We’ll spend three days in Tokyo trying to adjust and get over our jet-lag before heading on the bullet train to Kyoto. There we’ll take in the Imperial Palace, shrines, and the bamboo grove Vic’s very excited to see, before we rendezvous with our bikes, which we hope to have shipped ahead from the airport. Thus far the weather looks favorable for the cherry blossoms to be at their peak when we arrive to Kyoto.
This gives us about two and half weeks of traveling by bicycle. While we could easily get used to taking our bikes apart and slipping them into bags for various train connections so that we’d see many of the famous sites, we’re both favoring the approach that takes us out into the countryside and into places we’d likely never get to go to, if our only chance to go back to Japan is as old people on a tour bus. What this likely means is that the snow monkeys are out. Ise is out. Ito is out. Nikko is out. Osaka, Kobe, Nagoya are all avoided. Sadly, Hokadio, in the far cold north, was never on the list.
We’ll leave Kyoto heading south, supposedly along a bike path, to the even older capitol city of Nara. There we’ll look at some very old buildings and little deer before heading into the first set of mountains and the temples at Koyasan. After spending a night or two with the monks, and hopefully sitting in during the morning prayers, we’ll head toward the coast and a ferry to the island of Shikoku. The least populated island, we’ll start by following the Pilgrimage of the 88 Temples. Perhaps we’ll follow it around the island, perhaps we’ll cut across through some very pretty gorges and insane climbs…either way, we’re watching for pit vipers!
It’s too soon to tell…but if the road is fast and our legs strong, we’ll continue on to Kyūshū on another ferry. Here it’s possible that we’ll have sub-tropical plants and 75 degree days as we’re both interested in heading to the hot springs on the live volcano that our pal Tara (who has cycled the Shikoku Pilgrimage route!) was chatting about. I’d be very happy if we could somehow have time to get a ferry to unique and biologically interesting island, Yakushima. But the more likely scenario is that we’ll never make it to either of these islands, but instead do some ferry hopping across the Inland Sea so that we end our bicycling in Japan with Hiroshima and the shrine at Miyajima.
I’ve never been a fan of rushing around on my bike and I’m certainly not going to be doing it in Japan. If anyone’s been to any of these places, we’d love to hear about them!
Need a link to the google map so I can zoom and pan.
Koyasan is incredible. Do hang with the monks and wake up for morning prayers. Our head monk invited the 3 foreigners back to his chambers for tea after the ceremony. My writeup from Koya:
Nara is worth it, but by the time we got there I was feeling a bit jaded.
Miyajima is total touristy fun. Hiroshima is powerful, but don’t get so wrapped up in the disaster that you miss the okonomiyaki. (my favorite food find in japan)
Can’t wait to see your writeup from Shikoku. Wish we had gotten that far south.