Some Thoughts on Japan from Stephen


  • What a fascinating place!
  • What lovely people!
  • The countryside is beautiful. The Iya Valley and the chain of islands between Honshu and Shikoku are simply stunning.
  • The towns and cities (that we have seen so far) are nowhere near as lovely. There have been a few nice parts but, in the main, they are quite scruffy places primarily dedicated to industry and commerce.
  • We feel safe.
  • There is something interesting round the next corner.
  • The trees are works of art.
  • As are some of the gardens. I can’t wait to see more.
  • The convenience stores are great for buying cheap, relatively tasty food on the go.

However, (and now we get to the main purpose of this piece) Japan is hard work and potentially problematic when you are “winging” it as we are. This was brought home to me yesterday (A Difficult Day) when we struggled to find somewhere to stay and something to eat.

We had pasta and a sauce in the panniers as well as a means of cooking them. We had the tent and passed many places where we could have hidden ourselves away once it got dark. So we were not going to starve or get no sleep. We were never in danger.

But we couldn’t last for many days like that. We only had one days’ emergency food and Christine wouldn’t get enough sleep so she would get a severe migraine and be less safe on the bike.

In addition the weather was good so we were warm and dry. But we are at the start of the rainy season and we had been caught in a storm in Korea a couple of years ago when we were almost flooded out of our tent.  And they do get typhoons here. How would we know one was coming? The only warning in Korea was a lady struggling to tell us it was going to rain hard.

I knew that we were only a day or two away from Hiroshima, a massive city where we would be able to find food and a hotel, so it was never going to be a problem, but I guess I was out of my comfort zone. I could see the potential for really difficult times if circumstances were a little different.

I thought of the book I had been reading a few days earlier (Raining Sushi and Donuts by John Chapman) in which a young Englishman cycled from top to bottom of Japan, camping in parks and under bridges. He had some tough times despite having lived in Japan for a year or two and speaking some of the language.

All of which leads me to the conclusion that the next time we come to Japan (and I really do hope there is a next time) we will have to plan things more (which is another way of saying we will have to do some planning for once!) It is probably only a case of having accommodation in the areas away from the larger towns booked before we go – but that will mean we will have to decide “where and when” in advance.

(Oh, and it would be helpful if The Linguist in the family got her act together and learned some more Japanese!!!)

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