Saturday, 21 March 2015

hanging out

did I mention the cherry blossom?
Sunshine.  Life-giver.  Laundry-dryer.  After cycling for five kilometres we come across a convenience store.  Romain had told Gayle in Kagoshima that he had found free wi-fi at most convenience stores in Japan so we give it a try now.  There's even a power socket on the wall outside so we surreptitiously plug in and wait to see what happens. Zilch.  
at the office

I go inside and ask the lady at the counter about the wi-fi.  She asks me to wait and goes into the back office.  Another woman appears.  She realises I don't speak Japanese and goes back into the office.  A man appears who speaks good English.  I'm just surprised there are so many staff in the store.  He patiently tries to help but seeing as we have no success he gives me his office wi-fi password.  Little did he realise we would end up spending the rest of the day sat outside their store.  He asks us about our journey and even brings us fresh coffee.  One of the women also chats to us and asks where will we stay the night.  We have already decided we will return to the road station - we had a very peaceful night there. "Be careful" she says, waving us goodbye. 

view from our decking

Further up the coast we detour inland to the small town of Obi, described as a mini-Kyoto because of some grand old Japanese homes.  It's kind of touristy but the homes are quite wonderful, set in traditional Japanese gardens.  The piece de resistance is the castle set on the hill.  It's a great spot.  The samurai lived around the castle - samurai translates as 'retainer' or servant, which seems a little unglamourous.  Aren't samurai warriors?  Well, maybe knights is a better term.  Japan remained feudal until the mid 1800's when a group of educated western-looking samurai (I don't mean they dressed like cowboys) ganged up and persuaded the Emperor to modernise the country. This period of modernisation eventually led to Japan's imperial ambitions - inevitable if you consider they were looking at Britain, France and America as role models.  One of the houses in Obi belonged to the diplomat that negotiated the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of 1902 -the first to acknowledge Japan's new status in the modern world.  We mooch about and watch a little costume re-enactment of a procession that drags on a little, before heading back out to the coast and continuing northwards.  
can't beat a bit of fancy dress

This morning we had a near-miss with a driver who was too impatient to pass us with oncoming traffic.  He beeped his horn and overtook us, cutting up Gayle who was riding in front of me.  He was within inches of hitting her, swerving in to avoid the oncoming car.  I think this is the closest near-miss we've had in our whole journey.  We gave chase and caught up with the man at traffic lights.  He knew he was in the wrong and knew we were chasing him because at the lights he went around a car to get into pole position for the green light.  When I reached his car I bent his wing mirror and started shouting at him.  "Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah" He was an old man.  He had a disability sticker on the back window.  I can only assume he was visually-impaired.  "Blah blah blah blah blah" I shouted.  He shouted back "Blah blah blah blah" and then we parted.  It was all so un-Japanese.

yeah, right
Our day ends on the now increasingly busy coastal road where we opt to ride on the pavement/bike path.  It's Saturday and there are plenty of cars on the road.  We reach a small hamlet on a beach deserted but for two kids riding home-made skateboards on the promenade.  We camp right on the front, on a nice grassy patch under a palm tree.  There are signs all along the front which we later discover say "Do not mess with the chain" - referring to the fence to stop you from falling onto the sandy beach.  There are too many signs in Japan, far too many.  And far too silly.

"Please do not write on the signs"

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