Was over the river at the store yesterday and saw this guy come cycling through the village. It is rare we see any foreigners in this part of the world, and rarer still foreigners touring by bicycle, but with full panniers that was obviously what he was doing. I stopped and asked him if he needed any help or information, and asked the obvious first question "where have you cycled from?". My jaw dropped with his answer "England!"
Justin, from Sheffield, left England at the end of July, cycled across Europe, then Asia, and arrived in Shimonoseki on a ferry from China on January 18th. He then did a circuit of Kyushu before coming back to Honshu and is now on his way up to the northernmost point of Tohuku before heading back down to Tokyo for a flight to Canada.
His answer to the question "why?" is simple and obvious "because I like cycling".
Since 2002 he has cycled his away across all the continents of the planet, with brief returns to England to work at a job for a few months to raise the cash to go cycling again. Other than the times people invite him into their homes for the night he camps out every night by the side of the road and prepares porridge, vegetables, and japatis to eat everyday.
Our offer of a cup of English tea he found impossible to refuse, and while chatting our offer of fish and chips and a bed for the night was accepted.
He is travelling the back roads in Japan, and reckons Japanese roads are some of the steepest he's encountered. In terms of being a cyclist he reckons the Japanese are the worst drivers in the world, but he has no real complaints and is thoroughly enjoying his time here.
So, if you live along the Japan Sea coast, keep your eyes open for him during the next month, and trade a bed and a meal for some fascinating stories.