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Category: Japan cycling

Book!

Book!

I have two very important things to share with you. First, some of my writing appears in the above anthology, which is available now on Amazon and published by the very nice people at Camphor Press. Second — and of far greater importance — after years of writing/typing under the pen/keyboard name of Muzuhashi, I can reveal for the first time on these pages that my real name is Tom Gibb. Just to set the record straight, I am not,…

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My Journey to Work

My Journey to Work

A few years ago a good friend of mine asked me to contribute to a Facebook project she had devised called My Journey to Work. At the time I commuted by bicycle every weekday, rain or shine, and as it happened, was in the middle of a stint at the furthest of the five schools at which I work (at the moment I am commuting to the closest, which is within walking distance). The journey of eleven kilometres took around…

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Mount Yamizo 八溝山

Mount Yamizo 八溝山

A couple of weeks ago I had a moment of enlightenment, or satori (悟り), as they say in Japanese. At the time I was sitting on a mossy rock, next to a pool of water, in a forest, on a mountaintop, on a cold, damp night, in the pitch dark, and with a plastic bottle in my hand. If you’re wondering how such an unlikely set of circumstances led to a transcendental experience, allow me to explain. Ask most of…

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The roads to Sado – Day 1

The roads to Sado – Day 1

When you go on a cycle tour, your shoes are the weakest link. I realised this while making my way around Hokkaido three years ago, where the weather was, to say the least, changeable. If a t-shirt or a pair of shorts get wet, you can hang them up and they’ll be dry by the next morning, but if it’s a pair of shoes, you’ll be stuck with damp feet for the next couple of days, and quite possibly a…

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The roads to Sado – Day 2

The roads to Sado – Day 2

Partly because it was my first time under canvas for three years, and partly because it was raining all night, I didn’t get much sleep at the Kitsuné-uchi campsite, and once I had packed the still-wet tent away, was even more desperate than usual for my morning coffee . On previous tours I would have treated myself to a sit-down breakfast in a proper coffee shop, but this year Mrs M has been tightening the purse strings. Like most wives…

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The roads to Sado – Day 3

The roads to Sado – Day 3

There were two possible routes west from Aizu-wakamatsu towards Niigata, and the decision as to which one to take was based on my Touring Mapple. Mapple is a map company whose logo is an apple (map + apple = Mapple. Geddit?), and while their ‘touring’ series is aimed primarily at motorcyclists, it’s just as handy for those of us using pedal power, because even if you can’t read Japanese, most of the roads have numbers, and there are easy-to-understand symbols…

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The roads to Sado – Day 4

The roads to Sado – Day 4

I awoke at ten past six to the sound of muzak drifting in from the hotel corridor, and while the weather outside had improved since the previous evening, it was still very much on the moody side. Pretty soon I had left the mountains behind me, and riding through the suburbs of Niigata City was relatively straightforward, as they were full of rice fields and flat as a pancake. The only problem was that after just three days on the…

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The roads to Sado – Day 5

The roads to Sado – Day 5

I had my morning carton of coffee, microwaved hotto cakey and fruit-cocktail-suspended-in-jelly on a bench overlooking the bay, and was soon joined by a man out walking his dog. He looked to be about sixty, and wore large-framed spectacles, a floppy hat and a fishing vest, while his labrador had a pronounced limp and the biggest, dangliest pair of dog’s bollocks I had ever seen. I was disappointed to find out that the dog was called Park (as in, er,…

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The roads to Sado – Day 6

The roads to Sado – Day 6

After the morning commute, there is a period of about four hours during which most of the buses on Sado are idle, so sleeping late rather scuppered my plans for sightseeing. After studying the timetable in some detail, I decided to head for Futatsugamé at the far north-eastern tip of the island (seen from above, Sado is shaped like a kind of laterally elongated figure of eight, with four corresponding ‘corners’), and after catching the bus from Sawata to Ryotsu,…

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The roads from Sado – Day 7

The roads from Sado – Day 7

The hard-to-understand and hard-to-deal-with caretaker was back from his holidays, and had been collecting rubbish on the beach with some colleagues of his from the local council. They had been up since four in the morning, he said, and I realised as I was packing my gear onto the Rock Spring that in my eagerness to clean up the barbecue area a couple of days earlier, I had thrown away their toothbrushes, having mistaken them for the lost property of…

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