From the busy city roads to the serene country side

JAPAN

2 islands, 26 days, 3600 km

Bike: Triumph Speed Twin

Japan – like a cultural slap in the face

I think all of us have our own picture of Japan or Japanese culture. Japan has affected people all over the world, in one way or another. Maybe the most common thoughts that come to peoples minds when mentioning the country are food related – like sushi, chopsticks, sake, noodles and green tea. Or maybe you're thinking about video games, big neon signs, robots and manga? Or old wooden houses, traditional clothes, polite people and a cool history with samurais? Yes, all of this exists in the country of the rising sun. But it's not all.

What if I tell you that Japan also is crystal clear lakes, magical mountain roads, hot spring baths, small fishing villages, camping in the woods and a paradise for motorcyclists?

I had my picture of Japan when I started my trip, but I came home with a whole different one. A better one. A deeper one.

Cities, Villages & Towns

01/

TOKYO

What a city! There's literally something for everyone here and it doesn't matter how much time you have – Tokyo is like an endless ocean that you can explore forever.

02/

CAPE SOYA, HOKKAIDO

The northernmost point of Japan. A cool monument and nice place, the green Soya Hills around the area is amazing.

03/

SAPPORO, HOKKAIDO

The largest city in Hokkaido. Amazing food, a lot of cool sightseeings and a nice city overall.

04/

FUNAYA

A Japanese fishing village, the most beautiful place I've ever seen! I loved it!

05/

KYOTO

Some people say it's hard to ride and find parkings here, but I didn't have any problems and all and enjoyed every minute spent in this wonderful little pearl. It's big, though! Keep that in mind. It takes time to go around and see everything you want to see. 

06/

MAGOME

Incredibly beautiful little village with small Japanese wooden houses. Magome was a post town during the Nakasendo trail (a route connecting Tokyo with Kyoto during the Edo Period). It's still popular to walk the trail and if you do you'll pass this little place. The roads around here are great.

07/

FURANO, HOKKAIDO

Wonderful little town with a lot to see and explore. Furano is famous for their farms and wineries, big flower fields, great cheese and hiking opportunities. 

08/

TSUMAGO

Also one of the former post towns of the Nakasendo trail. Motor vehicles are prohibited here and phone lines and power cables are turned off during the day, allowing people to feel like they're walking in the village as it used to be in the past.

09/

YAMANAKAKO

A cozy little place by the foot of Mt Fuji. You get a wonderful view of the mountain here over the lake (if clouds keep away), there's a popular onsen here as well and good Japanese traditional restaurants. 

10/

NAEBA

This place is mostly known for incredible skiing during winter season. I went here only for Triumph Japan's annual event "Triumph National Rally". It's highly worth a visit for any Triumph fan out there!

11/

SWEDEN HILLS, HOKKAIDO

A bit of Sweden in Japan. Yep, that's right. Here you find around 500 Japanese living in red Swedish houses and celebrating Swedish traditions.

The ROUTE

TOKYO – FURANO (HOKKAIDO)

Rode to Oarai from Tokyo. Tolls in Japan are quite expensive, so I tried to keep off the highway as much as I could. But if you use them, don't forget to bring the little ticket you get when entering.

Then I took the ferry from Oarai to Tomakomai, booked with Sunflower Ferries. Then road 235 + 237.

FURANO – CAPE SOYA

Road 38 to Ashibetsu, then 275 to Lake Shumarinai, Bifuka, Nayoro then I mixed between E39 and road 333 (they are next to each other) to Abashiri. Road 238 along the coast.

CAPE SOYA – SAPPORO

Continued on 238, then took off on road 40 to Horonbe. Then 232+239+231 along the west coast. 

SAPPORO – KYOTO (JAPAN'S MAIN LAND)

Road 5 to Otaru, then I took the ferry to Maizuru with SNF Ferries. From Maizuru road 175 + 178 to Funaya, 178 around the peninsula to Kyotango, then 478 to Kyoto.

KYOTO/OSAKA – MT FUJI

Road 24 + 163 to Osaka, then 163 back + road 5 + 422 + E1A (Suzuka Station) +  475 + 7 (Tsumago) + 256 + 19 to Nagiso. Road 19 + 20 (Suntory Hakushu Distellery) + 137 to Yamanashi (Mt Fuji). Around Mt Fuji on 138 + 729 + 413 + 138 + 469 + 139 + 300.

CAPE SOYA

FUNAYA

SAPPORO

NAEBA

SWEDEN HILLS

OARAI

TOKYO

KYOTO

MT FUJI

NAGISO

OSAKA

ABASHIRI

FURANO

TOMAKOMAI

CAPE SOYA

MT FUJI – NAEBA – TOKYO

Road 300 + 404 + 141 + 146 + 145 + 53 + 17. Then I gave back the bike to Triumph there and took the speed train back to Tokyo.

favorite ROADS

01/

ROAD 85 TO LAKE SHIKARIBESTU

Amazing curves and the road around the lake is fantastic! Leafy and narrow, just the way I love it. 

02/

ROAD 5 AFTER KYOTO

I took this road when going East from Kyoto and got incredible surprises like fake police officers, green rice fields and cute villages.

03/

HOKKAIDO'S WEST COAST

The most special coast road I've ever ridden. Mountains, fishing villages and big beaches + the most colorful and magical sunset ever.

04/

ROAD 292 TO NAEBA

I rode this during the night and I've never felt to careless and free!

05/

ROAD 75 TO DAIKANZAN OBSERVASION DECK

Incredible view over Mt Fuji and classic motorcycle route.

06/

ROAD 300, MT FUJI

This road starts around the Lake Motosu and offers great view of Mt Fuji and soooo many nice curves to lean into!

FOOD, FOOD & FOOD

01/

DANDAN CAFÉ, KYOTO

One of the best cafés I've been to. The food is really good and the view even better!

02/

CAFÉ KAPPE, MAGOME

Super cozy little place with a nice souvenir shop at the entrance. Very nice view and great place to try the popular Japanese shaved ice.

03/

SUZUKA GAS STATION, SUZUKA

You've probably heard about the F1 circuit Suzuka? This is the gas station where you can have a glimpse of the formula 1 world. They even play car sounds from the circuit when you're going to the bathroom. 

04/

DEUS EX MACHINA, TOKYO

The legendary motorcycle cafe that you can find in other places like Sydney, Bali or Los Angeles. Great café, awesome bikes and a shop upstairs where you find nice merchandise. 

05/

MEAT, ROPPONGI, TOKYO

If you appreciate a really nice steak, this is your place.

06/

SUSHI YUKYU, OARAI

Amazing sushi and a nice place to sit and eat before going to the ferry in Oarai.

07/

CAFÉ OPENSPACE, FUNAYA

Cozy cafe in Funaya with a romantic view over the sea.

08/

OMEN KODAI-JI SHOP, KYOTO

Awesome place to try genuine Japanese noodles after walking around in Kyoto's Old Town.

09/

NORTH PLAIN FARM, HOKKAIDO

A Japanese farm that's also a restaurant. Eat locally produced food made with love.

ACCOMMODATIONS

01/

SHUMARINAIKO DAINI CAMPING GROUND, HOKKAIDO

Great camping spot with three sections. Pay at the reception cottage for the section you want to camp in, get your ticket and go and find your spot. Buy food and water beforehand because there are no shops in the area.

02/

HENN NA HOTEL, AKASAKA, TOKYO

Get a real taste of tech Tokyo and check in with robots greeting you at the reception! Yes, you read that right. Check in with a robot talking to you. Thanks to this and quite small rooms they can keep costs low and that means a clean room, a cool experience and a good location for a lower price for you. No info about parking (had returned the bike).

03/

REMM, ROPPONGI, TOKYO

Very good value for your money. Nice and clean rooms with a really nice view over Tokyo. No parking, but there's a Moto parking just around the corner between the two big lanes on the highway. Take a ticket on arrival and then pay cash in the machine when leaving.

04/

KANKO HOTEL, ABASHIRI, HOKKAIDO

A big hotel with traditional Japanese rooms. I stayed here mainly for their onsen, but the hotel expiernce was also good. Parking included at the hotel's own parking.

05/

SAIKA-AN, MAIZURU, KYOTO

A beautiful traditional Japanese stay outside of Maizuru, perfect stay when coming in with the ferry from Hokkaido. Parking included next to the place.

06/

MORIHICO STAY & COFFEE, SAPPORO, HOKKAIDO

One of the best hostels I've ever stayed at! Everything is new, it's clean and you have a private bunk bed where you can crawl in and close the curtain. The restaurant and café downstairs is really nice. Parking included right outside.

07/

GORYO GUEST HOUSE, FURANO, HOKKAIDO

Feels like coming to a cozy family cottage, I loved the vibe here. It's located at a farm and is very authentic and genuine. Seriously, their blankets are the most comfortable blankets I've ever slept in. The restaurant they have at the property is fantastic!

08/

BISHAMON HOUSE, KYOTO

The 150-year-old Bishamon House was restored and is run by Tsuzumi & Christian. The couple met in Italy and later decided to move the whole family back to Tsuzumi's home village to follow their dream of running a guest house for travellers. I spent two nights in the house with their lovely family and the experience was so warm, fun and genuine.

09/

HOSTEL YOU-AN, NAGISO

If you're looking for some peace and quiet in the mountains, this is your place. Very genuine and serene place. You sleep on a Japanese futon bed, then they divide their guests with sheets so it feels like you have your own private space even though it's a hostel. No air con, but they have fans. Parking included in the yard. 

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© 2019 by Hanna C Johansson