4" point guards, the big man who dunk and post up with hook shot is king. An old Japanese proverb.

Quote:
a fan of its movies both old and new. Japan is a real rarity on this site so your thread is a real treat!
Me, too. I love Akira Kurosawa'a movies, especially Rashomon and Yojimbo.
I am also a huge fan of anything directed by Juzo Itami.

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Old 07-29-2009, 12:37 AM   #42
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The clouds are low in the skies this morning obscuring the views of the volcanic peaks. Do I hang around and hope the clouds will lift, or do I press on?

There has been a lot of rain in the country. I see on the news that an old people’s retirement home in the south of the island was practically washed away in a deluge of water, mud and debris when the mountain side, which the home was perched on simply gave way.

I have breakfast which was awesome, worth the price of admission alone, take a bath and then leave the hotel to assess the situation.

I want to see the castle in town. Although not an authentic period piece, the original was burnt down long ago, it’s still a pretty funky castle.

The Imperial Aizu-Wakamatsu Guards at the gates of the castle inform me that no vehicles are allowed beyond this point, especially motorcycles of foreign origin.

They point to a sign:

NO: BMWS, HARLEYS, TRIUMPH TRIPLES, DUCATIS, APRILIAS !

There was even a sub-sign:

NO: V-STROM OF ANY CAPACITY

I point out the fact that I am riding a 1999 Honda Varadero XL1000V forged in the fires of the Hamamatsu Factory in Shizuoka Prefecture.
The bike that put the word ‘Giant’ before the word ‘Trailie’.
In that case retort the guards, come on in!







I hear a commotion in a nearby dojo and on closer inspection espy a gang of Kendo Sisters clad in bōgu, yelling at the top of their lungs and swiping at one another with their shinai. Quite a spectacle, but a little early in the morning for all that.






Head to the edge of town to see what I can see, and I can see very little. Can see myself leaving this area and coming back in Autumn when things have cleared out.

Route 121 snakes it’s way south out of Aizu-Wakamatsu and Fukushima Prefecture, into Tochigi Prefecture eventually 100 odd kilometers later reaching the wonderful town of Nikko.

My Lonely Planet which is 30 years old says that Route 121 is lined with thatched-roof houses. A lot can happen in 30 years, the route could now be littered with pachinko parlors and convenience stores.


Thatched houses? Nikko temples? 100 km of beautiful rustic scenery?

Boots, helmet, gloves, ignition…..

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Old 07-29-2009, 12:56 AM   #43
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The road south out of Aizu-Wakamatsu to Nikko is awesome with some beautiful sights. It follows a river for much of the way. Anyone going up to Aizu-Wakamatsu from Nikko, or vice-versa, the 121 is the road to take. Forget the Tohoku Expressway.









I sadly find only one thatched house on the route. It must had been an amazing ride 30 years ago when the author of my guidebook passed through.


I get my fun on route 121!
Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but I'm sure you get my drift.

Note the falling rocks sign. I have never been able understood what the symbol implies. Is it, slow down, rocks may fall in your path? Or, speed up and get clear before the rocks come tumbling down. Or can it be, watch out for rocks in your path?

Anyways, I’m excited because I’m only a stone’s throw away from arguably the most picturesque and fascinating temple complex in the country. It houses some of the most beautiful buildings in the world.
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Old 07-29-2009, 02:46 AM   #44
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Nice, nice, nice.. tell us more..
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Old 07-29-2009, 03:10 AM   #45
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Nice ride report. I get a bit nostalgic when i read a report from japan. I lived in Tokyo for a year or so in the late eighties. If you haven't already i suggest checking out the Ito Peninsular a little south of Tokyo and this amazing bridge.



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