TLRJ – Day 29 – Takayama (“I have a cunning plan, mylord!”)
I had asked for a late breakfast at eight. I stayed in the same place so why rush things. The breakfast, however, was fantastic. In quality and quantity. I am sorry for the mass of food pictures today, but the food in this place is exquisite.
This delicious meal provides enough energy for the whole day til dinner. I needed to look after the bike. I removed the sprocket cover (that was attached so effectively in Novosibirsk). One is always prone ‘to hear the fleas coughing’ as the German saying goes, i.e. imagining all kinds of things based on a vague sound. I had a critical mind but in the end I had to conclude that the sprocket, the chain and the transmission output shaft seemed to be ok.
So I rode to the recommended garage called Bike Bomber that was 4 km away. The mechanic seemed to have waited for me and I tried to explain him my conclusion with many gestures. When I touched the shift lever…..it was moving! WHAT?
The shift lever was loose! Of course I had thought that there was something wrong with the gearbox! The bolt was quickly tightened, but I asked him to do an oil change. He did it right away. The garage was small, but his equipment was astonishing: SNAP-ON tools everywhere. He was a nice guy and we did a little bit of chatting while he was quickly doing the oil drainage.
The oil indeed resembled liquid tar. Unfortunately, he did not have the right oil filter, but the new oil should do some good to the motor and gearbox. I asked him to put 20W50, he asked back and I explained something like ‘it’s an old motor’. He immediately understood. He had inspected the motor quickly and within a fraction of a second he had seen that the carb was not original, hehe. I did a quick test ride and of course the shifting was better with a fixed lever, but I think it was a bit better than before. It is still quite clunky for a XBR gearbox; BMW Boxer riders would consider it smooth. But it changes a lot of things. I paid my bill and said good-bye to this friendly lad. So I could do an excursion to the town of Takayama that was very close. It started to rain now – rainy season was finally here! I went first to a museum village that was located outside town. This was really a nice place; old building from the region had been disassembled and put up again at this place.I chose the long walk. Everywhere, good explanations in English were given.
The history of the houses and the daily life of the farming people were explained. It was a tough life up here in the mountains, with bitter winters. Some professions were explained and artists showed their work on display. I was interested in wood carving and the exposed pieces were fantastic. In the shop, there was the artist….sleeping with a knife and a piece of wood in his hands. This would have been a fantastic picture, but very disrespectful at the same time. It was raining strongly now and I checked the internet for options. There was a funny museum in the town, displaying all kind of artefacts from the Japanese 50s and 60s. Sounded good. But first I had to enter the centre. This was difficult, as all parkings explicitly excluded motorbikes. In the end I simply parked the bike in a side street where it didn’t bother anybody.
This was fun. Outside, I was still pouring down. I strolled through the shopping lane with all its shops, galleries, bars, cafés. I tried a Hida beef skewer (street food) and one of the many ice cream cup variations of a shop, I think mine was based on soya milk and red beans. Rain wouldn’t stop so I went back to the ryokan. Finally I had time to do a long visit to the onsen, without the time pressure of a riding day. I tried all the different pools and tubs, indoor and outdoor, and proved the provided sake.
Then it was time to think of a plan. What to do? I concluded that the XBR would be ok to go on. It will be raining a lot, but maybe less in the first half of the day. And if I ride only three to four hours a day, visit interesting stuff along the way, put on the rain gear, then the weather will be bearable. I booked another ryokan for tomorrow and a hotel in Matsumoto for two nights. After that, I could visit Tokyo and the Fuji region. The distances are not very big, so I can always change the plan and return easily to Nagoya. So the cancellation of the bike trip has been cancelled.
And then dinner waited for me. I had ordered Sukiyaki yesterday: cooking meat and vegetables in a sweet soy sauce at your table. But there was much more…it started with some appetisers:
I had ordered a tasting of premium sake from the region. They were all excellent!
Then it was time for the highlight: Sukiyaki!
What a delicacy!
I took me quite a while to write today’s report, the extended bathing and the long dinner….
Tomorrow will be a short riding day with some sightseeing.