The breakfast this morning was smaller than the day before and more Western style. And you had a spectacular view over the Hiroshima peace park. I went relatively early, as I could see from the long queue when I left. Of course my bike was in good shape as I left it in the street the day before. It was Sunday morning and the traffic was noticeably reduced. It was a sunny morning, only a few more will come, then the rainy season will hit me after all. But today was a really nice day with highs at 25 degrees.
I only had to ride about half an hour until I reached my highlight for today, the historic shinto shrine on the island of Miyajima. I entered the ferry parking and had a chat with the elderly parking attendant. He was very pleased to hear my story. I had a brilliant idea that I would appreciate afterwards:
I left my helmet and jacket attached to the bike and could walk more freely. The crossing took less than ten minutes and I was glad that I arrived so early, I guess during the day many more (domestic) tourists can be expected.
I strolled along the promenade until I reached the iconic highlight og this world heritage site: the Torii (gate) located in the water. It is one of the most famous views of Japan. I passed several shines, among them the Itsukushima Shrine.
I entered many tourist shops, not that I was particularly attracted by them (although their products were not too bad), but I was in search for stickers for my panniers. Finally I found what I was looking for. As usual, shopping is very pleasant, the elegant kindness of the staff makes you feel very welcome. I continued strolling through the small alleys of the village and detected their main product: filled cookies/waffles called momiji manju. There were produced on the spot by big machines and sold in boxes. I purchased a single one to try them. Very good. On the way back to the ferry, I spotted some deers on the main street. I took pictures and was surrounded by them. They were of course in search for food ( no wonder, with all the cookie smell in the air). I started to talk to them telling them that I had nothing for them. This must have caused attention, because I was approached by a gentleman with a young camera team. He asked me where I was from and if we (in Europe would eat deer or rabbit). I affirmed this, they are quite tasty. He asked me what I thought about the deer in the streets in Miyajima. I told him that this was amusing, but they didn’t show normal behaviour in the village, for they never would get so close to humans. He explained me that the film team were his students and he was interviewing people about the deer situation in the village. I deduced from this that he wasn’t entirely happy about it. He thanked me exuberantly and I continued my walk to the ferry. 20 minutes later I was on the bike again. Today’s itinerary was very simple: get to Fukuoka, the capital of the southern island of Kyushu. It was another 250 km of motorway in front of me. I rolled at a 100 km/h and found time to stop at a service area again. I ordered some noodles with meat and omelette at a machine, paid and got a numbered ticket. As I couldn’t understand the numbers that were called, I informed the ladies at the counter and was served when it was my term. Good, simple food.
I still needed to fill up, but the attendants explained that there was no more petrol, I should try 30 km further down the road. I still had enough juice in the tank so this wasn’t a problem. Actually, it was a 40 km to the next station, but this wasn’t Russia anymore. My consumption was surprisingly low. After another hour, I enjoyed the luxury to stop for a coffee and another cookie. I wasn’t in a hurry. I thought about making a detour….checking the map….there was an island north of Fukuoka that looked interesting, let’s go there!. Of course I got stuck in the traffic when I left the motorway…I noticed that the XBR wasn’t riding as smooth as she should be….like before I nursed her for the first time in Russia. Maybe I had to do a bit of care-taking this evening.
At the tip of the island, I noticed a parking full of motorbikes and stopped there. With interest, I examined all the classic Japanese bikes. Café-Racer SRs or VT250Fs and all the lot. I was also a centre of interest and was the focus of questions and pictures as well. I guess they don’t see foreign riders so often. The Eastern side of the island was more rocky. I entered the interior and discovered a motocross track and a tower with great views on the coast.
But finally I wanted to get to the hotel. It took a while. Studying the habit of some bikers, I decided that I had to ride a bit more ‚normal‘ and did even a bit of filtering. Finally I arrived at the five star hotel. I had forgotten what a posh hotel I had booked, but the rate came with a large discount, so it was not so different from the previous days.
When you enter a luxurious lobby in your filthy and stinky gear, sweating and looking tired and noticed all the looks on you – priceless, haha!
I was shown my room and went back to the bike to park it in a large parking garage. Although I felt lazy, I forced myself to take care of the XBR – tighten the chain (first time since Moscow), fill up oil and scottoiler and exchange the spark plug. I was right – it was not brown but totally black. No wonder after all the dodgy Russian fuel and the overflowing carb. Tomorrow, the XBR should be running much better, just in time for her big her day.
I had a shower and cancelled my initial plan to go to the city centre for some local food. The hotel does not provide two or three restaurants, nor four or six…..No, eight different restaurants were located in this huge building! And then I had a (crazy?) idea….There was also a Teppanyaki restaurant..wasn’t this the moment to try it? With excellent Japanese beef…One thing was clear….this would be terribly expensive….but why wait? If I want to try many things in Japan, isn’t this one of the things you should have tried in your life? So I went to the Teppan. The menu was indeed…hmmmm….not exactly a bargain. I went for the less breathtaking menu, but ordered the premium meat. I was later told it was from Miyazaki (at the same level of Kobe beef). And then what to drink? No beer, of course. I asked for the wine list….excellent wines for sale…I saw La Tâche and Richebourg from Romanée-Conti and had a hard time counting all the digits….Well, luckily they also had half bottles and less aristocratic wines, a humble Gevtry-Chambertin was pricy, but without heart attack risk.
I was apparently the only guest today. With three teppans, this might look odd, but I am not in a big group anyway. So I sat at the hot plate, waiting for the spectacle to come…the cook was very friendly, showed me the meat and started the preparations. I was served appetisers and a salad (jellyfish!). The way the chef grilled the vegetables and later the meat on the hot steel plate was not a big show, rather more a cautious piece of art. It was a pleasure to watch. And then the steak and the vegetables were ready. Grilled to perfection. The meat ‘melts’ in your mouth. Exquisite. After this dish, he prepared a fried garlic rice and at the end was the Miso soup.
I was led to another room and was served the lemon curd dessert and a cup of good tea. And then it was time to pay the bill. I had basically dynamited a large part of my weekly food budget, but it was worth it. Would I repeat it? Well, not very soon. An interesting experience, but limited for special occasions. Such as a motorbike trip to Japan.
I had another Japanese whisky in the bar and started to write this report. Today is the big day for the XBR! She will finally meet her birthplace….