5. Courteous traffic, clumsy mishap, and a love curiosity:

Cyclist in Kinosaki, Hyogo pref. One of the most pleasant towns in Honshu.

With many kilometres covered we had confidence riding on Japan's roads. Traffic was more courteous than in New Zealand. Larger vehicles, especially, would pull in behind and pass us cyclists only when the road ahead was clear.

In populated urban areas, along with commuter cyclists, we frequently shared wide footpaths with pedestrians. Here, commuter cyclists were reckless, deftly avoiding collisions with other walking and cycling commuters and, mercifully, me!

My one accident happened at the end of one tiring day, having arrived in Hagi. My foot slipped from a low concrete curb separating the footpath from a city street. As a result my loaded bike landed, unglamorously, on top of me in a mishap that was clumsy rather than spectacular. When disentangled one leg was dripping blood.

All I had wanted was to get to the nearby YHA and the shower. A typhoon was promised. Instead, my smelly self was propped on a surface of purely-white sheets in a medical centre. My gashed shin was skilfully stitched while nurses soothed away my discomfort. They were attractive, gentle - and polite. My socks, they lied, were not the most smelly they had experienced.

The doctor merely remarked, "If you choose your sort of exercise, then you can expect this sort of injury."

Love hotels are a curiosity that fascinate visitors to Japan and I was no exception. Looking like tacky European castles they were easy to identify. Sometimes we would stop near a love hotel and watch clients leaving. Mostly, they were young. We knew what they had been doing but, sadly, they never smiled, never looked happy.

A real milestone was reaching the southern point of Honshu on October 22. We had completed 2356 km of Honshu bike riding in 44 days. Hardly a Lance Armstrong record, but immensely satisfying. Southern Honshu's coastline was especially appealing. Here, the Japan Sea was noticeably clearer. This is acknowledged by local fishermen.

[4. Journeying through Honshu] [6. Kyushu, here we come:]

uploaded:20, 08, 2006