39 Foot Bridges in Japan

•June 2, 2023 • Leave a Comment

Images of Japan: Sapporo, Hokkaido – the end of this trip

•May 25, 2023 • Leave a Comment

Tadao Ando’s Big Buddha at the Takino Cemetery

Images of Japan – Part 4 – Awaji Island & Hokkaido

•May 22, 2023 • Leave a Comment

If there was ever proof that our oceans are a swirling cesspool of plastic waste, this is it. The day before this beach was spotless. The next morning: this. We asked the cleanup crew if this happens every day, it doesn’t. But last night the sea was rough and it was windy.

ABOVE: A very cool meditation center

BELOW: A strawberry greenhouse where you can pick strawberries and eat them picnic-style under the vines. Way over-priced. Milking it for more than it was worth. Best part was the photo opportunity.

Noboribetsu, Hokkaido

Otaru, Hokkaido

Images of Japan- Part Three

•May 13, 2023 • Leave a Comment

The bridge over the Naruto Straight linking Awaji Island to Honshu.

There is a pedestrian walkway under the bridge with clear panels in the floor to see the whirlpools and rapids 150 feet below.

Some random images…

These high school age kids were on a field trip to the Earthquake Memorial we visited. All wearing the ubiquitous black and white uniforms, all with jet-black hair, most all about the same height, most wearing masks…

I pulled our rental car into this parking garage. When I got out of the car, I looked up, and…

…this is what I saw above me. A Matrix-esque scene of stacked cars in this creepy automated parking garage.

Seaside along the Western coast of Awaji Island

The Honpukuji Water Temple, a Tadao Ando building.

You approach the temple by first seeing the Ando signature concrete walls (first 2 photos). Then you walk down underneath the shallow pools.

Then, below ground, you come to the temple

The Awaji Yumebutai

Next, another Ando project, the Awaji Yumebutai. The size and scope of this is hard to explain, and even harder to photograph. The Wikipedia page link below will explain.

Images of Japan- Part 2

•May 10, 2023 • Leave a Comment

Tottori Sand Dunes

Shimane Art Museum, Matsue

Two nights in a temple at the base of Mt Daisen. In the woods.

Matsuyama castle

Images of Japan – Part 1

•May 3, 2023 • Leave a Comment

Japan Foot Bridges – Part One

•May 1, 2023 • Leave a Comment

These are some of the foot bridges I’ve seen. (Some have already been posted)


•April 29, 2023 • Leave a Comment

No discussion of traveling in Japan is complete without mentioning toilets. Even a train station can have an expensive Toto toilet, and there’s always a bidet. Very civilized.

Sometimes even an ordinary experience like stopping for coffee to get out of the rain can have a certain amount of simple elegance.

Then there’s the whole Bike thing…..

The bike comes to Japan in this case, which is the maximum size for a standard checked piece of luggage.

Then, of course, it turns into this….

And sometimes it looks like this on a small commuter train…in the required bag. Speaking of the bag: to go on a train the bike must be in a bag. But most bike bags are big, bulky, and heavy. So, I made my own. I needed a material that was strong, lightweight, and that compressed into a small package, so I bought some parachute material and fabricated my own bag. It may not be pretty, but that wasn’t one of the criteria.

And then, in my last cycling hotel, it goes back into the case, and then I have a celebratory sake.

Continue reading ‘Stuff’


•April 27, 2023 • Leave a Comment

Katsuura bills itself as the capital of maguro (tuna), and well, this claim may be true. The shashimi I’ve had has been amazing. This small port town has either fish stores, fish restaurants, fishing boats, or a seemingly endless number of sake shops.

Ride 11: Kawayu Onsen to Katsuura (the coast)

•April 25, 2023 • Leave a Comment

This was a hard day on the bike: 44 miles and 5,900’ of gain. 5-7% grade on a touring bike I can handle just fine. But when the grade gets up to 18%, we’ll, it’s absolutely brutal. There was a lot of the former, and way too much of the latter. However, I had an astounding downhill.

Then I ended up in Katsuura, on the coast, for a rest day. I walked a short part of the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trail and went to Nachi Falls.

Nachi Falls is the highest waterfall in Japan. There is a (virtual, of sorts) “shrine” at the base in the 3rd image.

Ride 10: Ryujin Onsen to Kawayu Onsen

•April 22, 2023 • 4 Comments

48 miles and 5,800’ of gain…And then there was this….

You don’t need to read Japanese to understand. It was time for a reroute!
Guard rail? Who needs a guard rail? And this drop off was not the deepest I saw without any barriers.
A really big Torii Gate.

I was on my very last sip of water, and then, around the next turn, in the middle of nowhere, was a vending machine. They are everywhere.
A large concrete wall.
Tea fields

Rides 7,8,9

•April 21, 2023 • 1 Comment

And I thought Shikoku has steep hill climbs with deep, practically vertical valleys. Well, the Kii Peninsula, southern Wakayama Prefecture, has plenty.

The first ride went south from the city of Wakayama through Yuasa, home of Soy Sauce (I went through the small soy sauce museum) to a rural location where I stayed at a guest house. It was a converted fruit storage building. Nice renovation.

Then, it was a grueling climb up to Koyasan. The third day riding the Kii Peninsula was another big climbing day to Ryujin Onsen.

These last 3 rides were not huge in miles: only 111. But the total elevation gain was right at 15,000’. Pulling those damn panniers up the hills, was, well, a bit tiring.

Rides 4,5,6: sun, rain, hills, remote mountain roads

•April 17, 2023 • 2 Comments

The weather forecast has been accurate. It was supposed to rain all day riding out of the Iya Valley, and it did. A winding road through the beautiful steep canyon was even enjoyable in the light rain.

Apparently, it’s here to represent the children of the past that used to climb on this cliff and pee off the edge to show their bravado.  Why they’re using the Brussels manikin pee for this without making a reference to Brussel is beyond me.
Apparently, the “Peeing Boy” (as they call it) represent the children of the past that used to climb on this cliff and pee off the edge to show their bravado. Of course, they are using the Brussels manikin pee for this, but there’s no reference.

Temple #12 of the Shikoku Pilgrimage. (henro)

Out my hotel room window. Lots of wisteria in this small town.

I took the ferry from Tokushima to Wakayama. They always take great care with bicycles.

First few rides

•April 14, 2023 • Leave a Comment

It rains often in Japan. Shikoku is covered with steep mountains, and it’s really remote. And I missed the food. I know why this island is one of my favorite cycling destinations in Japan (though, I would prefer less rain).

The first day was short, Maragume to Kotohira, intended to make sure all was well with the bike, get used to the new navigation tools and the new electronic, wireless shifting. It rained off and on all day. Glad it was short.

The second day, Kotohira to Sadamitsu wasn’t too long but had some climbing. The downhill was a bit much: in 4.8 miles I dropped 2500’. Some of the grades exceeded 25%.

After my ride I walked up 1,379 stone steps to a series of temples. I counted them on the way down. The photo of the monk hitting the big drum was on the way down.

Day three was only 40 miles, Sadamitsu to Iya Valley, but I had to ride my touring bike with panniers up 5200’. Most of that gain was one 17 mile climb. The first 11 miles had only 1100’. But the last 6 had 2800’.

It’s supposed to rain solid all day tomorrow. Oh boy.

Back to Japan!

•April 10, 2023 • 3 Comments

This trip starts today with my first bike tour here since Japan closed its doors. While I’m doing that, Alison will be visiting friends, staying at a Zendo, and renting a house in Kyoto for a week. I’ll be doing a “Hills and Hot Springs” cycling trip.

First, I ride on Shikoku for 5 days doing 200 miles with 20,000′ of gain. Then I take the ferry from Tokushima to Wakayama, and on the Kii Peninsula I ride 8 days, doing 320 miles and 42,000′ of gain.

After that, I meet up with Alison and we we do a few road trips, spending 4 weeks traveling around Shikoku, Western Honshu, and Hokkaido.

Here’s the bike route:

But First…

•April 10, 2023 • Leave a Comment

We spent 3 days in Tokyo before going our separate ways. Did some shopping, visited the Tokyo Photography Museum, wandered around, soaked in the hotel’s spa (Yu, ゆ).

Taos Pueblo

•September 9, 2022 • 3 Comments

The Pueblo has been inhabited for almost 1,000 years. Currently there are about 1,200 people living there.


•May 30, 2022 • Leave a Comment

On a drive south of Lecce, we saw thousands of olive trees that have been hit by a bacteria that chokes the trees to death. It reached southern Italy in 2013, and since then, it has killed one-third of the 60 million olive trees of Puglia.

The Mediterranean was an amazing color. That’s Alison in a olive press cave.

Campania & Basilicata Italy

•May 20, 2022 • Leave a Comment

Rome 2022

•May 20, 2022 • Leave a Comment

Cycling Andalucia 2022

•May 16, 2022 • 4 Comments

Santillana Del Mar

•April 23, 2022 • Leave a Comment

A stormy sea, a medieval village with LOTS of stone, and an early Antoni Gaudi designed residence.

Spain 2022

•April 21, 2022 • 4 Comments

This trip starts in Bilbao. (Click on an image to launch a slideshow)

Road Cycling Paradise: The Spanish Alpujarra Region

•October 5, 2021 • 1 Comment

El Alpujarra is the southern portion of the Sierra Nevada. The cycling here is about as good as it gets: fantastic roads, great climbs, amazingly courteous drivers, and beautiful scenery.

One ride in El Alpujarra
The Climb up to the village of Cañar
Lots of places to fill up a water bottle
A tool station pretty much in the middle of nowhere

A Pandemic Sunday in a Catholic Country

•October 3, 2021 • 1 Comment

Antequera, Spain

Cycling Andalusia and Mallorca

•September 29, 2019 • 2 Comments

Cycled a month in Andalusia using Montejaque as my base. The riding there is fantastic. Some photos are below.I also did 3 days of riding on Mallorca, and pretty much hit the highlights Northwest of the Ma-13, covering 185 miles with 19,000’.

On the plus side, Mallorca cycling certainly scores high on my three main criteria for day-trip rides. Roads: mostly perfect and a joy to ride on. Terrain: Loved the climbs and descents, couldn’t ask for a better cycling topography. Scenery: nothing short of spectacular. I have never in my life seen so many recreational cyclists (not counting the likes of commuters in Northern European cities, or Japan). It was truly amazing, which leads me to the not-so-plus-side.

Many places in the world, especially Europe are suffering from “over tourism”. Think, Amsterdam, Rome, Venice, Barcelona and a whole bunch more. In my opinion Mallorca has hit that for cyclists. I never thought I would say this, but I think there are far too may cyclists there. Add the staggering numbers of bikes – and lets face it, when you get those kind of numbers, you’re bound to have a lot or riders who don’t have a ton of experience with that type of cycling – to the endless stream of cars, trucks, and busses, and you get a situation that is less than idillic, and frankly, dangerous at times.

I left Selva pretty early for the climb up to the summit then to drop down to Sa Calobra, and on that initial climb I was alone, and it was wonderful. I was also alone on my descent into Sa Calobra so I could fly down the hill. At the bottom, zero tourists, no cyclists as it was still pretty early. However, on my ascent, as I got past the halfway mark, a phalanx of busses, cars, and a growing wave of cyclists were coming down. As the busses can’t make the turns around the switchbacks very effectively, it requires full attention to keep from getting squashed against the guardrail. Not exactly a peaceful ascent, though, as I was still pretty early, there were sections of serenity that I relished.

The ride to Cap Formentor was also pretty early, but once again, not early enough. There were literally thousands of cyclists, endless cars, and on my return, buses coming up as I got near Port de Pollenca on the final descent. 

Would I go back? Maybe, but only if it was convenient, say I was going there to sail, but I would do the rides leaving at Civil Twilight, and made sure I was finished well before noon. I like cycling in Andalucia better, plus there’s more to do here when you’ve finished riding.

the small street our rental house was on. There was a 24 hour run/ride that came down our little lane

Images from Andalucia

Images from Mallorca

A few images from our stay at the Zendo, Horakuan in Nagano, Japan

•October 3, 2018 • 3 Comments

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Zendo rides: These roads are crazy steep!

•September 23, 2018 • Leave a Comment
Alison and I are at a Zendo/Zen Temple for a week.  It’s in a remote location in the mountains near Nagano, an area known as the “Japan Alps”. Most days I’m doing a loop or out & back ride.
                                All the mountain roads have mirrors at the switchbacks

The roads are small and insanely steep.  My first ride was an out & back up the road near the Zen-do to where the pavement ended.
                          A rare sight: young people harvesting rice.

In the first two miles I gained 1100 feet. I was out of the saddle with everything I had and my speed was about 2-3 mph. Just nuts. At the turnaround point I rode 7.8 miles and gained 3100’. About the same gain to Santa Fe Ski, only in half the distance!
Its almost impossible to accurately capture a road grade in a photo.
One other climb was about 2 hours with grades consistently between 9 and 19%. The total ride was 5,000 ft of gain, going up for only 11 miles. At one point my GPS said 30%, which I’m not convinced is true, but the grade was like nothing I’ve ever cycled.  It was all I could do to keep moving forward.

Oh, and the best part: the road was beautiful pavement, small, went on another 6 miles past my turnaround point, and I saw 2 cars. The downhill was blazing fast.

Day 3 & 4: lots of hills but no rain

•September 13, 2018 • Leave a Comment
Day 3 was a transition day, part train ride and part bike ride fron Agemetsu, around Mt Daigamine, to a small Onsen in Kiso.   I needed to take the train to get me from Kansai up further north, which was too far to ride given the time I have.  I avoided (most) of the rain and did a short 20 miles, but had over 2600’ of gain. A lot of up for such a short ride. 
Day 4, riding ftom Kiso to Kumamoto via the Mmidono Dam lakes, gave me the longest climb so far, about 2.5 hours of 7 to 13%. Nice downhill!  Plus, a twisty climb to ride over, and avoid, a crazy long tunnel. 
I stayed in a typical Ryokan, in a remote wooded region, with a very nice inside and outside onsen. As I was taking off my cycling shoes (outside of course), the woman working the front desk rushed out, took my shoes, stuffed them with paper (they were a tiny bit wet), and propped them against the wall. I’ve had this happen before, I guess it’s a thing at these old mountain ryokans. Around 
The rice will ready to harvest very soon. 
Nice roads going through small towns. 
A typhoon problem.  Sometimes “no” means “maybe” but in this case I think this NO really meant no.  
So it was time for a reroute. 
As i crested this hill dozens of monkeys ran out of the bushes crossing the road and doing a high-speed tightrope walk on the electrical line. By the time i got my phone (most accessible), they were gone except for the two furry blobs i circle



Nibari to Matsusaka: Lots of nice small roads, plus a few Typhoon diversions

•September 11, 2018 • 2 Comments

After yesterday it was great to have a mostly sunny day on the bike.  I normally pick small roads when touring in Japan. But some of today’s roads were really small.  And a few of the diversions required a bit of effort to get around, and one road was completely  blocked off requiring a total reroute.  The ride ended up being 50 miles.  

I have three navigation systems running, 1) a Garmin Edge 1030, 2) a Wahoo Element Bolt, and 3) the RWGPS app running on my phone.  The Garmin gives me a great map and turn-by-turn directions, the Wahoo gives me instant syncing with my RWGPS website route and custom cues, and the RWGPS app on my phone gives me audio cue prompts.  And all three give me vastly different elevation gains for long, hilly rides that have lots of up and downs. Garmin said i climbed 6200’ today.  Wahoo said 3950, and RWGPS said 4250.  

It felt closer to Garmin, but not 6200’.  Maybe 5200, but its hard to tell.  Obviously.  

This road was a bit of a mess but was very rideable.

This required the removal of all bags so I could climb over the trees carrying my bike.

And yet another one to climb over


Then I saw these signs. Yea, “Therapy Road”. It was therapeutic all right.

And more stuffed characters.

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