Cycling through Japan – travel journal, part 1

We’re cycling through Japan – in 3 weeks from Kyoto to Tokyo. We did over 800 km detour trip as we wanted to ride longer and see less touristy trials. Our notes and pictures from this trip divide into 5 parts. Today part no1. of the journey which is about what has happened between the bamboo forest in Kyoto and camping Ayukawaenchi in Fukui Prefecture. Our track is marked in green on the map below.


cycling through Japan
Kyoto – Ayukawaenchi campsite


Day 1 (20/09/2015) Kyoto (Arashiyama) ->Katata

Hurray! We have wheels! πŸ˜€ Today, in 200th day of our round the world trip we left Kyoto and we’re riding towards Tokyo. Distance is over 500 miles and that is more than from Brighton to… Glasgow! :O Will be fun, sweat, tears and pain. We are equipped with cycling stuff that is far from a pro, our bike panniers are storage box and some camping bags… Bikes have seen better days too. We didn’t want to spend a fortune on bikes or equipment as we hope to get to Tokyo within 3 weeks (including stops for treks in Kamikochi) and then after we will have to get rid of the bikes and other stuff. Unless, we fall in love with cycling and take bikes to China… !? πŸ˜‰

We’re heading north from Kyoto, along the biggest lake in Japan, Biwa. After that, we’re riding east by the coast and in Toyama will go south to Takayama. The ”tears, sweat and pain” part will be through the Japanese Alps! Then we’re cycling to Matsumoto and down to Mt. Fuji. If we get lucky with the weather, will climb to the top of the volcano. Tokyo is just a stone’s throw away from Fuji. ;D

That’s the plan but will see how’s going to be like while biking… Ready, steady, go!


Day 2 (21/09/2015) Katata -> north end of Lake Biwa

We reached the north end of lake Biwa. Wild camping in Japan is allowed but we had to find a campsite to take a warm shower and recharge batteries in our electronics. Instead of 31 miles we did nearly 40. We checked 3 places and every had prices way over what we were going to pay (7k yen = Β£ 37 for a night on a campsite, no way..). We didn’t give up and we rode on the bikes to find a sweet and cheap spot right by the lake. We set up the tent and fixed bike (wobbly wheel) and then we were invited by Japanese couple for a dinner. We could taste a real Japanese BBQ, beer and sake.
Tomorrow we are going to the seaside. It will be a hard ride through mountains… but after looong way down the hill to Tsaruga. As always, we have no idea where we are going to sleep next night, maybe on the beach? πŸ˜€


Day 3 & 4 (22-23/09/2015)

north end of Lake Biwa -> Kono -> Ayukawaenchi

Last two cycling days went quite smooth! πŸ™‚ We are riding along the coast near Echizen. People are trying to chat with us in Japanese, we speak to them in Polish because nobody wouldn’t understand English anyway. πŸ˜€ We have no idea what to buy in the shops (one for every 12 miles) – simply because we don’t understand Japanese letters and even if we could, we would never know how to eat that thing. Few times we picked some weird looking food from the shelf and we had to throw it away. Since then we have been buying only products we can identify, such us: muffins, yogurts, rice, tofu, etc. Vending machines are our backup as well. They are almost everywhere and we can buy tea, coffee or other drinks, both hot and cold. πŸ™‚ Apart from drinks, we have seen other stuff we would never think it could be sold like beer, sake, batteries, ice-creams, cigarettes or eggs! πŸ˜€

The whole coast looks abandoned, almost no tourists at all. We hardly see any hotels and even if they look like were closed years ago. Every so often we ride through fishermen villages, we pass a lot of waterfalls, temples and tunnels. The last ones make our ride a little bit harder because we have to stop and put all lights on bikes on before we enter it. Sometimes tunnels are that long as cyclists are not allowed to go inside so we have to find alternative routes.

Tomorrow we are heading to Komatsu!


Next part of our notes from the tour you can find here:

Cycling through Japan – travel journal, part 2