Sunday, August 30, 2009

Day 67: Cape Sata!

Sunday, August 30, 2009
  We made it!  It took us 67 days to ride our bikes the length of mainland Japan: almost 3,000 miles from Cape Soya, the northern most point of Hokkaido, to Cape Sata, the southern most point of Kyushu. 

We slept last night in a small hotel in Minami Osumi, about 22 miles away from Cape Sata.  We started riding at 8:30am and enjoyed stunning ocean views as we pedaled up and down the challenging coastal road.  It was a sunny day, 90 degrees, and we were drenched with sweat when we reached the cape.  Akira Saito, a friend we made in Hokkaido, rode with us and took the attached picture.

Sho was nonchalant about the whole thing.  As we stared out over the beautiful, sparkling ocean from the cape, I asked him if it had been hard to bike across Japan.  He shuffled his feet and said, “Kinda.”

We’ll take a train back to Tokyo on Sep 1 to be reunited with my wife Eiko and 2-year old daughter Saya, and return to NYC on Sep 5.  It’s been a great adventure!


  1. Dear Sho and Charles,

    Congratulations!!! You did it! I'm speechless, just so proud of you. Hope you two will share your incredible journey with the entire school when we all get back. But first, go find a nice onsen and relax. Have a safe trip back to the States. Take care.

    Miss Kimmy

  2. Dear Sho and Charles

    I was always impressed your trip in Japan.
    It was the great trip.


  3. Congratulations on your great achievements...
    especially to Sho for having to spend 67 days staring at his dad's behind! ;-)

    Seriously, well done indeed. You are both quite an inspiration!

    Paul, Jessica, Josh & Kayla

  4. Bravo! Well done!! ...but, I am kind of sad that it's all over now... these 2 months,you kept me excited to think where you would be cycling. It was such a pleasure to read the day's blog and see the pictures. You two really did inspire me (especially during the Shimanami Kaido ride) and I am already starting to wonder what the next crazy adventure will be...Saga

  5. Nice Job Guys! Congrats!!!

    Rod (in Okinawa)

  6. Congratulations...very inspiring. As a father of young children, I think I am equally impressed that you are capping off your 67 day ridw with an 8 year old by taking a 14 hour flight with a 2 year old. Congratulations again

    Terry Gallagher

  7. Congralturations!
    It's great adventure and you have great will and emotion.
    As the one of bike riders and nature lovers, I was very impressed.

  8. Charles....You have created an experience with immeasurable benefits for you son, and I am sure yourself, as well....Such an inspiration to witness your choice to live this summer in such an extraordinary way...some say, I love you so much, I would give you the world...well, that is what you have done for your son...his face in the photos says it all....

  9. Way to go! A nice family remembrance. Missed the details of your travels after around Day 50.
    However, I might have made the details more of your personal observations rather than personal pains. I'd recorded them in less words (as a future reminder when you look at and re-live this wonderful experience in the years to come)but it is your observations plus a little personal item here and there which caused your following in the outside-Japan world -- we probably wished we could have traveled with you

    Didn't catch any degree of fluency in nihongo that you might have had, which would help us
    readers better understand things you were experiencing.

    Would have liked all the daily photos identified,e.g., phote #1, ryokan we stayed at
    in Hirozaki-shi, photo #2, bridge scene on Hwy
    7 south of Sendai, and so on. It would make your photos better come to life. I think a map of Japan tracing your route every week would have been outstanding. Yes, I know I'm sort of
    dreaming but I'm you looking back many years from now and trying to remember which roads you took. I guess you have a local map for that but your readers intent on following you could only
    partially do so. I think it was nice to point out the good places you stayed and ate at -- as
    well as lavishing praise on those who helped and/or rode with you. On Day #1 would have shown a side view of your bike with you and Sho astride it and then one without you two but fully "loaded".

    More helpful hints for those who wish to follow in your tracks would have been appreciated. Or even, "We made mistake in taking Hwy 7, looks like Hwy 11 would have been a little longer but not so many hills".

    Lastly, in a summary of your trip, state whether you would do it again, do it again differently or even recommend it to others. Kind of imagine you had lots of scary experiences and chanced real serious problems.

    One negative was the difficulty of following each day in sequence. It seems your trip started on Day #67 to readers and be had to back-pedal (no pun intended!) to Day #1, then start separately with Day #2 and so on, i.e., each day didn't fuse into the next day starting from the beginning.

    Here's wish you and your entire family a continuing wonderful life of adventure.

    P.S. It is none of our business but I think some personal background would have been nicer,
    i.e., nothing that would reveal how to locate you but how your intereset to take this ride arose, which probably entails how you met your wife, why you thought an 8-year old would like
    to take the trip (= will an 8-year's memory
    retain it) and -- I keep thinking thoughts -- how many tires you used up, pairs of shoes, tents, and what did your 70 lbs baggage ential
    (= broadly speaking).

    Bob Aronoff (Pasadena, California, USA)

  10. Sumimasen, gomen nasai, shitsurei shimas. I didn't see the two short videos before I wrote the above thoughts. We saw good photos of the planned trip and the bike. However, the planned trip wasn't your trip as you veered off the plan to go to Shikoku, if I'm not mistaken. Seeing that sleek bike, presume is was customed made. Might have been interesting to know its approximate cost. Shimpai nai desu. Thank you for a vicarious thrill to ride the length of Japan with you and Sho. Come to think of it, there was a book out within the last 15 years of a fellow who followed your idea but walking the lenght of the country. I don't recall the title off-hand from I thought it was "On the road to Cape Sata" or something like that. I think he started at Wakkanai-shi. The walker was a man, a gaijin living in Japan at the time, maybe. He carried all his needs and equipment on his back! I think he had some fluency with nihongo. My old memory isn't that good so please excuse me if you have an interest in reading the book. I do recall I thought it was an interesting read.

    Lots of good fortune to you and your family,

    Bob Aronoff (Pasadena, California, USA)

  11. Hope to see you back at the hardware store in NYC soon. I loved reading about your adventure!

  12. Charles,

    I'm curious about about how your bicycle held up on the journey. How many flat tires? Any broken bike parts? etc. Also, was there anything you wish you had taken? Wish you had left behind? Thanks. Rod

  13. Rod,

    The Trek 520 and Burley Piccolo trailer cycle held up great. I'll send you an e-mail with our equipment list.

    -- Charles

  14. Joe Nation,

    Sorry for taking so long to respond. I have been sucked back into my old routine and haven't checked this blog in a while. Thanks for following us -- I'm glad you enjoyed following the adventure.

    -- Charles

  15. Bob,

    Thanks for your substantive and thorough critique! And sorry for taking over a month to respond.

    I agree with your suggestions for improving the blog. I had trouble keeping it up to date during the ride: I was exhausted and highly distracted from the daily challenges, often didn't have an Internet connection, and Sho wanted me to play with him instead of write during our down times. I meant to finish the updates after returning, but have not had the mental energy to do so, interestingly. I am in the process of turning this adventure into a book, which will hopefully do a better job of telling the story.

    Here are responses to your other questions:
    * I do speak Japanese and needed it throughout this trip, especially in rural areas. It would have been much more of a challenge, if I didn't speak the language, especially on those days when we were in real need of help.

    * We did change the route as we went along, based on input from locals and my whim. I put together a detailed route in advance in order to gauge how long it would take, but did not make reservations anywhere, so that we could let the adventure unfold in unplanned ways.

    * I rode a Trek 520, and Sho rode a Burley Piccolo trailer cycle, both of which are factory made. The Trek was around $1,000 and the trailer cycle around $300.

    * While preparing for this ride, I read "The Roads to Sata" by Alan Booth, about his walk in 1977 from Cape Soya to Cape Sata. It is a wonderful book. Booth died of cancer. I would have loved to meet him.

    Thanks again for your comments.

    -- Charles

  16. Dear Sho and Charles:

    My hearty congratulations. Great job. I am very happy to learn about your efforts as I used to go out with my son most of the weekends in summer for bike rides with his friends to promote GO Green concept. Please convey our regards to Eiko and Saya.

    Yours sincerely,
    Sheela Sreekumar & Vishnu

  17. Sho and Charles!!! I was just doing a search on biking through Japan and found your blog!! Must've been an amazing trip!
    Do you have any resource or guide that you can point me to if I would like to bike tour through parts of japan?? Thanks!

  18. Hi.

    Am I right in thinking you can't take your bicycle to the actual southern most point? You have to leave it in some parking lot? I'm currently cycling to Cape Sata. Thanks.

  19. hello!
    We are families and began the long-distance bicycle trip from last year .
    We are the international marriage families of South Korea and Japan, and will go to Japan this summer.
    We have a son of the first grader, and nearly two daughters.
    A son rides on a trailer cycle like show this time for the first time.

    It seems that there is an area where the run is not allowed to the tandem bicycle in Japan.
    Wasn't there any problem to it? Could it run by two persons anywhere?

    I am full of something to ask you.
    I am glad if a reply comes.