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Japan Bike: Nagasaki to Nemuro

-- by St John --

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Japan Bike: Nagasaki to Nemuro - Travel Blog

12 years after leaving Japan, I've come back to reconnect with this incredible country, on two wheels. Starting in the deep south at the old port of Nagasaki, I'm cycling across the four main islands to Nosappu in the North-East. - Pebbls Adventure Tracking App

Transport Types Used

  • ferry
  • boat
  • ship
  • river crossing
  • water taxi
  • ferryboat
  • ferry service
  • ferry terminal
  • ferry ride
  • passenger ferry
  • car ferry
  • island ferry
  • channel crossing
  • ferry line
  • catamaran ferry
  • bicycle
  • bike
  • bicycle tour
  • bikepacking
  • cycling
  • bicycling
  • cyclist
  • biking
  • pedalling
  • mountain bike
  • road bike
  • cycling adventure
  • cycle touring
  • two-wheeled travel
  • bicycle journey
  • cycle trip
  • gravel biking
  • urban cycling
  • bicycle trek
  • eco-friendly travel
  • cycle path journey
  • train
  • rail
  • railway
  • locomotive
  • express
  • commuter train
  • bullet train
  • train station
  • railroad
  • passenger train
  • cruise ship
  • cruise
  • cruise liner
  • ocean liner
  • voyage
  • cruising
  • luxury liner
  • sea journey
  • nautical
  • maritime
  • Legs of this Journey:

    Day -2: Rinko And Shinkansen

    The hardest bit of any bike tour is getting to and from your start and end points.Today I'm bringing my bike on the bullet train from Tokyo to Nagasaki.

    Day -1: Seeing Nagasaki

    A day sightseeing and relaxing in Nagasaki before my journey begins. I have long wanted to come here to see the Dutch and Thomas Blake Glover history. It feels like a long way from Tokyo!

    Day 1 - Main Ride

    Day 1 starting in Nagasaki, with a hilly cycle to catch a small ferry.

    Ariake Ferry

    Short ferry trip

    Day 1: Campsite

    Short hop from harbour to campsite. Incredibly steep and slippery though, this was the toughest part of the day.

    Day 2

    Second day riding, over Aso Mountain

    Day 3 - Taketa to Usuki

    Catching the Usuki ferry, and on to Shikoku. A fair way to go after a damp, noisy night.

    Day 3: Ferry to Shikoku

    Leaving Kyushu behind, from Usuki port - the very harbour where William Adams first set foot in Japan in 1600, the first Brit to do so.

    Day 3 Part 3. Shikoku Begins

    Heading inland into Shikoku, with a guesthouse waiting for me. I hear there's a great bar next door to it too...

    Day 4

    Cycling to Kochi - this was a tough day wiggling through the mountains and tunnels. Running out of light I didn't make it to Kochi, but still made it to a town well after sunset.

    Day 5

    Waking up to a very wet morning, I think my decision to stay in a hotel last night has been vindicated. Did some equipment maintenance and laundry etc, and sightseeing in Kochi. It was a short and wiggly drag through to the city, then beers with Nick

    Day 6

    Back into the mountains, this was a seriously tough day. It will be the one I remember most from this trip, with 2km of elevation gain through the wild hinterland of Shikoku. It feels like another world from Tokyo.

    Day 7

    Out of the Iya valley and back to the city.... Via another giant mountain. Crossing the double vine bridges in the dark last night was a special moment. This was another hard day of riding

    Onto The Mainland!

    Leaving Shikoku - its lovely people and its preposterous mountains - behind. The only day where being flexible resulted in having to pay for an expensive hotel, with a spectacular night view of Wakayama castle, but I fell asleep before enjoying it!

    Day 8

    An emotional day! After a hard week, I was so happy to make some new riding friends today that I met at the bakery when I started my ride. It was so nice to ride with other people on the Wakayama Cycling Road ๐Ÿ˜

    Day 9

    On through Wakayama, Nara and Mie prefectures to Ise, the spiritual home of the Shinto religion. 30kms out everything started to hurt, and I had to dig deep to get through to the end. This relatively simple ride became the most painful of the trip.

    Day 10 - Maintenance And Recovery

    After limping into Ise last night with many different pains, I've decided to take a day off completely to recover, stretch, clean the bike and so on. I saw Ise Jingu shrine, the home of the Shinto religion.

    Day 11 Part 2

    Ferry from Toba to Irago, then cycling up a dedicated cycle track. Despite being there during a national holiday, the huge ferry terminal was very far below capacity. Speculative building from the 1980s for tourists that never came.

    Day 12

    On up the coast. The so called Pacific Cycling Road was a disaster, mostly putting cyclists on busy truck filled roads with no shoulder. No wonder I was the only one there. The few nice bits along the coast were buried in sand dunes or underwater.

    Day 13 ๐Ÿ—ป

    Seeing Fuji briefly appear through clouds at last, I really felt like I was going somewhere on this trip. The riding was hard and hilly, and alternated between wild nature and heavy truck traffic. Very cold going into Gotemba.

    Day 14 On To Tokyo!

    Surreal. Started the day half way up Fuji with a spectacular view in the mountains, and cycled all the way to the throbbing centre of Tokyo. Very tedious riding through the suburbs, but delighted to make it to the half way point on schedule.

    Rest Week In Tokyo

    Resting for a week in Tokyo. (Aka yakiniku and nomihoudai).

    Day 15

    A bit recharged and recovered after almost a week in Tokyo, I'm now navigating my way out of the city, joining up various river paths. Much easier exiting Tokyo than entering it.

    Day 16

    Mapless. With no data left on my phone, I navigated by feel and instinct on through the flat pastoral landscape of Ibaraki. Easy and unremarkable riding, mainly.

    Day 16/17/18: Tokyo Side Missions

    Back in Tokyo for a raucous weekend of Mikoshi, dining with Naoki's family, and some good old fashioned Shinjuku street drinking.

    Day 17 Part 1

    Shinkansen to Utsunomiya to continue the journey. I will never tire of such a punctual, clean train.

    Day 17 Part 2

    Cracking on through Ibaraki, but with quite a late start. Starting off in the edgelands of Tokyo's furthest suburbs, I was soon in farmland and then rough mountains and which made Tokyo seem 1000km away, not 100!

    Day 18

    My planned campsite looking non existent, I wild camped. I was woken by raccoons stealing my breakfast at 4am, in a heavy rainstorm. With an early but hungry start, I had a long hard day of mountains and torrential rain. Yonezawa wagyu beef dinner!

    Day 19

    On through Tohoku, a relatively flat day through many rice fields in the plateau between the mountains either side.

    Day 20 - The North

    Legs are feeling heavy this morning as I push on through the North. Heavy snow on the volcano to the West left me in no doubt that I was in the north and far from Tokyo, which was 28ยฐ just three days earlier.

    Day 21

    Starting in the beautiful Samurai town of Kakunodate. Some excellent gravel and mountain riding, but then shortcuts made for long journeys. Dodgy garmin routing and a shortcut through a cement works I came up with on the fly hindered progress a bit.

    Day 22

    A shorter day with some history (and a laundromat) thrown in, but still one mountain pass I had to get up and over.

    Day 23

    After meeting the legend I will always know as "Swiss Frank", I'm conducting Tsugaru side missions: Hirosaki Castle and Shayokan, the home of the writer Dazai Osamu, on 4 hours sleep and a hangover. An excellent wild road from Shayokan to Aomori.

    Day 24

    On to Hokkaido!3 islands down, 1 to go. Leaving Honshu and on to Hokkaido by ferry. Meeting Aeneas and Barbara on the ferry was a huge highlight of the trip.

    Day 24: Short Hop In Hokk

    Ferry terminal to guesthouse. Not a lot to say about this one! I do think Hokkaido has a different feel from the other islands. Everything is much more spacious and spread out.

    Day 25

    On through Hokkaido, from the spa town of Noboribetsu to the Ainu village of Nibutani. Very wet, very boring riding to be honest. Flat and never ending industrial concrete. I arrived at the guesthouse soaked through.

    Day 26

    I was expecting my toughest day yet, up and over the 1,023m high Nissho pass and 140km on the cards. With a relatively gentle slope and some shortcuts, it was physically OK, but heavy truck traffic made it mentally draining and unpleasant.

    Day 27

    On through Eastern Hokkaido, the end is now in sight, with the first signs for Nemuro appearing part way through the day. This area is known for chilly weather and the 9ยฐ sea breeze verified it.

    Day 28

    Through the rolling hills and farm tracks of Eastern Hokkaido. A gravellier than expected section shredded my rear tyre completely, and I limped on to a campsite, chilled to the bone.

    Final Day

    With yesterday's tyre problem, I was left with a longer final day. I layered up and went for it, making it to the cape and back to the last train with 2 minutes to spare. I've done it! Thanks for following along. It's been a great trip.

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