Archive for the 'General' Category

General posts

Bicycle Ride to Osaka with Paul Barr

As I mentioned in "Confused Kyoto Cherry Trees Bloom Five Months Early", Paul Barr and I rode our bikes down to Osaka from Kyoto. It's about 50km each way, so the round trip was about 100km (62mi) total.

Here's our trip on my cycling heatmap.

I'd made the same trip by myself earlier in the week, and written how windy it was for much of the day, but the wind during the trip down with Paul was by far the strongest sustained winds I'd ever ridden a bicycle in, on par with a medium-sized typhoon. It was just ridiculous. [...]

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A Past-Its-Prime Visit to Kyoto’s Ochiba Shrine

My timing is getting all mixed up, but two days ago I posted about the Ochiba Shrine, with pictures from two weeks ago when it was in its full carpet-of-leaves splendor. By the time I'd posted it (two days ago) the splendor had passed; this post contains photos from a visit two days ago.

On the way home, we stopped by the Yama no Ie Hasegawa restaurant for coffee...

And dinner...

And dessert...

A visit here is always a nice way to end an outing.

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Confused Kyoto Cherry Trees Bloom Five Months Early

Today on a ride from Kyoto to Osaka Castle with Paul Barr, early on the trip while still in Kyoto we came across some cherry blossoms that had apparently gotten confused by the cold spell in October followed by a warm spell earlier this month... they seem to be blooming five months early!

Some varieties of cherry do normally bloom in November, such as we've over the years here, here, and here, but their branches are sparsely populated with blossoms. Today's were full:


Whatever they were, they were pretty and out of place.

I made a short video of [...]

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Cycling to Kyoto’s Ochiba Shrine Amid the Fall Colors

I've been meaning to write about a nice little solo ride I had two weeks ago, to the Ochiba Jinja shrine. It's the same place that I wrote about in "Great Day in Kyoto’s Colorful Northern Mountains", which actually happened the next day.

The course for this day's solo ride can be seen on my cycling heatmap.

The fall colors had been pretty subdued, but with my health back after six weeks of colds/allergy/something, everything looked beautiful to me.

The small sign pointed up what looked like a driveway, but turned out to be an old logging road. I probably [...]

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Flat, Windless Trip to Osaka; Blustery, Hilly Trip Back

I've ridden my bike to Osaka three times so far. The first time was this ride in June; I'm using photos from that ride on today's post.

The second time was last month with a non-Cycling friend, and the third was yesterday, by myself.

A drunk man in the train knocked Anthony's phone to the ground, smashing its screen. Anthony being a kid, and the drunk man being a drunk man, Anthony felt he could do nothing but suck it up. Part of sucking it up means visiting the closest Apple Store to have the screen replaced, so I took [...]

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Wigglegram of a Pleasant Couple Among the Fall Colors at Kyoto’s Enkoji Temple

On a visit to the Enkoji Temple in northeast Kyoto yesterday, this couple in traditional kimono kindly posed for a wigglegram:

Anyone wearing kimono in these settings is certainly noticed by the camera, and it turns out that my camera had noticed her earlier, lost in thought in the main garden-viewing room...

This was part of Day 2 of Paul Barr's visit to Kyoto, which I'll write more about later. Day 1 was a visit to the Tenjuan Temple.

To be continued...

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Paul Barr in Kyoto Day 1: the Tenjuan Temple (Fall Colors and a Wigglegram)

Paul Barr, in town this week, and I made a visit yesterday to the Tenjuan Temple (天授庵) within the Nanzen Temple complex. It was my second visit inside, my first visit here having been three years ago. Earlier this year, though, I did feature the main gate of this shrine covered in snow.

Anyway, the fall colors this year in Kyoto seem a bit subdued, but it wasn't crowded yesterday and overall was really pleasant. We ended up sitting and enjoying more than taking photos.


With the dark shadows under the overhang, and bright sunlight in the background, the [...]

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Mini Review: Skilhunt H02R Head Mounted Flashlight, For Cycling after Dark

This xkcd comic came out today with perfect timing:

Last month I was contacted by GearBest and asked whether I'd like to do a review of a product from their cycling gear or LED lights categories; I'd get to keep the product in exchange for an unbiased review. Probably they'd seen my headphone review done under similar circumstances. I get this kind of message every so often and don't usually accept, but a bicycle light piqued my interest.

I chose to try out a small, $50 head-mounted light that I thought might be useful for nighttime riding:

The flashlight easily [...]

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Great Day in Kyoto’s Colorful Northern Mountains, and at Strava’s Kyoto Office

I had a nice ride the other day with Andy Clark and Michael Edwards.

While meeting up in the morning, Nigel Randell happened to stop by on his way to work...

And we were approached by an American tourist passing by who saw our nice bikes and just wanted to say "hi"...

It turns out that he works for Strava, the running/riding community site where your activities can be mapped and compared to your prior efforts and to others. In the nine months since I started cycling, I've been absolutely shocked at how motivating Strava has been for me; upon [...]

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Bridget and Sarah’s Tour-de-Kyoto, Stage 2

Only a month and a half late, I'm finally getting around to posting about Stage Two of Bridget and Sarah's Tour de Kyoto. These two visitors from Australia were introduced in Bridget and Sarah’s Tour-de-Kyoto, Part 1 and Part 2.

The morning had revealed that Sarah's tire did not survive the previous day's puncture-festival, but Manseki kindly loaned her a wheel, so she could ride for the day.

These pictures at the entrance to the Kurama Temple were on our way to the first big climb of the day, Kyoto's big "Hanase Pass", which rises 500m over 5.8km for an [...]

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The New Bike Is Fast; I’m Just Going Along For The Ride

I took a long bicycle ride into the mountains north of Kyoto on Saturday. It was my first long outing since recovering from what I thought was a mild but persistent cold, but turned out to be a respiratory-tract infection. Once I got antibiotics, I felt better almost right away.

Since I was mostly out of commission for three weeks, I knew I was out of shape and wouldn't be particularly fast, but at the same time, I was on my new bike, which seems to let me go faster for the same effort, so in the end I didn't [...]

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Last Month’s Particularly Epic Cycling Adventure, Part 2

This post picks up from "Last Month’s Particularly Epic Cycling Adventure, Part 1", about a ride that I took with Nigel Randell and Andy Clark a month ago. Part 1 ended with us having reached Minetoko Pass (elevation 888m / 2,900') on a long gravel road.

The descent down the other side was often very rough, and the rain continued, but it was worth it because the views and general scenery were often gorgeous.

One thing that set this descent apart is that the forest it traversed seemed to be mostly original virgin wood, and not farmed ceder seen almost [...]

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Last Month’s Particularly Epic Cycling Adventure, Part 1

The mountains around Kyoto are such fertile ground for cycling adventures, I consider many of the rides I go on to be "epic adventures", but the ride a month ago hinted at in "Preview of an Epic Cycling Adventure with Andy and Nigel" stands out.

It was supposed to be a short, vanilla outing on well-known roads, but ended up being a fantastic adventure. Finally, a month later, I'm getting around to posting the longer version of the story.

Andy Clark and I met up with Nigel Randell at a convenience store at the foot of the mountains in northern [...]

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A Visit With Rick and Lily Hancock

I had the pleasure to have lunch today with Rick and Lily Hancock, visiting from Seattle. Rick has been reading my blog for years, and often comments, so we finally met "IRL" (In Real Life).

We spent all our time talking over ramen at Gogyo (五行) so didn't have much time for an outing afterwards, but walked over to the Rokkaku-do Temple for a few pictures.

As I described on this post six years ago, it's common at temples and shrines to pay a small fee for a random "fortune paper". If you get a good one, you take it [...]

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Yuba Lunch in Kyoto with Jim Breen

I started helping out Australian professor Jim Breen with his "edict" online Japanese-English dictionary in about 1989 when it had less than 3,000 entries. It has more than 230,000 now. In all the intervening years we'd met in real life only once, about 15 years ago, so I was very happy to meet him for lunch today as he finishes up a long hiking vacation in Japan.

He mentioned an interest in Yuba, so I knew the perfect spot, Junsei Okabeya (清水順正 おかべ家), which I wrote about several years ago here.

It's near the Kiyomizu Temple, so I went there [...]

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Touring the Countryside of Otsu City with its Mayor

The other day I got to participate in a relaxing countryside tour in the city of Otsu, next to Kyoto. The tour company, Tour du Lac Biwa ("Lake Biwa Tours"), specializes in unique experiences of things not generally open to the public (even to Japanese) combined with countryside food and hospitality, all presented in English.


When I've gone on tours by them in the past (including this, this, this, and this) it's usually been as a "test foreigner" to give them feedback as they design their tours, and to share my photos with them. It's a symbiotic relationship, where [...]

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So, I Finally Bought a Road Bike

I haven't posted anything in a week, or even read email in a week, because I've been working on some new software projects.

The lack of externally-visible productivity (sorry if you've written and I've not responded) is not because I bought a new bicycle, but while we're on the subject, BTW, I did buy a new bicycle.

This is a long article written mostly for my own memory. I won't feel bad if you don't read it all

The Old Bike

If you've seen any of my many cycling posts, you'll know that since I started cycling earlier [...]

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Bridget and Sarah’s Tour-de-Kyoto, Part 3

Finally getting around to finishing Day 1 of "Bridget and Sarah's Tour-de-Kyoto", after Part 1 and Part 2 last week.

After many flats and a nice visit to a rural temple, we headed south toward Kyoto...

My favorite little secret restaurant in the middle of nowhere. Clicking on "nearby photos" above shows the many times I've posted from here.

The girls were starving and were finished with their curry before the photo above had finished writing to the camera memory card.

On the way home after lunch, we stopped by Kyoto’s Nasty 21% city-bike hill climb, which Bridget hit with [...]

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Comfy British Cycling Shirts in Japan at NORU

I stopped by NORU Kyoto today, which reopened after a summer hiatus. I'd mentioned them last May in "Discovering Kyoto’s Wonderful Toji-in Temple on a Tour with NORU".

I picked up a nice quick-dry T-shirt from Morvélo, a British cycling brand.

I think that NORU is the only place to get them in Japan, though I suppose you could get them directly from the company if you didn't mind paying more plus shipping.

It's much more expensive than the 500-yen Uniqlo T's that I wrote about three years ago, but also much more comfortable and stylish. The price is on [...]

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Fumie’s “Swanilda” Tutu

Fumie had her annual fall ballet recital yesterday, and it was amazing. Sadly, no video was allowed this time, but she's really progressed in technique and presentation. She is a real ballerina.

She did the technically-demanding "Swanilda" variation from Coppélia's act three, wearing this:

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