Wakuraonsen to Takayama
Today we have a transfer by minibus to Takayama since it is 100 miles and maybe not as interesting landscape on bicycle route. However I found it interesting on the bus. We passed through valleys and plains with rice fields, more rice fields and even more rice fields. The fields were in all states of production from fallow to almost ready for harvesting and we saw a lot of mechanical planting. I would just like to see a harvester in operation. One major feature this morning was the tunnels. We went through over 50 tunnels ranging from 25m to 9km inter spaced by gaps of 200m to 20k. Whilst this is great on the bus it is a nightmare for cycling and we are glad of the transfer. Later we could see snow on the mountains and ski runs weaving down the hillsides between the trees which are in rich abundance in this lush country. The trees are hardwood. softwood and some bamboo, which must be one of the most versatile timbers on earth. It can be used for drain pipes, gutters, scaffolding, decking hand rails, fencing etc etc. The area reminds me of the Alps. The infrastructure
Do you like my gloves?
in Japan is marvellous, I am amazed at the quality of roads here having seen only two minor potholes in four days. Most Tarmac is smooth and main roads all have a lined margin at the side with drivers giving us a decent amount of space. The service station we called at was spick and span and did not rip us off. I am never calling at Charnock Richard services (near Preston) ever again. As I wrote this we are going through another 6 Km tunnel, I think I am getting tunnel sickness. We passed through a toll booth before the tunnels but it was only shrapnel that was handed over, about 2s 6d 3 farthings I think? One cannot help but notice how the Japanese love uniforms, which I agree with, school children for a start and hotel staff and the bus drivers all wear black trousers, long sleeved which shirt with the cuffs turned up and white gloves. My fingers are that big I have to be careful here, I just pressed an s instead if w when I described the gloves.
Takayama is a big city with a very interesting city centre with the usual shops
and museums etc. A small group of us had a light lunch if toast with jam,cake and coffee. Very Western and very nice with thick bread lightly done by a lady speaking quite good English and was asking us questions to improve her knowledge. Later we got out our bikes and did a 25k ride around the outer edge of the city in 22 degrees and sunshine. Our first call after a serious climb was at a museum of some 300-400 year old buildings and artifacts. Of interest was a large house with a massive thick thatch roof below which was a thin bamboo lattice on a round timber frame held together with ropes and twisted sticks. An old sawmill that showed how they split timber roof shingles with a long blade and mallet also planks cut with a short pull saw. The rest of the journey took us through nurseries for vegetables and salads plus rice cultivation in plastic greenhouses from seed ready for planting by machine. Finally a long run on a cycleway by the river, where one rider behind the pack hit a bollard and fell off. No bones were broken but the helmet was split, a
I love the toilets.
Electrically warmed seat. Jet spray.
grazed and bruised elbow and slight concussion. A night in the hotel and a banana and feeling much better. The group split for evening meal between beef and pork. The pork was really good with a dark brown sauce, veg and the obligatory soup. Good stuff. Early bed for s big climb to 2,800 metres tomorrow on the pass which is banned to traffic and was only opened yesterday after the winter. I have still not got over the fact that television programmes throughout the world are pretty poor. Japan is no exception. Silly game shows, sumo wrestling non stop and staff coasting the streets in sill hats interviewing people. Oh! Not forgetting the politicians smiling and bowing. Come back the BBC.
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