September 20, 2006

Japan, Hammer-Time! Part 7

It wouldn't be fair to hang out at a Harley place , and not fire up a couple of the old girls, so that's exactly what we did. After I got back from taking the Honda 50 for a spin, Hammer decided we should make a run for the mountains - or at least, a run through the old towns and villages that surrounded Mt. Tsuba, or Tsuba-san.

Hammer took out his '56 Pan, I borrowed Katsu's shovelhead, and then we were off. I tried to take a couple motion shots and some video, but a lot of the roads we were on were quite small and it was difficult to manage. We went through the rice paddies, on roads so narrow no American truck could have made it. No direction, just an overall heading towards the mountains.

A beautiful farmhouse, with bamboo and hills in the rear. What a life, huh?

I tried to look cool, but I don't think I quite made it.

Hammer showed me what a "cool" biker pose is, haha. Tsuba-san sits patiently in the background, waiting, watching. I miss seeing mountains, like when I was growing up. Living in the cities, surrounded by concrete buildings, really takes a different mindset, and you forget what you had.

Another little stream, this time with someone fishing from the banks.

This little bridge provided the perfect spot to take a break, and snap a pic! The sun was setting fast, and although it wasn't cold in the tshirts we were in, it added a sense of urgency to what was otherwise a very relaxing cruise through the countryside. We pressed on towards the hills, getting lost once or twice, but enjoying every minute of it. I was so surprised at Hammer's bike's agility, as he was rounding tight little bends much faster than I was able to, and although I'm used to riding rigid frame motorcycles, I doubt I could have done much better, even on my own bike.

Here's a rare sight, scarecrows! I think there was some sort of harvest festival coming up at the end of autumn, and there were a bunch of these scarecrows lining some of the fields. There was even a ninja one, with outstretched katana reaching into the road. Don't get too close!

Headed towards the Tsuba-san.

Get out and ride, if you can. Words just can't describe how much I miss being in the wind. With the rumble of the engine, the roar of the exhaust, the wind lashing at your face, tears streaming out the sides of your eyes, and not running down your face, it's just perfect. The only thing to look forward to is another glorious ride.

This is the kind of stuff I was looking for. Buildings that have been around for more than generations. Buildings that have stood, basically unchanged, for a thousand years. This one is a typical, old-school, grain harvesting shed, where the rice was stored and dried over the winter. Villagers would bring their food from the surrounding areas and store it all here, and the buildings are all raised on stilts to prevent anything from getting wet in case of a flood or heavy rain. Magnificent.

Beware of these stink bugs. They move slowly, so it's easy to reach out and touch one, but if you do . . . . . you're going to smell. For a long time. And no one will believe it's not shrimp.

There are small lakes in the area, filled with fish, snapping turtles, and lots of wild Lotus.

Ahhh, Tsuba-san. As it was explained to me, the two peaks represent two, errrr, parts of the body.

It was late at this point, and darkness was creeping in. We decided to make a run for the mountains at a later date, a promise to ride again. Heading back towards the shop, I paused on the side of the road to catch, The Land of the Setting Sun.

Huge gratitude goes out to Hammer and Katsu, for making this a once in a lifetime journey. There might be other times in Japan, but nothing quite so special as this one. Riding through small, winding roads, seeing the life from the saddle of a Harley, being places where I never would have been.

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