#02 : What monkeys, rain and volcanoes have to do with the beginning of our trip.

I clearly remember saying to myself "Don't write too much, and don't post too many photos at the same time".

Yeah, like I could do that. Brew a cup of your best coffee and pour it in your favorite mug. Done it? Than you're ready for this LONG blog post. 

From our last blog post, written on the ferry from Motobu to Kagoshima, already a lot of stuff happened. First things first: the ferry ride was ridiculously long, and kinda exausting (24 hours stuck on a boat can seriously become a little boring). Luckily, we made good use of that time to set up the new layout for this website and to organize the daily workload, which really came into handy in the next few days where we spent several hours riding our bikes (it's a bike trip, what were we expecting?!)

On top of that, the weather was awful that day, which turned down every will I had to spend some time shooting long exposures from the deck, as I was literally showered with rain and wind everytime I tried to stick my head out of the boat. 

Inside the ferry.

During a stop in a city I can't remember the name of, a whole high school joined us. 

The view from the Kagoshima port once landed. The one in the background is the Sakurajima mountain. 

Once landed in Kagoshima, and after a few necessary purchases in the city, we jumped on our biked and started our daily ride. Destination : Ibusuki (指宿), famous for its sand hot springs (指宿砂むし温泉). It turned out to be a lovely and easy 50km ride, at the end of which we had the chance to experience the weirdest hot springs ever: imagine wearing your yukata and walking to a hot steaming beach, where a dozen of people kindly help you to find the perfect spot to lay in and then, immediately, shovel hot sand on you until you're completely and deeply buried. Well, that's exactly what happened to us, and personally, I couldn't stop laughing as I was finding it hilarious! Once we were set free from the sand, and a relaxing bath in the hot springs after, we spent the night in a local hostel. The next day we took a quick ferry to Minami Ōsumi (南大隅) and then rode our way to Cape Sata (佐多岬) 

The Ibusuki hot springs center

You see those poeple in yukata? Those are customers on their way to get some hot sand shoveled on themselves.

You see the steam coming out of the sand on the left? Well, that's the sand i'm talking about. 

Some locals at the hot springs center. 

On the ferry to Minami Ōsumi (南大隅) we met two super friendly and cool cyclists that showed us the best way to reach Cape Sata. Without them we would probably still be lost somewhere in the mountains, cursing like crazy. Thanks, Kazushi and Kazuhiro! 

From the left: Sio, Kazushi, Kazuhiro and me.

The view of Cape Sata from the ferry. 

The first 30km from Minami Ōsumi (南大隅) passed by like a breeze. Landscape wise, the costal areas of Kyushu are totally different from the ones in Okinawa, with a lot more tiny villages, a lot more nature and overall more the kind of scenario you would expect from Japan. 

Then, the real problems kicked in. Being stupid, we completely forgot to pack some food in the morning and from a certain point on, the small villages along the slowly disappeared and we started climbing uphill towards Cape Sata. Both hungry like wild beasts, under the scorching sun, we kept riding until, out of the blue, we saw a little shop ran by a tiny old lady, in the middle of nowhere. Needless to say, we rushed in and bought all the canned tuna, dried squid tentacles and chocolate we could (aka: all the food she had). I'm pretty sure the poor ol' lady didn't expect to see two big, sweaty and smelly foreigners coming in like that, when she woke up in the morning! 

With a little fuel in our belly, we went ahead climbing the last 10km to Cape Sata, ufficially the southernmost point of Japan. We were focusing all of our energies and attention on pedaling when, WOAH, a monkey jumped off one tree and crossed the street in front of us. And a second later, another one. And another one. Yeah, it seems like you can tell you're in the Japanes mountains when you're sorrounded by monekys, minding their own business just 5 feet away from you. 

One of the monkeys. 

IT's this kind of landscapes that keep you going, once all the other energies are gone! 

At last, we reached Cape Sata. Tired to the bone, but happy like little kid on christmas morning. We left the bikes in a parking lot, walked the last 800mt and finally got to the statue that... ah no, wait. There was no statue. Damn it. All what was waiting for us at Cape Sata were a sign, a lighthouse and the sight of Gozzillo.

The last 800mt before Cape Sata

The lighthouse

And finally, Gozzillo.

Cape Sata, at last. Finally our end-to-end tour of Japan had begun. All what’s left is JUST another 3600 km! :)

Once we were done taking pictures, shooting videos and such, we walked our way back to the bikes and rode all the way down to Ōdormari (大泊) where we spent the night in great company: sleeping in the tents next to us we had Takeshi (freshly graduated funny guy that was riding to Okinawa to start a trip similar to ours), Macchapin (great and outgoing guy that’s cycling all the coast of Japan) and Aida-san, a lovely older fellow who’s going for the second time on a end to end trip of Japan, WALKING. Now that’s what I call hardcore! 

Once we set up the tents, we sat down all together to eat something, shared a few beers wishing a safe journey to each other, and went to bed. 

The camping spot. Our tent is the yellow one. 

We all woke up together, at dawn, to take some pictures, bid farewell and left, riding to our destinations. The first one to leave was Aida-san, while we went to the beach and took some photos to commemorate the epicness of this encounter. 


From the left : Takeshi, Macchapin, Sio and me. 

At 7am sharp, we were already on our bikes for what has been our best ride so far: 95km, all the way to Kagoshima, with nothing less than beautiful coastlines, tiny temples, perfect temperature and a great weather. But hey, can I not mention the fact that we rode all the way around an active volcano that actually erupted a few times during that day, the last of which exactly when we were passing right by it. 

The sand temple of Kyushu. 

Sakurajima vulcano erupting. 

Riding 95km in one day is nothing short than FREAKING AWESOME but hey, your legs hurt like hell at the end. We reached Kagoshima in a semi-zombie state, tired to the point where we couldn’t even speak properly, not to even mention co-op properly. Once we found availability in a guest house, we went “bye bye” and finally rested. The day after, once finished washing our stuff in a coin laundry and basically setting up a fully operational workstation in the wait, we set sail and started riding towards Nagasaki. We left Kagoshima late in the afternoon and encountered our first rain, which lead us to stop after 50km, set up the tent in the public park of Ichikukishino (いちき串木野) under a tree, and fell asleep with the sound of the raindrops hitting the cover of our shelter. With better weather and completely restored, we started riding at dawn and went all the way to Nagashima (長島), where we hit the hot springs for a relaxing bath and used our “public space usage” skills to it’s fullest and set up the tend in a parking lot (we even convinced the owners of the hotel to let us use it!) 

We met this cute little girl in Ichikikushikino

Coastlines of Kyushu

A little Torii in the middle of the sea. 

The sunset in Nagashima. 

Yesterday, we left Nagashima and went to Tomioka, the last of our stops before arriving in Nagasaki. In the next blog post I’ll tell you what happened in Tomioka and about the unexpected kindness and hospitality we received. All I can tell you now is that yesterday’s 50km ride was the worst so far: rain, hail, the coldest weather ever and, of course, our worst enemy: the wind. 


Now, for the technical part, our Specialized Tricross Sport Disc bikes are holding on perfectly, and we do as well. The Body Geometry Fit program turned out to be extremely important: it’s amazing to see how well we are, physically, after over 500km, with no pain whatsoever, and no posture related problems at all! 


The travel goes on…


Ah, one last thing: in case you understand Italian OR you wanna see our funny faces and hear our stupid voices, the first Vlog of the project is out! Check it out: