Archive for the ‘Bike – other’ Category

Setouchi Great Journey – Side trip from Shimanami Kaido cycling road – Day 3

July 22, 2017

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We left the hostel on the next morning, after cycling in the historical heritage district in Mitarai. It used to be a very prosperous port in Edo period as there were many important shipping routes and channels in Setouchi and sometime seamen needed to wait for the good condition of the wind and tidal current. So there are many old wooden houses preserved from that time, they are so lovely.

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We have crossed the last bridge on Tobishima Kaido to Okamurajima island, then took a ferry to Omishima island.

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We were planning to take Shimanami Kaido cycling route from Omishima heading to Onomichi, the goal of our cycling trip. We could leave depart for Onomichi directly, but again, this is our 4th. trip in Shimanami, so we would like to try something new, then we have decided to swing by Okunojima island, which is know as a rabbit island because there are many (more than 700) rabbits living on this island and you can touch and feed them. Although this island has a history that before and during WWII, there was a poison gas factory …

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(Haruna, Haruna’s travel company, Peter Rabbit and a rabbit at Okunojima)

Me? I’m not that big fan of rabbits, giving food to them is very childish! So I didn’t care at all…. but…

 

 

 

 

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Oops… Yes, they are cute…

Not like islands on Tobishima Kaido we saw many tourists visiting Okunojima from overseas countries, which is great. Many Youtube videos, blogs and other SNS about rabbits here are bringing more tourists to this tiny island, where not so easy to reach.

We stayed there 30 minutes and took the same ferry to back to Omishima island, then headed to Tatara Ohashi bridge, one of the most symbolic bridges along Shimanami Kaido.

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We were very hungry and decided to have a lunch before crossing the bridge, so we went to a restaurant. This decision was correct! When we were at the entrance, I heard someone were calling my name. What a small world is this!! They were actually guests from Singapore and I was a guide for them at  Tokyo Great Cycling Tour. 

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Very impressive encounter at Shimanami with Rachel and Kung (in yellow jersey) and their cycling mates Lilian and Tey. They bought lunch for us. Thank you very much!!!

They were cycling from Onomichi to Imabari, and we were heading to Onomichi, so we said good bye to them and continued our way. It was another nice weather today. Since we had started cycling, we only saw blue sky, blue ocean …. what a perfect cycling days. At around 5 pm, we finally arrived at our goal, Onomichi U2. Although Haruna has to work tomorrow and needed to go back to Tokyo tonight, I would stay here tonight.

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Finally our Setouchi Great Journey was over. We had cold beer at the terrace to toast our safe and fun cycling this time. We like cycling, cycling everywhere, especially at this beautiful cycling heaven, Setouchi. We will definitely come back very soon!

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Bye Haruna, she took train back to Tokyo at JR Onomichi station.

The third day  – Cycling around 45 km

 

 

 

 

Setouchi Great Journey – Side trip from Shimanami Kaido cycling road DAY 2

July 20, 2017

DSC_0305We had a reservation of a kayak tour in the afternoon, we left our hotel very early and head back to the Koyo port. There were a few hills along the north coast of Etajima but we could make ourselves to be in time to get the ferry to Kure. Kure is the 3rd. big city in Hiroshima prefecture and it is famous as its history of the naval dockyard which built the battle ship Yamato  before WWII.

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We took a bus to the first bridge, Akinada Ohashi, on Tobishima Kaido cycling road. We could cycle there, it is only around 10 km but cycling on busy streets is not so fun so we decided skip this part, and which we believe as a right decision.

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Tobishima Kaido Cycling Road is about 30 km connected 5 islands with four bridges. Other than those bridges between islands the course is relatively flat and it is only 30 km so you could of course ride through easily in one day. You could start cycling from Kure (which we did) or from Onomichi via Shimanami Kaido cycling road or even taking a ferry from Imabari to Okamura island.

We arrived at the second island, Kamikamagari island early afternoon and we cycled to Kenmin no hama beach where we tried a kayak tour.

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It was a perfect day for kayaking! Actually yesterday was too hot and we thought we would like to jump in the water at any moment we were hill climbing but today it was a little cloudy so very comfortable. Our guide, Shiroki-san was young, nice guy and luckily we were only guests and when we told we’re doing a kayak tour in Tokyo, he was kindly suggested to take us to a little further than usual course. We were so relax and enjoyed paddling. We saw a small Shinto shrine on the rock which paddlers or boatmen pray for safety at the sea.

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(The message at the bottom of a kayak saying  “Take care! Bye!!” They offer a paddling school for children and when they see them off, they capsize on purpose to show this message to them. Wow, what a hospitality!! Shall we do the same thing at Tokyo’s canal? No way…..)

After kayaking we head to Mitarai district on Osaki Shimo island where we will stay tonight. Mitarai is the name of historical port and the area is preserved old houses and streetscape. We book a hostel whose building was a former medical clinic. It was Sunday and the owner of the hostel said to us there were no restaurant open nearby. This is the important point for cycling on Tobishima Kaido. Not like the previous Kakishima Kaido or Shimanami Kaido, there are very few convenience stores, so you need to prepare emergency food and drink in advance.

On the way we happened to meet the owner of orange and lemon farm where they sell fresh fruits and juice. That gave us really a power back. Only 100 yen per a cup!

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When we travel it is always the most interesting is meeting new people. After a while of chatting with the owner, we continued cycling heading our hostel.  And we found a small restaurant open very close from the hostel. Lucky! Although we got some foods from the shop, it is much nicer to have cooked dishes along with cold beer! That was a Okonomiyaki restaurant  and they serve Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki, so even better. (Be careful! Hirochima people never say “Hiroshima style” , those are proper Okonomiyaki.) At the restaurant we met a group of local people (who seemed already having some amount of beer, Sake ;-)), and we started chatting each other. They were surprised when we told them we were from Tokyo. It was nice and funny talk and I enjoyed food and drinking over chatting a lot. After they left, we also asked the restaurant owner for check, surprisingly she said the bill was settled by those men…! Thank you so much! They didn’t tell anything when they had left the restaurant. Actually they were a bit rude, as they called Haruna as Onesan ( a young lady) and me as Okasan (an old lady) ! But I’ll definitely forgive them 🙂

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We had more drink at the hostel with Yano san, the owner. Again, meeting and talking new people is always great fun. According to Haruna I was too talkative on that night and talked the same things many times… I was totally drunken… Sorry,  Haruan and Yano san.  By the way the hostel did very good jobs to renovate an old clinic to a nice cozy place to stay. Highly recommended!

Hatagoya Kusushi  (Website  http://hatagoya-kusushi.com/)

Second day – Cycling around 45 km   Kayaking around 5 km

Setouchi Great Journey – Side trip from Shimanami Kaido cycling road DAY 1

June 23, 2017

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This is my forth trip to Shimanami Kaido (please see this article for the previous trip.) as well as for my cycling buddy, Haruna, thus both Haruna and I wanted to try something new. Under searching on the internet, we found that there are some more cycling courses in Setouchi (Seto Inland Sea) area. Especially after Shimanami cycling road had come to be very popular domestically and internationally, local municipal governments are trying to develop more cycling courses to attract more tourists visiting the area for cycling. I totally understand and agree that Setouchi is the perfect destination for cycling for its mild climate with low rainfall level. Adding to cycling, this area has lots of beautiful beaches where we can enjoy water activities, such as kayak, SUP etc. Cycling and kayaking! What a great combination for us.

Travel is always fun and travel planning is also a part of the fun. We did lots of on-line search and read someone’s blog etc., finally completed a rough plan for our 2 nights 3 days “Haruna & Yukiko’s  Setouchi Great Journey”

 

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Day 1 :   Tokyo – Hiroshima  Cycling on Kakishima Kaido in Etajima island 

 

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We took Shinkansen from Tokyo station to Hiroshima station, we had reserved the seat at the most end in the compartment so that we could store our bikes at the back of our seats. Although our bikes are Brompton and it can be folded nicely in small size but even so it is important to get this seat as Shinkansen has no luggage space 😦  The advantage of Brompton bike is not only its compact size but also easiness to put in Rinko bag. In Japan we can not bring our bikes in the train without putting them in the bags or boxes.

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We are heading to Etajima, an island located in Hiroshima Bay and just 30 minutes by ferry from Hiroshima (Ujina*) port. Etajima is very famous of its oysters, and which is my favorite food!!! OISHII!! Actually Kakishima Kaido, the name of the cycling road in Etajima is taken after oysters (Kaki means oyster in Japanese). There is no reason we won’t go there! While making cycling plan, I was already dreaming to enjoy oyster over nice white wine after cycling….! (I knew May is not a season for oysters, but I though we can still have chance to eat some…)

*Ujina port is about 6 km south from JR Hiroshima station.

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We arrived at Koyo port in Etajima around lunch time and we were the only cyclists in the ferry. We though there were more but not… A ferry port crew, a nice gentleman named Saito san kindly talked to us. He welcomed us warmly especially when we told him we were from Tokyo.

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I asked Saito san if he knows any good place we can enjoy oysters, but his answer was NO… not in this season… Some of the restaurants had offered oysters last months and their guests had got sick. OMG!!!

IMG_1805 (OK, at least I got this at a local shop, so I could enjoy a canned oyster with beer after Onsen!)

During our cycling trip, we met quite a nice local people and we had chat, drink, picture etc. Meeting nice people is always fun part of the trip.

Saito san recommended to go to the Naval Academy Etajima, which used to be Imperial Japanese Naval Academy trained officers for the Imperial Japanese Navy before WWII. According to the guidebooks, it is really “must visit” place here in Etajima, however, as our schedule didn’t match their visitor’s program and we were not so interested but interested more in local food, so we rather skipped this and head to Etajima Olive Factory . Under perfect condition (good amount of sunlight, less amount of rainfalls, less impact of typhoon etc.) their olive cultivation is getting bigger. What a beautiful color of their olive oil! But just a bit too expensive…

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Shelves to cultivate oysters… I need to come back here when oysters are in season!!!

 

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The view from our hotel. Sun is setting – our Day 1 is going to be over. Total distance for today was about (only!) 30 km.

Special ride in Nagano

May 26, 2017

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We, staffs of Tokyo Great Cycling Tour traveled to Karuizawa, Nagano during Golden Week holiday in this year as has happened in the past.

This year, we have decided to head to Kirizumi Onsen which is located in the deep mountain in Gunma prefecture. karuizawa map

The first 2 hours were rather easy ride with lots of fun. With decent distance and angle of hill climbing, we enjoyed watching cherry blossoms in the mountain. Here is about 1200 meters high from the sea level, so flowers have just started blooming. We were trying to cycle in the same pace as we were afraid of meeting bears who might have just come out from their hibernation. Yes, there are many bears in this mountain! Actually the area is named Kuma no Daira and Kuma means bear in Japanese.

 

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Two hours later we arrived at a kind of dead end but we found the sign pointing the very steep cliff and narrow road to Kirizumi Onsen.

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We put our bikes on our shoulders and climbing up this mountain wall standing in front of us. There are not many pictures we could take as the road was so hard and we didn’t have enough remaining power to do so… Some parts of the road were very slippery and one side of the slope face is all the way down to the bottom of the valley…!

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After another one hour of cycling (well, actually we were pushing our bike most of the parts), we finally arrived Kirizumi Onsen. It was truly a hidden gem, very quiet even in Golden Week and wonderful location Onsen in the serene hush. Onsen water contains lots of carbonic acid so when you soak in the bath you can see your hands and legs would be wrapped lots of fine bubbles. We had late lunch along a fresh stream.

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The time spending in the heaven can last only a short time… We need to cycle back to Karuizawa. We cycle down from Kirizumi Onsen which locates 1200 meters elevation to 400 meters (fun and easy!)  and then hill climb again to Karuizawa which also is 1200 meters! What the hell !!!

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In total, we are very much enjoying a day between the heaven and the hell. If you are interested in this route, we can tell you more details, or you can join us next year golden week 🙂

Cherry Blossoms forecast 2017

March 2, 2017

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It looks Tokyo is the place we can see the cherry blossoms the earliest time in this spring. There are many company who provide on-line cherry blossoms forecasts and they say cherry blossoms will start to bloom earlier than usual in Kanto (including Tokyo) and northern Japan, but it will come later than normal year in Kansai (Osaka or Kyoto).

When is the best time to see cherry blossoms in Tokyo? Maybe it will start to bloom around March 22 and will be full bloom at around April 1-3.

Have you booked our tour yet? Unfortunately cycling tours both on April 1 and 2 are full. But we have still kayak tours both on April 1 and 2. And our running tour is also available on April 1. Please check our Tour Calendar and book the tour when you fix your schedule!

 

 

New Route Again! Downtown Riverside Ride

March 10, 2016

 

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Yes, we will launch a new route again! – Tokyo Downtown Riverside Ride.This tour takes you to the east side of the city, where we will ride a lot along the river and canals. Very relaxing 26 km long course is relatively flat and there are cycling roads and parks, and you will see local people walking with their dogs, playing tennis or cycling with their beloved bikes.

CIMG4681 旧中川 やまゆき<Nakagawa>

Beautiful cherry blossoms trees are planted along the river, so the scenery in the end of March to early April is stunning!! But other seasons are also enough lovely 🙂

We’ll pick our food at popular local shopping street, called Sunamachi Ginza. This shopping street has about 180 small individual and unique shops. It is very interesting to have a fun chat with the owners of those retail shops and this is the reason the street is still bustling even a new big supermarket chain was built in the same area.

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We will walk pushing our bikes and buy our food to take those to the river side for our picnic lunch.

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Of course, we will stop at some sightseeing attractions, like Japanese Garden, Shinto Shrine etc. The below picture is in front of Kameido Shrine.

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We will ride again along rivers and canals to back to our office.

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If you want to try this new route with us, please send us a booking request through our website. The website is not ready yet for “Route F” but please tick “special” and mention “Route F” on others column.

Sakura forecast 2016

February 16, 2016

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It’s still pretty cold here in Tokyo, but we can find some signs of early spring here and there in the city. And, yes, we need to talk about this topic – when the cherry blossoms open flowers? According to the forecast companies it is likely they will start to bloom on March 27 and the best timing to see full bloom is between April 1 – 8 in Tokyo area.

If you want to see cherry blossoms now, there are a few places that you can see early cherry blossoms. There are more than 600 different species of cherry blossoms, but more than 80% of cherry blossoms we normally see in Japan is just one type called Somei Yoshino. When we talk about Sakura, it normally indicates Somei Yoshino cherry blossoms and they usually open flowers in the early April. But for example, Kawazu Sakura has its full bloom season earlier like mid of February, yes now is the time!

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Somei Yoshino

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Kawazu Sakura

If you travel to Kawazu, they have Kawazu Sakura festival until March 10th. It takes 2.4 hours from Tokyo station to Kawazu station by JR. If you don’t have enough time to travel there, then how about to walk along Oyoko River next to Kiba park. There are about 100 trees planted along the river.
(Tokyo Great Kayaking Tour has a tour on Feb 21, 2016 and we will paddle along this river!)

In front of Tokyo Metro Takebashi station, near  Hirakawamon of the Imperial Palace is also a famous place to see Kawazu Sakura.

 

Cherry blossoms forecast 2015 – Vol. 1

January 29, 2015

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Japanese weather forecast company, Weather Map announced today that they forecast the cherry blossoms may start to bloom in March 24 in Tokyo. Maybe it is too hasty to react nervously to this kind of announcement. Tomorrow’s weather forecast says it will SNOW in Tokyo !(@_@;).

But anyway we are such looking forward to cherry blossoms!! The tour in this season becomes very popular and easily becomes full. So if you are considering to join our bike tour, it is better to fix your schedule and book the tour 😉

Rinko (輪行) to Hanamigawa cycling road

October 6, 2014

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This is Kazu writing. Peter and Kathy, our friends who are repeat guests of our bike tour had wanted to try something new. So we had suggested them to join our trial tour to Hanamigawa, Chiba Prefecture to test our plan by RINKO, train and bike. They had got interested in this idea, so that we decided to do the bike tour on September 19, 2014.

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(Rinko literally means “putting bike into a bag”. Black bag next to Peter is the Rinko bag and a bike is inside.)

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There are cycling roads in good condition and adequate distance along three rivers; Tamagawa, Arakawa and Edogawa in Tokyo and its neighborhood. Compared with these three cycling roads, Hanamigawa Cycling Road is not so famous but much better, I think. It has more varieties in scenery. It starts from sea shore in Tokyo Bay. As we go on along the river, it leads to a valley rich with woods and then open field of Inba-numa, swamps.

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(Rice paddy is so beautiful and rice stalks are ready to be cultivated.)

 

The weather was just nice, neither hot nor cold on that day. Four of us, Peter, Kathy, Yuki and I enjoyed cycling, viewing Autumn flowers such as cosmoses, red spider lily and ripe rice just before harvesting.

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As it was a trial, we made a few U-turns. Sorry, Peter and Kathy for the inconvenience. The distance we ended up was about 41 km and it took about 6 hours including breaks, sightseeing and lunch. It was a fun to explore countryside of one-hour train ride from Tokyo.

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(A short break at the old Samurai’s house. Me, Peter and Kathy)

Rinko to Kamakura – Bike and train

April 4, 2014

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This is Kazu writing. TGCT has been operating three wonderful bike tours in Tokyo downtown and getting good reputations from many guests who had experienced them. There are also nice places to visit outside Tokyo in about one hour range by train. So we have made a plan for an optional bike tour to Enoshima and Kamakura by “RINKO”; traveling with wheels in Japanese, which means to put a bike in a light weight but strong textile bag, then get on a train and ride a bike again from the destination. By this way, we can skip dangerous and uncomfortable bike ride on heavy traffic roads.

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Four of TGCT tour guides, Yukiko, Yakko, Keita and me went together for a trial bike tour on March 24, 2014 to check how the plan works. We took conventional JR Tokaido Line to Chigasaki Station, Kanagawa Prefecture. We started the tour there and went along a beach bike lane facing the Pacific Ocean and then stopped Enoshima, Kamakura Daibutsu; about 760 years old big bronze Buddha statue, Tsuruoka Hachimangu; about 830 years old shrine and Hohkokuji Temple famous for its beautiful bamboo garden. We went on back streets in Kamakura where we enjoyed old and quiet atmosphere of the city. Our tour ended at Kamakura Station and we took JR Yokosuka Line back to Tokyo.

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When you carry a bike of about 12 kg weight in a bag on your shoulder, you may feel heavy and not easy to walk. But your efforts would be rewarded when you see shining blue sea at the beach or taking Japanese green tea at a breathtaking bamboo garden outside Tokyo.

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