Tag Archive | outdoors japan

Shikoku – road trip around the underrated island

Until now Sascha and me only shortly passed through Shikoku. It looked really nice so we decided to spend some more time on the not so famous island.
Because of the long distance, we spend one night at Mikawa Bay on a parking space next to the sea. Very calm and with a nice view of some island.
Next morning we drove to Awaji island, passing the famous Onaruto Bridge from where you can see whirlpools created by mixing the Japanese inland’s sea with the open ocean. Maybe it’s more impressive if you take the boat-sightseeing tour.
But when seeing the coastline of Awaji island we decided to stay one day and thanks to Google Maps we did not only find a nice beach but as well a campsite (Fukiagehama Camping Ground). The owners were really friendly, happy about our minor Japanese skills and we could choose any space on the campsite.
After checking the area, where mainly onions are planted, and a nice breakfast on the beach on the next morning, we continued our journey to Shikoku.

 

There, first stop was Mt Tsurugi – be aware if you come by car – the roads are verryyyy adventurous. Steep, narrow, old serpentine roads up the mountain. We met some friends at the lift station and spend the night in the parking area, to be early for the hike on the next morning. After a 4hours hike (you can shorten it by taking the lift) we enjoyed a beautiful view over the landscape – but we had to share it with a bunch of people due to golden week travel time.
Being in the mountains already we drove to Iya Valley the next day. Again winding roads along river gorges and through old, small towns, ending up at a gorgeous onsen! You have to go by cable car 200 meters down to enjoy the bath next to the river. Worth the travel time 🙂
Next stop: Beach! Driving along the beautiful Shimantogowa including some stops for lunch at the river, we ended up at the seaside of Shikoku in the south-west. The beaches in Futami as well as on Tosashimizu are quite famous for nice waves. Even so, the weather was bad on the first day it was crowded by Surfers. So we just pitched in!
But Tosashimizu does not only have beaches so we made a bike tour along the coastline up to the southern point of the peninsula. Sun was burning and we had to paddle up 9km first, followed by the 30km beautiful coastline.
Impressed by this very calm atmosphere of this part of Shikoku we drove further along the Ashizuri sunny road, ending up at an even nicer lagoon. The parking space included shower and barbecue place, so we just had to stay 🙂
Good decision! The area has very interesting volcanic stone formations which can partly be hiked along the coastline and an Underwater Observatory. And guess what – I never saw that much Puffer- and Box fishes! Afterwards, I learned, this area is famous for diving, so if you ever go there please try!

 

Being on road trip mode already we drove further to Sokumo Bay, Close to Otsuki. The landscape is getting rougher here, but the water is impressively blue. What else so find here? The whole area contains of small fishing villages and mikan (sort of oranges) plantations. No Kombini, No big cities….
100km further in Ehime, we stayed on the あけはまオートcamping ground next to another white sandy beach, blue water and no person there. When arriving, we were watched a little bit skeptical at first, so I guess not many foreigners have been here yet. But after the first shock, the atmosphere got very friendly 🙂
Last stop on our trip, after a short visits of the Matsuyama castle, was the inlands-sea-island-tour. We did this as any good tourist by bike with a one night stay at the sunset beach on Ikuchi Island. Also here the parking area provides showers and barbecue areas and … a nice sunset!

The butt hurts, 10 days travel done – time to head back home! One last Ramen (noodle soup) in Onomichi and we were back on the road to Tokyo…
Shikoku? Beautiful underrated island! One of the most beautiful spots of Japan from my point of view!

 

the panties vending machine & the early cherry blossoms

Found it! During the first weekend on Izu for this year!
When we paddled up the hill with the bikes after a short sightseeing tour, we found a panties vending machine!! Hidden in small, run down shed. What a surprise to find one of the infamous Japanese machines somewhere in Izu… very strange!!

To change the topic – a short summary of the weekend! Even so it was rainy we went to Izu, to visit Kawazu’s famous early Sakura (Cherry blossom) and to do the “Seven Falls Hiking course”. For those who want to see Sakura already: Go to Kawazu now! The Cherry trees are blooming along the river for more than one kilometre down to the seaside!
 
The Seven falls are nice to visit, but do not expect too much! We did the course from the top as described >>here on page 6, but when we recognized, the main part of the hike is a gravel walk we decide to go by bike. Some parts are handable with an Mountain bike in-between and for some parts you have to carry the bike down the wooden stairs (as usual…)
The annoying part starts, when ending up in the real sightseeing zone, where you have to share the path with all tourist. Not recommendable in peak season!
But the small waterfalls are nice to visits and I could imagine it would be great to take a dip in the cold water during summer season. Just not sure if this would be appreciated…

Habe einen der berüchtigten Unterhosen Automaten gefunden!
Wo und wann? In Izu, als wir mit den Fahrrädern den Berg zurück zum Auto hochgetreppelt sind, in einer kleinen runter gekommenen Hütte am Straßenrand. Schräg!

Um schnell das Thema zu wechseln eine kurze Zusammenfassung des Wochenendes! Das erste mal dieses Jahr ging es wieder mal nach Izu, um in Kawazu die berühmte, frühe Sakura (Kirschblüte) besuchen und die “Seven Falls Wanderung” zu machen. Für diejenigen, die jetzt schon Kirschblüte sehen wollen: Ab nach Kawazu! Ca. 1km entlang des Flusses blüht es jetzt schon bis zum Meer!
Die sieben Wasserfälle (Seven Falls) waren nett, aber man darf nicht zu viel erwarten! Wir haben die Wanderung vom oberen Startpunkt (siehe Karte Seite 6) gemacht, aber da der groesste Teil einfach ein breiter Kiesweg war, haben wir kurzerhand beschlossen das ganze mit den Fahrrädern zu machen. Ein paar Stücke zwischen drin gingen gut mit den Mountainbike aber zum Teil muss man das Fahrrad die Holztreppen runter tragen.
Nervig wurde es dann erst am Ende, wenn der Pfad übergeht in den wirklichen Sightseeing Spot – dann sind zu viele Touristen auf dem Weg und es ist besser abzusteigen und zu schieben.
Aber die kleinen Wasserfälle sind auf jeden Fall schön, und ich konnte mir direkt vorstellen wie es wäre im Sommer in die kalten Wasserbecken zu springen.
Allerdings bin ich mir nicht sicher, ob das auf Begeisterung stoßen würde…

hokkaido in winter

Pre-warning.
If you are not interested in winter sports, no need to watch this video. It mainly shows snow. A lot of snow.
in addition to my powderBlog entry, some moving images for Japan tourism promotion and to pay off my GoPro 😉

Achtung.
Falls dich Wintersport nicht interessiert, dieses Video am besten nicht angucken. Denn es geht darin nur um Schnee – und davon jede Menge. Eindrücke von meinem Winterurlaub in Hokkaido hab’ ich ja schon geteilt. Jetzt gibt’s dazu das passende Bewegtbild, damit sich der Kauf der GoPro auch gelohnt hat 😉

Musik: ZOE.LEELA,  Pop Up

tokyo tip: ochanomizu

If you stay in Japan for longer than a holiday, you might get into the situation of searching something specific but not finding it in this huge city! Here is one tip for those, who are looking for:

a) All kind of Guitars & Violins
b) Snowboards, Skis and clothes as well as Bikes

Ochanomizu (so called Tee-water-street), close to Akihabara, might be your solution! Not far from the station you find a street where you can ONLY buy guitars!
Going further you end up on Yasukuni Dori, where one wintersports-shop is followed by the next! Floor by floor stuffed with skis, snowboard and everything else you need to survive the winter.
Be sure you have time when going there….

japanese autumn, red leaf & winter camping

Stayed now for several weeks in Tokyo –  time to get out again! I love the city, but because it’s red leaf (Koyo) time, we headed to Okutama. Most people visit Nikko or Hakone for the red leaf season, but if you are interested in combining your trip with a scenic hike, I would always recommend Okutama!
Of course you can go there by train, roughly 2 hours from Tokyo, but if you come by car, you will have nice scenic roads and more opportunities to escape the crowds.
First day, we visited Okutama lake and drove up to the mountains, for some nice views. Later on we headed back to Kawai and found a more or less remote parking area next to the river, to stay at night! And of course, due to November temperatures, it got realllllyyy cold!
Therefore, I did not have a problem to get up early: 5:30! Fast breakfast and to the cable car close to Mitake station.
Tip: get there early, otherwise the waiting queue gets long and there will be no parking space left. And it is also allowed to bring Mountain Bikes up there, so there has to be a MTB route somewhere. I will try to figure that out

First stop Mt. Mitake and the Musashi Miatke-Jinja. We followed the hiking path further to Mt Odake and because of the great weather and the cold air we caught a gorgeous view of Mt. Fuji! Was really worth the first 1,5-2hour part of the hike. Still 9km to go, to get to Okutama. And even so the Lonely Planet describes this hike as easy-moderate, calculating 4-5hours, I have to say I would judge it at least moderate. Partly steep, stony and narrow and at the end it took as 6 hours including breaks. But worth all the trouble!! Nice views, beautiful changing landscapes and a lot of red autumn leafs.

Only the traffic jam back to Tokyo was annoying….

obon 2014 | #1 roadtrip to the south

In march we already travelled to Kyushu. Unluckily it was raining almost all of the time. So we decided: let’s try again this Obon week (Summer holiday in Japan)
Reasons? Even with rain Kyushu was beautiful and we wanted to spend some more time outside of the van, as well we wanted to check out another Camper van in Fukuoka (VW – yeahhh!), to add to our “collection”.

We started our trip by driving to Lake Biwa, close to Kyoto, Japan’ largest freshwater lake. Around Moriyama, there are some nice, stony beaches with barbecue areas, where you can spend your day.
After spending a night on a hidden parking area close to the Okayama port (not a good idea – because I got noisy due to the fisher boats at 5:00), we travelled one day to Naoshima island, to visit the Art projects. If you are somehow interested in Art I would recommend to go there! We brought our own bikes, but you can also rent bikes at the port and do the whole tour of roughly 14km by bike.
And Naoshima Bath house (I♥湯) looks a little bit weird, but Is a nice contrast to other typical Japanese onsen.

outdoors shimoda

What a weekend! After over one year in Japan we actually got back on our Mountain bikes. Thanks to http://www.alohabike.com/ we had a great MTB trip around Shimoda (Thanks Ken!!) Including single tracks, sometimes steep, narrow & stony, sometimes smooth and wide and always with a nice view. The Shimoda area is just impressively beautiful, with so many hidden beaches and trails.
To make it a real sports weekend, we went to Mt. Amagi, early in the next morning and did a 4 hour hiking trail to the top of the mountain. After such weekends I just love Japan!