Sakata – Itoigawa (E)

After a week of driving through the backcountry hills we decided to head to the west coast. Soon we reached Sakata, located in the Shonai plain where we enjoyed a visit of the Ken Domon Museum.
Despite the dangers (see gallery) we continued on the coastal roads heading to Niigata.
Like last time, Phil found interesting things along the road and couldn’t resist to pick up some of the stuff. That’s how suddenly his Bike Friday was loaded with two panniers and a TV.

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Yokote – Oyasukyo – Naruko (E)

The morning after camping at Tazawako it didn’t even take 5 minutes after we started to ride until it heavy rain forced us to to put our rain gear on. But with the same speed the rain hit us the clouds broke up again and weather became better every minute.
Continuing our ride south we first stayed at Yokote before heading in direction of Oyasukyo part of Kurikoma Quasi-National Park. Staying in the beautiful Tarobee Ryokan we enjoyed the 3 differen Onsen and the fabulous kaiseki dinner. With our bodies fully recovered, continuing on the forsaken backcountry roads in direction to Naruko Onsen was relaxed in every sense.

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Asamushi – Towadako (E)

After a long flight, we unpacked and assembled our bikes and took the train to Tokyo. From there we scorched to 700km distant Shin-Aomori by Shinkansen in less than 3 hours, where we changed to local trains driving to Asmushi Onsen. The journey from Switzerland to the northern end of Honshu took almost 24 hours.
For two nights we enjoyed the amazing food and atmosphere of Tsubakikan ryokan and met with our friend Eiji-san. The day after, surrounded by buzzing cicadas, we started our cycling journey!
On our route to Hirosaki we visited Seiryu temple with the recently built collosal Buddha statue. In Hirosaki we stayed at the traditional Ishiba ryokan and spent another relaxed day, before heading to lake Towada.

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DIY Ikea backpack

Since it was difficult to find a light backpack, large enough for my bicycle touring gear, I decided to make my own.
Most of the time this pack will be rolled and stored in the bicycle. The concept behind this frameless pack was to lay my two empty Ortlieb classic panniers flat against the back and stuff it tight with gear.
My Hyperlite 4400 Porter served as a template. After a busy weekend and 3 Ikea bags, the result was surprisingly usable. Carrying 10kg gear with this is bearable for up to 1h, I guess.

Let’s see how it will hold up.

rather scarcity than excess