Land of the Rising Sun

Unusually for heading east we had to put our watches back two hours after leaving Russia- I'm still trying to work that one out. The main disadvantage is that I was wide awake at 5.00am on my first morning in the tent. I met the others getting off the ship- the landcruiser was getting shooed away from every spot that it tried to park in, apparently there are a lot of restrictions for cars but not so with bikes as I had been leaving Thelma parked at all sorts of places in town.

Despite Fushiki, the port I had docked at not appearing on a single map, I was able to work out roughly where I was and so said goodbye to the others and went northwards and then cut across the mountains past ski resorts and amazing mountain panoramas whilst also keeping a worried eye out for snow. Thelma's lights have not been working since the Vlad accident and so I was having to ride the mountain tunnels with my thumb pressed on the high beam switch the whole time. It was either that or no lights- a risky business in the dark tunnels with speeding drivers coming the other way.

I am loving Japan, not just the fact that I am back to riding on the correct side of the road - they are such friendly smiling people here and even when they don't understand me (which is often as I am even worse at Japanese than I am at Russian) they are still going out of their way to help me. 

I stayed with Chris and Misagi (Horizons contacts) in Miyota-Machi - in a lovely house set amongst trees and even a little pink garage for Thelma to park in. They have been great hosts, answering my myriad of questions about life in Japan ranging from are you allowed to overtake within a yellow line to why are the toilet seats heated?

 

They also proudly pointed out the live volcano that dominates the landscape and is just a few miles away, it has a constant plume of steam escaping from it - note to self, keep Thelma parked facing out ready for a hasty exit if the volcano erupts.

 

Whilst staying with them I took the opportunity to wash the Siberian mud and dust which was coating Thelma- this revealed a two inch chunk missing off the pannier rack. Another trip to the welder and what a great guy he was, full of Japanese "oohs and aahs" at the condition of Thelma's racks - he did an excellent job in his workshop with th emost amazing views looking out at paddy fields with mountains beyond. Chris and Yoshi (another traveller) filled him in on my travels and atthe end, the welder refused any payment- whic was very humbling as he had spent a lot of time doing the work.