Archive for the 'Japan' Category

Posts relating to Japan and things Japanese

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-du-Kyoto, Part 3

Finally getting around to finishing Day 1 of "Bridget and Sarah's Tour-du-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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Update On My Fear and Trepidation of Cycling Clipped In: It’s Mostly Gone


It's been a couple of weeks since I posted "Trepidation and Anticipation: Moving Up to Cycling Shoes", which opens with the same photo seen above, and in which I admit my anxiety of riding with shoes that physically clip to the bike's pedals. The fear arose from not being able to put my food down in an emergency, thereby causing me to fall over, perhaps on nasty rocks or at high speed, or, even worse, in front of friends.

Prior to this change, since I first got bitten by the cycling bug in January, I'd ridden 2,978km (1,850 mi) [...]

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Bridget and Sarah’s Tour-du-Kyoto, Part 2

This post picks up from "Bridget and Sarah’s Tour-du-Kyoto, Part 1" about a great ride with a couple of Aussie girls visiting Kyoto. That first part of the story left off 3½ hours and 41km into our ride, after Eric had fixed his flat.

We got almost four whole minutes farther down the road before the next flat, this time on Sarah's bike.

Despite the rain, things got bright after that because we didn't get another flat for almost a full 30 minutes!

The rain abated a bit, so later when after having crested a short mountain pass, I went [...]

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Cycling with Manu and Manseki to Osaka Castle and Back

Manu Mohan and Manseki Kanemitsu joined me on light ride to Osaka Castle and back. It was my first ride with Manu since we tackled Seryo Pass three months ago.

Manu's bike is a folding commuter bike, which is not really appropriate for "real" cycling. It's too small for him and the range of gears is limited, but the ride to Osaka is not challenging except for its length. The round trip is more than 100km.

His rear tire seemed a bit low on air, something that would rob him of speed and power. If he had a normal road [...]

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Bridget and Sarah’s Tour-du-Kyoto, Part 1

A couple of Aussies on a cycling vacation in Japan contacted the Cycling Kyoto! group on Facebook looking for interesting rides in the area. A group of us ended up going on two rides in two days with Sarah Knights and Bridget Slocum, hard-core amateur cyclists that compete on the national level in Australia.

As it turns out, they're also fun people.

Manseki Kanemitsu and I met the girls near their hotel and moved across town toward the mountains to the west, picking up folks along the way....

After also picking up Mone Sakura, we headed toward the Arashiyama area [...]

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Scoping Out Portraiture Locations with Eric and Gigi at the Kiyomizu Temple

San Francisco friends Eric and Gigi are in town again. We last saw them earlier in the year buying a Kimono and playing in the snow. Yesterday they made a visit to the Kiyomizu Temple, and I popped over to join them.

It was a Monday, but the place was crazy crowded like during a high-season weekend. The economy must really be doing better.

Eric and Gigi like to shoot portraiture, and the challenge in a setting 8like this is to find places and angles that omit the crowd, yet still lend a feeling of the location. As we instinctively [...]

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Riding Clipped In: Baptism By Fire, But Feeling Well Satisfied

Having done a short excursion riding while clipped to the pedals, yesterday I set off on a longer mountain ride to really give them a workout.


I didn't have any trouble at the beginning, except at the very beginning when it took me about 10 seconds of trying to clip in before I realized that I hadn't taken the cleat covers (to make walking down to the bike easier) off. Doh!

The ride ended up being 54km (33mi) with 1,190m (3,900') of elevation gain. This is pretty mild for me, but it was my first real ride in more [...]

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A Hazy Visit to Onyu Pass with Arthur and Neil

Last month before heading off on my trip to The States to visit my folks, I did a nice little bicycle to Onyu Pass and back, an 85 mile (137km) round trip over two other major passes each way. I was joined by veteran riders Arthur Lauritsen and Neil Holt.

My first visit to Onyu Pass had been during a day of incessant rain a month prior, and as such the supposedly-spectacular views were shrouded in clouds. I hoped for something better this time, but was left disappointed due to the extreme haze of the hot (35℃/95℉) humid air.

At [...]

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Morning Calm at Kyoto’s Hirosawa Lake

On a morning bicycle ride other day to Kyoto's western mountains, I made a few snapshots of Hirosawa Lake. It feels like it's a million miles from anywhere, but it's actually just one mile northeast from the teeming tourist crowds in the Arashiyama area.

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The Solemn Uniqueness of Kyoto’s Kuginuki Jizo Temple

Without question, the most unique and solemn temple I've ever come across in Japan is the small but emotionally-packed Kuginuki Jizo Temple here in Kyoto.

今まで出会ったお寺の中で、一番面白いな、いかめしいお寺は京都にある釘抜地蔵です。 日本語で説明は難しいですが、ウィキペディアでは説明があるはず。

Its official name is The Shakushoji Temple (石像寺), but its name in the local vernacular, kuginuki jizou (more or less "nail-pulling guardian deity") reflects the images of nail and spike pullers that permeate the temple grounds...

Until you understand the meaning behind it, it certainly feels quite odd. But once you understand the meaning (which we'll get to below), you'll understand why the temple is so solemn.

As is common with jizo statues [...]

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Obama Hosts My First Bicycle Visit to the Sea

Tuesday was the "Sea Day" holiday in Japan, so I took the opportunity to make my first bicycle ride to the sea. Kyoto is about as far from the sea as a big city gets in Japan, so even though I've been to a lake that looks like an ocean, I'd not yet been by bicycle to the actual ocean.

この間のは海の日で初めての海までのサイクリングをしました、京都市内から。二時間の帰り電車を含めて17時間掛かりました。157キロを走って、一番山が多い道を選びました。 獲得高度は2,800mでした。 楽しかった。

It was a long trip.

I left the house at 4:24am, and returned 17 hours later at 9:33pm, though two hours of that was the return from the ocean by train. All in all it was 151km [...]

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My First Ascent of The Most-Heinous Momoi Pass East

I had quite the ride yesterday, finally tackling one of the last big mountain passes in Kyoto, Momoi Pass (百井峠) from the east. It was gruesomely long and steep.

The plan was to start with some relatively-relaxing climbs, but Mone somewhow got a flat as she arrived, so Andy, the gentleman that he is, stepped in to change it...

Wheel on to wheel off was 5½ minutes, which seems pretty fast to me. It's apparently possible to change a tube in less than a minute, but in the real world you have to spend the time to investigate why the [...]

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Riding Kyoto’s “Heart Loop” With Friends

Yesterday I finally did the "Heart Loop" route that seems to be a local favorite. It goes over three not-very-big passes, which in the counter-clockwise order that I did it yesterday are Ebumi (江文峠), Mochikoshi (持越峠), and Kyomi (京見峠). Total elevation gain is only 800m (2,600'), so it's not very challenging unless you choose to make it so by really pushing.

昨日、やっと「ハートルップ」と言うサイクリングコースをやってみました。 名前の意味は「♡形の一周」です。距離は55キロ、獲得高度は800メートルです。

My previous few rides have been in the rain, and so my camera lens got a layer of something on it that I neglected to clean off, and so the photos are all hazy and indistinct.

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Bicycle Ride Around Japan’s Largest Lake, Part 2


I'm finally getting around to continue the story from "Bicycle Ride Around Japan’s Largest Lake, Part 1", a 230km (143 mile) ride I did with a few friends a month ago. I've done a bunch of long rides since (115km, 143km, 147km, 145km, 50km, and 140km), but this remains my longest ride so far.

Here I'll repeat the map that leads the first post:

In the upper-rightish is the city of Nagahama, and that's about where the first post ended, so that's where this one picks up. We're moving around the lake in a counter-clockwise direction, so we're still [...]

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That Kyoto Temple With the Many Whimsical Statues

After so many cycling-related posts lately, it's time I get back to my basics with some pretty photos.


I've been meaning to write about the Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple (愛宕念仏寺) temple for years, and indeed all the photos on this post are from 2012 (from visits to the temple in April and December of that year). A few of the photos appeared a year ago in "A Few Desktop Backgrounds from the Delightfully Whimsical Otaginenbutsuji Temple", and one appears as the subject of my Photo-Development Challenge #2.

It's at the far north end of the Arashiyama area that is already [...]

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Many Lessons Learned on Yesterday’s Group Ride

I went on a bicycle ride yesterday that involved 13 people, the largest group I'd been on to date. It was fun, but I also learned some important lessons.

It was quite the international gathering, with folks from Australia, Canada, England, Finland, Japan, Norway, Philippines, and The States.

The first lesson I learned was to pay attention to what weather forecast I looked at. Yesterday in Kyoto city proper the actual weather (spritzy rain in the morning; otherwise sunny all day) sort of matched the forecast (10% chance of rain all day), but our ride into the mountains was in [...]

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Cycling Along the River from Kyoto To Osaka Castle


For our Wednesday ride this week, the plan was to cycle down to Osaka and see the city a bit, then slog up through the dense suburbia to the mountains, then up and over them back to Kyoto.

This post is about 49-km (31-mile) ride from Kyoto to Osaka, primarily on bike paths along the rivers that cut through the concrete jungle filling the flatlands between mountains (the concrete jungle seen in this long shot of the Osaka skyline from Kyoto).

This time I've based the time ("+9 min" above) and distance ("2.8 km" above) under each photo on [...]

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Manseki on the Attack: Serendipitous Camera Mistake

昨日サイクリングをして大阪へ行きました。途中で金光万石さんの写真を撮ったけれども、カメラの設定のミスのせいでかなり露出過度にしまった。 写真は良くなかったが、ソフトで調整してから上の結果を出せました。結果は本人と同じ位格好良いだと思います。

Out on a cycle ride to Osaka yesterday, I snapped a photo of cycling buddy Manseki Kanemitsu as we road. The photo was wildly overexposed due to a camera-settings mistake on my part, but with some futzing in Lightroom I made something of it that I like.

I was using the new Panasonic LX100 that I wrote about the other day, but trying it in a different mode where I control both the shutter speed and aperture, and let the camera adjust the image-sensor sensitivity to suit the specific brightness of the moment. In this case I wanted [...]

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Cycling to Miyama with Gorm

On Wednesday Gorm and I did a 140km (88 mile) cycling ride to Miyama. It had 2,350m (7,800') of vertical climb, and though just a few days prior I had done a much tougher ride, this is the one that wiped me out.

The "7:31 AM (+1h 8m) - 13 km (8 miles)" note under the photo above means that it was taken at 7:31am, an hour and 8 minutes of rest and travel (and 13km of travel) after I'd left my house; this kind of note is under each photo to help give a sense of travel.

Our route [...]

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