Hamamatsu trip #1 (Shizuoka Prefecture)

[26-28 September 2023]

Just back to Nagoya from a 100km camping trip to Hamamatsu, on a Surly cargo bike loaded up with tent, cooking gear, tools, clothing, and other bits and pieces. One day down, two overnights, one day back. My first long ride in Japan, it’s good to be back.

I dropped the chocolates below on the way out, while clipping in lights on a dark country road. They were my only lost item (yay)️ but I spotted them two days later on the way home!

Anyway, to photos from the trip. I have a terrible eye, and here’s Exhibit 1 in evidence of that: could really do without the distraction of horizontal lines in this one. But that’s the bike as loaded, a couple of minutes before departure. Hard to pick out the detail around the handlebars, but the water bottles and tool kit are at least visible, and you can see my crappy initial attempt at the packing. The Surly panniers are capacious and forgiving.

“Bonesetter” in this snap of a sign over a clinic in Hina (a town between Nagoya and Okazaki) wasn’t a familiar word, and I assumed that it was just a bad translation of chiropractor. It’s not. 接骨師 (bonesetter [more info behind photo]) and 整体師 (chiropractor) are separate non-MD qualifications. The former treat injuries like dislocations, sprains and bruises, as well as broken bones. It’s not a countryside thing, there are a bunch of clinics in Nagoya too.

I used the BikeMap app on an Android phone for navigation. It worked pretty well! Japan DOES have some straight roads where the phone could be switched off to save battery. In a couple of instances (no photos, oops!) it plotted a course down tiny footpaths between buildings that I wouldn’t otherwise have noticed. But in a couple of places roads had disappeared through 区画整理 (planning adjustment) and in some other spots the weeds were reasserting themselves.

En route to Hamamatsu, I was whizzing through Okazaki when I had a flat tire in front of this very tiny roadside restaurant—basically a counter surrounding a galley kitchen. It was run by two women, with a third kibbitzer at the counter, all apparently of the same family. They were extremely kind! I had a good lunch and patched the flat in their parking space. Found four rose thorns in the front tire, but missed a slow leak and later landed at a bike shop.

Features of the landscape that would sail past unnoticed when traveling by car can be cause for reflection. This craft, abandoned in the shadow of the Tōkai Shinkansen tracks on the southern outskirts of Toyohashi, made me wonder what sort of graffiti might have been scrawled on Noah’s boat by the people he left behind. Graham Hancock, if you’re listening, we need to know.

On the morning after arriving in Hamamatsu, I had breakfast at cafe ア トリエ. No photo (oops), but really welcoming clientele, who declared I resembled someone named キャンブル??? The owner directed me to Hamanako Garden Park. It’s big, and there’s a bicycle course around the perimeter. My timing was good: the course will be closed for a marathon relay (駅伝 “eki-den”) on October 8th. More snaps from this park to come.

The lawsuit over “Makoto-chan’s house” built in Tokyo by the manga artist Makoto Umezu back in 2009 is pretty well known. On the way to Hamamatsu, I hit a dead end due to construction work on a canal that cost some time in back-and-forthing. It was not for naught though, as it took me past a house equally odd, if less famous and, by its location, less likely to be the subject of a nationally publicized lawsuit. Perhaps someone grew tired of the weeding.

Hamanako Garden Park (see up-thread) was a relaxing waypoint. Off season it’s very quiet, with a very large deserted parking lot.

Empty parking lots attract other forms of entertainment, of course. The sign (see photo descrip) prohibits “hangouts” like one I came across at a Family Mart across the bridge after midnight: engine-revving scooter kids hunkering around their minor gang boss’ modded sports car. Vroom-vroom.

Above I mentioned the Hamanako Garden Park bike course that skirts around the edge of the grounds. Bikes aren’t allowed to enter the grounds proper, so when I saw the “Family Rental Biking Course” sign on a walking trail, my first thought was, “Aw jeez, more petty gatekeeping for pennies.” Then I saw the bikes: they’re fanciful 4-wheelers that will mix better with pedestrian traffic.

The obligatory photo-dock was nearby. That’s me in the dark glasses.

To tie off this thread on the Hamamatsu adventure, there were two welcome sights on the way home. I know the roads near home pretty well, but the rest was a stream of little discoveries. One of those near the end was a branch of Gyoza no Osho, and boy was I hungry. Mieko had mentioned it as a chain with good food at budget prices. (This ran to about $10.) A bit later I came to our veggie market, still a couple of kilometers to go, but I knew I was home.

This thread has featured pictures of signs and structures that drew my attention on the ride to and from Hamamatsu, with little in the way of exotic-Japan eye candy. To fill that gap, here is the bike parked in front of the Benten-jima Torii, taken a short distance from the Family Mart mentioned in the post above. Exotic Japan at its disorienting best. (More info on Hamana Lake and the Benten Island Torii in this blog post (Japanese, with photos).