Yakuo-in Temple, Mount Tsukuba

Today was a rainy, rainy day. It started bad and I thought it would get worse, but I had decided to go cycling come rain or shine. I didn’t quite expect quite so much rain though.

It wasn’t raining when I set off otherwise I might not have gone to be honest. I got down to checking the bike..the white one not yellow. There was no way I was attempting a trek, not a jaunt, on the bumblebike. The tyres seemed a little flat so I got down to pumping them up….

photo

…and then the bike fell over and snapped off the valve ppppssssssssssss, flat.

Luckily I live in Japan and a 15 minute walk led me to a bike repair shop, a new back tyre, 2 new inner tubes..maybe I need brake pads? nah not now. And off I went..in search of a temple on a mountain.

IMG_1566

It was a bit cloudy and rain had been forecast for later, I could see the mountain in the distance….and then I couldn’t, the heavens opened and didn’t stop much for the rest of the day. By this point I had already got my bike repaired, cycled 10km, so I though bugger it and carried on.

IMG_1567 Nope, no mountain here.

This is my white bike, a name??champion the wonder bike? snowy? I think after today it is “drippy”. Please meet drippy, I am not painting it yellow to keep in with the title of the blog.

IMG_1569

I use this bike for longer rides and today was going to be about 50km and up a mountain. I usually take a GPS to guide me as there are many back roads around here and I easily get lost. It also works out routes for bikes based on speed, distance, or elevation. Today I chose elevation, can it get me up a mountain without the “UP” part. Plus it helps me geocache.

IMG_1573

 

I think I am the drippy one!

 

IMG_1571 IMG_1572

I love my GPS and it is waterproof. By this point it was raining so much I couldn’t see through my sunglasses so I took them off and attached them by some velcro on my torch.

 

IMG_1575

Another good thing about Japan is the frequent convenience stores, combinis, selling hot coffee and having conveniences. They are indeed very convenient…hey, where the hell are my sunglasses?? What the?? someone stole them!!! No this is Japan, one of the safest countries in the world, apart from earthquakes, typhoons, floods, tsunamis, nuclear accidents… but things general don’t get stolen or people get hurt. I refuse to believe it and I am proved right after backtracking a kilometre and there they were on the floor.

By now I am 4km-ish from the temple and GPS and geography fail me as the rest of the journey is uphill. I am happy to say I cycled in my lowest gear all the way up. I am happy to say it because I don’t have a problem with lying through my teeth. I did manage 200 metres, next time it might be more. Slowly does it.

 

IMG_1577 IMG_1578

Even though it was raining, it is summer and the rain was warm. It was refreshing and kept me cool. I was wearing gloves so my hands didn’t slip on the  handles, but it did give me crinkled fingers..hate to think about my crinklebum.

IMG_1579

 

I finally arrived at the temple and due to the weather it was completely empty. It is called Yakou-in Temple and was established in 782 AD. There isn’t much in English on the net, but what Google translated it has something to do with dried yam medicine. It is also the start of a walking trail up Mount Tsukuba. It has a three storey pagoda and lots of big chinquapin trees, some 400 years old…can you see them?

 

IMG_1580 IMG_1581 IMG_1582 IMG_1583

After a quick look around, and finding the cache, it was time for the fun part….GOING DOWN!!!!

I have to say cycling or freewheeling down a mountain in rain is truly exhilarating, should have got those new brake pads though. The roads really do get slippy, and for dippy’s sake do not brake on a rain grate!!

I only slipped 3 times and managed to stay upright every time.

It was a smashing day, despite the rain I really enjoyed myself. I didn’t feel tired at all..well not until I hit 50km and realised I still had 3km to go. It might have been the cycling pants though, cycling pants and no pants..revelation, much more comfy.

As for the temple I actually went there before on a drier day. Here are some pictures from that occasion.

IMG_1549 IMG_1550 IMG_1551 IMG_1552 IMG_1553 IMG_1554 IMG_1556 IMG_1557 IMG_1558 IMG_1559 IMG_1560 IMG_1561

There is also a fantastic gate that I didn’t take a picture of, something for next time.

Here is a map of the temple if you want to visit it yourself. I walked, pushed the bike up the wiggle bit on the left.

 

 

References

http://nano87-batake.at.webry.info/201403/article_4.html
http://www.yamareco.com/modules/yamareco/detail-427025.html (this has a map for the walking route)

 

Watarase Ryokuchi Park, Tochigi

Another scorching day, at least a real feel of 34. There is supposed to be a storm coming so I want to get out while I can. Plus I will have to start work soon. For this jaunt I remembered to take more water and drank 3 litres, but still only managed 25km. I am finding the little yellow bike is much harder to travel around on than my bigger white bike. Less gears, smaller wheels, and I never wear cycle shorts… because it is just a jaunt not a trek. That might change after today.

Here a map of the area I cycled around, as you can see the lake/reservoir is shaped like a heart. It says lake on the map…but it looked A LOT like a reservoir to me.

There are lots of free parking spaces all around the lake. I stayed in car park number 1 as it seemed to be huge on the map. There is also a toilet block, picnic area (no BBQ please), and cycle hire if you don’t have a little yellow bike. The coordinates for the toilet block are: 36.226394, 139.669506. If you can read/speak Japanese there are lots of water sports around here. Or a bird hide for the more relaxed of you.

This was a lookout and a bit of information center at the top of the car park. The cycle hire and toilets are at the other end..walk away from this if that is where you want to go.

IMG_1517

 

From the top you can see all around, flat and full of vegetation.

IMG_1511 IMG_1512 IMG_1513 IMG_1514

There are binoculars to look even further or spy on the wildlife. There are some mountains in the background and you will find a sign in this building with the names of them.

IMG_1515

I set off away from the car park and the heart shaped lake, silly me. But as you can see the road was so empty and inviting.

IMG_1520

 

Yeap, on this blog I am even going to add a few pictures of me. Not many, so enjoy my happiness!!IMG_1521 IMG_1522IMG_1523

 

Depending on where you are the roads switch from tarmac to gravel. Both are flat and somewhat monotonous. At this time of year the reeds are so tall that I, short little me, could not see over them. I also got hit by a few flying cicadas, which was not pleasant.

 

IMG_1524

IMG_1526

This speaker was by a gate and was activated by movement. When you got close to it a woman’s voice blared out, “oi you on the bike, take your rubbish home with you, and don’t go starting any fires or such like…you untrustworthy gaijin!!!”

No it didn’t..apart from the rubbish part.

I cycled around for a bit contemplating, why are the caches so far apart, why can’t I find any, why didn’t I go to the toilet, why is it so hot making me drink so much, the tarmac feels like fire, oh god I hope I don’t get a puncture, why are all the bridges closed….crap I need to go over that one to get to the shrine I also want to visit.

IMG_1539

Bugger it, I am sure it means no cars, not..no bumblebikes!?

IMG_1540 IMG_1541

 

See, nice sturdy bridge after all.

 

After risking life and limb crossing this bridge I went to a nearby shrine, the coordinates are: 36.215383, 139.707979

This is Nogi Shrine and has a special purpose.

IMG_1527 IMG_1528 IMG_1529 IMG_1530 IMG_1531 IMG_1533 IMG_1534 IMG_1535 IMG_1537 IMG_1536  IMG_1538

Boobies!! Apparently these are made from rice bran and women leave them here when they pray for good breast milk for their babies. Boobs and hearts all in one day. Well, that was worth the cycle 🙂

Anyway back to the lake and my car.

IMG_1543

Reservoir!!

IMG_1545 IMG_1546 IMG_1544 YES YES YES

IMG_1547

 

This is at the other end of the car park, if you go the sensible way first. This is where you can rent bicycles and buy more water.

 

I think I will have a break now for a few days. Too much bumblebike is bad for the bumblebum.

 

References
http://www.achikochi-kanko.jp/spot/detail.php?kaidoId=&categoryId=1&lang=english&spotId=2250

 

Lake Inbanuma, Inzai, Chiba

Ok, now for the first real post. Actually I thought of the blog after I got back so I didn’t take too many photos..but I did take some.

IMG_1499

You can find the lake at these coordinates: 35.759302, 140.221040 and here is the map.

I found a little information about the area online, but my main reason for going was to geocache. There were lots in the area and on the map it looked a pleasant place to spend a day. It also looked like there was a convenient place to park, with a handy convenience..which is always good. On getting there I was proved right, Futago Park is right next to the lake and has free parking, yes free! for as long as you like, that is quite rare for Japan.

As you can see on the map the lake is actually joined to another, Lake Tega-numa by a channel. I had already decided to just cycle up the channel and back down the other side. As it turned out, it was hot..really hot maybe 35+ so I only cycled about 15km in all, ran out of water and turned back. Which means I can do it again another day. Please note there are no stores or vending machines along the route I took, I know.. shocker for Japan, so take plenty of water and use the toilet in the park before you set off.

IMG_1496 IMG_1497

These pictures were taken on the other side of the parking lot a little way down.

IMG_1498

As you can see by the photo of the channel the lake has a lot of plant life and has experienced progressive eutrophication lately. I looked it up, it means “rich in nutrients and so supporting a dense plant population, the decomposition of which kills animal life by depriving it of oxygen.”

So maybe not so many fish, but I did see a few fishermen and fisher birds such as egrets. So there must be something there.

IMG_1500

The route goes under a few bridges and passes a metal art museum, which was closed for the summer…shame, I bet it had a vending machine and toilets.

IMG_1501  IMG_1503

So a lovely day out for the better prepared. With a good path, straight and true..no punctures, no bumps, 14 caches found. Not much seen..apart from these weird elephant statues in the park??

IMG_1504 IMG_1502

and a bridge with a elephant motif.

IMG_1505

Apparently the fossil remains of a Naumann elephant where found in the area in 1966. Other elephant fossils have been found in Nagano and Hokkaido. The Japanese website below says take a romantic look at the elephants and imagine them coming to drink the water in the lake. I would have…but I was actually very thirsty at the time.

References:
http://wldb.ilec.or.jp/data/databook_html/asi/asi-29.html
http://www.worldlakes.org/lakedetails.asp?lakeid=8387
http://itot.jp/12231/93

Inspiration?

The inspiration for the blog is the bike and a book. Of course the bike came first, then a few days ago I read this book. Which I recommend you read too if you like travel books or cycling. I was laughing out loud on the Tokyo subway reading it, which was a little embarrassing.

Gironimo

This guy cycled around Italy, I don’t intend to do that..or cycle around Japan. But I do intend to travel a bit, especially in Ibaraki.

 

Welcome to the BumbleBike!

I decided seeing as I have a nice portablish bike and I want to get fitter and do more stuff and blah, blah, blah then this is the perfect subject for my new blog. I was looking for a theme as I finished the last blog which you can see here.

http://luckywalkstokyo.wordpress.com/

The theme of this blog is the bike, not gods or specific places, just the bike. Actually it might be a other bikes too, but for now it is a yellow one…you never know what can happen to a bike or a person.

yellow bike
The Bumble Bike

I bought the bike on a whim thinking I could take it on trains and travel around. Turns out 11kg is light at the beginning of the day, but oh so heavy at the end. Plus putting it in that tiny bag is a pain in the ***. So actually I think I have only taken it two places on the train…but oh wait thinks I..I have a car. I can actually fit it on my back seat, even though my car isn’t much bigger. That opens up a whole new world (well, probably 100-200km). No packed trains, no packed bag. The world is my bumblebike. Let the journeys begin…maybe?!

 

…taking my time and enjoying the view