Takayama – Toyama
The ride north to Toyama City saw me leave the Japanese Alps behind; it had been an intense week and I had been feeling a longing for the coast again. Toyama means ‘many mountains’ and it would certainly live up to its name; a riotous cluster of alpine greenery sprawled coarsely across the land, continuing on from where Gifu left off. Yet cutting through a gorge some 20 metres above the placid flowing waters of the Miyagawa River, I was saved a bulk of strenuous climbing, which felt like a pleasing pay-off after the effort it had taken me to get into the Alps.
Toyama City itself had no special draw though. During World War II, 95.6% of its urban area was decimated by American B-29 fire-bombings – bringing its thriving aluminium, steel and ball-bearing industries to an abrupt standstill. However, today, like many a once destroyed Japanese cities, it has been fully resurrected. It is now a regionally important manufacturer of metal, electronic and pharmaceutical products. It is fundamentally clean, accessible and habitually sound with its refurbished and aesthetically pleasing castle, green spaces and attractive waterways that wind through the city and out into the Sea of Japan. Toyama will never be one of the big hitters, but as a passing space it served as an inviting enough city in which to have a gander and set up a stealth camp.
Cycling north of the city, along a canal that pranced along the hem of a peaceful residential area, I’d find a small wooden gazebo – atop a grassy knoll. Setting up camp there I found limited sleep; the night fast becoming humid and uncomfortable. Unzipping the entrance to my tent offered me a small modicum of relief, but an invading army of ants soon saw to the eventual demise of a once perfectly ideal looking stealth camp. My grassy knoll retreat had essentially become shitty and wank; words that at the time seemed to flow so naturally off my damnable tongue.
The cold now was indefinitely gone, and, to the best of my knowledge, so too was the rainy season – a new challenger had entered the equation.
Over the coming weeks, the south’s heat and humidity became one of my greatest new challenges; a burden that I would just have to learn to bear.
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