Getting fucked up in the Japanese Alps (4/4)

It was whilst atop Mt. Norikura, amongst a dirty grey mist, that I stumbled across a graveyard of abandoned racing bicycles. It appeared that the ‘Racing Carnival’ was no more as up to 100+ of some of the most expensive bicycles on earth lay strewn across the mountain top, not an owner in sight. Their…

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,…

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…

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…

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 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…