Monday, May 17, 2010

Motorcycling Diary Vol. 1 # 6

Mt. Ide, one of the '100 Notable Japanese Mountains', is faintly visible in the two photos at top.  The bottommost picture shows an elementary school in need of a giant ball of steel wool.  

Motorcycling Diary Vol. 1 #5

The photos show old buildings, both ecclesiastical (at top) and residential, in a village I visited during my outing.  At bottom you can see a thatch roof in process of being repaired.

Motorcycling Diary Vol. 1 #4

an old temple at top, with a small shrine to Jizo beside the road

Motorcycling Diary Vol.1 #3

-some of the lovey scenery I saw, with a photo of the Yamagata Prefecture Welcome Center (where I had a bowl of soba for lunch) at bottom

Motorcycling Diary Vol.1 #2

- resting beside beside the Big Stone River 

Motorcycling Diary Vol. 1 #1

-on the way to and at the entrance of the Okutainai-Nioji Park, unfortunately still inaccessible owing to snow farther up the valley 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Love Hotel

"Love" Hotel- the  name says it all.  Many young adults live at home. Most Japanese apartments have thin walls.  For these and other reasons- love hotels are private, discreet, and reasonably priced- such establishments do a roaring trade. The hotels have shuttered bays for guests' vehicles, as the top photo of the Queen shows. Between the hours of 6pm and 1am, the Queen's room charge is 2,000 yen, approx. $20.  The real bargain is the overnight stay, which is 4,500 yen between the hours of 11pm and 10am-weekdays only

Monday, May 10, 2010

Don't leave home without it

Public restrooms in Japan lack hot water and are typically unfurnished with toilet paper.  Never leave home without  a packet of tissue or your own private roll, especially if you are headed out for a long bike ride.  Furthermore, be careful not to mistake the girls' room (topmost photo) for the boys' (middle).

Children's Day Koinobori

Children's Day is May 5. Traditionally, colorful carp streamers, or koinobori,  are flown to celebrate the festival, for the fish, which swims upstream to spawn, symbolizes strength. It is hoped that children, particularly boys, will emulate the carp. I saw a few of these decorations on my cycling trip even though the celebration had ended several days earlier.

Rice planting, traditional and modern methods

Sights along the Way: Old School , New School

There are always interesting things to see during a cycling outing through the Japanese countryside.The photo below is very 'old school'- literally; the building is likely used as a community center in the village. The new school is directly across the street.


At Zensaku Chaya I had  plate of tokoroten, or gelidium jelly. It's odorless, tasteless, and the consistency of rubber. Sound appetizing? Chilled, with a generous amount of soy sauce, vinegar, and spicy Japanese mustard, it makes a nice treat on a warm day. By the by, in the lower photo you can see that the block of gelatin has been pressed through a wire screen to form 'noodles'. 

A Recent Cycling Trip

The weather has improved at long last after an unusually cool and unstable spring in Niigata.  I took advantage of the favorable conditions last Saturday to make a 100 km cycling trip into the foothills of the Echigo mountain range, which raises its peaks some 40k to the south and east of the city. 50k into the ride I rested at one of my favorite roadside tea shops, Zensaku Chaya, established in 1868.