I was woken by the sound of Mr Assistant Wisteria's hacking, phlegm-filled smoker's cough, which was followed closely by the smell of his first cigarette of the day.
'When I was a salesman,' he said. 'I would get up at 6.30 every morning, but now that I'm self-employed I sleep in for an hour. I always watch Renzoku-terebi-shohsetsu (連続テレビ小説 - the NHK daily soap opera) at 8.15. It's part of my routine.'
In the episode that we watched together, a young girl with ambitions of becoming a dancer was being reassured by her older sister that she was, if only she could believe in herself a little more, destined to realise her dream.
'Obviously she'll succeed in the end,' said Mr Assistant Wisteria. 'Then they'll move on to a different part of the country - the location and the characters change every few months.'
Mr Assistant Wisteria gave the Transeo 4.0 GT 7005 City Cross Design a service before I left, and as he did so noticed the sign I had attached to one of the panniers.
'Sounding your horn at cyclists and pedestrians,' said Mr Assistant Wisteria, 'is NG - it's not considered to be very good manners.'
After removing the sign I cycled off through Sapporo city centre, where quite by chance I happened upon Seicomart HQ, a modest high-rise block in the Chuo district.
Founded in 1971, Seicomart (seikoh / 成功 means 'success') is the oldest chain of convenience stores in Japan, although unlike the more familiar 7-11, Lawson, Family Mart and so on, and apart from a handful of branches in Saitama and Ibaraki Prefectures, it has yet to expand into a nationwide concern. Almost all of the cyclists I met over the summer had Seicomart club cards, and with over a thousand stores in Hokkaido (that's one for every 5,500 people), the company inspires a great deal of loyalty among its residents, and regularly tops ratings for customer satisfaction.
From the start, Seicomart specialised in taking over pre-existing, independently run off-licences (that's liquor stores for my American friends), and has maintained its connections with alcohol producers around the world, meaning that, among other things, it tends to stock cheaper, better quality wine than its competitors.
Seicomart also has an advertising jingle that, after calling in at a branch pretty much every day for five weeks, is even now etched into my subconscious.
In the days before gas boilers and domestic plumbing, any household that didn't happen to be located next to a natural hot spring was obliged to use a goémon-buro, or at least a variation thereof. It is named after a thief called Goémon Ishikawa, who was sentenced to be boiled to death in one in the late sixteenth century, and Ishikawa was apparently not the only criminal to receive such a punishment.
'Sometimes,' said a fellow guest as he was stoking the fire, 'the goémon-buro was filled with boiling oil instead of boiling water.'
Its most important feature, therefore, is a wooden disc that looks like the lid on an old-style okama (お釜 / rice cooking pot), and on which the bather sits so that - and I quote - 'you don't fry your bollocks' on the bottom.
'Now the price of gasoline is so high,' he said, 'a lot of my friends are switching from cars to bikes.'
When I mentioned today's closed campsite, Mr Cub told me that he had come across a couple of bears during his travels.
'The first time I was hiking and found one fast asleep in the middle of the path', he said. 'I managed to tiptoe past without waking it up, but the second time I was with a friend of mine and the bear was wide awake. As soon as we saw it we ran away as fast as we could.'
'But I thought that was the wrong thing to do?'
'I wasn't too scared because we had some bear spray with us. We'd tried it out beforehand at the zoo and it seemed to work, although one thing you've got to make sure of with bear spray is that you're upwind of the bear when you use it.'
The focus at the Auto House was very much on bikes, barbecues and booze, and on the wall of the main dormitory was a montage of graffiti and old photographs, of, among other things, blow-up dolls, bikers flashing their arses (the slang term for this in Japanese is, you may be interested to know, mangetsu - 満月 / full moon) and women flashing their, er, assets.
Mr Cub and I were joined in conversation by a motorcyclist from Osaka, and it soon became clear why the Auto House was so popular, and so much more blokey than the other rider houses I had stayed in.
'There's a street in Sapporo called H Street,' said Mr Osaka (H - short for hentai / 変態, which means 'pervert' - is a slang term for sex). 'It's renowned as the best and the cheapest place to get laid in Japan. A lot of the girls there are Japanese, which is unusual, and they're pretty cute, too.'
'You should try it,' said Mr Cub, 'seeing as you're here.'
'But I'm a newlywed!' I said.
'Fair enough,' said Mr Osaka. 'Although you should still go there one day. It only costs about ten thousand yen for an hour and a half, you know.'
Mr Osaka told us all sorts of stories during the course of the evening, to the extent that I couldn't work out if he was married, divorced or single, had children, a mistress or a younger girlfriend, or perhaps all of the above. At about 11pm, his face still bright red from drinking shohchu, he wandered off into the dark, and at first I assumed he had gone for a pee. A couple of minutes later, though, we heard the sound of his Harley firing up and being ridden off into the night, no doubt in the direction of H Street.