The Japanese Alps – Part 1

Ueda – Norikura Kougen 65 miles Judgement day pulled closer; apprehension and dread becoming a commonly frequent fixation of my latest dreams. All because of the Norikura Skyline, a road that scaled the roof of the Japanese Alps at some 2,715 metres, officially making it the highest road in Japan. But not the highest public…

Dawn of the Alps – Part II

Yudanaka – Kusatsu 31 miles Breakfast started with a brutal 10% incline which set the pace for the bulk of the day’s journeying, as I traversed Japan’s highest public road – amongst its abandoned summertime ski slopes. I wondered if I was insane to be lugging some 30kg of property up into the skies with…

Dawn of the Alps – Part I

Joetsu – Yudanaka 50 miles Nine of the twelve highest mountains in Japan can be found in Nagano; a fact alone that was enough to make me break out in a cold sweat, and this was before a hearty old man with the essence of doom paid me a visit whilst I was packing up…

Last Day in Exile

Sado Island – Joetsu 39 miles The rain would return as I cycled the southern half of Sado. Yet perhaps on this day it was a good thing as I’d long since forgotten the last time I’d actually taken a shower – or a bath. I’m not normally a stinky person, but when you can…

Robot Touching in Exile

Sado Island 77 miles An evening boat would take me to Sado, some 30 miles west off the coast of Niigata. I’d arrived in darkness and quickly found myself an unkempt stretch of coastal parkland to set up camp. Sado is a place with a morose history, and that’s even before you consider the slave…

Summer Time in Snow Country

Agano – Sado Island 41 miles The skies were clear first thing and the day was already well on its way to becoming hot. Instead of heading directly to Niigata, I took a bit of a detour further into the depths of the prefecture’s lush agricultural heartland. For a prefecture that prides itself on having…

Rice is Nice

Yunohama – Agano 85 miles Entering Niigata Prefecture meant that I was officially leaving Tōhoku, the north of Honshū behind, and saying a hearty ‘Hello’ to the Chūbu Region, Central Honshū. Niigata is a prefecture that prides itself on producing some of the best grades of rice in all of Japan, its output of rice…

The Search for the Living Dead: Part 2

Sakata – Yunohama 70 miles ‘I saw the mummy when I was a boy,’ declared Akira. ‘What???’ I said, nearly spitting my marmalade toast into his face. ‘Doko?’ where? ‘It was a long time ago,’ he said standing up and collecting our plates. And that was it, I swear he could tell that I was…

The Search for the Living Dead: Part 1

Yurihonjo – Sakata 57 miles The hot spring waters had helped numb my aching limb, and the good night’s sleep aided my mind in preparation for another battle with Route 7. Today, as I progressed into Yamagata Prefecture, I would only have to join the Bastard Route in fits and spurts. For the most part, I’d…