As expected, our ride from Morioka to Ichinoseki turned out to be a wet and miserable one. The night before we covered up our bikes with our bike bags to protect them from the rain and since it was still raining in the morning we had to fold them up while they were still wet and pack them away before starting the ride. By this point we’d done a few rides that started out wet and cold but being so close to the end of our trip and having biked so much already, it was really hard to get motivated for it.
After Aomori, we took our originally planned train up to Sapporo. It was a short Shinkansen ride to Hakodate where we transferred to the local train (since the Shinkansen to Sapporo won’t be completed until 2031). We got to Sapporo station, at which point we realized that we actually hadn’t booked our accommodations after all, and the one we wanted was no longer available. After some last minute scrambling, trying in vain to contact our host and get a proper address, and doing a bit of detective work with the photos included in their terrible set of directions, we settled in for the evening to get some rest.
Our first ride day after Niigata was to a small town called Murakami. The day after that we were to ride to another small town, Sakata, before continuing on to Akita. Because these were small towns they had very little in terms of online-bookable accommodations so we decided that we would try and use our camping gear these days. Worst case, we could hop a train and continue North or we could try and find local accommodations.
After Hiroshima we decided that we would push on through to the Northern coast. The places along the way didn’t have many interesting things (at least that we wanted to see) and we were on our own schedule now, so we decided to ride, and ride we did, covering about 450km over 5 days.
We ended up spending 4 days in Hiroshima which was a good amount of time for us. The original plan had us only there for 2 days, but with taking the trains we were a bit ahead of schedule, and I’m glad we had more time to relax. After all we had still ridden over 550km so far. Another reason we stayed so long was because we were waiting to meet up with our friends Billy and Angelina who were also on vacation in Japan and were going to be in Hiroshima around the same time as us.
When we started planning our ride, we took a look at two key factors – distance and elevation. After our first ride day we decided that we’d been a bit too liberal in calculating how much of each we could do in a day. We went through our list of ride days and found a few rides that just weren’t going to be possible for us, and our ride from Beppu was the first and by far the one that would be the biggest pain.
Matsuyama was originally going to just be an emergency stop for us on our way from Niihama to Yawatahama. However, as the appeal of doing two 100-120km ride days back to back faded, we decided to make a few changes to the route.
At only 45km or so we figured that the ride from Kyoto to Osaka would be easy, but we didn’t realize just how easy it would be. We discovered during our planning that there was a bike path between the two cities, running alongside the Yodo river. I’d read good things, but was still a bit skeptical about just how smooth of a path it would be.
The ride from Nagoya to Kyoto was going to be a long one – about 136 km by our calculations, one of the longest ride days we had planned. It involved passing through a small mountain range, but fortunately the maximum elevation was only around 200m or so. Much better than our last mountain pass.
We packed up our bikes in the morning and said goodbye to our wonderful host (shout out to Kazu at Nasubi Mt Fuji Backpackers) before making the short trek to Shin-Fuji station. When we got there, we disassembled our bikes as best we could (aka, removed the front wheels, handlebars, and seat posts) and packed them into bike bags. After buying our tickets we were told that we couldn’t bring the bikes on the train. After a bit of back and forth with the ticket collectors and a very helpful information kiosk person translating for us, we were able to board the train to Nagoya, though it was very apparent that the ticket collectors weren’t happy with us. Fortunately there was plenty of space on the train for our bikes to be out of the way of other passengers.