Bike touring in Japan (18.3.–28.4.2015)

When planning the trip, I knew weather might not be enjoyable in this season, but in some years it has been perfectly ok. So it was a toss, unfortunately I did not get very lucky. On the average, 3-4 days a week were rainy, sometimes more. But my schedule didn't allow me to move the trip to later in the year. Also I overlooked the challenges of hilly and often busy roads in the busiest part of Japan and so overestimated my daily average. Much wiser choice would have been to focus on Southern part of the country.


The route I took. Cyan line is the first leg heading West until near Hiroshima. Magenta is the return leg that half circles Mt Fuji before returning to Tokyo.


Received a text message from Lufthansa: the crew has gone on strike and my flight has been canceled. I called the given phone number and after a 20 min wait, I reached the clerk who finds me a new flight. Surprisingly, it schedule-wise turned out to be more convenient than the one I had booked myself with shorter wait in transit and earlier arrival.


The flight departed at 10:00. Woke up already at 4 and was going to ride my bike to the airport first (about 20 km), then get back to my place by public transport to get rest of the gear. Although I thought I had plenty of time, as I arrived to the special luggage desk, the clerk told me they would have closed the counter 3 minutes later.

Transit in Frankfurt, about two hours of waiting, then an 11 hour flight to Haneda, the smaller of the two airports in Tokyo.

19.3. Haneda

Plane landed at around 14:30 local time. Immigration procedure quite lengthy. After getting fingerprints taken and mugshotted, as I wait for special luggage I am told my bike was not on my flight, but would reach here tomorrow. Luckily I had a hostel booked very near the airport. Put bike bags into airport luggage storage.

Took a bus to terminal 1 to retrieve my prepaid internet sim. First chance to use my limited Japanese on the country itself. "Yoobin-kyoku wa doko desu ka?" I asked one of the airport staff. She understood my Japanese! I believe this was the only complete sentence I uttered during the entire trip. It was single words, broken English and sign language from then on.

Asking something unrelated in the info desk, the extremely friendly clerk girl managed to speak a few phrases of my language, which was nice and unexpected.

I waited until 18 and took the 5 minute subway ride to near hostel.

Tokyo had more old time charm than I expected, which I suspected would be ultra modern, chaotic, sleepless. It certainly had that but also finding a narrow alley could easily been a scene from 19th century with the overhanging electric wires being the only obstruction.

Found the hostel, I made a reservation for second night so tomorrow would have plenty of time to prepare bike for riding to center. Had a beer, some chat with the owner and went to sleep.

20.3. Haneda

In the morning met a couple of other guests in the dining room. One was a mid-20s salesman in a family-run sake brewery on a business trip in Tokyo, another one a traveler from Jakarta.

Walked to airport around 10. Bike would hopefully arrive 15 so I just tried to kill the jet lag sleeping on the airport seats in a quiet corner. Later as I was heading towards arrivals but noticed a girl in the uniform with strange piece of luggage. Closer inspection, it was my bike.

Due to some rule or another I was not allowed to use their cart to take the bike outside where I wanted to assemble it, so I had to haul everything by hand.

Putting the bike together took considerable effort and with my jet lag I felt blood sugar going down so I locked my bike near the entrance (the real bike parking area was a couple hundred meters away, but I wasn't aware of it yet). Went back in to the airport, bought some food and napped in the waiting lounge. Coming back to outdoors there was a Japanese handwritten note attached to my bike. Probably they would have taken it away at some point. Asked a passerby and they just said it wasn't a problem. So I went on, noticed a small torii along the highway out of the airport. Stopped there to have my last biscuits I carried from home which I wouldn't be able to find here. It was getting dark. Watched a bunch of youth on the opposite shore apparently having a party, then boarding a small boat and riding out to sea. Bought food for tomorrow at the convenience store. Another beer in the hostel, chat with some of the guests.

21.3. Haneda – Asakusa district, Tokyo

Woke up to a warm, sunny day.

I still needed to fetch something from the airport so I went there for an hour or so, after that I was finally able to do actual riding Tokyo for the first time. This was quite fascinating with its own challenges due to differences of street planning, climate, driving culture and probably takes time on finding a good strategy to tackle. In Japan riding on sidewalks is not always an option so I tried my best to avoid big roads until I had some level of consistency. Side streets didn't have much traffic but were not fast to get around with, but slowly resident areas, unattractive industrial areas gave way to skyscrapers, malls, restaurants and big crowds. I didn't stop much to look around, getting to hostel was the priority.

Reaching the hostel there was some issues with finding a place for the bike since there was renovation going on, and the rooftop was not available, contrary to what I had been told in the email exchange a few weeks prior, but the clerk and myself found just enough room to lock the bike in the corridor near the entrance.

The hostel was okish, a bit worn out. Some of the rooms had unpleasant odor.

22.3.–26.3. Tokyo

General sightseeing, plus visited a bike shop for clothing and bike bag for train.

26.3. Tokyo – Kanagawa

I had already decided I needed a head start to get to Kyoto in my allotted time comfortably, so I would use shinkansen. I knew it would be a hassle but still the amount of work and hauling was a surprise. I arrived to Tokyo station way ahead of departure, reluctantly started to put the bike into as piecemeal as I could, as crowds of busy salarymen and the occasional tourist walked by. Part of the touring bike with its accessories wouldn't fit into the Japanese carrying bag, but I thought it would suffice. Getting the bike to the track of departure was even more of a challenge. I realized I was going to be in hurry, despite of what I thought was generously early start. The way it worked was that I would carry the sack containing my panniers 15-20 meters ahead, walk back and carry the bagged bike ahead of the pannier sack, and repeat time after time. Getting to desired track was probably around a 600-700m of this which involved two sets of stairs. Approaching the platform I noticed I had only 15 minutes of time left, so instead of finding elevator I just hauled the bike up, went back to fetch the pannier sack which at this point was being eyed by a security man with some curiosity. Got into the train just a few minutes before its departure.

This was probably the first instance I damaged my back, which would grow into a bigger issue in the upcoming weeks.

Couldn't fit it fully in the pack
Mt Fuji seen from the bullet train

Reaching Kakegawa around 14, into sunshine. After the noise and crowds of Tokyo it seemed strange to see a station almost empty.

Assembling the bike outside an older Japanese gentleman stops to chat with broken English, asking about my plans. He leaves but returns 15 mins later with a foreign friend he apparently was picking up from the station. The friend spoke better English and told that his friend had cycled the silk road from Turkey to Beijing, maybe it was a decade ago.

I realized I had lost my brand new (rather expensive) merino shirt in the hostel in Tokyo. Called them to inquire about it, but it hadn't been found. I think one of the cleaners might have snatched it.

I had a hotel in the preceding town, so I cycled there, bought some beer from convenience store and enjoyed the evening.

27.3. Kanagawa – Hamamatsu (80km)

First real cycling day. Left the hotel around 7:50. Breakfast in the convenience store next to hotel. Decent weather, warm and sunny by noon. Towards afternoon, got my skin burnt. Didn't really pay attention to using sunscreen, maybe due to excitement. Somewhat busy roads but scenery was decent. No steep climbs. Reached a lake which seemed to have a bike path circling it. Some kids tried to initiate a chat though language barrier made that impossible. Even though it was going to add distance, I took the bike path.

It was around 17 that point and soon it would become dark. I tried to look for a place to camp along the bike path but all suitable spots were fenced off. I took a side road out from bike path which reached a top of hill with plantations and greenhouses. Small path led to a hidden spot but there was highway right next to it which would prevent comfortable sleep. It was by now dark. Found another path but it also would taper off next to the highway. Looking around there was abundance of trash and graffiti so it was not looking convenient. The bamboo plantation next to it might have a spot but darkness discouraged me from doing any scouting.

I got back to the bike path and after a couple of km reached another town. Rather than a town, it was some sort of holiday resort with set of hotels and a theme park (closed). There was two picnic parks with benches, water taps and well maintained toilets, along the lakeside almost next to each other. considering How poorly lit the roads were (no point in going on) I thought it was going to be a choice between them two. I noticed an unlit corner in the other park. Despite of not being out of sight at all I figured I'd be covered well enough by darkness. It was close to midnight by the time I went to sleep. It was getting slightly chilly, probably around 5-7°C in the night.

28.3. Hamamatsu – Tahara (58km)

Woke up around 5:30 to someone walking past my tent. Up & going in 30 mins. Breakfast in the other park, felt good despite lack of sleep. Cycled a few km along the coast and stopped to dry tent and sleeping bag in the morning sun. Curious looks from road workers.

Interesting day with bridge crossings, villas and parks all around. Stopped around 16:00 and saw from a website there should be what's apparently free campsite some 7-8 km away. They would require "registration" which meant a phone call. I hoped someone there would speak English, but turned out they didn't. So I recited a translated line that I would be using the campground for tonight, hope it's okay. Their answer I would not understand. Went on to the campsite with some (unnecessary) guidance from an extremely friendly old couple. The site turned out to be great with clean toilets and well maintained exteriors. Nearby baseball field had a contest going on, which finished a little before 18:00. Listened to music and went to sleep as darkness fell.

29.3. Tahara – near Ise

Temperatures didn't go up in the morning as they had on the previous day. On top of that it started to rain which dented my motivation. Reaching the windy coast early in the afternoon, I saw a few surfers, come summer there would be dozens more.

I reached the vicinity of the ferry station to Toba sometime in the afternoon, but the last ferry of the day had already departed. I found a small shelter by the beach and decided to stop there, wait out the rain for a bit and figure out what to do for the rest of the day. I put on my warmest clothes and that just barely managed to keep warm in the cool evening sea breeze.

After feeling tired almost nonstop today, and occasionally on previous days, I concluded that my nutritionally poor ramen diet the main reason I was making lousy progress, the other being slightly lackluster nights of sleep.

I decided to try camping there in the beach, so I waited until it got dark, without having seen anyone in the past 2 or 3 hours. After dark I set up my tent in the sand, somehow it managed to stay pitched and tried to doze off. But the waves just crashed too close for me to be able to relax, so already close to midnight I broke camp and found another spot further from the beach. It was right next to the cycle lane, but it wouldn't matter until morning.

30.3. Ise – Toba – Tsu

View to the beach I camped in

Slept until 7:30. Nobody around. Stopped along the road to visit a sight and eat breakfast. Cycled on to reach the 9:30 ferry. Elderly gentleman ahead of me in the queue drops some cash without noticing. By now I had forgotten whatever little I had learned Japanese, so all I could say is say "arigato" and point to the bill on the floor. In hindsight proper Japanese respectful action would have been to pick it up and hand it over to him but I had no Japanese manners memorized in that detail.

I didn't see any other tourists in the ferry.

As I had expected, Toba turned out to be quite large and there was hardly any green in the next 40km or so along the coast towards Tsu. However I passed through suburbs with well maintained old homes with zero traffic, which made for a pleasant ride.

Reached the city a bit after 17:00 to wait my host in the station. Tried to buy a blink for my bike but the mamachari shop had only one model.

Met my couch surfing host at 18:00 by the station. Had a dinner in Sukiya (noodle restaurant chain). Listened to his stories of living in Japan as a foreigner teaching English, and chatted our mutual fondness of some old Japanese movies and all kinds of music. He mostly associates with other expats. Together they had an acting troupe. Interestingly he claimed never to lock his door when he goes out to town.

31.3. Tsu – riverbank near Iga

Slight headache from last night's drinks. Thanked my host for the excellent breakfast and started riding. Followed highway most of the time. Rained at some point. The mountain road was tedious as the traffic kept giving trouble. Got the first and only honk from an impatient trucker who had to crawl behind me for a few mins during a steep climb. I fail to see the point of it. Was I supposed to jump over the railing into the bush?

After crossing a mountain pass the evening was approaching so I started to look for a place to camp. There was a small unmaintained shrine along the road which had a patch of level ground. No cover from the parking place though. The woods behind were along a steep hill so no hiding there. I thought it would still make a decent place, but after looking at the map I thought there might be more covered spots in the outskirt of Iga. after doing some circles I could hardly find any, however there was a small, apparently rarely used maintenance road along the river. It was getting dark. Though there were some houses on the other side of the river, decided this place would do for tonight. I camped right on the road but a block of cement would make it impossible for cars to use the road, at least from the side I had come from. Motorbikes were another thing. Or cops.

1.4. Iga – Kasagi (36km)

Woke up just after six as a guy and his dog approached my tent. Peeking out from the canvas door I noticed he turned back as soon as he was close enough to see the details. Packed quickly with tent still moist. Iga had a castle which I went to see, and something called a ninja museum. Decided to wait for the half an hour or so for it to open to take a look. Cos ninjas are cool.

Rain begun soon after I departed from Iga. Along the road 163 I found a large Family Mart with dining area so I stopped for day's first meal and to avoid the chilly rain.

One hour after sitting in the cafeteria, hearing a group of Japanese talking about their average days (no idea what they were saying), I took off. About an hour in and the rain picks up again. I found a very small sheltered space in an intersection leading to a bridge. I lit up a cigarette, soaked from the rain but relatively happy. Browsing on my mobile I found out that there's a campsite along the riverbank just on the opposite side.

Some hassles as I figure out who's running the place, how much does it cost and when she is supposed to come around. The nearby post office workers confirmed that the host visits the place in the evening.

Only few other campers in the area, probably due to weather (and it being a weekday).

I pitch my tent under a tree as the rain is fading and evening approaching, and thinking how hard the trip has been. Somewhat regretting missing the cultural aspects due to lack of knowledge of the language. Also staying in Honshu for majority of the trip was a mistake.

The hostess comes to collect the campsite fee. I ask if there's an onsen in town. She points the way and tells the next day's opening hour.

2.4. Kasagi – campsite near Kyoto (Ujitawara) (30km)

Skipped onsen after all. I started to go toward Kyoto along 62 but heavy truck traffic and approaching rain makes me change my mind. I turn back and pedal to small road leading to mountains that I passed moments before. After a rather steep climb (which I mostly pushed) I was faced with a tea plantation zone which after a kilometer gave way to a dense forest, which was over soon and I was back to civilization.

Leaving 62, a very welcome change
Tea plantation

Crossing another faceless city (a suburb of Kizugawa), there's another mountain pass after which Ujitawara follows. Had a quick meal at 7-11 and intended to approach Kyoto and find a lodging there, but I saw a sign pointing to a park, whose entrance was quite far away, but I thought it would be worth a look.

Asking a man there I discover there's a (rather expensive) campsite there. Only one occupant besides me, a mid aged journalist who was following the sakura season across the country, by using a quad bike. We shared some drinks and he shared bits and pieces of his life and points of view, which was all very interesting.

3.4. Ujitawara – Kyoto

Reaching Kyoto by early afternoon. Motorcyclist on opposite lane suicidal, nearly crashing to a truck during an overtake. Seeing him approaching my lane during his overtake, I stopped riding and got off my bike to be able to jump off the road in case he crashes.

Reached Kyoto by midday. Went to the station to wait for a friend with whom I explored Kyoto for two days.

3.4. - 6.4. exploring Kyoto

Stayed with a couchsurfing host in a central location. Thankfully he let me stay for an extra day because I did not feel fully recovered. His name is Ken and he's (or was) rather well known and well liked warmshowers host in the city.

7.4. Kyoto – Tamba-Sasayama

15°C and rain as I depart Kyoto. I could follow small roads at first but eventually reach 372 which is busy, narrow. Drizzling rain continued until late afternoon. Hit Tamba-Sasayama an hour before dark. Town campsite closed, so I make circles finding a hidden place to camp by the river.

8.4. Tamba-Sasayama – Kamoike park, Ono, Hyogo (58km)

Woke up already at 4:30, didn't feel good about where I was camping. Packed quickly, rode a couple of km until I reached a conbini, where I spent an hour trying to wake up with a strong cup of coffee. "This isn't as enjoyable as I thought", I wrote in my notes. As sun started to rise at 5:30, I rode on.

Weather was better today, no rain, intermittent sun. I stopped at a small pedestrian bridge along a river path to take a nap, leaning on the railing. Old couple stops and asks about my trip. tells that there's a free campground in Kamoike, few kilometers south to where I was, so I went to check it out. It was closed, but there was a rest stop/small unstaffed campsite next to the same lake. I could find a spot for tent, though it was far from being concealed. Nevertheless slept well.

9.4. To Himeji (30km)

Himeji is the home to one of the most famous castles in Japan, so obviously I was going to spent a full day there.

Getting there by midday. Had to wait a couple of hours for the hostel to open to get my stuff in.

10.4. Staying in Himeji

Heavy rain most of the day. Visited the castle, then looked for a bike shop to replace my pedals because the current ones had started to creak, probably getting damage from me using them to balance the bike sometimes. Extremely friendly people at the shop changed new pair of pedals without charging extra.

Ate at a restaurant (cheapest pasta I could find; also smoking permitted indoors), visited the small town marketplace. Hilarity ensued as I went to pharmacy to buy cortisone for the rash I had developed, which the staff initially mistook for "corset".

11.4. Shodo Island – Southwest of Takamatsu @ N34° 16.333 E133° 57.182 (117km, including ferry)

Riding to ferry station by the morning. Arrived somewhat late, then I was informed I have to go back a bit and get the ticket from the kiosk there. Got in the ferry in the nick of time.

Upon reaching Shodoshima, had lunch on the roadside. Pleasant talk with a local fisherman who approached. Rode slowly across the island to reach evening ferry to Takamatsu.

Daikannon, a statue of goddess. 50 meters tall and overseeing part of my ride

I reached the opposite side of the island relatively quickly and spent time in the small town wandering around until the ferry to city of Takamatsu in Shikoku Island arrived.

After a few couple of hours of riding in moderate pace out of Takamatsu, I reached the free campsite just as it was getting dark. Only one small group of campers besides me.

12.4. Takamatsu – Niihama (82km)

Riding slowly past pleasant suburbs, though my back was giving jolts of pain on bumps. Annoyingly a loud group of motorists seemed to travel exactly my pace for nearly an hour, until I changed my route to avoid the coast road for half an hour. Didn't see them afterwards.

Shikoku is also famous for its 88-temple pilgrimage of temples, established by a Buddhist priest in ancient times. I spotted a few such hikers along the way, dressed in white coats and pulling their stuff in carts behind them. It takes from several weeks to two months to complete the entire walk.

Mountain pass before Niihama

Upon reaching town, I proceeded to the city park asked some locals according to them camping would be no problem. Spent the evening relaxing by a picnic area and watching sea. Nobody else in the area. One of the best cycling days in the trip.

13.4. Niihama – Saijo (37km)

Short day as I had arranged to stay with a couchsurfing host in Saijo, who was there teaching English for a couple of years.

14.4. Michikajima along Shimanami Kaido (49km)

This was one of the famous biking routes in Japan, a series of bridges that cross small islands until reaching Honshu.

Stayed at a free, cyclists/motorbikers/hikers only campsite along the way. Pleasant view to sea. Wind increased during the evening, so I pitched my tent behind one of the service buildings for cover.

15.4. Michikajima – Onomichi (62km)

Woke up to strong back pain. Getting to sitting position sent spikes of pain over my body.

The road continued pleasant until eventually all the bridges had been passed and I reached the final stop, a ferry across the bay to Onomichi. As on the previous day, this was probably easiest and close to most enjoyable riding I had on the trip.

Even prior to this problem I had decided to take a zero day in Onomichi (I expected the ride to Hiroshima would be hectic), so I booked into quieter looking of the two hostels I had spotted. 4 bed room, but on the first night I was the only occupant.

16.4 - 18.4 Staying in Onomichi

Walking was the way I felt least amount of pain, so that's what I did a lot on the following days. Visited Senkoji temple up in the hill, overlooking the city. Day was relatively hot.

View from Onomichi temple

To be honest, staying put in this small city was more interesting than cycling in busy, narrow roads toward Hiroshima might have been.

Met a German traveler at the hostel and we ended up spending evening in town, visiting a Japanese restaurant and being only foreigners there, ordering meals we didn't have any clue what they would be. Also had a chat with a homeless drunken dude in the park. Speaking limited English but earnest in knowing about a myself in his town, and telling about himself, he was obviously quite educated.

On 17th I did a daytrip to Hiroshima and Itsukushima shrine by train.

Trail leading up to temple on the summit of Mt Misen, on Itsukushima island

As my condition was what it was and I was quite far behind my schedule, reaching Fukuoka (my intended finish) was hard to achieve without using transport or far longer days than I was willing to make, I made up plan B, which was to take train on the foothills of Mt Fuji, do half a circle around it and then cycle back to Tokyo.

19.4. Onomichi – Fujikawa and bullet train to Shizuoka, near mount Fuji (about 44km cycling)

Left hostel early after the breakfast, heading east to catch Fujikawa, where there's a shinkansen station. Train to Tokyo would depart at 12 and I wanted extra time to disassemble the bike.

Relentless rain, just tried to make my way as fast as I can without unnecessary stops.

Arrived to station at 10:30 and finished disassembling bike by 11:15. I got a snack and after some (very polite) arguing with a ticket vendor, who thought I couldn't take my bagged bike to train since the wheel was sticking out (difficult to pack this frame and 28" wheels into the official bag), she relented after a minute.

Reached Shizuoka on early evening. Carried luggage outside the station and started assembling the bike. Friendly young guy stops to ask about my trip, he was a keen cyclist himself. I lost a small item related to back rack, but it turned out not to be a problem. Some thuggish looking guys eyeing me and my bike for a minute, first time I see such happening here.

Deciding not to stay in town but to stubbornly find some sort of place to camp, I set out after eating one more conbini meal outside the store. Already past 21:00 and the city is quiet. The mountainous area turned out to be difficult to reach, and probably impossible to find camp sites in, I did some circles along the coast before finally settling to a small patch of grass just next to the biking lane. Would have to leave early. For an hour, watched someone's headlamp trail in a distance by the beach.

20.4. Shizuoka – near Fujinomiya (80km)

On the road just around dawn. Nobody had spotted me, or they had been too stealthy for me to notice. Day started sunny but as I stopped for breakfast and to get cash out of a post office ATM, rain clouds started to form. Fog formed and temperatures went down with it, so it was going to be another less interesting cycling day.

Leaving the busy coast to base of Mt Fuji, following a small road through orange plantation

Rain stopped intermittently during noon and became heavy by afternoon, where it continued until an hour before sunset, which made me not pay too much attention to surroundings nor take many breaks, so at least I was making decent progress and at least the traffic was lighter than usual.

As elections (municipal?) were approaching, an advertising car with signs on top of it went back and forth in the road, repeating same announcements over and over. There probably were nearly none to hear it.

Spotted a sign pointing to campsite late afternoon. Another large place with a staff of about 6 people but no occupants whatsoever. Rented a simple bungalow for the night. Site worker worried that I would wear shoes in the bungalow by casually mentioning against it a couple of times.

Even though distance to Mt Fuji was negligible, fog prevented from seeing it.

Evening warmed up after rain had gone but lawn and roads had turned into quagmire.

21.4. Fujinomiya – Doshi (67km)

Well, it happened in the morning: as I departed, cloud cover went away just enough for me to see the base of Mt Fuji, but not the iconic peak. Better than nothing. Otherwise what would have been the purpose of this extra loop?

At outskirts of Fujinomiya I stumbled upon a Shinto shrine which I checked out and it turned out to be more to my tastes than the overly well maintained ones in Kyoto, this one was (likely intentionally) a little worn out and it gave the place more genuine aura.

Traffic along Japan National Route 138 was too wild to make the ride enjoyable. I chose to avoid it by making a detour to small village of Oshino which then brought me to shores of Lake Yamanaka, 3 hours into the day. One of the five Fuji lakes. I stopped for lunch. Chatting with a friendly old guy. I give him my remaining cigarettes.

Lake Yamanaka

Amazingly, a few words of Japanese come to my mind, which allows me to understand a friendly lady telling that it will rain again. Or perhaps it was about the previous rain. Rain anyway.

I spent extra half an hour enjoying the lake view before continuing, this time on 413 which climbs up to a lush mountain pass, to about 1100 meters and then rapidly starts to shed altitude – I'm leaving Fuji's area of influence. Approaching a very small town of Dochi, which lies in a narrow valley which receives much less sunlight than the surrounding area, which makes temperature lower than back in the lake. Very popular area with campers, I guess due to surrounding mountains. Night in one of the campsites. I wasn't sure if the tap water was drinkable but that's what I filled my bottles with.

22.4. Doshi – Fuchu (74km)

Breakfast at the yard of a roadside station. Sunny day, mild temps. Groups of motorists stop there. One of them a hip looking guy, speaking flawless American English. There's apparently an US military base nearby and that's where he and his family have worked for decades. He gave some tips of what was to come, but it was pretty much what I had guessed myself; the traffic would become heavy once I reach the lowlands.

As yesterday, the road keeps shedding altitude (slower than yesterday) for the next 40 kilometers, which made for a pleasant ride. Mountain road reaches end at Sagamihara, and tells that one of the town parks in Tama has camping facilities. Arriving there they appeared nonexistent. Asked a random passerby, a middle aged man, who spoke good English. He called the park management and told me that the city had withdrawn that service some years back. We talked for a while. He had made a business trip to my country a decade earlier.

Leaving the park, I arrived to a bridge across the river, where with some browsing online I found a couple of business hotels, one of them being in my price range. As I was browsing, another friendly guy appears, asking me if I am lost. I tell him the name of the hotel, and he guides me there, even though finding my way wouldn't have been a problem. He's a local and points me some places of interest along the way. Arriving at the hotel, I thanked him and gave my remaining chocolate, which he reluctantly accepts. I book into the hotel and take my bike to a nearby bike parking station, then buy evening food from conbini before settling for the night.

23.4. Fuchu – Tokyo (45km)

Sunny day. Road follows the river to east towards Tokyo for initial 12 km. Afterwards, dense suburbs follow and finally the impressive high rises of Tokyo, proceeding through wards of Chofu and Setagaya. I mostly follow a heavily trafficked 3+3 lane road which makes need for navigation nonexistent but the bike lane is narrow and occasional truck passes me within touching distance. I had a coffee break about midway of my ride, already well inside Tokyo's inner wards, and later I stop for a lunch in a park an hour before reaching central Tokyo. Check in to Hostel across Sumida river.

Visited barber and spent evening in town.

24.4. (non-cycling) trip to Nikko

Visited Nikko by train, city famous for having a mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu and the Futarasan jinja Shrine.

25.4.–26.4 Last days in Tokyo

Riding around the city, visiting parks and soaking in the metropolitan life, such as I have never seen before this trip. Interesting scene: police stopped a driver who then stared at the road, silent, not moving, despite being interrogated by the police. This kept going for a long time. I took it as a protest against whatever offence he was being accused of.

27.4 Ryogoku to Haneda – departing (25km)

Riding slowly towards the airport. Withdrew some cash in conbini along the way, then found a nice park by the sea to have lunch. Many people sleeping on the benches, not appearing to be homeless. Maybe it is just way of having a lunch break. Airplane wouldn't depart until early morning next day. Couldn't find a reasonable priced accommodation near airport, so I would have to pull an allnighter around the airport.

Towards the airport

This time following a bigger road, getting to the airport was very comfortable, unlike when arriving, where I tried to avoid all big roads and hence ended up meandering a lot. Reaching the airport, I found a grassy spot along the river where I wasted a couple of hours before darkness set in. Other unbusy locals watched me with interest but no conversation sparked. After dark I spread my tent footprint on the ground and crawled into my sleeping bag with the hopes of sleeping a couple of hours before entering the airport in the morning hours to pack my bike. Managed to sleep not even a full hour, I'm still not used to sleep in plain sight, like a hobo.

Arrived to airport at 3 in the morning and I started disassembling the bike. Took a little over an hour. More waiting until Lufthansa check-in counter opened.

First leg of return trip was Japan to Germany, followed by a three hour flight to Finland. Arriving at midnight, even though managed to sleep during the first leg I felt extremely tired. I assembled the bike and slept until 3 in the morning in the airport bench, and then cycled home.