Wednesday, 3 a.m. I am awake. Not entirely, but awake. Awake and jetlagged. It’s been a few days since I’ve come back home but I am still unadjusted. I don’t fight it. This is my zen. Never fight with yourself unless you’ve got really good reasons.
I am 7 hours from being myself. That’s the time difference between Poland and Japan. It’s not easy in the evening but now, in the middle of a night, it feels right. It’s all peaceful and quiet. Outside and inside. Being in this state I feel for dreaming, thinking, and writing.
Sunday, 1 a.m. Time to bed. I’ve got a flight at 10.50 a.m. A bus to an airport takes 100 minutes, precisely. It’s Japan, a place where bullet-trains year-round delay is counted in seconds. First I need to take a subway from Shin-Yokohoma where I would spend my last night in Japan. There is not so much time for a sleep left.
My luggage is packed and ready. It wasn’t easy to dry all the stuff with a hairdryer but I succeeded. I had to. Wet stuff is significantly heavier than dry stuff and exceeding the weight limit on a luggage is not a good idea. I spent a few hours of riding in a rain from Kamakura. They’ve got the best trains and the worst rains in Japan. It took me less than 100 meters, a distance from a hostel where I was accommodated for one night to the National Route 134, to be completely soaked up. But the temps were ok, so I do not complain. It was a nice ride. Easy and relaxed. My mood was too good to be spoiled by a typhoon. I had a great adventure. A micro-adventure but still great. I met awesome people in the hostel. It’s good to abandon your plans sometimes and spent a night in a good company in a cozy hostel instead of a tent.
Saturday, 3 a.m. I am sitting on a bench at a beach in Kamakura. I am about to lay down a have a nap. I need it very much. I am exhausted. Some Japanese kids are making noise three benches away but I’m not bothered. This country never sleeps. Why the hell I brought a „bicycle lock” here? A mistake, clearly. One of the many I made. I forgot a map, didn’t bring a sleeping bag, took too much food and cooking utensils. I would appreciate the sleeping bag.
I came here 18 hours too early according to my last plan. According to a previous one I shouldn’t be even there. Plans and schedules are subject to change in my world. Always. This is probably another rule of my zen. Sometimes they don’t even exists. I left Yamanakaka with intention of making a ride around Fuji anticlockwise and finish it near Gotemba. It’s approximately a 100k ride. Gotemba is around 90km from Kamakura. So I did maybe 190k in one leap. Strava knows better probably but it seems irrelevant. Now and always. My night ride from Ashigara Pass along Tokaido was surprisingly pleasant – the traffic was light. I passed a lot of roadies on my way. I would be riding my bike during nights too if I were living in Japan. It was a good idea to take an advantage of a night when riding along heavily travelled Tokaido.
Friday, 8 p.m. The mac&cheese I had just prepared has an awful taste. A strawberry porridge I had yesterday was delicious. Anyway, it is warm and the night that begins is going to be a cold one. I need to stay warm. I really need it. The previous night was enough for me. I’ll have the whole portion washed down with a cup of hot cocoa. I put most of my clothes on so I can enjoy a magnificent view from the Ashigara Pass onto Gotemba and Fuji. The city, full of life, flickers with lights. Quite a contrast to the immutable mountain towered above.
I was in two minds about riding through darkness to the pass. There were other options of riding from Gotemba towards Yokohoma. Something was telling me though that I would be rewarded. The climb was tiring. An empty road leading to the pass meandered through a gloom and silent forest. I trusted my guts and I was right. The view from the pass this night is mind-blowing. Pity I have to ride down but it’s too cold to spent a night here. It should be warmer on the other side. I see clouds coming on a night sky.
Friday, 5 p.m. Dusk is approaching Gotemba. I stopped for a short break at a Lawson convenience store. I am having all the usuals: large latte, some pastries, rice balls. I had so much food for soul today but now I need to cater for my body’s needs. I have neglected it the whole day. It couldn’t be the other way. I’ve seen and experienced so much. Fuji Five Lakes area was breathtaking. I had the luckiest luck. A perfect blue sky with unlimited view on a snow-capped Fuji-san it was. The snow appeared just a few days ago when typhoon hit the shores of Japan. This mountain is truly a gem. If there’s one mountain to be left, I vote for Fuji.
I took countless number of breaks. To take photos, to sit, to admire, and to meditate. I changed my planned route a few times. I skipped climbing to one of the 5th stations on the slopes of Fuji cause it felt not logical without topping the mountain, which can’t be done on a bike. I tested my legs, descending skills and cold-resistance on a Gotemba road from Awakura to Gotemba. I am fulfilled. The ride is not finished yet. There is a typhoon on the horizon so I’ll just roll on towards Kamakura. I’ve been there two years ago. Between pastries and rice balls I booked a room in a hostel there. I see no point of getting wet while sleeping in a tent now. It supposed to be fun after all.
Friday, 6 a.m. For the last two hours I was walking, jumping, eating, and shooting photos. I tried to take advantage of excellent photo conditions – the sun is rising over misty waters of Yamanaka lake. You could feel autumn in the air. I could feel winter in my bones. I got out of my tent way before sunlight even appeared. I couldn’t bear the cold overwhelming my motionless body. I put all my clothes on, wore shoes and overshoes, wrapped myself in an emergency blanket, and got into a bivy bag. I wasn’t expecting such low temps. My sleeping bag is at home. Major mistake, underestimating the elements I mean. But photos are good I reckon, which is enough to keep my spirits up. I decided to spent a night at the shore to shot Fuji early in the morning. I hoped to see its snowy peak lit by sunshine above dark Yamanaka waters. Didn’t happen but I’ve seen magic anyway. I was glad I stayed here even though I froze to death.
The whole day leading up to this cold night was warm and sunny. The first day of my Japanese micro-trip. I was lucky that I didn’t begin my journey any day before cause it was raining cats and dogs, the way that is possible only in Asia. They say that the weather is unusual this year. Too much rain, too late in the year. I was concerned about the weather since I’ve seen already what a typhoon is capable of but I wasn’t concerned too much. Man’s gotta do what man’s gotta do, kind of. It took several dozens of kilometers of biking along heavily travelled roads to leave Shin-Yokohama but it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. I was constantly absorbing differences between here and there, now and then. I was constantly focusing on staying on the wrong side of the road. Multitasking at its best. My entire itinerary for the trip was minimal – see Fuji, ride towards it, ride more, trust gut feelings. When I grasped a view of Fuji I just followed the road. I climbed for the most part of the day admiring marvels of Japanese mountains. I took breaks or shot photos whenever I felt for it. Things around me were happening at a slow pace. I adjusted mine to match. When I reached Yamanaka I decided to camp there. Camping-wise my spot was mediocre but I had the best view. I didn’t come here to have the best sleep of my life. The night was terrible, wasn’t it? I don’t even remember, It is so beautiful now.