Japan by Bike: Pay attention to road closures – Pt. 4

I was well and truly out of civilisation now and had just spent my first night on the rocky outcrops of a mountain road, I’m sure there were plenty more of those to come.  With the sun to the east I set off once again, straddling the mountainous ridge of Japan’s north.  The scenery was transforming around me as I rode ever upward, eventually coming across an open gate, like an open invitation to a winter wonderland.

Welcomed with open arms.

Welcomed with open arms.

This all must have happened the previous night as this road was not exactly friendly for two wheeled  transport, or any transport really.  The road was quickly turning into a slushie.

3rd day on a sports-bike, not ideal conditions.

3rd day on a sports-bike, not ideal conditions.

I figured I would soon reach the end and start losing altitude again but the road was getting worse and worse and while the wobbles on the bike were fun, I didn’t want to lose my bike off the edge of a mountain just yet.  I also hadn’t eaten yet, so the order of the day was to turn around, find civilisation and get some food into me.

I eventuated on a large restaurant looking building with very few cars but I was desperate so I thought I’d give it a try.  It was completely empty inside and they didn’t seem to know what to do with me.  I made myself at home though and got myself a menu, I pointed at about 5 different things they didn’t have in and my attempts to tell them to surprise me arrived on confused ears.  Eventually I pointed at something that elicited a positive reaction.

The Japanese certainly look after you.

I still have fond memories of this meal.

Eating on the floor is customary in Japan and I found it rather difficult as I was larger than the typical Japanese person and my motorcycle pants weren’t exactly conducive to crossing my legs.  I did my best though and thanked my new best friends for a lovely meal and I was off again.  I figured the snow was an aberration and was still trying to head north, I just had to find a different route.

Finding a new route was difficult however and I kept hitting road blocks.  It was frustrating having to backtrack all the time and find new routes, I was getting sick of it.  I happened on my 3rd roadblock for the day and the little devil on my shoulder brought up the idea of sneaking around the side of the barrier..

My interpretation was 'We are being overly cautious and the road is fine'.

My interpretation was ‘We are being overly cautious and the road is fine’.

I snuck my bike around the right side of the fence in the picture, it was a bit of a squeeze but manageable.  I realised the gate on the other side might be impassable but worth case scenario I can come back, the road was likely to be a fun ride anyway.

The road was pure joy, no traffic, beautiful twisties and a nice view.  As I got higher there were random chunks of snow on the road, I was starting to see why it was closed.  The random chunks started to turn into the covering of whole lanes with snow.


It was actually pretty spooky being the only vehicle on the road with the Mist.

This wasn't even the worst of it.

This wasn’t even the worst of it.

I was tiptoeing through the snow and going ok, learning to let the bike move under me and correct itself, the snow started to thin out eventually and I thought I was home and hosed.  How clever was I?  Going around the barrier saved me a lot of time and who can say they travelled on a road like this?

This tunnel is going to be fun.

What a pretty little tunnel.


Oh…I named this tunnel ‘Gandalf’, I shall not pass indeed you bastard!

Yep, I was screwed.  There was absolutely no way of getting through this tunnel (trust me I tried).  I had to head back over the snow and start from scratch again *sigh*.  This time I was getting a little more cocky and urgent in the snow and it then decided to ground me, literally.  I was going through a particularly dense bit of snow with a little ridge to it, my front wheel pushed through but my back wheel caught on the ridge, leading to my tires going in two different directions.  Down the bike went, somehow I was still standing after the bike toppled, the bags on the back actually limited the damage somewhat and there was only cosmetic damage.  I just wanted to get out of there and forgot to take a picture unfortunately.

The rest of the trip went without incident and I snuck around the barrier again.  My hands were completely numb again and my face was in quite a bit of pain from the cold.

After my llittle adventure.

After my little adventure.

Riding at night again and I was struggling to find another place to camp.  I saw a sign with the international symbol for camping ground and settled in to get nice and warm again for another day of adventure.

My typical setup at night.

My typical setup at night.

Here’s my trip computer for the day to give you an idea of how hard it is to cover distance in Japan.

Day 6

4 thoughts on “Japan by Bike: Pay attention to road closures – Pt. 4

  1. Pingback: Japan by Bike: Heading North – Pt. 3 | figo's fromagio

  2. Haha…you are crazy. The road closed sign said closed due to snow and ice! If its not safe for cars, its definitely not safe for the FZ6. 😀

    And I’ll bet the Japanese breakfast is not enough for you too.

    BTW, I don’t get it. Its winter and you wanted to ride up north to Hokkaido? Why don’t go south to Kyoto instead?

  3. Well to be fair to me it was still very much Autumn, it was an unseasonable cold snap all across Asia in early November 2009. I also didn’t realise the height of the mountains in Japan.

    It was my very first trip and I was completely unplanned, was an exercise in learning by experience 😀

  4. Pingback: Ground control to Major Tom – Japan by Bike Pt. 5 | figo's fromagio

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