November, 1 st Osaka
“Be brave. Behave.” A lot of people are jealous on me for the opportunity of doing this trip. This holds a lot of pressure, because since I’m in Osaka I just “wasted my time”. Osaka was an intermediated target to calm down, relax and enjoy the time. As you already know it went different and instead of relaxing my feelings overwhelmed me. Nobody wants to be unhappy or sad in his life, but I cannot understand why people are fighting sadness this hard. I also prefer being happy, but for me it is also ok to be sad. This emotions are very strong and fighting them needs energy as well. I decided just to accept the sadness and live with it. It will disappear, if time is right and I don’t think forcing it will accelerate this process. I have this great opportunity of being in Japan, and I will catch up to it by time. The camino thought me you can’t make any wrong decision. I deeply trust. The reason why I’m that late in Japan and have to deal with temperature issues is that I decided to spent the summer in Düsseldorf. And honestly I don’t regret. I took the chance to spent time with Karina, Albert and Mami to create a deeply connection. I also spent time within hiking group and if I had left earlier I might passed the chance to evolve a deep friendship to Jan and Hanne. I also won’t miss the trip with Sam across the Alps. Also the members of my Taekwondo group are still at my side and support me. All this experiences were important to my growth even though I cannot see their impact on my life and personalty yet. But I’m sure they left a mark on me. When I was at the deepest point this week, all of them were there for me. Immediately. Without asking. With all of you I don’t feel alone. I can feel each of you behind me. Pushing my bike a little bit forward…. I really enjoyed the very last evening of Sam’s stay with him together.
November, 2 nd Osaka
Saying goodbye. Sam was leaving today and saying goodbye to him was hard. It was a moment I was as afraid of as saying goodbye to Karina & Co. He left in the morning and I had to leave the hotel as well. I still didn’t know where to go. I still felt weak and not ready to head for Shikoku. Maybe Nara would be nice and wouldn’t be that fare away. Unfortunately there were no accommodations in Nara left and I also was lacking the energy to start cycling and see what happens. I preferred to leave Osaka, but in Kobe was also no accommodation. Ok, then I stay in Osaka. I guess the city should get a chance to show a beautiful site. It took me a lot of time to book the hostel in the end, but finally I left the hotel. I stopped at Decathlon show room and got a second scarf to avoid further inflammations of my ears. Afterwards I cycled to the new hostel and luckily I could check in. I wanted to see Osaka castle and Tsutenkaku. I met up with a guy from Australia at the castle. When I entered the main castle I had a flashback, a volunteer guide was standing in front of me and asked if I want a free tour around the castle. There were so many tourists and I ask myself why he asked me. I told him that I was going to meet up a friend at a different entrance and he guided me there. He was amazing and I would have loved to visit with him the castle. He spoke English fluently and with his 81 years he was not looking older than 60. He founded a school in Africa and also spent some years in Hamburg. Amazing guy. Unfortunately when I met the Australian guy he left, maybe a misunderstanding. Osaka castle was the most beautiful castle I have seen in Japan by now. We were wandering around and it was nice to talk to him. He was also a climber and only in Japan to learn about Japanese way of route setting. Later he went to a bouldering gym and asked me to join him. I was thinking about it, but it felt wrong. I got an invitation for dinner in the evening via couchsurfing by a Japanese mother with her daughter and I preferred to get to know her than doing sports. I cycled to Tsutenkaku Tower and did some tourism. I just decided to climb the tower and it felt a bit like in Golden Temple. The lift was 700 ¥, which was OK, but before I had to pass a lane of coloured shopping stuff and had to take a picture which I could by afterwards for 1100 ¥ :D. I asked the stuff if he joins me on the picture, so the picture was fun. On top it was still bright outside and I enjoyed the view of the city while sun was setting. I spent there around two hours just watching the city and breathing. The sun was setting and the city changed. Beautiful. It was funny, if you wanted to go up one more floor to the terrace, you had to pay even more 500 ¥. Then it happened. The Tower was shaking. Earthquake. And I was on top of the tower. This time there was no signal on the phone. I was not sure if it was an earthquake or just wind until Hitoe cancelled the dinner, because she was afraid of a second one and that trains would stop operating in the night. I cycled back to my hostel and got some food. Luckily it is very common in Japan to go alone into a restaurant and just get some food and leave.
November, 3 rd Osaka
Seoul. Round trip. I decided to spend one week in Seoul while waiting for my sleeping bag. I found a cheap flight via Jeju air and when I finally decided to book the drama took its course. I immediately got two invitations from locals without asking for it. I didn’t expected and was very happy. In the evening I bumped into a Korean market near my hostel by mistake and tried some food. I wondered why people talked English very well to me before I realised that I’m on Korean market. In the evening I started booking with Jeju air. On the computer the server always crashed while I tried to proceed the payment (also with a different browser and secure shell). So I decided to use the phone. I only had this issue once I bought my sleeping bag, during payment they wanted a TAN to verify the credit card payment. This happens only while doing payments with mobile devices. There was necessary to do a special registration, which I could do using the normal TAN procedure. As you might now I bought a new phone in Kyoto and my old is on its way to my parents via Sam. For using mobile TAN I have to register any new device before. And yes I can register via TAN! In German there is a special phrase for this kind of issue “die Katze beißt such in den eigenen Shwanz” which means literally the cat bites itself in its own tail. It was also possible to use the TAN generator device to create a TAN, but unfortunately I had the device, but the giro card is at home (you cannot do anything with it abroad). I could request a sheet for a new device registration as well, but for this request you also need a TAN. Well done. It’s an online bank account and there isn’t hardly any customer service. In the end my parents managed to call them while I was on a WhatsApp call. I will get the sheet (hopefully). Since the flight was for Wednesday, I still couldn’t book. So I asked Jan to do the payment for me and he agreed to do it with me, when he is awake.
November, 4 th Nara
Back on the road. I finally sat again on my bike. I just sat down and could feel the energy. The sun was strong and warm today and I felt very comfortable on the bike. I expected an easy ride of around 40 km and started slowly into the day. At the end of Osaka city I had to climb up. I knew that before, but I got more and more unmotivated. Or hungry. Yes it was hungry, this time I had no snacks with me which is a pity. I don’t know how it came, but by now the 34 l hiking backpack is which lays on top of my bike bags is full of uncooked food! I’m a cycling supermarketto! I carry 2 kg rice, magazine, marmalade, 1,5 l soy sauce, nori leaves, coffee, 1 kg muesli, cornflakes and some other stuff. That’s stupid. To much space left is never working on a journey.
Well, but there is nothing among it I could eat without any preparation. Clever. On top of today’s climb there was a small parking lot. This morning in the hostel I could have killed my flatmates, there was one alarm clock which alert every 5 minutes and the owner didn’t stop it. At 5 am! But this gave me the chance of the doing the best thing while traveling. A nap. I love my new thermarest and I’m so happy about it. I just laid down and the warm sun was touching my legs. I slept around one hour. The descent was fast and cold, since I was sweaty and the sun was gone. I arrived the outskirts of Nara. Or was is still Osaka? At a supermarket I bought some Udon noodles and the hostel was close so I decided to use the microwave instead of my gas stove. I’m lazy. Unfortunately the street went up and down all the time and it was more challenging than expected. Just before my hostel I saw the Pagoda of Yakushi-ji Temple, one of the things I really wanted to visit in Nara, I decided to visit it yet (and save some km) and bumped into a Japanese family. I spoke to the grandfather only in Japanese, I didn’t understand everything, but I could compensate it (usually people asking me the same questions). The family was impressed of my Japanese which makes me very proud. Together we went to the entrance and they showed me where to park the bike. I arrived at the entrance and the girl told me the grandfather already paid for me. He paid for the big ticket which allowed me to visit all the buildings! I can’t believe this hospitality again! I followed them and realised I lost the ticket while the staff gave me lot’s of paper. I went back and found it on the ground. It just took one minute, but the family was gone. I messed up. What would they think about my disapperaring? This would be very rude. I entered the first building, a kind of gallery. I asked the staff if they have seen a Japanese family entering. Well done, Jen. A Japanese family in Japan. At a tourist hotspot. The staff started thinking I lost MY Japanese family and their English was too bad to explain the situation. I went to the next buildings, but couldn’t find them. I visited the Pagoda and then I saw the grandfather and grandmother. I talked to them that I wondered how they disappeared. He took some pictures of me and his children at the pagoda and I should enjoy. So nice. And I enjoyed. This was the nicest temple I have been in so far. There we hardly any tourists and the sun was setting. Perfect light. When it got cold I went back to my bike. I sat there and took a phone call with Jan, while the family passed and asked if everything was ok and where I stay. I just love the people in Japan. At the hostel I started a meet up via Couchsurfing and a local guy was in immediately. Luckily the hostel was next to the station. I told him I have to take a shower first, but somehow we misunderstood and he was waiting at the station while I was taking the shower and swallowed my noodles. I guess he got a bit angry and so his reaction was. For me the same, I don’t like when people rush and judge me. Perfect misunderstanding. I was not happy to meet him, but I did and it was the first time the sympathy was missing. I felt very uncomfortable, it was might caused by the misunderstanding. I guess for the guy it was also weird. There was this girl and she doesn’t wanted to go for eating nor drinking into a pub. Why did we meet? He was hungry and so we went to a restaurant together. I’m not sure if it was rude that I didn’t drink or eat anything. It was hard to find a topic to talk about and I also had problem understanding him. I could see he felt the same. In the end we said goodbye after leaving the restaurant. At least it was also an experience that sometimes it just not fits, no matter how much you try.
November, 5 th Nara
Deers. I cycled to Nara park without knowing exactly what to expect. Nara is for deers I heard, but didn’t know what exactly it means. Maybe there was a small zoo or park where you can pet them in an enclosure. How wrong I was. I looked like there are more deers living in Nara than people. They are everywhere. And when I say everywhere I mean everywhere. Even on the street. And they don’t care about anything. They are extremely domesticated and won’t go away. They follow you and are as relaxed as a sloth. I wonder how aligned animals can be that tame. Especially so many of them. They are a lot of day trip tourists in Nara, but I guess it is worst in summer. I climbed Mt Wakakusayama where only few tourist were and enjoyed the autumn colouring. There are less words needed, so I let the pictures talk for me. After descent I went for dinner and visited a five-story pagoda, I’m happy about the decision to have visited Yakushi-ji temple yesterday and take the time. For sure it is the nicest one in Nara. Yesterday, I booked the flight with Jan’s credit card, but I didn’t get any confirmation mail. I got a bit worried, it might went wrong. Jun, who I met on this CS meet up in Osaka was very kind and called the airline for me. But they weren’t allowed to give any informations to strangers. I have only data sim so I tried to call them from a public coins. I hang out in the line and after feeding up the machine wit ten 100 ¥ coins they kicked me out of lane. I gave Jun all my personal data and she pretended to be me and called them again. They needed some numbers of the credit card to share informations. In the end it worked, but there is no booking. I wonder how small things can evolve such huge problems when you are abroad in a foreign country. The whole process was that annoying, so I canceledmy plans for the short trip to Seoul. I felt like a helpless child unable to fix such a small problem and unable to book a simple flight in the end. Jun is my hero and I can’t say how thankful I am. I’m very sorry for Jamin-Min and Yangju who invited me, especially for Jamin-Min who recently had some negative experience with couch surfers not appearing. Anyway it is planned from the beginning of this Journey that I will cycle through South Korea as well and I’m even more excited to explore the country next year. I’m excited to explore the culture and people of my very first Taekwondo Sabo-nim and see his origins. By the way South Korea was the first country I wanted to visit some day.
November, 6 th Osaka
Today my parents dropped off my winter sleeping bag, so it is finally on the way. I wonder how long it will take in the end. But anyway I will go to Shikoku, it is time tocontinue the journey. I hang out in Osaka already for a long time. I was heading to Suminoe-ku (Osaka), because Jun invited me to stay at her place and get to know her daughters and her husband. I was really looking forward to see her again and meet her family. But first, I had to cross this little mountain between Nara and Osaka. I was happy that it was a different route, it feels wrong to “go back” and it is against my philosophy. I was wondering, while on the way to Nara after passing the mountain there were a lot of ups and downs. But today, it was flat for a very long time. Even though I was happy I was suspicious as well, in the end there was the mountain which I had to cross. From one moment to the other it was extremely steep and challenging. Sweat was dropping on the frame. I made a break next to the road with a nice view of the city and cooked Udon (noodles). But there was still have of the ascent left. The climb itself it’s not a problem for me, I only get bored while cycling that slowly. I arrived at a very small village in the mountains and it was incredibly nice. I was so happy and excited about the route maps.me guided me. When I arrived the top the sun was already setting and the descent was very steep as well. And then I saw it. The city of Osaka presented herself in a very special way. It was beautiful so see the city between the grape fields. This was one of that small moments I’m travelling for. It was breathtaking and I’m grateful for this beautiful moment and view. Perhaps a man was behind me, I don’t know where he came from. He asked me in English where I am from and gave me some grapes. Then he walked away. The taste of this sweet grapes represented the moment and the view of the city. I cycled to Jun’s place and as like as many times google maps and all the other apps messed up finding the address, so Jun picked me up at a shrine. Staying with Jun and her family was amazing, her husband Tomo prepared Takoyaki, it was my first time eating self made Takoyaki and they were the best ones. Afterwards they changed the top of the table grill and we ate Yakisobo, noodles with vegetables, ham and octopus. It is funny, in Germany there is an unwritten law not to mix meat and seafood and I don’t know understand why. It is delicious! They even offered me sausages and beer and I felt a little bit bad to tell them that I’m neither a big fan of beer nor of sausages. But get it offered touched me. I liked Jun’s daughters so much, they were a little bit shy, but they understand a lot of English and talked a lot me. The family is so kind and warm hearted and I felt like a family member. I’m so happy that I went to this CS meet up that day and met Jun, it is always amazing to see how strangers become friends. We talked a lot the whole evening I had the feeling I could continue the whole night, but for sure it was time for bed at some point. I fell asleep immediately and slept like a baby.
November, 7 th Kobe
Back on the road. When I woke up the family already left, the girls just came to my room for saying goodbye. Jun prepared a sandwich for me and spent the morning teaching me some Japanese. I had to pack and she gave me a lot of food for my journey as well. I touched by the hospitality. She really cared for me like a third child. I will come back to Osaka soon and I’m really looking forward to see her again. On the way to Kobe I stopped at Yodobashi Umeda to get a new SIM card (mine is only valid for 4 weeks). Unfortunately the tourist ones were too expensive and the contract I decided for was sold out that day. So I might have to order one in the internet again and solve the problem where to deliver it… The route from Osaka to Kobe was not exciting through main streets and suburbs. I found a nice place next to a river and spent there around two hours for eating and taking a long deep nap. I felt lazy to continue cycling (especially because now I can feel the extra weight due to all that food), but there was no choice. I booked the hostel on the way and arrived exactly in time when it was starting to get dark. The owner of the hostel was extremely kind and helpful. He changed my booking and gave me a bed in the females only dorm, where I was the only person. I was so happy to have an own room just for me. On the ground there are tatami mattress and I really liked that place. Luckily there was a fully equipped kitchen, so I could get rid of the potatoes while cooking a very German dish: “Stampfkartoffeln mit Spiegelei” (mashed potatoes with fried egg Japanese style. The owner appeared in the kitchen explaining me everything and came bag with a bottle of sauce. He was so kind and afraid I would eat the potatoes without any sauce. Next mission is definatly to eat the stuff I’m carrying in my backpack.
November, 8 th Himeji
The ocean. The previous days were nicely sunny, so today as well. I started in Kobe and got stuck in traffic. I decided to follow google maps for the first, because I wanted to cycle along the coast. It didn’t work well. Luckily after Kobe the traffic got better. I cycled along the main road, when a motorcycle drove next to me and the driver, a dutch-english guy, asked me where I am from. His German was pretty good and I wonder why so many dutch people can speak German, but conversely not. He recommended a different route. After a while I found a bicycle route directly along the coast like in Shizuoka prefecture. There were a lot of beaches and parks along the route and I was really happy to see the ocean next to me. I really enjoyed that day. I made a break in a park and ate my leftovers from yesterday. The days are very short, I plan to arrive at 5 pm at my destination, because it is getting dark. For the few months it will be hard to avoid darkness and it might be a problem. Since I had this mad experience in Nebukawa I don’t cycle without knowing where to sleep in darkness anymore. However this was a really nice, but exhausting day. I hope I could sleep early to change my day-night rhythm. Unfortunately I’m not an early bird.
November, 9 th Maruyama Kenmin Sun Beach
The ocean. I don’t know why but I hardly couldn’t sleep in the night even though I was the only person in the dorm. It was raining in the night, so it was humid in the city and cloudy. The plan was to camp this night and I was hoping the sun will come out in the afternoon. Yesterday I arrived too late for visiting the castle, which is very beautiful and famous. I was also too lazy to buy breakfast so I went out without having it. It was a huge mistake. I need my time in the morning and breakfast is very important. Murphy’s law worked out, so only I could find some cornflakes after visiting three different Konbinis. In the castle’s park I build up my stuff for an opulent breakfast while tourists were watching me. I felt much better and went towards the entry. Unfortunately the entry was too expensive, so I started cycling without visiting it. Today’s aim was around 40 km and somehow I got the feeling it will be might difficult to find a supermarket. I was right, but luckily there was one on the way, so I could get some breakfast stuff and I would be independent for the next days. I also tried my luck to get a new tourist data SIM card, because my internet browser soaked all the data by mistake. It didn’t worked, the stuff in the store never even heard about it. I was not wondering. The next days I will be offline. It was even more raining and I was worried to get completely wet. Starting camping while being wet and cold and without having a (hot) shower lowers the motivation a lot. It was only 7 km to the campground I found in the internet and I had to climb up a lot. I was worried that the campground does not exist or will just be a public park. Since everybody can add a campground google is extremely unreliable in Japan. When I cycled down the slope it rained a lot and I was counting down the meters. But when I arrived the cost, I felt happy immediately. 100 m to destination. There was a sign and it seemed the place were a bit hidden from the main road and an official place for swimming. My heart jumped when I arrived. It was an official campground and there were already other people. I felt very happy and relaxed. I hopped for joy . The campground was for free and together with other people it’s nice to socialise and gives me a feeling of safety. I pitched up my tent beneath a huge tree to have a shelter if it’s starting to rain again. I prepared my dinner and was just happy. It got dark very soon and an old problem appeared again. Mosquitos. They forced me into my tent. Protected by the fly sheet I could see the the stars in the dark clear sky. I could hear more and more people arriving and while they made some unspecific noises I slightly fell asleep.
November, 10 th Maruyama Kenmin Sun Beach
Camping Japanese way. Yesterday I pitched up my tent under this huge tree to be protected of the rain, but this trees were absorbing all the light, so I decided to change to place in the morning. Before having breakfast I pitched up the tent at a sunny place and enjoyed my beloved breakfast. After breakfast I was just lazy. I enjoyed the sun warming up my body, tickling my forehead, the ocean right next to me and the coloured mountains on the other side. This day was becoming a lazy day for taking a break and just being in nature. Just being outside without doing anything makes me happy. Having the ocean next to me makes it perfect. I finally used all my data volume, so until I get a new SIM card I’m offline. But anyway, at this beautiful place there is no need to waste time online. There was another interesting thing to do: Watching Japanese people camping. It is an experience itself. They are fully equipped, even though they just stay for only one night. All the tens are family size and most of them pitch up a tarp additionally. I guess I was the only person sitting on my beloved new mattress on the ground. All the other people had camping furnitures. At noon I walked along the area and wondered how many people were staying here. The place was crowded and at some meadows there was not even more space for one more tent. And the tents were already very close. I cannot imagine how it will be here during summer time. In the afternoon, when I was preparing food, my neighbour brought me an ice cream. He already spoke to me in the morning and told me that his friend would come and pitch up his tent next to me. The people did exactly the same I did. Nothing, but enjoying the nature. Some groups sat together and children were playing all around. When it was getting dark, every camp did an own campfire. In Europe it is more or less forbidden everywhere, so again I was the only person behaving different. I like this kind of camping tradition, so I’m looking forward my next time on a campground and doing a campfire. It’s one of the best thing while camping. When I was in Sweden we always did and I loved it. My neighbour brought me a fire-grilled sausage. Today it was colder than yesterday, maybe the trees kept away the humidity coming from the ocean. I crawled into my sleeping bag. I might already mentioned, but I love my tent. Useful gear makes me happy and I’m thankful and enjoy the simple comfort it brings to me. The fly sheet is completely free standing and I can adjust the tarpaulin in many different ways. So, I could still watching the sky and ocean while laying inside. I was listening the rushing of the waves and fell asleep. Around midnight somebody was snoring loudly…
November 11 th Okayama
Power. I woke up knowing I had to leave today. Yesterday I went to sleep without any decision if I should stay another night or go further. So I got up, packed my stuff and enjoyed my breakfast next to the sea. I would see the ocean soon again and I was already looking for it. At 9 am I was completely ready and started cycling. Today’s route to Okayama was around 70 km and honestly I was not that much motivated, but the sun was shining and I was excited about what the day was holding for me. I passed several small cities and there was a mysterious calmness and emptiness around. Sure, it was Sunday! Lucky me I took some kilometres on the main road, which was enjoyable. maps.me guided me along the coast and I had doubt to leave the comfy main road and might climb up into the mountains just to break down a steep slope. Sometimes maps.me is kind of evil. But this time I was overwhelmed. I passed a small fisher’s village and followed a narrow road directly along the ocean. This was how I expected cycling in Japan and I loved it! Somehow I was extremely energised today and couldn’t stop cycling. I cycled around 60 km without a break and didn’t feel tired. The landscape was amazing, I could see and feel the difference between the busy Kansai region. It is getting wilder. I cycled on a road through the mountains and for the first times I saw lot’s of nice places for camping. There were just nothing. Only the road and a German girl on her bike searching for adventure. This was my dream of Japan. I cycled along some rivers and couldn’t believe my eyes. There were flying fishes. Very huge ones! I was thinking about my dad and imagined him sitting here trying to catch the fish. I wonder how this fishes have the power to jump that high! I stopped at a seven eleven store to use the WiFi. Next to the store I cooked my lunch on my little stove and enjoyed in the sun. Today I was living in my own cosmos and didn’t realise the people around me. I must have looked weird. I arrived too early to check in at my hostel so I went to Sports Depo first to get some gas canister. In Okayama was marathon today and I was a bit shocked about being pithing so many people. I could check in at my hostel even earlier and again the owner changed my booking, because I was more or less the only guest. I got a whole apartment on my own with a washing machine. The owner recommended to visit the castle, the sun was already setting, so I went out for visiting it. It was not amazing, but nice. Anyway I had to go out to buy some stuff at the supermarket. Back in my room I took a bath after three days without shower and enjoyed the comfiest bed I ever slept in (in Japan).
November, 12 th Fukuyama
Starry sky made of gingko leaves. It was quiet cold in the morning even inside my apartment. It was really hard to leave my comfy and warm bed. I could have slept out, but the hostel I saw days ago in Fukuyama was fully booked, so I had to go further to a campsite in the mountains. It would be 82 km and like always the aim was to arrive before the sun is setting. I packed my bike and started cycling, when I realised it would be too cold for shorts the first time since I’m in Japan. I was too lazy to stop and change and slowly rolled through the crowded city. I realised again that my brain isn’t able to work before 11 am, my body paddled, but my mind was still in the apartment. Like in Italy when I just followed Sam, I followed my navigator. It was grey and cloudy and large drops were pouring on me. It was still more than 70 km and was going to get wet. Nice. But there was no plan B, so I just cycled counting down the kilometres. It was like maps.me tried to cheer me up while guiding me on a damm next to a river and let me climb up a mountain. It worked out and I was enjoying the route even though it was cold and rainy. I wanted to arrive fast, so I skipped some kilometres and took the main road. Then it happens. I usually cycle on the road, because there are too many up and downs on the pedestrians, which is ok when you cycle for few kilometres. But with a fully packed bike, you get annoyed while you and your stuff is bumps every 20 meter. I didn’t do a break, my concentration passed away and in a certain moment I was going to bump the pedestrian’s stone. I kept lurching and was just able to keep the balance. The ground was wet and slippery, so I already saw myself falling. I guess the weight of my bike bags was protecting me in that moment while helping me to keep in balance. I didn’t stop and a few minutes later my knees were getting soft. I wondered about it in general, why your legs loosing their strength after a moment of shock. On the last 15 km I had to climb a mountain before I would arrive at the campsite. I was extremely unmotivated and climbed it up very slowly. I felt cold, when I arrived at the top, so the slope down was horribly cold. I followed a narrow street up to a very small village and I felt like in Spain. On the road, there was a khaki tree and obviously it wasn’t belonging to a garden. My heart jumped. Today I wouldn’t lack vitamins! It seemed that it was almost harvested, so I had to walk into the bush while underneath me it was going steep down. But I managed to pick up a helmet full of fruits and survived. Happily I continued cycling. This road was the kind of road I was choosing to cycle Japan. Unfortunately the road was closed and it was still 5 km to the campground while there was no alternative. I parked my bike and went to the workers. They said it wouldn’t be possible to cross. I was cold, wet and just before the aim. I show them where I have to go and they also had no idea how to get there, so they let me pass. The last kilometre I was not sure if the campsite would exists, but it did. When I arrived I could see another cyclist. I would have a roommate today! Great! Happily I walked towards him and he just arrived a few minutes ago. Nick from Australia was also coming from Okayama and going to cycle the same route like me. We talked a lot and I really enjoyed it. In the evening it started raining again, so we were forced to get into our tents. There was an Onsen nearby (7 km) and when I was on the bike I was imagine myself sitting in the hot water, but after changing into dry and long clothes and having hot food I felt very comfortable in my tent. I was camping beneath a lantern, ginkgo leaves were falling softly on my tent and I could see their shapes. I was just watching them, listen to the rain dropping on my tent and enjoying. I never imagined that just staying in my tent could make me that happy. It brings a happiness which is coming from deep inside of my and flooding my body slowly. Sometimes I’m thinking why I’m doing all this and sometimes it feels like I burden myself, so today, but in the end of the day I knew the answer.
November, 13 th Onomichi
Autumn feelings. It was less cold this night than expected and I woke up naturally. It was very close to Onomichi, so I had a lot of time for myself at this beautiful place. Nick and another Japanese guy, who came in the evening, were leaving around 9 am. Silence. Only the sounds of nature around me. I did what I always do to relax. Taking pictures and tidy up. I’m not kidding I really enjoy tidy up. Time was flying and the sky got slowly brighter. In the night it was raining and and I was happy to dry my tent completely during the morning. Since I already booked my hostel two days ago and check in is usually after 3 pm I left this place in the late afternoon when the sky got grey again. The ride was easy, but I could feel the last two days and my legs were lazy. I could feel how my body adjusts again to the efforts of cycling every day. I’m hungry all the time and need a very huge amount of food. Usually when I lay in my tent in the evening I can only think of breakfast and yearn it like Christmas when I was a child. Today’s ride was easy and when I arrived at the hostel I was starving. Not clever to enter a supermarket in this condition. Well, I think I carry more food than anything else by now, but it will make me independent for some days. My parcel with the new SIM card arrived at the hostel in time, so I will be online again. It wasn’t that bad without internet consumption, but for planing and booking it was very inconvenient. I’m very happy that it worked out that well. In the hostel I got again a room on my own. I will go back to Osaka as soon as possible for some reasons I will write about it later. But first I will cycle Shimanami Kaido tomorrow, which was one of the few things I was excited to do in Japan.
November, 14 th Michika-Shima Island
Cast away on the moon. It is my favourite movie we watched during movie session. In this Korean movie the protagonist jumps into the Han river to commit suicide, but stranded on a small island within the river. There is no escape, because he cannot swim. A bridge abutment of a huge bridge is also impossible to climb. I was already on the road, when I realised my aim of today will be a campsite on a very small island beneath a bridge. Non of the maps showed a path down, so I was suspicious. The day began in Onomichi, I went down for breakfast, where an elderly Chinese guy invited me to share his breakfast with him. He also invited me to visit him at his place in Tokyo. I was excited, today I would cycle Shimanami Kaido and the sun was shining. Perfect. Gireg, a French guy, and me decided to cycle the road together and I was happy to have a companion for the first time. Fully packed with food I started in my camping adventure. Gireg needed to rent a bike, so we met up at the station to take the ferry to get to the first island. The first bridge is not recommended by bike and the short ferry trip was nice. We started cycling along the ocean and it was just amazing. I might have mentioned how much I love the ocean and mountains and autumn. All these things came together! We decided not to take the famous road and cycle along the ocean instead. We got lost by taking a wrong bridge, but it didn’t matter, because the it was still amazing. There were several challenging up and downs along the cost and I got really sweaty. We hopped from island to island and one amazing view followed the next one. Gireg was faster than me, so it felt a bit like following and trying to catch up, but he waited for me in the end. It was really nice to share this moments. More than half way he had to take the ferry back to Onomichi, while there was still much time, so he accompanied me until shortly before the campground. When I saw the small island I couldn’t believe that there would be a campsite on it. But it was and it was really nice. There was a small path going down. The facilities were simple, but the view and place itself very nice. There were already four tents of other cyclists, obviously. I pitched up my tent and changed my wet close to get warm again. The darkness was coming soon and forced me into my tent. I have quiet some rituals and enjoy the time in my tent, while cooking a hot drink and having some cakes. The night sky was clear and I could see I’m closer away from cities. There were much more stars shining in the black sky. An amazing moment and I was just happy.
November, 15 th Imabari
Comets. The night was pretty cold, so my muscles were tense all the time and I woke up exhausted. I wasn’t up to leave my tent. The sun came out at the other site of the campground, so I brought my stuff there and had breakfast in the sun. The sun slowly warmed up my body, this was a really nice place. The other cyclists already left. This morning I couldn’t get myself to start. Due to tide the small bay next to the campsite was passable, so I went down to the beach. A colleague of me said every journey is also a journey to yourself and I hope that you’ll find whatever you are looking for. Honestly I don’t know what I am looking for on this journey. Yet. Sometimes I feel the pressure to prove myself. To prove myself to people, who don’t see me in person. To people who might prefer to me failing. And sometimes I loose my way while taking these people seriously. Sometimes I’m not sure if it’s my way I’m living or just the attempt to meet this people. This morning my thoughts circled around this topic when I walked along the beach. Just in this moment I found a very delicate scallop. The only one. My faith is very strong and I don’t believe in coincidences that much. However this little scallop gave me strength to continue following my dreams. Mine. And nobody’s else’s. This is my way and all I know now is where it gonna be end. The in between remains exciting. I stayed at the for a long time at this tiny bay, fascinates by all this little surroundings. It was almost noon, when I left. Today I would enjoy the last kilometres of Shimanami Kaido, so the plan was to sleep somewhere in Imabari. I enjoyed the last amazing views from the top of the bridge. There were two campsites more or less far away. One was at the coast in the north and one in the south, which meant I would have to cycle a few kilometres back next day. As always when two options are more or less equivalent it is nearly impossible to me to make a decision. I always fear to make the wrong decision even though the Camino thought me that wrong decisions doesn’t exists. I decided for the campsite in south at the very (west) end of Shikoku, hopefully I would have an amazing view. I cycled through the ship building places, the massive ships are impressive and even though I learnt about physics it’s still hard to believe that they can swim. At the cape I was a bit disappointed about the campsite. No other tents and the place wasn’t that nice. But there was a small path I followed. It went more and more narrow and when I was up to turn around there was a second amazing campsite, where already a Japanese family pitched up their tents. This was the perfect spot. I slowly started pitching up my tent when a guy on his fully packed bike came along. Ronnie, smiled and me and came over. We liked each other from the first moment. We prepared our camps and met on a small bench for having dinner together. I just realised I forgot to pick up the last ground peg I need for drying the tent, when Ronnie threw one of his to me immediately. He made me a coffee and I felt more than welcome. The toilet house was a wooden cabin and very clean. It saved the heat of the day and inside it was comfy and warm. So washing myself with cold water wasn’t an issue. I cooked my pasta while sitting and chatting with Ronnie on the bench, when a stray cat showed up. I shared a bit of my tuna, poor kitty was extremely hungry. Then it happened. This was just me. I tried to pour the pasta water when the pot’s lid slipped away and all the pasta fell on the ground. Well done. I could collect most of it. Lucky cat. I mixed the rest with some tuna and the cat cleaned all the my “mess” away. Lucky both. Ronnie and me sat there until midnight and talked a lot. I really could imagine traveling with him, but he continued exactly the other side. I told him about the issue with my winter sleeping bag and he immediately offered me to give me his one. I couldn’t believe that a “stranger” supports me this way, while a “friend” belittled me in the morning… Without any announcement it showed up. The hugest comet I’ve ever seen with a classic tail I only know from the Christmas stars on top of our yearly Christmas tree. I was so surprised so I struggled about what to wish. For the first time since one year my wish changed. My last wish actually came true. It thought me you have to formulate your wish very precisely or very freely interpretable. Ronnie also saw it. What a touching end of a harsh starting day.
November, 16 th Niihama
Different than expected. Ronnie and me had breakfast together and we might extended it to postpone the moment of saying goodbye. We took a picture together and the sun was shining. Time for getting started. We left each other in exactly opposite directions. Meeting Ronnie was exactly what I needed yesterday. Thanks to trail magic. Smiling and happy I started into the day. The supermarkets in Shikoku are mostly very cheap, so I bought a lot of stuff again in the next supermarket. I arrived at the campsite I was thinking about to stay yesterday and luckily I didn’t. It was not nice there (compared to the other one). I’m always afraid of doing wrong decision (even though it is not possible), but in the end when I have the proof it was the right decision I feel even better. I just took there a short coffee break. The route was next to the ocean with lonely beaches until it went into suburbs of Niihama city. There was a lot of industry at the ocean and I was worried, because today’s campsite would be a public park. When I arrived at the park, there were already two small tent. Since Japanese campers bring a lot of stuff it must be the ones of cyclists. But there were no bikes or scooter. I pitched up my tent nearby, while a gardener was watching me and came over. He was very interested in me in my tent. After a smalltalk he left, but came back seconds later and brought me some mandarines. Sitting on a bench with an amazing view I enjoyed my dinner and went into my tent. In the evening I went to bathroom and met Gareth, he was really open and talkative, so we sat down together and talked a lot. It was already late, so we arranged to meet up for breakfast. Since a few days I drink a cup of hot milk, which I prepare in my tent, and eat some cakes before I go to sleep. This time it went wrong. I sipped all the milk in my tent. Well done. My sleeping bag and mattress stayed dry, but the rest was a mess and it took me more than half an hour to clean it up.
November, 17 th Kanonji
Happy Birthday. I woke up due to rain during the night. I didn’t expected, so I picked up all of my cycling clothes and brought it inside my tent. But it was too late, they were already wet. There is something special in Japanese parks. In the morning and evening they play a melody via loudspeakers and some advices I cannot understand. It was a clear morning and the sun was going to come out. When I came back from the bathroom Gareth waved at me and told me to have breakfast together. I wasn’t quickly enough, so he came by while bringing me an instant filter coffee pack. I had a really nice birthday breakfast with him and his cousin and got some new motivations what to do during winter. They got ready faster than me and left in the other direction. Dark clouds came and when I started cycling drops were falling on my nose. Just after a few meters there was a Konbini, but I decided to continue. Good decision. Even though it really looked like I didn’t get wet. I cycled across fields and lonely roads and wasn’t annoyed by any traffic. After noon the sun was shining again it was really warm. I made a break at a Michi no eki next to the ocean. Drank a coffee, ate my oranges and opened the cute and tiny gift Ronnie gave me. It was totoro and I really love it. Close to the campsite I couldn’t imagine that there would be one, but luckily I was wrong. I was the only one there and a little bit disappointed, but I came over it very quickly. The place was next to the ocean and a mountain, which looked like somebody had take a bite of it. The campsite was as always very simple, but also nice. There was a shelter and to honor the day I cooked rice (I love Japanese rice, but it takes so much fuel to cook it). I got some stuff from the supermarket and was very satisfied about my birthday dinner. It was already dark, when I finished dinner and some phone calls. With a hot coffee I went to the beach and just sat there and stared at the ocean. Maybe for hours. I usually don’t like or celebrate my birthday, but last one was very special and I was thinking about it. Last year I laid with Viraj, Anna and Sumanta in Eifel National Park (you can read more about it here) and watching Leonid’s. I remember we talked about where we would be exactly next year. Well, Anna moved to Frankfurt, Viraj to Munich and Sumanta is still in Düsseldorf while I’m in Japan. I was supposed to be in Australia. One year ago I planned to go to Australia. Without bike. I remember how Anna smiled at me “next year you will be in Australia and watching stars with new friends”. But I’m in Japan. I still cannot believe. It came slowly to mind. How plans changed. I’m in Japan. Watching stars. At the Ocean. And even though I was alone, I didn’t felt lonely. There is a deep connection between us and it doesn’t matter how many kilometres are in between, we all see the same night sky. I realised Japan feels already a bit home. My heart is in Spain, my soul in Japan and my roots are in Germany. It unusual warm night, so I removed my tent’s outer skin to watch the night sky. And like last year I was the first one who fell asleep…
November, 18 th Takamatsu
Clean. It was rainy and windy in the night, so I woke up and picked up my laundry (I was afraid to collect it at the beach in the morning). Then I saw two glowing points in a bush. A tiny cat like a shadow stole my garbage bag. I collected all the rubbish and the cat disappeared. I went to toilet while the cat was watching me. It was like a shadow around me in this starry cold night with a mysterious atmosphere. The morning was surprising, clear blue sky and sun. I naturally wake up every morning at 7:30 am, the perfect time to start into a cycling day. I collected quickly all my stuff and prepared breakfast. I was highly motivated to cycle in this warm sunny day. Today I was using google maps, because I was not motivated to climb up the mountains and both map and maps.me guided me through the mountains. While on Sundays there is hardly any traffic and it is convenient to take main roads as well. I cycled from city to city in between I passed light slopes through autumn coloured hills and beautiful small villages. I talked to my parents for a long time and I really enjoyed it during the ride. Time was flying, so I was in Takamatsu very early. I did a small break to eat the leftovers of my birthday dinner, but at 2 pm I was already in Takamatsu and couldn’t check in that early. I went to a nearby sento and took a bath. Finally. The sento was a cozy place and looked like a living room. The owner smiled at me. It was so good to wash away all the dirt of the last five days of camping. The water in the tube was extremely hot and I couldn’t stay in for long. I looked like crab and went into the cold tub and took a nap in there. After the visiting the sento I felt like newborn and went to check in. I was happy to wash my dirty clothes as well and have a bed today.
November, 19 th Higashikawa Tanoura Campsite
Overslept. I didn’t realised how tired I was until I laid in bed. It rained in the night and it was grey, cloudy and cold outside. In the hostel they switched on the heater that much, so there was no great choice. Sweating or being cold. Outside on the bike it wasn’t that bad how expected and I was happy to cycle. Cycling still makes me happy even though I don’t like it very much. It’s strange and I don’t understand it either. Takamatsu is one of the bigger cities, so the route out of the suburbs wasn’t that exciting. Half way there was a nice yellow sandy beach with pine trees around and even though there were heavy dark clouds over the ocean I decided to take a break and enjoy the ocean. As the ocean I still like my mattress and since I was sitting on it, I laid down, ready to take a nap. But it was too cold, so I took my sleeping bag and slipped into it. A fatal mistake. I fall deeply asleep and the little nap extended to two hours or more. When I woke up, the clouds disappeared and it was already late afternoon. I should hurry, because current mission was still not to arrive in darkness. I don’t like getting stressed, so I prepared a coffee first and got ready slowly. I wonder why my body needs that much sleep at the moment (I cycle 50 km or less at the moment, which couldn’t be the reason). It was a grey day and it wasn’t bright all day. It was around one hour to get to the campground I found on google maps. While always 1-2 km before arriving I cannot imagine that there would be a nice campground, the nice places seem to be hidden. So this time. First there was a car campground which was closed, but next to it there was a campground at a lake. The housekeeper was there, even though I would be the only guest. The free campground should be only 500 m further, so I wanted to check it first before to decide where to stay. Good decision. The campsite was amazing, directly at the ocean with a sandy beach. There were already three Japanese people camping. Perfect. I looked for the best place, while a guy came over and explained to me that he was also by bike and I could choose freely. He once cycled around all Japanese islands and today he just came over to sleep outside. Like always the facilities were simple, but this time there were running showers. (Btw: if you are interested in the exact locations I camped / slept see here) When I pitched up my tent it was already dark and windy. This night would be cold. I took a cold shower. Yes, it’s true people can change! I also cannot believe. I decided to cook in my tent for the first time to be protected of the cold wind. It was completely dark, when a nose sneaked under the tent skin accompanied by two red eyes staring at me. A very hungry cat smelled my tuna and got over its fear. I went outside and poured half of my dinner on the ground a bit away of my camp. A few hours later, even the smallest noodle was gone. The moon was shining extremely bright and my plan was going to watch the night sky at the beach. Unfortunately I fall asleep around 8 pm. What a sleepy day…
November, 20 th Naruto Oge-jima Island
Whirlpools. As expected it was very cold in the night, so I had breakfast cuddled into my sleeping while sitting in the tent. Today I would have lot of time, so I waited for the warm
sun. It came and I could explore the nice campsite I found yesterday. I took my time, did some Taekwondo. I was completely alone. The other guys already must have left early in the morning. I couldn’t hear anything. At noon I started cycling to Naruto, where I booked a room in a guest house. I cycled along the coast and enjoyed the very last day on Shikoku. I was a bit sad about leaving Shikoku, but I will come back soon and definatly looking forward the day. I could see an Ohenro pilgrim and I’m more excited about my upcoming pilgrimage. Ken from the guest house wrote me a mail some days ago, so I arranged to check in early. It was the first time I was in the real countryside, there was neither a supermarket nor a Konbini. Not even a coffee and I was running out of food. The guest house was on Oge-jima island, a beautiful place. To get there I passed a small bay and I wondered how deeply clear the water was there. I wanted to see the whirlpools which are related to the tides between the narrow of Oge-jima Island and Awaji Island. The channel in between is very narrow and connects the Pacific Ocean and the Seto Inland sea. The tide moves large amounts of water into the Inland Sea and also removes large amounts of water. Unfortunately it took me longer than expected to get to the spot, so I could enjoy an amazing place, but couldn’t see any whirlpool. Anyway it was worth to go there. Back at the hostel Ken was kind and took me to the supermarket while picking up another guest from Malaysia. I prepared dinner, when this guy told me about a labour day and therefore a long weekend in Japan. Everything is fully booked in Osaka and also in the countryside. In my room I checked it and he was right. For upcoming Friday and Saturday night there are no free accommodations less than 700 € a night. In Kansai region there are also no campsites or bigger parks, so I see a problem approaching me…
November, 21 th Wakayama
Eine Seefahrt die ist lustig, eine Seefahrt die ist schön. Literally means a seatrip that’s funny, a sea trip that’s nice and I know this part of a song from my childhood. I don’t know how many times I already mentioned, but I love the ocean that much. Why, it’s a mystery to me as well. The Malaysian guy booked a boat trip to see the whirlpools in the morning and was driven to the boat station. I joined and Ken dropped me off at the view point I found yesterday. I didn’t like this tourism boats, I saw it yesterday they race to this place and stayed there for 2 minutes until they raced back. The whole journey wouldn’t take more than 20 minutes. So, I spent like one hour at the spot and could see some very small whirlpools. It’s off season, but I don’t deny giving them a second chance. Ken lives in Tokushima and would go back there by car, so he offered me to bring me and the bike. Since I’m a lazy person and don’t like cycled I was extremely happy about it. After we came back watching whirlpools we had to load the car. The Malaysian guy had to be brought to Naruto train station, so we were 3 persons, a bike and my bike bags which has to fit in a Nissan Cube with an already fully loaded trunk. Well, I already managed to squeeze my bike into a Daihatsu Cuore and Nissan Micra several time, but not while carrying a third person. To shorten the story, five minutes later I sat on the back bench together with my bike and my trousers full of chain grease while the handlebars hanging in my neck. But it worked out and Ken dropped me off at the ferry station in Tokushima. The rest was very simple, I bought a ticket, waited for an hour and entered the bulky belly of the ferry. Although it was only a ferry I was extremely excited about the two hours sea trip. Nobody aboard was amazed, but me. I have been to ferries many times, since we spent all our holidays camping next to the Baltic Sea, but Japanese ferries are different. They have business areas, an area
where you can lay down and taking a nap and even bunk beds for truck drivers. Half of the ride the grey sky turned into blue, while I was exploring the ship. For me the cruise had have been longer, we arrived in Wakayama and I cycled to my hostel, which was directly at the train station. Means I had to park my bike to a place told me by the hotel staff. The owner told me it’s not possible to park my bike overnight, but when I told him the hotel’s staff sent me it was possible. Maybe he thought I was staying in this fancy five star hotel (in which was my hotel included). The hotel looked extremely fancy and I’m happy to stay at a comfy place. Btw it is my first stay in a capsule hotel.
November, 22 th Kada
Rotemburo. It’s Onsen, but outside. I coincidentally booked a hotel with a fantastic Onsen. It was close to Wakayama, so I needn’t to cycle that much. I spent the morning in a park next to the river, studying Japanese and having breakfast (it was not possible to have it in that fancy capsule hotel). I have a problem now. I can’t stay outside for longer. My fingers were frozen while I was already sitting in my sleeping bag. On the bike it is still ok as long as I’m cycling. But I only cycle for taking breaks, so I have a problem. Before I went to the hotel I went to the ferry terminal to figure out how to get to Tomogashima Island to camp there the next two days. The terminal was closed due to heavy waves and stormy weather forecast. I don’t have that much hope that they will serve tomorrow. There was a campsite on google on top of a hill only 900 m from the hotel. My plan B. I wanted to check out the facilities, but the only street was going up there was closed and a construction worker shouted keep out rudely at me. I checked in into my home for upcoming night and was very excited. I got two rooms Japanese style, a futon on tatami mattresses, small table next to me with tea. I could even choose a Yukatan (bath robe). I went to the Onsen and it was amazing. The hotel was directly at the sea and I watched dark and sluggish clouds laden with water coming closer over the ocean while on the seaside the sky was brilliant blue and the sun gave a mystic shine on the scenario. An elderly woman was smiling at me when I entered the Onsen and when we were alone she started talking to me. She couldn’t speak not even a word in English and I wondered how well this conversation went. She talked a lot and I was touched about the warm hearted way she spoke to me. Obviously it’s strictly forbidden to take photos in a bath (because everybody is naked and even if not it would be awkward), so I load up the hotel’s picture. The hotel is very authentic, it’s not that Japanese style hotel for foreign tourists, it is just how it is and I’m very happy to have found it. They had no heater and in the evening it got really cold, even inside. Outside the cold wind is blowing on the sea. I’m a bit afraid of the upcoming two nights…
November, 23 th Izumisano
Campgrounds. The day started with a bad omen. Beneath my two blankets it was very warm and comfy and after breakfast I wanted to heat up and enjoy the Onsen again. I missed it and arrived 5 min before closing. Well done. Again washing with icy water. Getting prepared for camping. The sun was shining, so I wanted to get out quickly. The wind coming from the ocean was icy, but while cycling I was that happy that I didn’t care. Near Hakotsukuri there was a huge park at the beach, so I decided to cycle down to sea for making a break there. The difference in the felt temperature was incredible. At the sea it was extremely cold. There was a closed building with tables for picnic and even inside I was pretty cold. I was thinking about to sleep there, but it was too early and maybe even inside too cold. Two girls at my age were also there and after a while we started talking. They came from Kyoto and spent the labour weekend at the beach for playing volleyball. They were much interested in German language, so I thought them some phrases. When I left they gave me a lot of sweets, instant soups and tea, what should me keep warm. So lovely and kind. At the end of the park I saw people doing BBQ and I was thinking to pitch up my tent. But I was too afraid of the icy wind, so I decided to cycle to a campground I found on google maps. By the way, the way to the campground next to my hotel was still closed in the morning and there were also no ferries Tomogashima Island. I had to climb up a mountain to get to the campsite and I had a bad feeling. In the end I was right. The campground was one of the real campgrounds which were run by people and comparable with the ones in Germany. The gate to the bridge to the campground was locked. No chance to enter without breaking the law. Back to the ocean was also no choice. There was another campsite 10 km away and I hurried up, because it was getting late. A little bit panic raised up inside me, because there were also no publics parks around. When I arrived at the campsite I felt relieved. I could see a tent and people. Unfortunately this campsite was only for spending there a day and doing BBQ. You needed to make a reservation two weeks before if you want to stay there. I explained my situation and two elderly women and the two men from the stuff tried to help me, while didn’t knowing how to. They brought me inside the building, it was already very cold and my clothes were wet, and prepared hot tea. All of them were busy around me, making phone calls, while I was sitting there and couldn’t do anything. I was touched the way they cared about me and tried to find a solution. After an hour they told me I’m allowed to camp there. A woman even drove to the temple nearby and asked there. They didn’t let me stay outside in my tent and brought me to a common room and even brought a foldable bed. The two elderly men would also stay at the campground at night. I couldn’t believe my luck to stay in a warm place. I went to toilet to get rid of the wet clothes, when an elderly woman ran into me and asked me where I was from. She told me her friend called her and invited me to stay at her place. I couldn’t believe. I agreed, so the two men needn’t to stay at the campsite as well. They loaded my bike on a small truck and I did no even had to cycle. It was very nice to stay at Shimizu and her husband. They prepared dinner for me and it was one of the best meal I ever had. I’m touched by this hospitality. Shimizu’s children live in Canada and Sweden, so the grandchildren. They treated me like a child. Luckily I was able to get a hostel in Osaka for the upcoming night (which was extremely difficult, while it was overbooked while booking twice). I spent a nice evening and was extremely happy and relieved when I laying on a warm futon while knowing the night would be warm as well. I wonder if I would have been in this situation in Germany if the people would have reacted the same way. I cannot believe how much energy and time they sacrificed to help a stranger.
November, 24 th Osaka
Back home. On the campground I was stranded are only volunteers working and they also do a lot of volunteer work for children. Shimizu was holding outside cook lessons for children. So today. She had to be early at the campsite, but we could have had breakfast together. When it was time to say goodbye her husband gave me some fruits and a charm for a safe journey. I cannot describe how thankful I am. Not only for the invitation to stay, for the warm hearted way they treated me. For being a part of the family for a while. It was uncommon warm today and the way itself was just following the main road. There was a huge park and I decided to do what I can do best. Lay down in the sun, while people around me had BBQ and children were playing. The sun was shining on my back and it felt like a blanket. I fell asleep and I guess I slept like two hours until I laid in the shadow. I love naps. It’s the best. I arrived at the hostel in the early afternoon, enough time to wash all my clothes and doing random stuff. The hostel was in Shinsaibashi, downtown. I went out and was within all the trouble. I already forgot how busy the city is and how annoying cycling in the crowd is. But I was back and I enjoyed. Time for Takoyaki (fried octopus balls). I let myself drift through downtown, while just enjoying being back home.
November, 25 th Osaka
Marathon. When I was a teenager I was excited about Berlin (mainly because of the history, which I was really interested in) and my dream was to live there (at least for a while). I visited the city several times, so in the end it felt kind of home even though I never lived there. I remember this special feeling while being at Alexanderplatz watching the television tower, which is one of the landmarks of Berlin. Exactly this feeling I have had today, when I saw Tsutenkaku, the tower of Osaka. I finally arrived in Japan. It’s time to settle down. And the city of Osaka is the place I lost a piece of my heart. Already when I was planning my journey to Japan, all ways guided me to Osaka and now this feeling is consistent. I changed from the hostel to a place in Nishinari-ku, where I will stay for a bit longer. It is a mixture between hostel and hotel. I got my own tiny room with tatami mattresses and a futon, while there is a common room with a kitchen and living room and place to be feeling. The walls are painted or described and the also the people are alternative and easy going. I was going to meet my friend Jun today and was really excited to meet her again. It was Osaka marathon today and I already bumped into it, when I changed hostel. In Japan everything is highly organised, but I wasn’t prepared for the way they organised the marathon. I needed to cross the main road, where the runner’s field was. A woman guided me to the metro station while three Japanese men carried my fully packed bike down and up the stairs to undergo the street. I walked the 5 km to the station where I was meeting Jun next to the runners and everywhere they carried the bikes up and down to cross the streets. I was touched by the special atmosphere of the marathon and was jealous not being a part of it. People along were cheering up the runners, giving high five, bring them little gifts and snack or spraying ice spray on their tired legs. It was always one of my dreams to run a marathon and I’m excited about where and when it will be. I went to a cafe with a wood workshop to have lunch with Jun. It was a cozy place and the food was delicious. It was so nice to meet Jun again and time was flying. In the evening we said goodbye, but not without having an appointment to meet again very soon and I’m already looking forward it
November, 26 th Osaka
Settle down. Maybe you know about the story how I decided to travel Japan (if not, feel free to read here). The decision to take the bike and apply for Working Holiday Visa fell last minute. Well, I had no idea what this journey meant to be and I still doesn’t have. I’m neither a cyclist, nor a Working Holiday maker. I chose the bike for transportation and freedom, while I applied for the WHV to be allowed to stay for one year and taking my time. I’m also not an immigrant. I never spent that much thoughts about what to do during winter, because it was so far away and on trip things are following their own rules which I trust in. Well, I spent the summer in Düsseldorf, so winter was not that far away as expected and that moment has come yet. There are people around me having different expectations and I can feel their pressure. Some want to see me working on my career while working as a scientist. Some see me as the classical WHV maker, jobbing and traveling, while other just see the cyclist, who is stuck on the bike and living in nature doing amazing things. Others again see me living Japanese life, pretending being Japanese and try to fully integrate. Well, and there is me. Somewhere between. I’m predicted to fail while trying to fulfil all their expectations. I’m just Jen. I don’t like cycling, but I love my bike. I love nature. I never won’t be Japanese, but I’m keen to soak as much culture and habits as possible and keep it into my heart. At the end of my life’s journey I want to be the best person I can be, hopefully a wild mixture of cultures while feeling home everywhere in the world. I’m interested in learning languages, but even more in learning about people and their personal life. In making friendships. Deep and honest ones. Please stop judging me and let me breathe. I decided to stay in Osaka. As I mentioned the hotel is a mixture between hostel and hotel and they offer monthly plans. I loved this place from the first moment. I have a really good feeling and could hop for happiness. This place is just made for me. I’m an extremely social person and I love being around with people, especially with random ones. This is one important thing I learned about me during the last year. But I also like structure and having a small personal space only for myself. The size of my tiny tent is enough, but still I need this private space. But I also tend to retire and disappear into my shell. So both, my tent and this room are perfect, because they only fit a mattress / futon, giving me shelter but also force me to leave and continue socialising. Beside, this place is warmly and a bit styled like a hippie place, the fifth floor is for long term staying and the living room is meeting point. It feels like a shared flat and I also can receive parcels. The decision for living here is uncommon and I never expected such a place, but it feels absolutely like the right decision. This is the first step to free myself of unfulfillable expectations and into my very personal journey, which is a wild mixture of things dozens of people have done before in the same way. I’m sorry Dad for leaving the swarm again…
November, 27 th Osaka
Tales of trails. Since I decided to settle down in Osaka, there won’t be that much to write everyday. But the last months thought me two important things about myself. I really love and enjoy writing and I also learned about my passion for taking pictures. Maybe you realised, there is a nasty blur in my pictures. I always took it relaxed way and saw it as a taq, but since there is a second one (even more nasty) I’m annoyed by it. It is an issue of the camera’s sensor, it can only removed by professionals. I gave it to Sony Service centre and now I’m happy to shoot clean pictures again! So in December I will change routine of this website. But no worries, I still will let you participate and for sure it remains exciting. I already have some ideas. So be curious and look forward December! By the way, I finally received my winter sleeping bag (which’s journey was as long as mine in the end), so I’m up for snowy adventures near hot Onsen…