Yatta yo – I did it!

I hope to inspire you to put into your mind the thoughts and the strength to live your best most authentic existence. This is your moment to live. To make the best of this time on the earth.

A beautiful quote from an inspirational lady, Dr Edith Egers , an Auschwitz survivor and author.

I hope my story encourages, motivates and provides hope to anyone who has a similar personal challenges like I’ve faced.

This trip was a challenge for me. Physically and mentally.

I’ve ridden over 30,000 cycle touring overseas since 2013. So a 1,200 km plus ride in two weeks may seem a piece of cake to some. To others, crazy 🤣

Part of this trip was to test my tenacity and resilience following open heart surgery nine months ago.

I’ve had my my chest sawn open and my heart stopped beating for a few hours. I was kept alive by a bypass machine. I was on life support for 20 hours.

Rehabilitation was tough. I had setbacks with a pleural effusion at three months.

Sharron v2.0 is ok. She did it. She’s back!

Yes I’m pumped. I’m proud of me as I know just what I’ve been through and what I have done to get my fitness back.

We have had just the most brilliant time here in Japan circumnavigating Shikoku.

The scenery has been astounding. The people we met have been the nicest, genuine, kindest, respectful, helpful people. The food has been ❣️

We averaged 87 km per day, and climbed an average of 770m each day. That’s pretty cool and I’m happy with that.

So this means one thing – stepping up for another trip starting on my one year heart anniversary, late July, a big loop four countries….but that blog is for another day.

Today we had breakfast at the home of our Air BnB hosts, Yukio Shintani and Tamiko.

All of our communication was via Google translator, and that worked fine. They were interested in our trip, route and pictures.

We had a short ride of about 6.5 km to the Tokushima ferry terminal, arriving in plenty of time. We may have scored a bonus, as I went to pay for the two bikes, and was given tickets without additional money being requested.

We had about 90 plus minutes to wait, so we cleaned our bikes using moist cloths that we’ve been given with all our sushi and sashimi purchases over the fortnight. Australia immigration require spotless bikes.

The bikes were not that grotty, as we had cleaned them twice already. Wandering around the wharf the views are typically industrial as you would expect.

A couple of guys were fishing just over the ferry terminal barrier wall. I did not see them reel in anything. The river is the Yoshino that we followed for a few days around Oboke.

The ferry arrives. It is quite interesting to watch as it comes so very close to the platform, and the outward bow thrusters work very hard to push the ferry laterally to the side wharf.

The front opens, the ramp comes down, and all the vehicles and trucks are off very quickly.

Workers quickly secure our bikes.

We sat outside on the rear deck vs being inside around everyone. It was very noisy but refreshing.

The main Japanese island of Honshu appears.

Just like that, we dock, ride 3km to our hotel and the cycling trip is Finito!

The last bit we do not enjoy. Packing the bikes up. Well I should not complain as Tony does that, and I do my best to help.

My job was to get the bags out of storage which was a pain as it was 1.30 pm and check in was 2 pm, and they’d put our bags in our room.

The receptionist wanted me to wait until 2 pm….lucky I was wearing a mask so she could not see my mouth! I negotiated their release, but needed to pay in full for the room first….of course my money was with the bikes, so down I go 11 stories.

I pay the bill, get the bags from the 4th floor over two trips returning with gear from the bike over multiple trips.

Eventually the bikes are in our room and bonus we have a deck. Tony finishes packing the bags on the deck. This is Tony’s bike.

At the local supermarket we pick up some food but no melons or mangoes. Food here is relatively cheap, but these are super expensive. The mangoes are about $23 each, and the cantaloupe $35.

I do like the presentation though. Saves people squeezing the mangoes to see if they are ripe! The golden stems look lovely too. Worth the extra $ 😳

The plan is to be at the railway station (next door) before 5 am to catch the 5.05 am train. We need to change lines to Kensai (Osaka airport) along the way.

We leave at 10 am heading to Hong Kong, where we have too much time but should be able to access the Qantas Club lounge. Sydney, Melbourne, Devonport and finally Turners Beach Saturday afternoon.

A huge thanks to all who have read and followed the Japan blog series.

I can highly recommend Shikoku as a place to visit and tour. If you do not fancy organising a trip and being self supporting, I recommend that you contact Sam at Hidden Japan Tours. Link below.


Massive thanks to my domestique, primary photographer and husband, Tony. He goes along with all my hair brained ideas, and he’s admitted this one was pretty cool! xx

This trip is dedicated my cardiac team – in particular Dr Nikhil Pal and Dr Ash Hardikar. Thankyou for your care, diagnostic and surgical skills that have given me a fighting chance of living longer. ❣️

Stay hungry, stay foolish.

Heat map of our ride….just a little section missing around Imabari when Tony’s gps had a hissy.

Day 14: Oboke to Tokushima

As I looked out our bedroom window, there were low lying clouds in the valleys above Oboke Gorge. It looked like it was going to be an absolute ripper of a day weather wise.

Today is our last full day riding, with only two short rides tomorrow as we head back to where it all began a fortnight ago.

We followed the Yoshina River north. It was a lovely ride out for 10 km, before we crossed the river and followed a higher, slightly undulating route through a series of small villages.

This is a two way road, very narrow yet it works. Drivers here are very patient with each other, and in general, drive significantly smaller vehicles.

We followed the Yoshino River for all of our 95 km today.

it was getting hot. At 10.30 am it was already 31c. When we stopped maybe 90 minutes later it was hotter again. Not sure what it topped out at but we sure were melting.

We stopped regularly buying cold liquid. It was at one of these stops that a couple rolled in with their fully loaded touring bikes, and we acknowledged each other, then realised we were all Aussies!

They are from Yackandandah in Victoria and spending 5 weeks in Japan. Lovely to meet them.

A little further along the road I met this couple and took a photo with them. They were playing golf.

Next door, there were a bunch of older folk resting.

The masked couple on the swings were not at all chatty!

After the scarecrows yesterday we were surprised to see more. I did grope the leg of the guy I was sitting next to in my photo, and he did seem solidly constructed!

We were now riding along the top of a levy, with a gusty headwind providing some relief from the heat.

Crossing another bridge, this is the view as we looked towards Tokushima down the valley. The gap between the hills is ocean. the Yoshino River empties into the ocean there.

We deviated into this riverside park as it had toilets. A nice area with lots of walks and sports ground.

More cold liquid as we were going through it very quickly. My legs were wet with sweat.

We spent many km today in heavier traffic, including the last 25 km. No room for lapses of concentration. We were pleased to arrive at our accomodation and shower!

After far too much food at breakfast and dinner the last two days we walked about 400m to Halows and grabbed some sushi and fruit for dinner.

The owner of the air BnB has offered to make us breakfast tomorrow and we have accepted.

The map below shows,where we are now in relation to Wakayama ( ferry to there as we have our bike bags stored there, plus spending tomorrow afternoon and evening there) and Osaka….our departure point back to Australia.

There will be one more blog and another piece of ‘news’ ….until then, thanks for reading and smile on 😊❣️

Day 13: Iya Valley

The Queen stage of our cycle trip, and it was a corker of a day weather wise, with a forecast of around 30c.

We headed off soon after 8 am to try and get the first climb of 5 km done in cooler air.

The Yoshino River, Oboke Gorge looked beautiful.

Below is our graph showing climbs. Mirror image as we did an out and back route. The first climb took us from 180m asl (above sea level to around 580 m asl.

Nearing the top provided nice views of the green hills and valleys.

The last one km of the climb was kamikaze tunnel. We kept climbing inside that tunnel at around 3% for 985m in length, no verge, no area to ride aside from the one lane.

The noise inside long tunnels is scary at times. Motorbikes actually make the loudest noise, followed by trucks. When they come up behind you, you just hope they’ve noted you.

On the ground there were raised reflectors, which were a bit dodgy for bikes as they were quite high and not angled well. There is occasional litter to avoid such as walking boots and hammers!

It is ALWAYS a relief to leave the kamikaze tunnels. Today we did over 7 km in tunnels. This is not included in total km data as the bike computers rely on satellites, and in a tunnel, they cannot communicate.

Safely out the other side, we started out gradual incline along the valleys of the Iya Valley. Lovely vistas.

Water flowed out here, and there were two ladles. We presumed this was safe drinking water pumped up from the Iya River.

Structured waterfalls off the roadside were not infrequent.

Iya-no-Kazirabashi (Vine Bridge), is one of Japan’s Three Strange Bridges. The Kazirabashi suspension bridge is made of local vines and is a nationally designated important Cultural Property.

Legends say that the ancient Heike residents made such bridges in order to easily cut them away if pursued by invading warriors.

Rebuilt every three years and stretching 45 m long, 2 m wide and swaying 14 m above the river below, tourists love to walk across. There was a bus load about the walk across from the left when this photo was taken. It costs 550 yen to walk across.

Tablet nearby

Close by is the 50m high Biwa waterfall.

Back on route, we commenced an 11 km climb that would take us up over 900 m asl. The gradient was ok, but the heat was starting to melt us, and we had eaten our snacks. We were rationing our water, and no shops, no vending machines,

We bonked with maybe 3 km to go and battled up the final section. The nice views helped.

Our target was Kakashi-no-Sato, otherwise know as the Scarecrow village. In the Iya valleys final village of Nagato dwells one of Japan’s curious oddities.

There are 23 residents living in the village, but over 300 life sized ‘dolls’ that work the fields, gather along the road, attend school, host weddings and gatherings.

It is a weird feeling as you feel you are being watched by ‘the eyes’.

After wandering around, we sat in the shade, and Tony changed my very stuffed brake pads. A tourist bus arrived and whilst some wandered around looking at the scarecrows, another bunch stood and watched Tony 🤣

We did enjoy our descent! I was glad I had new brake pads too!

Finally we found a very small local shop 2 km from the bottom. I perused and grabbed what I could and we sat in the shade eating and drinking and getting some energy back.

This dog was on a lead, and seemed to live at the shop. I commented on how timid the dog was. It went ape and did not stop barking until we left…call me anything, but don’t call me timid! 🤣

We had one tough climb left. 2.4 km at 9.7%…. Is tough! That’s steep. We knew it would be nasty as we descended from kamikaze tunnel. I was thankful we’d gotten some food into us as that helped get us up the blighter.

Then it was back through kamikaze tunnel, but far more enjoyable as it descended 3% for the one km.

Out the other side, and the views towards the Oboke area.

I decreased the route on the map so,you could see Tokushima, our destination tomorrow, and last full day ride this trip.

Japan continues to impress us with our experiences on Shikoku. People are so friendly and helpful. Even the guys with their red and white flags at roadworks smile, wave, bow and one today even clapped!

Climbing over 2000 metres today is huge for me, plus we rode 91 km. It is many years since I have climbed that amount, and to do that only 9 months post open heart surgery astounds me.

Thankyou for reading and the comments here and on FB fe the blog continue to motivate us.

Smile on 😊❣️

Day 12: Saijo to Oboke

We had a lovely meal and time with our new Japanese friend Toshi. he picked us up and proudly showed us his house he rents to visitors, his clubhouse, his restaurant, all part of his kingdom, that also includes an international school.

I loved this walkway between stands of massive bamboo. I have my two hands around one, and still a gap.

Toshi and Tony stand in part of the guest accomodation. There is a Japanese fire in front of them you can use.

Toshi the retired professorial pharmacology scientist is also a farmer who has around 4000 2m as a farm, using his produce in his restaurant. The man can cook up a feast and this was first course!

We were truly humbled to have met Toshi and blown away by his generosity and kindness, not to mention his wit and keen intellect.

All good things end, and we woke up this am ready to roll. It was a mixed day. The majority of the first 50 km was an extended conurbation with connected cities, busy arterial roads, mix of footpath quality, little road verge and at times ok verges

You needed to concentrate to keep yourself safe as it’s the last place to make a mistake inches from a heavy truck. Uneven surfaces, potholes, rubbish, sudden curb drops and barriers all pose risks.

We stopped numerous times, initially Tony wanting a very small headed screwdriver to remove the back from his heart monitor. Finally we found a Bunnings like hardware store.

I waited…..the mountains around were claggy.

Food and many other items seem cheap in Japan. Here is a very practical example. If you want one of these ‘thingies’ it will set you back $4 aud.

There were Australian native plants for sale. These large potted wattles are $10. You would pay $40 plus at home for a plant this size.

By now Tony emerged from the depths of the store, screwdriver having been obtained. He changed his battery and off we went.

We had a few gradual climbs on the busier roads, and the weather was getting warm and muggy.

We were relieved to reach Miyoshi city, indicating we needed to turn right towards Oboke. We were following the Yoshina River.

The Yoshina River is the largest river in Shikoku stretching for 194 km. It’s basin takes up almost 20 percent of the island of Shikoku.

The river is also regarded as the wildest river in Japan attracting rafters globally including hosting the World Championships in 2017 in both Oboke and Koboke,Gorges.

This is a bridge to nowhere. It just crossed the river, but that was it!

This bridge had a purpose. It’s a rail bridge. The rail line runs through the valley, with a station not far from Oboke.

After checking in, storing the bikes, showering and laundering, we went exploring. Up the road we sound a white water rafting centre alongside this monument.

We found a shrine.

We found a graveyard of motorbikes, some stacked side by side, others stacked laterally.

A cute sign, but not sure what the 74.2 means.

Tony was keen to get down to the water. We did find a series of very steep steps that appear to not be used very often. my knee did creak.

I’m lagging behind in the descent.

Returning back up the steps, we discovered this adventure playground for adrenaline junkies. There are some seriously freaky challenges here, and I said BUCKET! (Zwift friends will understand🙈🤣).

A pretty garden, not sure if it was a commercial business or home.

The bear and I.

Back to the accomodation. can you pick our room?

Dinner was 7 pm. A set 13 course menu to be eaten in order. There were a lot of bowls and dishes in front of us as we figured out what to tackle next. We had two hot pots cooking, and the rings indicate items to be brought from the kitchen.

We waddled to our room. We might need all that tucker as tomorrow is the Queens stage of this tour. For non cycling readers, this means the day with the most climbing, highest altitude.

That will be a true test for me, but we have all day and the weather looks good. There should, be some good photos tomorrow.

Tony is ready for bed….he is modelling the provided gowns. Many people wore these to dinner tonight.

Thanks for reading. Another day, another adventure, another 80 km done and dusted. Smile on 😊❣️

Day 11: Imabari to Saijo via the hinterland

The rain had stopped. It was overcast and coolish, but the forecast looked ok.

We had a filling breakfast at the hotel. Our ride as today was not a long ride (68 km). It was the second consecutive shorter ride before our three final tougher days.

The northern section of Shikoku is quite populated and we could have had a much shorter ride to Saijo if we’d proceeded directly. Saijo was lining us up to head into Oboke Gorge tomorrow.

So to make more of the day we headed inland towards Matsuyama, up in the hills. the Towel Museum had a very striking billboard.

The clouds were hanging low over the surrounding mountains.

All around Shikoku roads, there have been signs like this one. Whilst this sign mentions an onsen, others might have a major JR (Japan Rail) station, or indicate a particular cycling route.

We started climbing. The first climb was about 5.5 km long, with 185 m ascent. It was a comfortable climb along a very green valley.

Plenty of rice fields and other crops.

The road was narrow, but there was minimal traffic being Sunday.

The top of the climb did not have a view due to the dense vegetation. As we descended we could see settlements.

Only 1 km into our second climb this large building appeared.

This is the famous Towel Museum. This region of Shikoku is Japan’s capital for towel manufacturing with in excess of 200 towel manufacturers.

We visited the cafe and shop, buying three small items to take home to my grandchildren. I am sure they would all prefer these giraffes though!

Back on the road we finished the climb and again descended. In places it looked like it was raining higher up in the mountains and hills.

We took a wrong turn and found this red crane.

Saijo is decent sized city of around 105,000 and we headed into the city around the water front where there are a series of small canals, with small homes and agricultural activities adjacent.

It was about 1.30 pm and we’d not eaten since breakfast. We found our favourite supermarket, Halows.

Today we took turns to go in and choose some food to eat. This was my choice. It was very nice, and cost about $11. Very cheap.

Our accomodation was a bit out of the city and we headed off turning left to follow this river.

Our Hammerhead computer map insisted we were at our destination, but none of the houses seemed to look like the one I’d booked. I walked up one driveway, but nope, not that one.

A vehicle pulled up and a man jumped out. I presumed he was from our accomodation, but no, he was a neighbour and had seen me wander up the driveway.

He walked us up the next driveway, we were only one house away!

It’s a great house, that we have to ourself. We have washed our clothes and it’s out drying.

Rear view of the house
Rear garden

This is Toshi, our knight in shining armour. He asked for a photo so we took one of him too. He’s a fascinating chap, speaking English amazingly well.

Transpires he is a retired University Professor, specialising in pharmacology and cancer interactions. Guess where we are having dinner tonight? Toshi’s! He is picking us up at 6-ish!

A random meeting but we are blown away that he would invite two strangers to his home.

So what was a fill in day, has become another highlight, just like that. This is one of the beautiful aspects of cycle touring. People are curious about what you are doing, and always supportive.

Toshi quoted Steve Jobs, Stay hungry, stay foolish. It is an interesting quote, and pertinent. Never be satisfied, push yourself (stay hungry). Keep trying things people say cannot be done (stay foolish).

I think we’re in for an interesting evening.

Thanks for reading, smile on 😊❣️

Day 7 : Doteuchi to Furado

Brilliant day today. Superb. One photo summary!

The weather was warm and sunny. The wind left us alone most of the time. The views were beyond our expectations. The infrastructure amazing. We’re a bit sunburned. 92 very enjoyable km.

We predominantly followed the coastline today. The body of water on the map is the Seto Inland Sea, and it separates three of Japan’s main islands (Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushi). It serves as a waterway connecting the Pacific Ocean to the Sea of Japan, and contains over 3,000 islands.

Leaving our accomodation by 8 am we stopped to pull the camera out countless times. Let’s get started!

First stop just up the road was a breakwater with paved top and lovely views.

The scenery to our left as we headed towards Imabari.

We liked the ‘eyes’ on this boat.

Shrines are very common. We must have passed at least 50 or so today.

Just beautiful.

Having time to ‘kill’ today we took a few detours, including this one to Kamoike Beach. A really cute bay and inviting to swim.

The jut of land to the left is Cape Kajitori and we headed out there winging it. We certainly did not see any wildlife depicted on the board.

Shimanami kaido fast approached. What is the Shimanami kaido you ask?

it is a 70 km cycling road between Onomichi (Honshu) and Imabari (Shikoku).

It attracts cyclists globally to Japan due to its uniqueness. The cycle highway connects six islands Seto Sea via seven bridges.

I first learned of the route from this book.

In planning this trip it was determining what we could ride in addition to the 70 km. That’s when I discovered an official around Shikoku route and the mapping started to incorporate both.

Heading from the south, the first bridge is the most impressive. The Kurushima-Kaiyo bridge, which is 4 km long, opened in 1999. the worlds first three continuous suspension bridge. It crosses Kunshima Strait.

The cyclists circle up a ramp multiple times to gain the required height to access the bridge.

Here we’ve started the climb but are underneath it still. You can see a few spans.

Once on the bridge, this is the cyclists path.

Tony took a video for part of the first crossing.

Spectacular views to the left.

Clear signage.

Exiting the first bridge.

On the descent looking back towards Imabari.

My GPS data showing how the path descended.

Walkers can also use the pathway!

We wandered around the first island descent, with plans to do a small loop but an elderly man in his garden indicated a big NO as we went past his house, so we turned and headed back in search of food.

We found a place but it was mainly deep fried and neither needed or desired that. We would look for a Lawsons!

This more distant view of the first bridge gives you a bit more perspective of its length.

Tony found himself a comfy seat, reminding me of those baby seats.

Making our way to the second bridge more nice beaches.

The second bridge is Hakata-oshima an was built in 1988. It was the first bridge with box girder structure adopted!

More sea views! We rode around this island and climbed a hill and found a lovely rest spot, providing wonderful views to chill for a while. We were still well ahead of schedule time wise, and check in was not until 4 pm.

Tony’s bike looking snazzy.

As mentioned earlier, the signage is excellent. An example below for the next bridge crossing. On the road, there is a solid blue line painted next to the solid white line, indicating a cycle route.

We will cross this bridge tomorrow. We are staying on the island of Omishima tonight and tomorrow will cross to do a loop to Ominichi and return.

Shimanami kaido will rate in our top ten best ever rides. I can see a blog one day with my top five or ten.

I found it hard writing tonight as I was overwhelmed with so many scenic pictures. This region of Japan just keeps giving. 😊❣️

Thanks for reading and smile on 😊

Day 1: Wakayama to Shishikui

We woke up super early today as we needed to board the 5.30 am ferry from Wakayama to Tokushima on the island of Shikoku.

Here is my side of the bed, and that is my bike. I do love my bike, but I’ve never slept quite that close to it before. 🤣

It was only a short 3.5 km ride to the ferry. I needed to buy bike tickets (I’d purchased ours online but the bikes I needed to do at the port).

We were directed to Lane 4, alongside the motorbikes and a semi trailer in Lane 5.

That’s me, waiting patiently. The little backpack has 3 bananas and a bun to share for breakfast.
The ferry at the end of the building.
Tony’s bike. The crew strapped it and placed wheel chocks.

The ferry is a decent size and the vehicle deck was about 3/4 full on the first crossing of the day. On board we sat in an area with tables and vending machines selling a huge range of drinks and snacks.

That is how our coffee came today, in a can. My caffeine connoisseur would be barista son in law Rory would be super unimpressed.

The sun was poking its head through as we left the port of Wakayama.

A few hours later we approached the island of Shikoku and the port of Tokushima. The crossing was very smooth with hardly a ripple.

Docked and we rolled off, following a criss cross of residential lanes to keep us off the main roads, but eventually they came. Hard to avoid in big cities.

We watched these young lads setting up for their baseball. Very flat and pristine pitches. Wonder how they keep the weeds out?

Flying into Osaka yesterday, we flew over Shikoku and was very curious about greyish looking wet areas. We now know what we were looking at.

In France it is wheat field after wheat field to support their habit of eating bread. In Japan, replace the wheat with rice fields. They are everywhere, jammed between homes, anywhere that is flat.

There is an intricate drainage system in place, with turtles galore. I did wonder how they keep the turtles out of the rice fields as I imagine the turtles would be a pest there.

The rice fields are just being planted out, and it is fascinating to watch. There are tractors that automatically plant the young crops.

Another thing that intrigues me are the number of cemeteries on hills. Shikoku is hilly so maybe there are not a lot of options given flat land seems to be taken by the rice fields.

For a period of time we followed this lovely river, the Naka.

Most villages have a shrine at their entrance.

Our bike computer told us we had 15 climbs today. There were a few three km climbs, but all were quite comfortable gradients.

Many were through heavily wooded areas above rivers, and the various shades of green were lovely.

We noticed a number of walkers doing the Shikoku Pilgrimage, where they walk (or cycle) to 88 temples. The standard walking route is 1200 km can take 30-60 days to complete. The white shirt, hat, staff is part of the standard attire.

Our route seemed to bypass food options so we were delighted to come across Noah’s Ark! Not sure of the name of this restaurant but I recognised it from a v-blog I watched by two Malaysian cyclists who stopped here.

After removing our shoes we were seated at a table that is low to the ground but has a generous footwell below it. Green tea appeared.

We ordered slightly different meals, as included some sashimi with mine. It was super delicious and all up very reasonably priced at 2900 yen ( about $35 aud).

I do find paying cash in foreign currency difficult without glasses to read the numbers….the magnifying glasses are on whilst I sort the yen out 🤣

My back was being quite tweaky after lunch so we stopped here so I could stretch it, surrounded by vending machines. They are every where .

We hit the coast around the Muroto Anankaigan National Park. Very picturesque.

These man made cement blocks are interesting, used to stop erosion. Reminded me of knuckles, the game that was played when I was younger…just a few years ago, but a giants version.😊

We are now in Shishikui, a coastal village. The washing is out drying, of course! A lovely view from our room. Dinner we lashed out at the Seven 11….I had a bag of salad and some pickled squid. Tony had a few nori rolls.

Breakfast is at 7 am. We will be there on the dot.

Today was a solid day of just over 100 km. It was about 50% footpaths of various construct and quality, 25% road, balance agricultural dirt and sealed tracks and residential lanes.

This is the longest day I’ve done on the bike since open heart surgery 9 months ago too. So thankful I have the opportunity to do these adventures. It will take my body a few days to adjust and adapt.

Trains, planes and….bikes

It has been a long two days, leaving Devonport 5 pm Monday, arriving in Japan 6.30 am Wednesday. We overnighted in Melbourne, had an early flight to Sydney with 90 minutes between landing and the international flight departing to Hong Kong.

We did see our bike bags in Sydney as we transferred by bus to the international terminal, by ours chance. We were pretty pleased as all that luggage had international connection tags.

We had an agonising 8 hour wait in Hong Kong leaving there at 2 am! We arrived in Osaka at 6.30 am this morning.

After showing our QR codes to immigration and customs, scanning our passports three times, finger printing and photos taken I join the queue to obtain a rail ticket.

It’s a long and slow queue and I’m tired. I get to the front to be told I’m in the wrong queue…..aaaagh. Fortunately no one was in the other queue a bit further up the way.

Two trains and we arrive in Wakayama at our hotel and it’s only 9 am, checkin is at 3 pm. For an extra 8800 yen (about 100 aud) we get to our room early (after eating tomorrows breakfast today, as they would not refund but would allow pre eating!)

Kensai airport is on the little island off Osaka (to the left of the O in Osaka on the map). We then travelled to Wakayama by train, and tomorrow Tokushima on the island of Shikoku by ferry.

We immediately hit the sack and slept for a bit over 2.5 hours feeling somewhat less tired than earlier.

Then it was down to business putting the bikes together. Tony does a great job and today had very little wriggle room.

Tony is wearing the pj’s issued by the hotel. Curiously I have noted people wandering around the hotel in them.

My job is to do the washing, cleaning what we wore on the plane, and hanging it up to dry. Hence why Tony is wearing the pjs.

You can see Wakayama Castle in the background.

Having noted Wakayama Castle from our window, once we were all sorted and showered, we headed off for a walk towards the castle.

We entered via this gate

Beautiful gardens surround the castle.

Our first animal sighted in Japan is….a turtle.

There is also a turtle basking in the sun on the small solo rock.

At the bridge entrance we were required to remove footwear.

The timber may look smooth, but in fact they are overlaid planks that hurt hurt feet longer than the plank width. So tip toeing easier.

The castle was built in the late 1500s as has been reconstructed a few times due to destruction. The last rebuild was more recent, with the castle razed during WWII.

Tony finds cats hidden away including this dozing feline.

We departed by the rear gate where equine activities used to take place.

We found our dinner at a supermarket in the railway station, adjacent to our hotel. Very yummy and reasonably priced. The sushi cost around $15 aud. The strawberries were sweet and succulent.

We also purchased some snacks to carry in the bikes. Needless to say, these are mine. Two of those packets Tony will have zero interest in. He has his own supply, the high sugar type.

I do love wandering around food shops in other countries to see what is on offer.

Years ago we acquired a reputation from our friend Helen, whom we met doing LeJog and then a French north to south ride. She told us she knew the Yaxleys had arrived (in Dover) by the windows.

We actually got into trouble at Cheddar (England) as the owner did not appreciate the ‘look’. 🤣

I often think of Helen and did today as we headed back to the hotel and saw this…..

Check the windows a few floors from the top
Close up

Tomorrow we are booked on the 5.30 am ferry. We need to be there just after 5 am and ride there, so we will be up early.

We are going to hand over our luggage being stored here for a fortnight, then hit the sack.

The adventure starts tomorrow, stay tuned. 😊❣️