5/7/16. Well, we survived our night of wild camping! We made sure we were up early to avoid awkward comments, but were not early enough to avoid having to take the tent down in the drizzly rain and pack it away wet.
Looking at the map the previous evening we discovered that we had made it right to the very edge of the built up area of Greater Tokyo and were about 50 km from the hotel that we had booked for the last few nights in Japan (to allow us time to sort ourselves out for the flight). The “problem” was that we were a day early – the hotel was booked for Wednesday night and today was Tuesday. Christine spotted a campsite on Google Maps close by on a sports ground by the river so, although we were a little dubious, we decided to give it a go.
It has to be said that the prospect of 50 km urban cycling through Tokyo was not particularly appealing but Christine had also seen a cycle route alongside the same river as the campsite (this time on her offline map, Maps Me, not Google) would take us most of the way.
We set off towards the river alongside a sequence of large roads. Because we were effectively crossing from one river valley to another there was a degree of climbing involved – not particularly welcome but not overly strenuous thankfully!
Once the climbing was done we were on a road that, broadly, followed a minor river leading down to the one with the cycle route. Stephen took the “executive decision” to leave the planned route beside major roads and try to navigate on more minor ones closer to the river.
Thus we can both claim credit for the lovely ride that we had from thereon when we had originally been anticipating a dreary, stop-start ride slogging through a large city.
We had more than 30 km of gentle downhill on quiet roads and cycle paths (a mixture of busy asphalted and quieter gravelled stretches) that was almost as good as the route through Seoul that we had enjoyed so much a couple of years ago (and that is a high benchmark to be measured against).
Although the views were not beautiful there was always something of interest to see. A school outing descending a steep river bank with the children armed with nets and buckets. A baseball “complex” with a game and several training sessions. A rugby practice session. A picnic for either a kindergarten or a group of mums and babies all of whom travelled by bike. Glimpses of skyscrapers in the distance.
Arriving at the indicated campsite/sports ground our doubts about the feasibility of camping there were confirmed. We could see nowhere that resembled a campsite so Stephen approached a man collecting golf balls on a driving range with the laminated sign provided by our first kindnappers several weeks earlier asking “Where is the nearest campsite?” The response was an emphatic and stern looking “No” with arms forming a cross in front of his chest.
Christine scurried onto the internet (thank heavens for the wifi router we rented!) to look for a hotel. The one which we had booked for the following night (only a few km away) was full but she found another, cheaper one in Kawasaki on the other side of the river so we headed there.