Finally! After three months of travelling together Remo & I got some company.
Philippe, Remo’s cousin, who has been living in Japan for 1 and a half years, joined us on a bicycle trip from Kyoto to Kanazawa.
All in all we travelled about 350 kilometres along the Biwa lake & The Japanese Sea. We saw rugged coastlines, picturesque fishing villages & boring busy asphalt roads. We discovered that riding against a strong headwind is the hardest. We even preferred riding in the rain. We also found out that a tunnel doesn’t give you any wind respite. It’s even harder to drive in the tunnel when there is a lot of wind. And as a surprise gift, at the end of the tunnel, you must be extra careful because it will feel like you are almost swept away. I also learned that, when I am bored while riding, I like to surprise the others. So, I just turned the speed up a notch, overtook the other two and just drove away from them. Oh, that feeling of pure joy when you see they can’t follow you and you realize you just let them smell a poopy*. We did some more wild camping and this time no one came around to say our favourite sentence; ‘tento no!’ We met some fellow bike packers via the app ‘warmshowers’. Jacqueline & Roger and Nobu invited us into their homes, gave us lovely meals and told us all about life in Japan.
Because we had done a lot of riding we had planned a real treat in the village of Kaga. A day before we reached our final destination we went to a Japanese Onsen. It’s a public bathhouse. I, Lisa, was only lukewarm about the idea of me washing myself in the company of a variety of local Japanese ladies in a public bathhouse. It’s not really my idea of a relaxing Sunday evening. But as the Lonely Planet stated that you haven’t experienced Japan until you’ve been to an Onsen, I gave it a try. And in the end, it was not that bad. But when an old lady gave me a backrub I decided that I had had enough of local culture and it was time to get out of that public bathhouse.
When we reached Kanazawa, it was time to say goodbye to Philip and get on with our program. We had only 7 days left but there was still a lot on our wish list that we wanted to see & do in Japan. Luckily, researching & planning is one of Remo’s obsessions. So, it meant that we had a tight schedule for that last week, but we could do everything we wanted.
First, we would get a bus from Kanazawa to Takayama. There, we enrolled for a cooking class. We learned how to make Japanese hot pot, cook the perfect rice, make a miso soup & of course sushi. In the afternoon of that same day we would get another bus to the city of Kawaguchiko. It was a bit special when we discovered that we were the only ones travelling that day. So, we had a 5-star bus, a private chauffeur, a WIFI connection and 30 leather seats to sit on! As we are both nerds, we choose to sit right in the front ( best views). The next day, we rented bikes and drove all along the Kawaguchiko lake. It was the most perfect day as there was a lot of sun and nice views over Mt. Fuji. With no time to lose, we took another bus to Tokyo. It was our end destination in Japan and to be fair we were kind of happy that we only had 3 days in the capital city. The neon lights, the music, the weird districts, it was a lot to take in.
But of course, before taking a 14-hour flight to Australia, there was something else we had to tick off our list! We got op at 6 in the morning to go to the famous fish market (it was one of Remo’s obsessions and he didn’t want to leave Japan without going there). So here we were, both exhausted, carrying our big backpacks & trying to get on the metro in Tokyo at rush hour. Good idea! They had to push us in the metro carriage because otherwise we wouldn’t fit in next to the other millions of Japanese people on their way to work.
You can probably imagine that I (Lisa) was in the best mood when we arrived at this fish market. Because in the end when you think about it, that fish market wasn’t all that different to the ones we had seen driving along the Japanese Sea for 10 days! Luckily, there was some good food. So, when Remo bought me my last rice cake I shut my mouth and smiled again. Ready to hop on that plane and fly to Melbourne!
*literal translation of “let them smell a fart”
English equivalent: I’ll show them a thing or two!