After breakfast, our host at the B&B asked us to take a seat by the fire and wait. He had to leave briefly and would be back in a quarter of an hour. As we only had a short day ahead of us anyway, there was no need to rush and we enjoyed the cozy warmth a little longer…

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As soon as we had made ourselves comfortable, he came back with his friend and neighbor. It was Yoshiharu Seikino , who set off from Patagonia in 1993 to retrace the path of Homo Sapiens to Central Africa under his unaided efforts. Looking at his illustrated books, he talked about the traverse of the dangerous Darien jungle and the Bering Strait, which he paddled through in a kayak. He crossed north-east Siberia by dog sled in winter! The rest of the way he traveled on foot or by bike. He modestly reported on his adventures as if they were normal vacations😉… we were very impressed!
If, like us, you have never heard of Yoshiharu Seikino, you can visit his homepage.
At 10 o’clock it was getting high time for the 75-year-old to start work. His current project is to build a Japanese Stone Age house. He makes the tools himself from stone, wood and vines.

Within just a few kilometers, we have moved from the Stone Age to the modern plastic age. In search of Swiss chocolate for our next hosts, we browsed through a particularly extravagant store in Japan: Don Quijote. The range includes electronics, household goods, perfume, stationery, sex toys, clothes, food and much more.
Organized chaos reigns so that customers cannot find what they are looking for and buy what they never wanted. The constant blaring of loud music and the flashing lights make the store a perfect place for disorientation. But Don Quijote is practically the only store that stocks Toblerone.
After a day’s journey through an urban area, we reached Saitama near Tokyo, where we were allowed to stay with Anna and her family for a few days. Although we had never seen each other before, we were welcomed warmly on the neighborhood street😊. We enjoyed the change of scenery from cycling to everyday family life very much and the two boys were happy to play Lego with us. The real Swiss cheese fondue with delicious homemade bread was a great surprise!

From Saitama, we visited Tokyo conveniently by train. For the ultimate experience, we wanted to squeeze into the metro with the salaryman and office ladies at commuter times and let ourselves be carried away by the hustle and bustle of Tokyo Station. To our surprise, neither the train nor the station were particularly crowded. What was really impressive, however, was the absolute silence on the train.
We had no intention of visiting the largest city in the world in one day. Instead, we wanted to stroll through (a few) districts and experience as much of the big city as possible. In addition to the colorful Ginko Avenue and the famous Shibuya Scramble Square, the dinner between the salarymen in the snack bar under the railroad bridge was particularly genuine😊.

After a relaxing Saturday in the park with Anna & family and a last Sunday breakfast with delicious muesli, yoghurt, bread and preserves, we said goodbye. Many, many thanks for the great time with you and your wonderful hospitality!

We left the Tokyo metropolitan area heading west and were very lucky to pedal towards cloudless Mount Fuji.  Our first camp for the night was a small pass with a toilet building. As so often in Japan, we were overtaken by the early onset of darkness. That evening, however, we were not the only cyclists out and about in the dark after 5pm. On the steep final ascent, we came across a young Chinese couple on their honeymoon (as a stress test, so to speak😊). We had already pitched our tent at the top of the pass, put on our down jackets and cooked dinner when the two arrived. We enjoyed their company, the conversation and the fact that we were able to strengthen them for the onward journey with chocolate and warm soup.

The view of Mount Fuji remained phenomenal the next day too. The mountain only disappeared into the clouds once we had turned our backs on it and completed a traffic light sprint training session through the industrial and residential area of Hamamatsu. It was impossible to make good progress in the city, as we had to stop at a red light every few hundred meters. We spared ourselves the much longer city ride by taking the ferry across Ise Bay to the Kii Peninsula. After the short boat passage, we cycled past pretty little fishing villages and bays with pearl farms.

From Shingu, our route took us along virtually traffic-free roads into the mountainous interior to the temple village of Koya. Here, the mossy gravestones in the forest cemetery were well worth seeing and the cold drizzly weather provided the perfect atmosphere😉. Hoping for a little more warmth, we drove into the valley and paid another visit to the two stationmaster cats Nitama and Yontama on the way to Wakayama. This time we were lucky that they were both at work, with Yontama sleeping through her shift and Nitama not even looking at us😉.

It wasn’t far from the train stations in Kishi and Idakiso to the ferry to Shikoku Island. Several men with flags and flashlights showed us our place on the empty loading deck and took great care in securing our bikes. What a luxury😊! Now we are sitting on the ship surrounded by cute fluffy pandas. The ferry is dedicated to “Panda Love”, a panda breeding station and leisure park in the south of the Kii Peninsula.

This post was published on December 16, 2023.