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Thread: Tour of Kyushu & West Japan

  1. #1
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    Default Tour of Kyushu & West Japan

    Bit late, but Iím finally getting around to writing up the tour of Kyushu and Western Japan. Iíve been there before on business, but never had much chance to do a proper tour. A bunch of hooligans decided to do an Iron Butt run during Golden Week, so this seemed like a good opportunity. No bloody way my old butt can handle doing an insane 2000km in 24 hours, but I did want to go there, so I agreed to witness the GoldenButt arrival.

    Warning: This is a looooong report.

    This is the map of my entire tour:


    And this is the map of just the Kyushu portion:



    25 April 2008

    Today was my birthday. By all rights, this should be a national holiday, but the Japanese seem to be oblivious to this august event, so I decided to take the day off anyway and get going.

    Blasted up the Chuo Hwy. and took a break at Lake Suwa.


    Squaring off the tires on the freeway is not all that much fun, so I made a cultural side trip to a neat old village on the Nakasendo (???). This is one of the two old roads that people used for walking between Tokyo to Kyoto. This one is through the mountains; the other, the Tokaido (???), is along the seaside. On these roads, there used to be villages where people could make a pits stop along the way. One of these villages, which is quite well preserved, is Magomejuku (???)







    To get there, I got off the Chuo at Nakatsugawa (???), then R19, R7 and followed the signs. Neat place.

    Got back on the Chuo and headed West, thorough Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka. Getting late, pulled off the highway and found a business hotel in Akashi. :drinking:
    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

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    Default Re: Tour of Kyushu & West Japan

    26 April 2008

    Headed West and went through Himeji. Iíve already been there many times, so forgot to take any photos of Himeji Castle (supposed to be the nicest one in Japan). Then got back on the Chugoku Hwy. and headed West. This highway is fantastic! Not one single straight section; all long sweeping curves through lovely mountain scenery. Had an embarrassing incident, though. Something I havenít done in over 30 years. Ran out of fuel! Running on fumes, even farting into the intake didnít help. Stalled out less than 5 km from the next service station.



    Nice cops, but they assumed that I was a moron. Kept checking my reserve valve and shaking the bike to see if they could hear any fuel sloshing around. Wasnít worth trying to argue with them and, I admit, running dry is a bit moronic, so I canít blame them for their low opinion. After the JAF truck refuelled me, continued on and finally made it to the bridge to Kyushu.



    Continued on the highway, all the way to Kumamoto, where I found a nice new business hotel, with onsen on the roof and a great view of the city. 6000 yen, breakfast included! :drinking:
    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

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    Default Re: Tour of Kyushu & West Japan

    27 April 2008

    Back on the highway, headed South. Nice road, with many tunnels and lots of scenery. On one of the rest stops, ran into a tractor pull convention.



    Continuing South, finally made it to Kagoshima Bay. The south part of Kyushu is very unusual. Almost tropical, with palm trees and Spanish moss hanging off the trees.



    It was still early, so rather than go to Kagoshima City, got on the Ibusuki Skyline, which runs through the mountains above the city and down to the South part of the peninsula. This is a great road! Not much traffic and lots of twisties.

    Got off the Syline half way and took R225 West to a neat park/shrine, ????, whose pronunciation escapes me right now (Iwaya Koen?).



    There is a long cliff there, several hundred metres, where various Budhist symbols have been carved over the centuries.





    From there, continued West on R225 and North on R270 to the seaside, where there are supposed to be some interesting sand dunes. The dunes were not all that exciting, but it was cool to watch the locals picking seaweed. Sort of a national pastime.



    Then went back East on R297, which is very nice and twisty, back to the Skyline. At the end, had a nice view of Lake Ikeda (???) and Mt. Kaimon (???).



    After the lake, East on R241 and R226 to Ibusuki Onsen (????), which is nifty to the max. The beach there is hot back sand! For a fee, they will bury you in the sand, which is supposed to have therapeutic properties.







    After that, went up the East coast of the peninsula, R238 and R226 all the way to Kagoshima City and found a good business hotel right downtown, near the ferry. Kagoshima is a really nice city. Wouldnít mind going back and spending more time there. The waterfront has been all spiffied up, with shopping, restaurants, etc.



    So while those lucky GoldenButters were enjoying their leisurely tour of the countryside, I was relegated make up for my disappointment with a nice hotel room, warm bed, pizza (food of the gods!) and a bottle of wine. :drinking:

    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

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    Default Re: Tour of Kyushu & West Japan

    28 April 2008

    In the morning, got a nice view of Sakurajima. Bit disappointing, though. Iíve been dreaming for years of seeing the volcano spewing ashes, which it does constantly, but they must have turned it off today. Still, nice view.



    The GoldenButt hooligans were due to arrive at the campsite today, so hopped onto an early ferry across to Sakurajima.



    Still no smoke or ashes. Sigh!



    Very rugged coast along the South side of the island (R224).



    Drove down the coast on R220, R68 and R269. Very nice! Cliffs on one side, sea on the other. Twisty and almost no traffic. Got to the campsite around 11:30 and Colin was already there! Not much later, Craig and Oyvind showed up. (Anthony had taken a wrong turn somewhere and ended up on the wrong side of the bay). They all made the 2000km in less than 24 hours and are all basking in the glory, world-wide fame, trophies and prize money. :roll:



    Colin, being a very civilized person, had shipped ahead a couple of cases of VB and some cigars. So we celebrated with good beer and fine Cuban cigars! They looked kind of peckish, so I provided some gourmet combini munchies.



    A bit later on, Karl and Paul also showed up. Being endowed with more common sense, they also took a few days to get there.

    It was still a bit early, so I hopped back on the bike and went off to explore the South tip, Sada Misaki (???), which is the Southernmost point in Japan.



    Great roads around there! R68 and R566.



    On the way back, the map showed no roads from the East side back to camp, but the GPS found me some small farm roads, so I didnít have to backtrack. Love my GPS!

    Back at the campsite, we had a great dinner. The camp owner also runs a pig farm, so we pigged out on, of course, pig meat. The evening was spent trading tall tales around the fire and bottle of wine and beer, and with Karl and Paul trying to hustle us in a game of poker. :drinking:

    Karl also happened to mention that he wants sex every single day, so, just in case, we made sure he camped outside, and we locked the cabin door. Oh, during the night, there was some kind of plot brewing, something about throttling me for my gentle snoring, but reason prevailed and I managed to survive the night.
    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

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    Default Re: Tour of Kyushu & West Japan

    29 April 2008

    This is a beautiful campsite, Saturday Land (???????). Itís on a very high plateau, overlooking Kagoshima Bay, with Mt. Kaimon across the bay. Alas, it was misty and we never got the chance to really see the view. Guess weíll just have to go back!





    After everybody got organized, we were ready to go terrorize the local roads.



    Went back up the coast again on R269 and stopped off for a ďJoyfullĒ breakfast. Then East on R448 and up the East coast.



    Four of the hooligans took off at a ďbriskĒ pace, but Paul and Anthony followed me at a more civilized speed Ė enough to have some fun, but not get in too much trouble. In fact, the hooligans actually disturbed some cars so much that they phone the cops! Next town, the gendarmes pulled us over and reminded us that passing on yellow lines is not a good idea. Of course, it must have been somebody else; not us!

    Anyway, more great roads. Neat rock formations along the way.



    When we got to Miyazaki, somehow I lost the other guys in downtown traffic. Pity, but no problem. Wasted a bit of time waiting for them, then went inland on R10, then South on R28. Then East on R33 and North on R42. All spectacular roads!

    Caught up with the guys that evening, at the Harunojiri Michinoeki on R268. Nice tatami rooms and onsen bath. More tall tales, plus grabbed my e-mail using somebodyís wireless LAN. :drinking:
    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

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    Default Re: Tour of Kyushu & West Japan

    30 April 2008

    The previous day, the other guys saw some stuff that I wanted to see, so they went their way and I went to check this out. We planned to meet again in a couple of days.

    Headed SW on R29 and R223 to check out this volcano and lake Ouike.



    Also a neat temple on the way.



    These guys have even bigger noses than mine!



    Then back North on R480 to, yes, another volcano.



    Then R414 and R1, which are all fanastic, to check out this crater lake.



    Followed R1 all the way back to R268, which was a great ride, but then I made the mistake of going North on R265. Looked great on the map, but 10km in, it turned into a nightmare. Single lane, broken and pitted surface, dirt, rocks, leaves. My ZRX is not a dirt bike! I kept hoping it would improve, so kept going, but this went on and on, for over 50km. Finally, when I got to R219, I got some relief and headed back to the East coast. Took R219, R22, R446 and R327 which are all is quite nice.



    Then North on R10 and along the coast on R388. It was getting late and there were no hotels in the area, not even any towns, but found a fantastic campground, right by the sea.



    Canít remember the name of the campground, but itís right beside the only Michinoeki on that road. Easy to spot. Iíd been carrying all my camping gear for days, so might as well put it to good use. Slept like a log, lulled by the sounds of the sea.
    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

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    Default Re: Tour of Kyushu & West Japan

    1 May 2008

    Continued along the coast on R338 and R122. Spectacular roads, great scenery, but it was raining. I have good rain gear, so itís not a big problem, but still not as pleasant as on a sunny day. Nevertheless, great roads!











    Continued North along the coast, R501 to R504, where I went off to see the Tsurumizaki (???) peninsula. Too much rain Ė no photos. Nice ride!

    Then back on R504, R217 and R197 up the coast, all the way to Beppu Onsen (????), where I found a business hotel. Toured the town a bit then found some food and drink. :drinking:
    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

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    Default Re: Tour of Kyushu & West Japan

    2 May 2008

    After breakfast, went to an old onsen and cooked for awhile. The water was 42 degrees! Looked like a lobster from the neck down. Still, neat experience.



    Headed out of town going inland on R11. Great road and, yes, another volcano.



    R11 is the road to Mt. Aso, which is quite spectacular. Runs along a high plateau, with great views all the way.





    Mt. Aso behind the AH.





    Then drove around Mt. Aso on R265, and took R218 towards the West coast. Then R57, R266 and R324 along a very cool series of islands. The area is called Amakusa (??)







    I was headed for Oniike harbour, where I intended to take the ferry across to the Nagasaki side. Got there, bought a ticket Ö no problem. THEN I saw the schedule and realised that this 18:30 ferry is the last one! Here Iíd been taking my time sightseeing, thinking I had plenty of time! Turns out that the other guys had missed this ferry the night before, since they didnít know either. I think Karl and Paul camped there and took the morning boat, and the other guys drove all the way around the bay!

    Anyway, I got on the ferry all right.



    Chased by dolphins!





    Arriving





    Got to the port and called the guys, but they were still out playing on the road to Nagasaki, so I went to the park beside the port and had a nice nap. Cmac woke me up by rudely shining his high beams at me.

    Anyway, off we went to Yukoís grandmotherís house, which is very near the ferry. Neat old house, with traditional tatami rooms throughout.



    Wonder how much money we parked in that garage Ö



    Had a great evening, more tall tales, more pizza, more wine, more Karl trying to hustle people at poker.



    I just hope that all these uncouth barbarians didnít offend Yukoís sensibilities, because it would be a great place to stay again. :drinking:
    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

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    Default Re: Tour of Kyushu & West Japan

    3 May 2008

    No nefarious plots to kill me this time (they put me in a separate room), so I survived the night. Craig and Yuko whipped up a mess of pancakes for breakfast, before we hit the road again. First stop was at a nice beach, where Karl wanted to go fishing and the rest just wanted to chill out. Having grown up on the beach, I didnít feel that 25 degrees was beach weather, plus my mind was in touring mode, so we parted company for the last time and I went off on my own.

    Nice road along the coast on R251, through Obama Onsen (with many signs supporting Obama for president). Cool fish farms.



    And nice rest stops.



    Then further along the coast on R57, R251 and R34 to Nagasaki, where I visited the Peace Park.



    Monument to those killed by the A-bomb.



    A-bomb epicentre. Very sobering.



    Thousands of origami paper cranes, in memory of all those 70,000+ killed. If this was the Tar Pit, Iíd make a comment that itís a pity that only the losers become war criminals.



    Continued along the coast on R202.





    Then turned left on R52 and R15 on a small peninsula which I think is called Sakito (??). More great roads. Light was fading, so didnít get many photos.



    At the tip of the peninsula, there is a really neat onsen hotel, where I was hoping to spend the night. Alas, no room at the inn, so headed back again. No towns, no hotels anywhere! Great riding, but getting very late. Got back on R202 and headed for the nearest big city, Sasebo, thinking that there must be lots of hotels there. Well, there were many hotels, but not one single room available during Golden Week! Saddled up again and went NW on R204, looking for a place to pitch my tent, when I spotted a love hotel. Good enough! Warm bed and high class combini dinner. Life is good! :drinking:
    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

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    Default Re: Tour of Kyushu & West Japan

    4 May 2008

    In the morning, continued along the coast on R18, also a great ride, except that it took me ages to get past a gazillion bosozoku, with eardrum damage, only to have them catch up with me at a rest stop. Just kids having fun, but a real pain in the ass.



    After R18, left on R204, still along the coast and still wonderful riding, all the way to Karatsu (??) and its castle.





    This is a neat town, with a 5km beach and pine forest along the beach. Neat shops.



    Continued on R202, all the way through Fukuoka. Big town, so used the urban tollway to get through it. Didnít stop there, but was amused by all the people picking clams.



    After Fukuoka, got on R3 and went to Kitakyushu.



    Found a decent business hotel and good Tonkotsu Ramen. :drinking:
    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

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    Default Re: Tour of Kyushu & West Japan

    5 May 2008

    In the morning, checked out the other side of the bridge to Honshu.



    But instead of the bridge, I took the tunnel, which is only ?100. BTW, there is also a pedestrian tunnel to get across.



    So far, so good, but then the sky went gray and the rain poured down. Found some shelter to get my rain gear on.



    Rode R191 up the West side, then along the North coast. Yes, more great roads!



    Continued on the coast along R9 to Izumo City. Nothing special, but getting late and there was a nice business hotel. :drinking:
    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

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    Default Re: Tour of Kyushu & West Japan

    6 May 2008

    Continued on R9 to Matsue (???). Nice town! Wouldnít mind going back and spending some time there. Of course, they have a castle.



    Went on along the inland sea on R431 and R2.



    All the way to the lighthouse on the point.



    Neat fishing villages along the way.



    Munchies!



    Back on R431, nice beaches all along the way. Then got on R24 to Mt. Daisen (??).





    There are some fantastic twisties around this mountain. I took R30, R34 and R44, which are just some of these roads, around the North side. Didnít have time to check the South side.

    Back on the coast, R9 again, all the way to Tottori (???). Just past the city, across the river, left on R319 to the great Tottori sand dunes.



    This girl had incredible balance!



    For those too lazy to walk the dunes.



    This coast is very scenic.



    Then, still along the coast, R178, R11 and R178 again. This is fantastic riding! Definitely on the do-before-you-die list. Craig also went by here a few days later, and he loved it too!



    Humble hotel along the way.





    Did I mention fantastic roads?



    Found another business hotel in some town a bit inland, whose name escapes me right now. Bushed! Great day!
    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

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    Default Re: Tour of Kyushu & West Japan

    7 May 2008

    Back up to the coast and along R178 again. Canít stop saying itís a fantastic road! More cool fishing villages.





    Made it to Amanohashidate (???). This is one of the 3 most famous sightseeing spots in Japan.











    Continued on the coast on R178, which is not as spectacular as before, but still pretty nice.



    Then went through Maizuru (???), which is also a nice town, with a very good harbour. Many ships from Russia come here to dump lumber and load up with used cars.





    The harbour also houses the Hitachi Shipyards and a lot of the Japanese navy. Couldnít get a good shot of the ships, because theyíre mostly around the corner.



    Well, thatís it. Time to go home. R27 along the North coast, then R303 to Lake Biwa and R161, R303 and R8 around the lake, and hopped on to the tollway. Even though I know that the Chuo Hwy.is better, for some foolish reason I took the Tomei back to Tokyo. Wall to wall trucks as far as the eye can see. Aggressive buggers too. Oh well, at least the service area at Lake Hamana is really great. Worth doing once, but Iíll never do that again.

    Got back a bit after midnight, to get the ETC discount.

    All in all, one hell of a good trip. 13 days, 5000km. Great roads, great guys, life doesnít get much better than this.
    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Tour of Kyushu & West Japan

    Nice writeup, great trip.

    Quote Originally Posted by Geezer
    Still no smoke or ashes. Sigh!
    I'm sure you more than made up for it everywhere you went!

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Tour of Kyushu & West Japan

    sure was a great trip and would be nice to see a few more riders next year...

    start saving your money guys...

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Tour of Kyushu & West Japan

    BTW, I neglected to mention that Cmac did one hell of a good job organizing this trip and the GoldenButt ride. He planned out the whole itinerary, with maps, camping, even a free house. Well done Craig!
    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Tour of Kyushu & West Japan

    wow, what a write-up!

    do you actually write this stuff down or remember it all or what?

    good stuff....

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Tour of Kyushu & West Japan

    Keep on truckin old man. You are the touring master :thumbright:

    Cool Aso area pic


    178 west of Tottori was nice

    Did you ever get to route 1 down beyond that crater lake near Kirishima?

    Naps holds a photo contest every year and you should consider showing the rest of Japan what they are missing out there.
    IBA33490

    Touge Express

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Tour of Kyushu & West Japan

    Quote Originally Posted by theDude
    wow, what a write-up!

    do you actually write this stuff down or remember it all or what?

    good stuff....
    Thanks! Actually, I've probably already forgotten a lot of the details. Good thing that I take photos to remind me. :roll:

    My mind is going ... I can feel it ... :razz:
    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Tour of Kyushu & West Japan

    Wow that's a real nice trip! Impressive sceneries! Hope I can do one like that one of these days.

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