Most of the travels within Japan, described here were, done by bicycle and the ones within China and Europe were done by all kinds of trains and buses.
Since moving to Japan from Canada our goal was to explore the country as much as possible. We decided to move every year or so to try living in different places among different people. That's what kept us going for over 5 and a half years. From Shikoku island where we lived for 2 years, we moved to the main island to Osaka city and a year later, in November 2002 we moved to Saitama prefecture, north of Tokyo to a small town - Kamikawa located at the foot of the mountains.
While living in Shikoku we travelled across the island by car or train whenever it was possible. Discovering new, often wild beaches was always on top of our list and Tokushima prefecture where we lived offered a lot of that. We also couldn't just ignore the famous Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage and visited some interesting although not all temples in all 4 prefectures. Besides our island we were able to see the western part the main island of Honshu including Okayama, Hiroshima and Kyushu island. After visiting for a couple of days our friend's family in southern Kumamoto prefecture in Kyushu where we spent evenings eating raw horse meat and soaked in a local hot spring we took a train north across the island to Beppu, an onsen town in Oita prefecture.
After moving to Honshu island, in Osaka city, the bicycle travels began. At first they were short, 30 or 40 km away to a beautiful city of Nara, the ancient capital, and surrounding areas. But slowly the distance increased. The highlight was probably the trip around Kii peninsula along the beautiful coastline and through the highest mountains on the peninsula located in southern Nara prefecture.
Other rides included a 2-day trip across the peninsula to Toba city in Mie prefecture, a 3-day ride to Kainan village in the southern Tokushima on Shikoku island and many more short trips in and around Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto.
The move to eastern part gave us an opportunity to see the other side of Japan, the eastern half of the country and the real mountains. The mountainous areas south of Chichibu, west towards Nagano, and north towards Niigata prefectures had a lot to offer. The real backcountry could be found there despite of such a short distance from Tokyo. The mountains were dotted with old, traditional villages deserted by young people, amazing hiking trails, mountains covered with snow and monkeys roaming the woods. The best thing was that the wild country started just across the river from our place. The trails in that part of the country were not crowded with hikers as the trails in more popular places making the area even more isolated. There was such a great trail network in those mountains that it was possible to walk for days across 4 or 5 prefectures without entering the civilized world.
Since we moved to Saitama in November '02 we did a few bike trips in that part of Japan. The biggest one was to Mt. Fuji in August '03. We reached the foot of the mountain on the day when a major typhoon was passing through the area and spent the night in a tent in the middle of the storm. It was worth it though - the view of Mt. Fuji on a clear day after the typhoon was amazing.
Another trip was to Joetsu city located on the Sea of Japan in Niigata prefecture (hardest ride in Japan) and a day trip to Ueno village (40 km away) in the mountains that separate Gunma and Nagano prefectures. Also in December 2000 we rode to the top of a local mountain - Mt. Joumine that is at a little over 1000 m high and only 25 km away from our home.
Besides cycling we also did a bit of hiking while living in Kanto region. Our first hike was in the autumn '03 to the top of a local mountain where a plane carrying about 500 people crashed in the summer of 1985. A year later, in August we climbed Mt. Fuji and in September I took a few days off, first to climb a local mountain - Mt. Ryokami and later to climb Mt.Kumotori on Saitama/Yamanashi/Tokyo border from where I walked for about 4 days to Mt. Kobushige on Saitama/Yamanashi/Nagano border.
Living in Japan gave us a good chance to visit also other regions in Asia. The first choice was China and though we visited the country 3 times between 1999 and 2001 we saw only a little of this vast place full of colours and surprises. Our first trip there was in late December �e99 to welcome the year 2000 on the Great Wall. A year later we flew to Kunming city in the beautiful Yunnan province and later took a train to Guilin in southern China and from there a bus to Guanzhou and Macau where we celebrated the 2001 New Year. And finally in the summer of 2001, we took a ferry from Osaka to Shanghai and from there a train across China all the way to the Kazakh border. The last trip was supposed to be the beginning of a trip across Asia and Europe, but Kazakhstan had a 4-day long national holiday and Russians did not let us fly in from China, so it was cancelled and we flew to Canada instead.
Other non-cycling trips within Asia include a trip to South Korea and our unsuccessfull attempt to visit DMZ line between North and South (we were only 10 km away), and a 3 day flight to Taipei in Taiwan.
Besides travelling in Asia, we visited Poland during Christmas 2001 (wanted to see snow again) and in 2003 we flew to Amsterdam. After drinking a lot of GOOD beer in Belgium for a few days, we crossed Holland, Germany and Poland on a mini bus in something like a day and a half with a crazy Polish driver.
After returning to Canada in March 2005 we've managed to do a little bit of cycling in southern Ontario.
japan by bike
...a few words on cycling in Japan...
Kamikawa - Niigata '03
Kamikawa - Ueno-mura '03
Kamikawa - Mt. Fuji '03
Kii peninsula '02
Kashiwara - Shikoku '02
Kashiwara - Toba '02
Nara, 01 - '02
Kobe & Kyoto, '02
canada by bike
Toronto - Lake Erie '05
Toronto - Wilno '05
...a few words on hiking in Japan...
Mt. Nishimikabo (right in our backyard), '04
From Mt. Kumotori to Mt. Kobushige, '04
Mt. Fuji, '04
Mt. Ryogami, '03 & '04
Bruce Trail 'Sep. '06