Japan 2013, On Tour

Day 38: Kannonzaki to Tategami

The final days of a tour has a lot of “lasts”. Today would be the last time I woke up beside the Pacific Ocean, for example. It was also the last day of riding that would end with a night spent camping. There was a solid day of riding ahead, so I left Kannonzaki early. I was cutting across Kyushu now to get to the road on the eastern side of the peninsula, as there was no route directly to Cape Sata from the Pacific Ocean side.

The morning and early afternoon ride was along lonely cliff roads with great views of the ocean that would descend into small bays with sandy beaches dotted with surfers.

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I was lucky that the road I had planned to take was actually open, apparently it has been closed for the last year as part of it had collapsed into the sea!

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A few hard climbs met me as I turned inland to cross over to the other coast. I was saved from spending the whole day climbing by following the Nitta pass. It was here also that I saw the first road sign for my Satta Misaki, my final destination!

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flat land along the Niita pass

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I arrived on the other side of the peninsula at about 3:30. There was a campsite I had planned on staying at ninety minutes further down the road, but I decided I’d rather spend my last touring night down on the beach overlooking Kagoshima bay. I set up down by the sand, but while cooking dinner spotted a large front rolling in. I decided to move camp up to the grassy park above the beach and took cover under tree. It wasn’t perfect weather for my last night sleeping rough, but it was fitting.

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setting up for last night

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Japan 2013, On Tour

Day 37: Hyuga to Kannonzaki

I was down to the final three days of the tour now. Today saw me pass through the city of Miyazaki after leaving Hyuga. This was the final city I would have to cycle through on the trip. I think by now I have actually gotten pretty good at navigating into and through these sprawling Japanese cities.

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palm trees line the flat, straight road out of Miyazaki

I was into surf country now, long beaches and big waves. I decided to take a little detour through the town if Aoshima for lunch. The populated almost exclusively with people heading down to the beach to surf. The sand from the beach was blown partly across the road. I had lunch down by the harbour.

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Aoshima was the last glimpse of settlement I had until I stopped that evening. The coastal road I followed was almost entirely devoid of buildings, except for a few beach houses here and there.

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It was a long straight road with a pleasant tailwind all the way to Kannonzaki, a small coastal village with a beach campsite I had set as my destination for the day. I had managed to make up the distance I lost yesterday, and I was feeling good when I pulled into the campground. There were some other campers there, something I hadn’t seen since Octoberbegan. As it happened they were foreigners living in Japan, two teachers from Osaka. The BBQ they shared with me was a pleasant break from my usual pasta dinner.

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Japan 2013, On Tour

Day 36: Cape Tsurugo to Hyuga

The last few days of the tour saw me cycling on some of the most secluded roads since Hokkaido. I started out from Cape Tsurugo with an exhilarating descent along the headland in the morning sun. The route then flattened out and wound along the coast for a short while.

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Dawn over Cape Tsurugo

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I was glad I took the advice of one of my hosts in Shikoku and made my way south along the east coast. It was absolutely beautiful and quiet. I saw maybe three cars all morning on my road. There was a highway nearby that cut through the mountainous terrain, but I was happy to trade some steep climbs for a quiet road.

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It was descending from one of these climbs that I got my first puncture since, I think, Nara. A had the tube swapped out in minutes but disaster! My hand pump was broken. I was regretting now cycling on a road so remote, there wasn’t a soul nearby, just the road and the sea. I pushed my bike down the rest of way. About 20 minutes later I reached a small group of houses clustered in the bay. An old guy there gave me a lift (with my bike) in his truck to the next town over where there was a garage. Didn’t take long after that to fix everything up.

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the garage owner and town English speaker

There was one hard climb left that day and the rest was smooth and flat as the mountainous coast gave way to a flatter, beach lined one. The puncture ordeal had set me back about 90minutes, or 30KM of cycling. I would just have to cover it tomorrow.

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I found a campsite near Hyuga, but their price for the night was crazy high. I cycled 10 minutes down the road and camped in a park by the sea.

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Japan 2013, On Tour

Day 35: Beppu to Cape Tsurugo

I’ve been home for about a week now and still haven’t finished the journal! At any rate, I only have a few more days of the cycle to finish writing about, so I should be able to get them out quickly now that I’ve settled back in.

From Beppu I was going to be riding along the comparatively undeveloped and isolated east coast of Kyushu. The coastline was lined with headlands and capes. Depending on the size I would either stick to the coast or cut across country to leave out what sometimes could end up as an extra 50KM

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going over land and through tunnels

The road was probably the quietest it has been since Hokkaido. The coast road especially was pleasantly devoid of traffic.

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Toward the end of the day I was going across country in order to reach a campsite before dark.

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I came across a construction worker standing in the middle of the road after making my way halfway across the headland. He told me the road was closed ahead due to a landslide or something. After trying to argue with him to let me through anyway (it was going to be dark soon, I knew I wouldn’t make it to the campground if I had to turn around ), I reluctantly retraced my steps and started following the longer, winding coastal road around the cape. It was getting dark quickly, and as I was climbing a headland still far from my original destination a came across a perfect spot to set up.

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Japan 2013, On Tour

Day 34: Nogata to Beppu

After almost a week of not cycling, five night in the city then two out on Nogata I left early on Sunday morning ready, refreshed and eager to resume the cycle. This was the start of the final leg, in less than a week I would be finished.

Nogata to Beppu was a pleasant cycle, mostly flat as I followed a river. There was going to be a climb at the end of the day that loomed over like a dark cloud, but I enjoyed the easy riding in the morning, trying to forget I had to go over a mountain to get to my destination.

I passed by a shipping container that had been out by the side of the road and turned into a diner. I thought it looked cool, so I stopped there and had lunch.

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The climb before Beppu wasn’t as bad as I had expected actually, the mountains I had seen on the map and thought I had to go over were divided by a small pass that the road and railway followed. There was some climbing, sure, but not half as bad as I expected.

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an old theme park I passed while coming into Beppu

Beppu is a city famous for its hot springs, both those you can bathe in and the scalding hot springs that pour out of the earth. The latter was one of the reasons I came through Beppu, to see the famous “hells of Beppu”.

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Japan 2013, On Tour

Day 33: Fukuoka – Nogata

This was a short day of cycling during which I backtracked some and then started to cross inland from the west coast over to the east, this side of Kyushu I wanted to cycle along (it’s less populated and, I had been informed, more scenic)

Nogata was the destination here because it was where David, my friend from back home lived.

There wasn’t a whole by way of scenery from Fukuoka to Nogata, Although I found Nogata itself to be a pleasant city situated in a river valley framed by mountains.

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The ride was less than 50km, so I wasn’t sure whether to include it in its own post or not, but I suppose I made progress on the journey, so I have.

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Japan 2013

Fukuoka: beach, baseball, bowls (of ramen)

Fukuoka I found to be a vibrant and energetic city. Its not a top notch tourist destination (there isn’t a whole lot by way of sights) but it was a great city to take a break in before finishing the cycle.

I had two hosts during my stop, David and David. I knew one of the David’s from back home, it was great seeing a familiar face after two months.

I also stayed in a really nice hostel in the city centre for a few nights. A new place only a few months old, I’ve found a lot of new hostels this trip. I think I stayed in three so far now that been open less than four months.

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the beach just outside the city. Went here with David on the first day

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Canal City, Fukuokas famous department store. Has a canal built in it, hence the name. Its a huge complex

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outside hostel Takataniya

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Going to a baseball game in Fukuoka with David and ALTs of Fukuoka
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Fukuoka has great Ramen, it’s home to the Tonkotsu style. Here are two places I visited while at the city.

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this place apparently serves some of the best Ramen In the city. It was certainly delicious

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Ichi-Ran is a famous chain that started in Fukuoka. You order on slips of paper and are seated at a counter but with dividers either side for privacy. You never need to talk to anyone, not even to ask for more water – each booth has its own tap. This was also delicious

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