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What do I know about Japan? I’ve been there three times only, bikepacking twice. My visits sum up to a month, miles in the saddle to one thousand. That scarcely gives me any grounds for writing any travel advices. The culture, the people, the history of the country, and the complexity of all of those leave me with the feeling of a shameful ignorance. However, there’s a place in my heart filled with the Japan, the one I had the pleasure to experience.

 

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

 

This is Japan covered with mountains. The Japan of small roads boldly crossing the slopes overgrown by forests, of hidden valleys decorated with golden grass, of Japanese macaques jumping from one roadside tree to another, of tortuous climbs, of winding descents, of numerous tunnels for space-time jumps …

 

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

 

This is Japan of myths and religion. The Japan of small shrines lost in the woods and enormous temples sitting in the hear of cities, of stone monks sitting next to roads in their knitted caps, of water sinked torii pushing lonely photographers to risk their lives for the best photo, of imprisoned demons from the past, of early morning prayers disrupted by the presence of bike wanderers …

 

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

 

This is Japan of tiny little villages scattered accross dense forrest, laying calmly in deep valleys. The Japan of handbuild houses, made as if the only material for it was thrash gathered after a recent typhoon, of narrow streets lit up with lamps covered in shodo, of accidental workshops selling kiso hinoki tables for 250 thousands of dollars and curry for 10, of onsens where weary travelers can relax, recover, and restore their hygiene …

 

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

 

This is Japan of intense cities. The Japan of streets jammed with cars and hybrid refrigerators, of truck drivers whose ancestors where kamikaze pilots, of gazillions of traffic lights stopping every driver and none of bikepackers, of convenience stores the only inconvenience of whose is lack of beds, of bars and restaurants with space limiting their clientele to a handful …

 

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

 

This is Japan that cannot be told, described or photographed. This is Japan you need to experience. Tasting heavenly persimmons offered by two old men picking the fruits in a tiny orchard. Drinking sake with Maduro, whose ryokan suffered off-season emptiness and the only ones attracted were rain-soaked bikepackers. Struggling on the climbs when gearing of your gravel bike turns out to be not as granny as you thought. Changing your route and priorities after cutting a tire on razor-sharpe rocks somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Freezing your ass of during a cold night spent on a terrace of a shinto shrine. Accompanied during your every day all day ride with tiredness and uncertainty.

 

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

Destination Lycra

 

This is the Japan I know and love. The Japan I will return to soon.