I woke up early today. Yesterday I was so tired I couldn’t finish my report. I wrote it before and after (the rich Japanese) breakfast. Just before the allowed check-out time, I left the ryokan. To my surprise, it was cloudy and dry! For today, no sightseeing was planned apart from the scenic mountain ride. I rode down to Toyama and even rode on the highway for a while. I had to cross the outskirts which was painful as usual. But when the road turns into a mountainous road, things change. The road went uphill in a river valley, mountain tops were in clouds. A nice road again. It seems I have adapted myself to the low speeds here. It was thinking that I will have to re-adapt again when I will go on a tour in the Alps with some mates in August. But that usually goes very quick.
After two hours, I reached a junction high up in the mountains. It was time for a short stop. I purchased a local milk as a drink which was very good. When I wanted to throw away the cardbox, I had the same problem again: Japanese seem to dislike waste bins. They are so difficult to find. Looking at the mountain tops in clouds, I had a premonition and put on the rain suit. A wise decision. Although there was a shortcut via a tunnel to Matsumoto, I wanted to go the long way over the mountain. I wanted to ride once over a mountain pass in the Japanese Alps!
Soon the rain started. As it was still early, I wanted to do a little detour over a mountain plateau. Slowly I crawled higher and higher. The rain really set in and I saw some LED announcements in Japanese…hmmmm…no idea what they mean. Then a little man jumped out of his cabin and indicated me ‘closed’. I made the sign for closed (crossed arms)? Yes, closed. Then he ran back to his cabin and came back with a laminated paper. The access was for buses only, no cars or motorbikes were allowed!
I had to laugh. A mountain pass that is only accessible for….buses??? Crazy Japan! I had to go down in the heavy rain. At the junction, I could have chosen the easy route via the tunnel. But I was stubborn and wanted to ride a Japanese pass! And so I did. I was pretty alone on that road. I reached 1800 m altitude and many hairpins led back to the main road. Soon the rain stopped and I was riding in the dry again.
Finally I reached Matsumoto and arrived at the hotel Buena Vista (!). I checked in and parked the bike in the garage. I was wearing the rain suit, but you still are a bit damp. I was not smelling like a wet dog. No, I was smelling like a pack of wolves after a week of rain. But there’s little I can do to mitigate this olfactory insult. Well, I gave it a try. In the small hotel room, there was a pump spray of odour killer. Let’s see if this helps a bit. After a needed shower, I walked to the centre. Quite a lively, modern town with lots of European, ‘exotic’ places. I discovered a wine exhibition on a square. Wines were divided into ‘red’ and ‘white’ and ‘light bodied’ and ‘full bodied’.
On the opposite side, some stands served exotic food, like Spanish or German or Italian. Funny!
It smelled not so bad, but I had something else in mind. According to Tripadvisor, there was one top Sushi bar in town. I want to try many different food styles and I didn’t have Sushi so far. So I walked through the more quiet part of the centre and finally found the very small bar Sushiten. I entered the tiny place and was offered a place at the counter. I ordered a sushi menu and some sake. The sushi was prepared by an old lady who must have passed her 75th birthday a long time ago. She was treated by the young waitresses with great respect. The sushi was maybe not high-end design, but the quality and and taste were fantastic. So Japan ruined European sushi for me as well.
The good-bye was very friendly and the old lady was very charming when she waved and shouted ‘bye-bye!’.