Hot and windy: Tokyo – Fuji – Matsumoto

It worked out with visiting the fish market. However, we were not able to visit the auction because it was already sold out. All tickets (120 per day) were already gone at 6am… Nevertheless, it was interesting and we saw a lot even if not everything was very nice to see except if you also like to visit a slaughter house… My plan was originally to be back on the road at the same day. However, in the evening before, I got aware off that I’m actually not very well prepared to be really able to enjoy the journey. Therefor, I added another night. That’s the good thing: I can change plans pretty fast, if they don’t seem to be right :-). And the other thing was, that I was able to capture a nice sunset and I hope, I will be able to make a time lapse movie out of it one day. BTW: Check Pictures > Movies in the top menu. I’ve added a few movies there as well :-).

Tokyo – Fuji
I finally left Tokyo the next day, also not as early as planned. And the journey across the suburbs took its time. Tokyo is just huge and there are hundreds if not thousands of small streets. Without Google Maps on my smartphone, it would have been very difficult. My plan was to camp somewhere in the mountains that night. However, when it already got dark, I was still cycling in the suburbs. The area was too busy for me to just put up the tent in a park and I booked a hotel room therefor. It was with around 60 USD surprisingly cheap and even included Internet and a small breakfast.
After a more or less relaxing night, I continued my journey. The city soon ended and the mountains started. I gained something like 1’100m (around 3’300 feet) in altitude that day and this on a distance of around 80km (50miles). So not that huge. However, it was pretty warm and humid. I drunk around 3l during the day (1l soda from the vending machines on the way…) and ate a lot. However, when I reached the hostel in Fujikawaguchiko that evening, I was very thirsty and hungry… After eating again something, I got aware of that I forgot my Swiss knife at my last stop. This was a pity because I used it more or less every day. So it was pretty essential. During the night, I was thinking about, if I should cycle back to check for the knife or if I should take the first bus to Fuji. In every country including Switzerland, I wouldn’t have to think about such a possibility. However, Japan is different and I just had to try it. Additionally, the ex super typhoon Jelawat should arrive the next day in the region and should bring a lot of rain and wind above 100km/h at the Fuji summit. So reaching the summit was anyway not realistic. And what is climbing a mountain without reaching its summit ;-).
The next day, I cycled 20km back to check for my knife. It was much easier without luggage. I couldn’t really believe my eyes but my knife was still lying exactly there, where I left it. Nobody even touched it! I put it back into my bag and kept cycling around Lake Yamanake. That way, I still had something of the day and could even take some pictures of Fuji-san. I reached the hostel in time before the storm arrived. Some Fuji visitors weren’t that lucky and got an intense shower. Jelawat was at that point only a tropical storm and not a typhoon anymore. However, that was still more than enough and I was happy to be in a hostel and not camping somewhere…

Fuji – Matsumoto
Before I kept going, I checked where I could spend my nights till Osaka. I don’t like to plan that much, because it takes some of the fun. However, here in Japan I plan much more because I still have issues to figure out where to stay once on the road. Asking people is almost impossible, because most people don’t understand and even less speak English… And my Japanese is not really existent. And reading signs is also very difficult. It was more or less clear, where I would going to cycle that day. However, I didn’t really know where to sleep. Probably I would have to camp somewhere. So I again left a bit late and it was already pretty warm outside. I was sweating like a pig and therefor decided to cycle through the tunnel at Lake Kawaguchi instead of climbing to the pass (which I planned originally). The tunnel was around 2km long and I was happy, when I left it again. At least it was more or less flat but very noisy and the air was bad. I continued through a densely populated area and stopped for lunch on the way (I was again eating the whole time anyway…). It was again around 30ºC and I got slowly but surely tired. So I started to look around for a possible place to camp. But there was nothing. A bit further, I got stopped by an older Japanese car driver. First there was the usual (also if not really for Japan) small talk. Then he said, that it was very hot that day and he offered to me a Latte, a IceTea, some chocolate and even some oxygen (I guess I really looked tired). I was grateful for everything except the oxygen. I thought that it wasn’t that bad even if I almost drove on the wrong side of the street at the next cross road… Doumo-arigato (thank you very much)!
He also couldn’t  tell me, where the next campground could be and I continued my search therefor. On the map, I found the symbol of a campground close by. I checked it out and it was something like a campground. However, it looked pretty closed. I continued my search but it slowly got dark. I saw in Google Maps, that there should be a park in the next town. I was told that it would normally not be really a problem to camp in a public park in Japan over night (also if I guess people don’t really like it). Because I didn’t really have another option, I drove to this park and put up my tent there. The toilet was closed unfortunately but luckily there is more or less in every village a convenience store in Japan and they also have a toilet :-).
I couldn’t really enjoy the night even if nothing happened. But the good thing was, that I was really early on the road again and reached Matsumoto already in the afternoon. I couldn’t find a hostel in this city and took a business hotel near the station instead. And it was again around the same price as the last one. So not really cheap but not as expensive as I would have expected it for Japan.

The idea is now to cycle to the mountain “village” of Kamikochi and continue from there across the Japanese Alps to Kyoto/Osaka. I heard from other cyclist, that there is a pretty steep tunnel to Kamikochi, which they call almost like hell on earth for cyclist. We will see!

All the best from Matsumoto,

Stefan: Check also the picture Gallery!

About Stefan

I'm a telecommunication engineer by profession and like to discover the world by bike. I think, that it is the perfect speed to move but still be in touch with the world and the people which live there. And I'm very happy, that my wife Susanna is joining me now on those adventures. If you are interested in other journeys we did so far, please also check my website Stefan, Switzerland

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