Finding Dreamland

Nara  As an ancient capital, the city of Nara is far from an intimidating place; with a population of little over 360,000, the city is relatively small by Japanese standards. It was designed in a similar fashion to many a Chinese city; in a grid layout making it easily navigable by foot or bicycle. Naturally,…

Clammy in Kyoto

Kyoto I would awake with a hangover. Kyoto was only my second prolonged stop since Hokkaidō, some three months previously, and it acted as the perfect excuse for an absolute skinful. Arising out of bed, yawning like a barbarian and then groaning like a zombie, I stumbled from my hotel room and out onto a…

The Rave by the Lake

Fukui – Nagahama 83 miles I awoke early to a selection of lurching footsteps, creeping around outside my tent. Fearing that I was about to get molested by the walking dead, I grabbed a pile of wits and chanced a sly glance through my tent’s involuntary secret peep hole. I was relieved to find that…

The Phoenix

19. Fukui             Heading out of Kanazawa, I met up with my old flame, Route 8, as I journeyed into Fukui Prefecture. Route 8 was as feckless as ever, with its limited hard shoulders and hordes of trucks that bounced along the heavily fractured bitumen without a care in the world….

The Angry Warden and the Japanese Garden

Kanazawa – Fukui 60 miles After coffee and a high five, I left Jimmy and Lei to their Japanese studying; something that I was struggling to find the time to do. I had been averaging anywhere between 60-100 miles a day in the saddle, so the very thought of sitting down to study Japanese at…

The Japanese Alps – Part 3

Norikura Kougen – Takayama 37 miles Up and away by 06:30am the skies were dreary; contrary to the weather forecast. The climb was slow and steady and a number of race cycling enthusiasts passed me en route to the summit. Each wished me good luck as they went by, some would comment upon my heavy…

The Japanese Alps – Part 2

I wouldn’t be the first Englishman to tackle Mt. Norikura, and certainly wouldn’t be the last. In 1878, a: professor, mining engineer, mountaineer, foreign advisor, writer, archaeologist, better man and fellow Englishman, William Gowland, became the first to summit Mt. Norikura. He noted then how the beautiful, multi-pinnacle terrain was reminiscent of the French Alps,…