Friday, October 28, 2011

Cycle in Japan - part 4, 4th island and 4,000km!

The final instalment of the cycling adventure...

The locals introduced us to some hidden treasures.  Today we visited a tiny museum where we got to beat the heck out of some taiko drums and danced around wearing festival masks.

We were so fortunate on this day.  Exhausted after a day of hill climbs, we decided to stop at a michi no eki for the night.  An older motorcyclist and his friend advised that we push a bit further (mostly downhill) to some nicer places to stay.  They led the way and negotiated for us to stay at an animal park/campsite for free.  Then a young father and 2 children arrived to play with the animals.  The motorcyclist told the father about us and before we knew it, we were invited to his home for the night.  Kazu is part of a cycling family.  We were whisked away to dinner with the entire family - Kazu, his son, his parents, his grandmother and his brother and his family.  After filling up on barbequed beef and beers, we all went to an onsen.  We went to sleep that night clean, full and a bit tipsy.

The 16km climb up Aso san a bit hungover and in the heat was worth it.  We were rewarded with beautiful views, onigiris from some friendly locals and a fantastic downhill ride.  Yumi had her first tiny accident while caught in traffic on a very narrow road at the bottom of the mountain.  She attempted to hop a tiny curb and "crashed" into a stopped car.  A couple of sumimasens directed at the shocked couple inside the car and she was back on the road.    

A beautiful, blue day at the Peace Memorial in Nagasaki.  Once again, it was difficult to be proud to be an American after the visit.  There is absolutely no ill will towards the country that bombed them rather the city is focused on promoting peace.

After 2 months, it was time for Thomas to get a haircut.

Check out our bikes on the tiniest ferry of our trip.  2 bikes and 4 passengers made the 45 minute journey from Nagasaki to Amakusa.

Our last major climb of the trip was up Sakurajima, an active volcano overlooking Kagoshima. It spewed huge clouds of ashes while we were next to it so we ended up eating ashes and had our glasses covered with grey snow. 

It was hard not to stop and watch Sakurajima show off her power.

Rock on!

We reached the 4000km mark while on Sakurajima and she helped us celebrate the accomplishment with an extra big eruption.

80km to reach Cape Sata. There were lots of ups and downs on the way to the southern tip of Kyushu and we managed 91km (an extra 11km to go back North and find a great camping spot).  

This is the closest we could get to the southern most tip of mainland Japan.  We felt like we were in the middle of nowhere.  No place to buy postcards, stickers or even a drink.  Fortunately, we brought our own brandy.

Hmmm....Cape Soya is only 2700km away.  Shall we head back up?

We made it to Cape Sata 59 days after leaving Cape Soya. We want to say a big thank you (or "Arigato Gosaimasu" as it is clearly written on the white pages) to everyone who offered us support and encouragement during our cycling adventure.  

For our last meal on the road we stopped at a somen nagashi. You start by putting noodles in a swirling container of ultra cold water.  You then catch them with your chopsticks and dip them in a tasty broth. Yummmmm…..

The Year 4 students at Ikeda Elementary school invited us to talk about our travels.  Upon  arrival, we were immediately surrounded by students wanting our autographs.  We felt like celebraties!  

After riding together for 4000km, we still like each other.  Now that’s something to celebrate!