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Japan Hanami Tour 2008 Live!Journal Chapters Menu

Japan Hanami Tour 2008 - Week 01 Chapter : 21 Apr ~ 27 Apr 2008




The first week of our new Japan Hanami Tour has passed and the Riders are now heading for the most northern point of Japan, Soya Misaki. Our Partner and lead guide, Mike Paull, has created this project. Congratulations on a job well done and keep safe while you, your wife Aillene and all the other Riders enjoy this wonderful spring ride in the Land of the Rising Sun.


For you that could not join this tour, enjoy the stories and pictures provided by participants here in our Live!Journal. 



Best Regards,

Helge Pedersen - Founder GlobeRiders



Day 00 - 15 April ~ 15 April 2008 - Seattle, USA - Mike M. Paull



One of the services that sets a GlobeRiders adventure apart from most is, we ship client and staff motorcycles for the start of each tour. We certainly weren’t going to break with this tradition for our new Japan Hanami Tour 2008. We loaded not one, but TWO containers on 21 March, with an ETA in Japan of 14 April.


We’d like to think we have the process of loading a container full of bikes pretty well thought-out. Although the task itself is becoming somewhat routine, one thing we always look forward to seeing is how each rider has outfitted and customized her or his bike. Although BMW’s category-defining family of “GS” adventure-touring motorcycles is a tiny percentage of motorcycles sold throughout the world, there is a bewildering array of accessories or “farkle” available for these machines, and of course, riders will find things to install on their own. We’re never disappointed.


As we loaded our Tokyo-bound container, Bill Kamps’ R1200GS Adventure won my vote for the Most Thoroughly Accessorized Machine. The “cockpit” alone would confuse a Shuttle pilot. All told, Bill must have about one-million candlepower of forward lighting, and included both a non-CANbus/squeeze-bulb-operated “air horn” and “thumb-operated pedestrian alert device” as part of his kit.



Best Regards,


Mike M. Paull - Guide





Day 00 - 15 April ~ 21 April 2008 - Tokyo, Japan - Mike M. Paull

Greetings from Tokyo.


One of the many reasons that I so looked forward to this tour is the cuisine of Japan. Perhaps more than any other culture, where food is concerned, the Japanese focus on minimalist preparation, the overall quality of ingredients, seasonality and presentation. In the “foodie” universe, nothing brings these together more completely than sushi and sashimi.


With my wife Aillene along for the tour, and my mother Nobuko along for a vacation of her own, I headed over to Japan early in order to meet with the Japan Automobile Federation (the local version of AAA) and insure that our Carnets for temporary importation of our motorcycles were authenticated and ready for Japanese Customs. Having some free time over the weekend before the group’s arrival, we decided to indulge in a life-long food fantasy, Sushi in Tsukiji.


The non-descript and externally somewhat dilapidated complex known as Tsukiji has existed in some form since the 1700’s. It is one of the world’s largest fish markets – close to 500 varieties of all things that wiggle, swim, crawl or simply exist in the world’s waters are brought in fresh starting at 3:00AM in the morning, and some accounts claim over 4 million pounds of fish and seafood products change hands here daily.


Amazingly, there is almost no “fishy” smell. Instead, a near-frantic and chaotic bustle of commerce as products are unloaded, graded, broken down, stacked, displayed, hawked and sold. There are hundreds of small fish mongers. Not surprisingly, hundreds more ancillary businesses have sprouted around the central market, selling cutlery, dishes, wasabi, seaweed, tea – anything and everything needed to support a sushi restaurant.


After a detailed tour of the markets, we planted ourselves in a sushi shop, and for breakfast, had Sushi in Tsukiji - for a group of sushi lovers, that’s about as good as it could possibly get.


Interestingly, the following day, the local paper carried an article about Tsukiji, and how the workers there wanted to ban tourists from the central market, as so many were now visiting that they were in the way, and a danger to those who worked there.


Best regards,


Mike M.Paull - Guide (Satiated After Sashimi in Tsukiji, Tokyo, Japan)




Day 01 to 06- 21 April ~ 27 April 2008 - Tokyo, Japan - Frank Leonard



4/21: arrival at Narita was a lesson in efficiency. Smartly uniformed attendants and security ushered the mass of passengers to the passport stations. Bows of the head were the standard greeting. Upon exiting the customs area I had to try and find my way to the hotel and went to the info booth where I was told where to pick up the bus. I was struck by the smell of cigarette smoke as soon as I boarded the shuttle, I am not in Seattle. After a short ride I joined my compatriots for dinner and an orientation by Mike. He reiterated the paperwork issues for obtaining the bikes and wished all a great ride.


4/22: what an experience riding in Tokyo! We picked-up our bikes from the container at a late hour due to a Customs snafu, so we left in the dark. Trying to navigate to the hotel proved to be a challenge for most and thankfully we all arrived back safely. I had a tough time reading the GPS and decipheriing the road signs as well as adjusting to driving on the left. Toll roads abound and we paid more than our share to the local economy.


4/23: spent the day touring temples via bus and the MOTORCYCLE accessories and electronics sections of the city. Our dinner was at a neat Shabu Shabu restaurant after which Jerry, Fred and myself took the subway back to the hotel. What an adventure. Clean, neat and efficient. People rarely talked as the throngs course through the station's multiple levels. Amazingly we made it with only one wrong ride. Jerry met some wonderful people and took some great photos.


4/24: our first riding day was wet. Getting out of Tokyo proved to be just as challenging as getting to our hotel. One wrong turn and we were off the highway with no way to find an on ramp back on. The ramps are few and far between which makes following the GPS impossible. We were lucky to find a roadside lunch spot and with the help of Mike and Aillene we ate delightfully. Seems as though the company that makes toilets, Toto, has a lock on the fixture industry. And these are not your ordinary commodes. Combination bidet, heated seat, spray clean, and flush, they are state of the art and in all the places we have stayed, even the minka in Ouchi-juku. This place served an incredible meal on tatami mats. We shared rooms and those that snored were not too popular.


4/25: rode to Matsushima which has islands "similar" to the San Juans. After a tour of the bay, Jerry, Mac, Daron and I had oysters and sake at a local pub. They were the biggest oysters I have ever eaten and came right from the bay. This hotel was huge and lavish. The rooms were "western style" with tatami mats and expansive views of the bay.


4/26: took a bullet train to Kakunodate, got to visit the Samurai Homes and celebrate their Cherry Blossom Festival with a bit of sake in town.


4/27: today was the best riding day so far. We rode through two mountain passes and had lots of tight, twisty roads. Although there was still lots of snow, the roads were not icy. Saw hot springs, ski resorts and a place called "Stone Circles" where two young kids told us the place was like Stonehenge in that nobody REALLY knows how they got there. We stopped for lunch at a roadside diner where people can catch fish from the pond and have them roasted over coals immediately. Once we arrived at the hote,l a hot artificial hot spring bath was in order followed by dinner and all you can drink beer.



Greetings, Frank Leonard




Day 09 - 28 April ~ 29 April 2008 - Sapporo, Japan - Frank Leonard

Hello Again


4/28: Taking the high speed catamaran from the main island of Honshu to the north island of Hokkaido was fast and smooth. We were assisted by an army of loading personnel who made sure the bikes were secure. They worked efficiently and hurriedly. Their attitude was a far cry from the attitude I have experienced on the ferry system in my state of Washington. A few of us visited some castle ruins at Goryokaku and then headed north across the island to the Sea of Japan to ride the coast. It was a neat treat to see the waves crashing as we wound our way along the coastal route. Then we streaked back across the island to ride along the north Pacific side, taking longer than expected and arriving too late to catch the main group for dinner plans. So our small group of five searched out a small Korean BBQ place and ate beef cooked on our own personal charcoal gills. Jerry did a great job. Washed down with Asahi beer we had a blast. But the fun had just begun as after dinner I spied a bar upstairs wwhich we entered only to find out it was a karaoke bar and we stayed until late singing and laughing (and drinking).


4/29: Free day in Sapporo. Took a train to the Sapporo Brewery for a tour (in Japanese) then another train ride to the seaside town of Otaru. There are fewer people that speak any English so communicating is more by sign language. Regardless, everyone will try to help, the young people are less shy and the older ones actually scurry away when approached most times.  



Greetings, Frank Leonard




Day 09 - 21 April ~ 29 April 2008 - Sapporo, Japan - Dan Townsley

Hello from Japan.


We have been riding for a week now and in some regards I feel like I'm still in the Pacific Northwest do to the green hills, rolling farm land and beautiful snow covered mountains. The Japanese people are wonderful and try very hard to understand when asked for assistance. One more language I wish I had even the slightest familiarity with. We have left the main Island and are now on the Island of Hokkaido.


One could easily spend many more weeks riding in Japan to fully experience this beautiful country. The roads are all in very good condition, maybe due to the substantial tolls that are collected on all Express Ways and many scenic byways around Japan. We just missed the full bloom of the Sakura or Cherry Blossoms but in some of the higher elevations the trees were still in bloom. Very beautiful and the importance this has within the Japanese culture is inspirational. We ride North tomorrow - signing off for now.




Dan signature



Cheers, Dan





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