Back in Japan – Yoko Dirt Time

Due to my last work project running long in Sasebo, my time back at home was just a week long before I headed back to Japan for some work in Yokosuka.   I flew back into Japan on a Saturday evening and decided to try and shake off some jet lag with ride on Sunday.

After grabbing a rental bike and setting it up with my pedals and some sizing tweaks I was through on the bike garb and on the road.   Today was not an exploration ride but a return to the Fugato-yama area which is one of my regular stomping grounds when I am in this neck of the woods.

It was a beautiful sunny day with a touch fall briskness in the air.  Despite only having about 6 hours of sleep after being up for 26 hours I felt really good on the street riding out to the trails.   I think this was a combination of being a bit fitter than I have been in the last six months coupled with still be ing a bit on Japan time with only having a week on US time.  Whatever the reason, I was digging having some energy in the tank and some iron in the legs while out in some nice nature.

The trails were in exceptionally good condition.   Obviously it had not rained heavy for maybe a week as some of the sections that are hellishly slippery when moist were fairly managable which was another bonus. 

It was a substantual act of being unselfish that I stopped to take this photo.  This is a long section of awesome flowing gravity feed goodness that just makes you smile.  Most times of the year the steep hillside is somewhat hidden by the vegitation.  With winter on its way the mixed forest flora is thinning out some to reveal more of its often “stealth” exposure.

Yoko-Reflective Sign

I did not have a huge route planned out here on this day as I had plans for the evening.   I had a handful of street miles to ride back to my hotel after popping out of the woods.  So there I was “just riding along” on the sidewalk along highway 16.  I managd to clip a sign like the one above while going about 20mph that jerked my handlebar pretty hard.  I was able to correct enough to keep from going full on body surfing on the concrete but the bike went way off line and Iended checking a concrete wall with my shoulder.    My head also smacked the wall, but my helmet completely earned its keep so the melon was no worse for wear.

For those who have been wondering, my test reveal that roadside Japanese concrete seems to have an average grit fact of somewhere between 30 and 45.   

After a very stingy shower, I hopped back on the bike and rode a did a few more miles of street riding over to friends Ken and Emi house.   We had nice evening of catching up things over tasty Japanese microbrews and a yummy homemade dinner.   It was a mighty fine opening day back in the land of the rising sun!

Playtime on Mount Eboshi, Japan

Last weekend I was able to squeeze some time off from my work here in Japan to get in some mountain biking on Mount Eboshi near the city of Sasebo in the southern part of Japan.   The weather was pretty freaking awesome.

Nearly all of the climb was done on narrow mountain pavement roads which had some pretty steep bits.   There was some mighty pretty roadside views along the way to the top.

Once I got up to the peak of Eboshi I was treated to nice views of the Sasebo City below.  

I went down the backside of Eboshi and linked up with a network of trails that are typically fun and often challenging.   The crappy rental bike I had made some of the technical bits even more sporty.   The clunk-a-clunk fork mades some sections downright scary.  (Clunk a clunk is the sound it make everytime you go over a rock of any size)

I had forgotten just how many bannana spiders were out and about on these trails.   I can not fully express the invigoration that occurs when you go through one of thier webs and the spider plants squarely in the middle of your face.   There are harmless but I find that my mind fails to properly communicate that to my body as I seem to be incapable of not wigging out when one of these spiders takes and unplanned ride on my nose while I’m cruising down the trail.


I came around a bend in the trail and thought I was witnessing the start of the Zombie Apocalypse!   That is one crazy looking root.

This is part of the trail.  Actually I’m standing at a trail junction.   The trail I was on actually goes off to the right (not shown here).   It is not until you goe about 40-50 yards down this rock/creek bed until the other  “trail” gets back onto dirt again. 

Once you get back on the dirt you are treated to a narrow singletrack craved into the side of the very steep hillside that goes on for about a mile.   Above is one of the few spots where the thick foilage opens up to show civilization below.   After this trail I hit up another handful of trails before zipping back down the mountain and calling it a day.    A mighty fine way to spend an afternoon on a bike.

Yumihari Sunset

I finished up work yesterday with a couple of hours of daylight left so I decided to make get in some two-wheeled excercise by way of climbing Mount Yumihari.  It was cloudy misty rainy a couple of days ago when I first when up to the top so the prospects of taking in a sunny day’s sunset seemed pretty interesting. 


 I made okay time up the mountain and had some nice light left in the day.   Here is looking to the east at the center of the city.


 To the west is the 99 Islands National Park.   


The sun about to set.    I forgot to bring along the dinky little light that came with my rent-a-wreck so I opted to not take one of the trails back down the mountain and instead took the skinny mountain road back down into town.    Not long after I was enjoying some mighty tasty sushi for dinner that cost just a small fraction of what I would pay for that kind of quality back in the states.   Not a bad way to spend a few hours after work.

Opening Spin on Mount Yumihari

I have a work project in Sasebo Japan for the next few weeks.   I arrived on Thursday night and was able to get my hands on a grade A piece-o-crap rental MTB complete with a 7-speed drivetrain, reflectors and a swanky kickstand.  Unfortunately my luggage (that contained my bike stuff) did not arrive until Saturday.   So despite the threat of a typhoon tracking through the region so I decided to get out while I could.   So after ditching the kickstand and throwing on my pedals the bike was at its portly climbing weight and I was off up the mountain.   Here are a few of the limited pictures I took while out and about on and around Mount Yumihari. 

The view from the lookout on Ymihari.

In Japan the word for “locally sourced organics” is “food”

Two years ago this statue was hidden back in the woods and looked a little neglected.   The area around this has been cut back and it is now easily visible from the road.  It has also been painted to really show it off.  It was nice to see that this has been pulled “out” of the woods.   

Mount Eboshi in the distance before I head down off of Yumihari.   I’ll be up onto of that mountain in the near future.

Lagging at La Costa

So I spent last week working in Southern Japan.   I was hoping to squeak in a bike ride but the rental place was out of mountain bikes.  The weather was pretty freaking rough as well as I don’t think the humidity every dropped below 95%.  I think that even if I would have had a bike I would have had to muster up some serious motivation to get out in the woods when it is 99 degrees out with 99% humidity.   So I took in a bit of traditional and limited sight seeing during this visit.   I will be back for a longer period in the fall so I will get my time on the trails.JA-Sasebo-JUL12-04

Yesterday was my travel day back to the San Deigo.  With the International Date Line in the mix, I did Sunday twice in the course of my 27 hours of planes, trains and automobiles.   I was pretty freaking toast by the time my head hit the pillow yesterday.    I did sleep well last night but was still dragging a bit today.   I decided that a lunchtime ride would help to snap the body back onto my timezone.    I decided to ride Rancho La Costa a few miles away from Casa Del Bill.  I also decided to ride my bike to the trailhead as I could use the extra excercise on the several intervening hills along the way.


I was meeting Michael (aka YetiRider) that works near the trail system and routinely knocks out a lunchtime loop out there.   I knew I was going to feel a little tired but was quite surprised just how freaking tired I felt about five minutes into the commute to the trailhead.   My body was quite certain it was a little before 2AM its time.   I made it to  Michaels work shortly before his lunch break and we were soon hitting up the last bit of asphalt to get to the trailhead.    I was feeling a bit better in that I did not feel so fatigued by the time we got to the trailhead.


I climbed alright on the way up but I certainly felt off in the way of not firing on all cylinders.   On the way down I realized my reflexs were more than a little off and I found myself dabbing in spots I would not normally dab in.  It was good to be out on the bike but it was a little disconcerting to be all out of wack.


The pavement return back to my place drained the rest of my energy so I don’t think I really helped out the jet lag out at all today because after a shower and snack I knapped away the rest of the day.   It was still a good experiment.

A Nippon Weekend In Review

So I’m back in Japan for a couple of weeks of work.    This marks the first time I have been here in the late January, early February timeframe.    With the highs in the low 40’s and the night time temps below freezing it is downright cold for this San Diego Weather Weenie!   Wednesday was spent playing planes, trains and automobiles but with the international date line thing after getting some sleep in the hotel I woke up to Friday morning.   Friday was spent setting up for work that was start to start on Monday, give a presentation and make rounds of gripping and grinning.     In the middle of all that I picked up a mountain bike rental that not only would be my primary means of transportation while here in Japan, it was also be my recreational vehicle.    Friday evening was marked by the full blown onset of  Jet Laaaaaag!   

I have found that nothing helps to beat your body clock into a new time zone like some exercise.    After some early morning work preps it was time to set off on the bike.     Cold is cold, but the breeze was just downright biting so there was plenty of layering when donning my MTB apparel.   As in all of it!   I was pretty stoked with the hardtail rental I got.   I was the first person to rent one of the newest members of their rental fleet, a well equipped (for a rental) Jamis Durango 1 hardtail. 

 The plan for Saturday was not to do any exploring, just stick to a series of trails that I know and love in the  Fugatoyama area.   It is a rather large chunk of mountainous open space that is for the most part quite rugged.   It has been the source of many memorable head scratching intersections and brutal hike-a-bikes.

One nice change about riding here in the winter time is that you can see a lot more stuff as some of the trees have shed their leaves.    The picture above would be of mostly a veggie tunnel in the summer.   I had a good time out on the trails but was fairly skimpy on taking pictures. 

The final segement of trail along this route dropped me out into an area called ghost-town for the number of old vine entwined buildings that are rusting back to mother nature.    The little paths and streets quickly takes you back down into civlization where one can obtain tasty hot coffee out of a can.   This is straight up yummy caffiene crack in a can!  A nice warm can of coffee in the middle of a cold ride.    Good Stuff!   After the caffiene recharge there was a series of street riding back to my hotel.    I caught up with old friends over a home made dinner that night.   A mighty nice start to trip.


I did not get an early start on Sunday so as to let mother nature warm things up a bit before I went out.    I had been wondering about a different route into the Fugatoyama area that in theory would cut out a bunch of the street riding.    There is a foot bridge over the Yokosuka-Yokohama Expressway that seems to go from nothing but woods on one side of the expressway to nothing but woods on the other side of the expressway.    There has got to be a trail there.   I had never been able to figure out how to get down off the Fugatoyama ridgelines to this footbridge.   I was going to figure this out from the opposited direction on this outing.  The plan was to start from town and get up to the footbridge and then get up onto the ridgelines, where I should know where I am at at that point (That was the theory).   So after some Google Earthing, some exporting and file conversions I had my GPS uploaded with with some waypoints and tracks to investigate.    While not the most direct route to where I wanted to go the route took me through a pedistration tunnel.  Pretty cool. 

After a bit of here, there and to and fro I ended up at my first objective, an entrance into the Taura Plum Grove.  Just after the spot pictured above I got in some stairway to heaven action. 

The Taura Plum Grove is a park and while for the most part it is a rock sidewalk affair it was pretty cool looking.   Springtime here when the plum trees are blooming must be a really awesome sight.   Things are not flat here and my route was taking me to the upper west end of th park so it was a climbing affair. 

Up near the top of the park the views open up.   Tokyo Bay is in the distance and the large building in the distance on the left-hand side of the pictures is the Landmark Tower in Yokohama.

 At the top of the park is a viewing tower where even better views of the area can be taken in.

I was more interested in what was just beyond the tower.  Finally some dirt and the trail that would take me into the Fugatoyama/Muira Alps area.   The trail became a skinny singletrack as soon as it left the park and before long I was across the footbridge and headed west towards the ridgelines.

I had a stupid grin on my face at this point. 

 Some nice little technical rooty bits to contend with.   Big smile on my face here as well.

 Okay, the smile on the face was about 50 feet back behind me at this point.  The trail turnned sharply up a mega-steep ridge side.   The picture does not do the steepness of this section justice.   The good news was I was gaining elevation quickly even if I was not riding the bike.   I was thinking that if this gets me up on the ridgeline where I think it might I will have lots of mostly downhill goodness to ease the kinks out of my hike-a-bike calves.

 I did recognize the trail when I finally did make it up on the ridge.   It was promptly followed by a big “Oh Shit”!  I was much further to the south than I thought I would be and I was exactly at my most southern point of exploration along this particular ridgeline.    The Oh-Shit was because I knew that I had three technical hella-steep hike-a-bike sections between me and the full-time ridable “money dirt” to the north.    My GPS said I had one hour and 23 minutes before sunset.  Farting around was no longer an option.

There were some exposure bits that are hidden very well by the flora, but wintertime has allowed them to me a bit more revealed.   I had only ridden the section above only during the summer months before and I while I knew there was a bit of drop of here I had not idea just how freaking far one could tumble from here until today. 

I made good time through the hike-a-bike bits and was soon back on the money dirt.   I took the shot above and put away the camera and enjoyed some sweet flowing trails that was nearly all downhill to the north.   I popped out of the woods just before sunset and enjoyed an extremely brisk street ride back to my hotel.    A mighty fine way to get primed for a week of work ahead.

A Zushi – Kamakura stroll about

Okay I have been back from Japan for nearly a month now and I am just starting to get caught up of some of my goings on while in land of the rising sun.    On one of my weekends there I set off to do a ride that I would involve a bit of this and a bit of that as far as riding goes.  I know quite a few trails over here and while I wanted to get in some dirt time I was also interested in taking in some of the sights and sounds of Japan life as well.   So I set off on my ride with a bit of eye for looking for new things along an old route.

I started out in Yokosuka  on the eastern shore of the Muira peninsula (about an hour and change south of   Tokyo) and pedaled the streets over to the city of Zushi.    The route itself is always interesting with lots of  Mom and Pop stores, stairways to temples and narrow streets and sidewalks.   There is this school that I pass by along this route and while I Have seen kids at play on it a few times in the past for the most part it was empty during my passings.    Today was quite different.  There was some kind of the school function that involved both the parents, kids and facility.   There were lots of chants, shouts, cheering and laughing on the playground.   I was already well down the street before I decided I needed to check this out with more than a pedal by so I hit the brakes and went back.

There was a hilarious race being held that had me laugh my arse off.   It looks like four groups of parents and children were split up into four teams. They were in lines at one end of the field and some guy/official was sitting in chair at the other end of the field.  At the man’s feet were two burlap sack filled with something.  One sack was small and the other was large.    Once the whistle went off, the person at the front of each line ran across the field to their corresponding guy in the chair at the far end.  As they approached the guy that had to play the guy in a single hand of “rock paper scissors”.   If the runner won, they got the small sack, if they lost they got the big sack.   Either way you the runners had to take their sack back across the field as fast as they could and hand it off to the next person in the line.   For the subsequent runners, winning the rock-paper-scissors bout meant you got to keep or get the small sack.  The entire race we exceptionally funny to watch.

After getting in my fill of giggles I soon veered off the narrow streets and onto trails on and around Mount Sengen.   Most of the locals refer to this area as “Duck Pond” as the most common route has you starting at a small pond.    It has rained quite a bit over the past week and the trails had a lot more moisture than I had expected.

The soil here is clay based and while it does not cake up on your tires at all , it is some exceptionally tricky stuff to ride on where power and balance but be carefully finessed to keep yourself from becoming an amateur geologist taking unplanned soil samples.

Now sprinkle in some leaves and wet roots over this clay and you have some exceptionally interesting bit of trail to content with.   You can find more information about this kind of stuff on Slickopedia.

One of my favorite little curves along the route, the ferns in this area almost popping.  Like many of the hiking trails in this area they have a long history of use to connect between the numerous temples throughout the peninsula.  This particular trail dates back to around the mid 1300s.   After dropping this trail off of west of Mount Sengen, I did a bit of residential street riding before hitting up another series of trails.   Shortly after this I found myself at several trail junctions enjoying the scenery while I sorted through the scribbled on maps and disjointed GPS files floating around in my brain.   Eventually I channeled “The Schwartz”  and figured out my way (The other ways, are now officially on my to-do list).

The series of trails I was on at this point where leading me to Kamakura on the western side of peninsula on Segami Bay.  These trails were created sometime between 1185 – 1333AD.      It is really kind of cool knowing that you are riding a trail nearly four times as old as my home country.

The drop into Kamakura proper is not a gentle one,   there is some seriously steep and slippery steps to contend with as most of your elevation is cashed out rather quickly.

The final bit of the trail before hitting tiny concrete pathways and alleyways that led down into the streets of Kamakura.

With its numerous temples and cultural shops and restaurants one could spend weeks enjoying Kamakura before they would feel as if they have done more than scratched the surface.     For me it was a quick stroll along the streets.

The “scramble” crosswalk.   All traffic briefly stops and pedestrian pandemonium ensues.    Very cool to watch.

This was what  I was really looking for on this day, some of the tasty street vendor offerings.   This stuff is some form of grilled chicken skin/bits will tasty sauce and shredded veggies.

So what if is bad for me, but yeah there were a bunch of skinny Japanese folks eating this stuff so how bad can it be.    After  mowing this thing down and a bit of Japanese fashion watching I made my way back over to Zushi along the streets.   I had big plans to hit of up the trails of Fugato-yama on my way back but by the time I reach the turnoff street my legs were wanking so I continued along the streets back to Yokosuka.   Turns out I did just a few yards under 27 miles so I did not feel bad about bailing on the last riding area.     Another good day to be on a bike and a great day to be out stroll around in Japan.

A Rising Sun Ride

Work has me in Japan for a few weeks so it was about time to get out and hit the trails.    The fall weather here is pretty nice so I opted for a crack of dawn ride as my Saturday midday was already booked up.  The previous day had been remarkably clear and tomorrow was supposed to be overcast so I was hoping to catch a window to see Mount Fuji at dawn on top of Ogusayama the tallest peak on the Muira Peninsula near Yokosuka.  It was still pre-dawn when I rolled out of the hotel at 5AM but not by much.   The ride along the city streets was really quite and almost surreal.  It was pretty much just me and the cats along with couple of early risers like myself.

The street riding to the trails is mostly uphill the entire way.  Before long I turned off the primary streets to smaller and smaller secondary streets as things became more rural and I started passing little family farms.   I was nearly to the dirt trails when the rising  sun joined me on the ride.

In 2004, I spent the better part of year living over here and I rode the Ogusuyama trail network numerous times so this place is kind of like home away from home dirt.  Fall is just thinking about starting here so the colors are not happening yet but the leaves on some of the trees are starting to get a little sparse so views occur a little more often.  This typically reveals just how steep some of the hillsides are that the trails cut across. 


I made pretty descent time to the top of Ogusuyama, but there were some distant clouds so Fuji was in hiding.   So while the planned far-view scenery was not to be had, the nearby stuff was pretty awesome as a clearing near the top of the mountain was flush with flowers.

After the stopping to smell the flowers break, I opted to continue heading west down the other side of the mountain to the Segami Bay side of the pennisula.  The trail I took has a lot of fun flowing sections but it makes you work for them as thier are some really rooty sections that require all of your bike handling attention.    If the roots alone were not interesting enough the soil in this area is mostly clay and with the rains a few days prior the bare clay sections had traction qualities that are best described as “I Can’t Believe Its Not Butter”.     There were many times along this trail where I’m sure my facial expression would be best described as being that of a “terrified smile”.  

Below is one of the sections that was just blissfully fun.

Eventually the trail came out on a tiny litte street about the size of the golf cart path that feed to a series of other streets each a little wider than the last until I came out onto the main two-lane street down by Segami Bay.  I did a bit of flat-land street riding to connect up with a another street that would turn into a fireroad that would take me back up into the Ogsuyama area.  Before getting back into the climbing gears, I had to grab a bit of morning coffee.   The vending machines over have canned hot coffee which are simply awesome.   I am big-time addict of these coffees and being able to grab a quick fix on a ride is pretty awesome.    Coffee Crack in a can — Good Stuff!

After getting my coffee buzz on I was climbing back up the mountain. The grade was a bit steep in spots and it felt good to get some burn in the legs. Once back up near the top of Ogusuyama I took a different set of trails that would take me to southeast and down into the community of Kinugasa.   As I rolled off the trail I was quitely in the town which was fully awake now with lots cars and people fluttering about getting their day taken care of.   It was a little bit taken back by it at first due to the  juxtaposition of the sleepiness of the streets a few hours ago.  From there is was quite a bit of street riding back to the hotel and before long I too was fluttering about getting the rest of my day taken care.   I think I am going to have to do another rising sun ride before I leave Japan.

A Little Land of the Rising Sun Action

After spending a few days in Seattle finishing up some work, I headed out to Japan to spend a week scoping out a project for next year.   As always I was hoping to squeak in a ride if time permitted.   I rented a mountain bike for the duration of my visit to serve as my primary means of daily transportation and potentially some recreation as well.   The weather was  forecast to be pretty much icky for the week with Wednesday being partly sunny.    Wednesday came around and partly sunny was indeed the case with a full serving  of windy and brisk to boot.   I was able to open my afternoon enough to get in some “Off-Site Strategic Planning”  accomplished on the bike.   While I still have some places to explore in this area on my list from previous visits, I would not have time for that with the shorter days October.   I had a handful of miles to ride on the streets to get to Zushi City where I would pick up the first part of the afternoon’s dirt adventure.   I had nearly forgotten just how culturally interesting in can be riding on the streets over here.   Narrow sidewalks, mom and pop businesses, scooters whizzing by, Japanese School Girl Uniforms, lots of people out walking and peddling, etc…  It is just an intersting scene.  

On one section of road with a bit of a climb in it I came across a new sign that was not there in June of last year.  I can’t read this sign but I know what it means.  And I like it.  The Japanese have a knack for iconing things so that just about anybody can figure things out.  Rider Up!

Once I made it over the Sengen Trails which is commonly referred to by us Engrish folk as Duck Pond since the trail starts at a small pond that typically has ducks in it. What a bunch creative Gaijins we are .  The trail starts with a heiniouly steep hike-a-bike up to a ridge that typcially requires you to shoulder the bike.   With the rain the day before I knew this was going to be a fun section with plenty of slick clay.   It was about this time I thought about the fact I had never taken the trail around this little pond.  So I decided to delay my hike-a-bike fun and go around the pond.  I was fairly stoked to find that at the end the pond was a little boardwalk that was quite fun on the bike.  It was just tight enough to be interesting and combined with the really brisk air and the thought of falling into the shallow mucky end of this pond made this section downright fun.  I had to do it a couple of times in both directions.   This was a pretty cool 5 minute detour and added some newness the ride right out of the gate.   The Hike-A-Bike up to the ridge was every bit of clay treachery I expected, but I was soon rolling along the ridgetops. 

After climbing along the trails I made it up to the top of Sengen Hill (or Peak – can’t remember ) there was some nice views of the mountains in the Hakone National Park in the distance, but it tooks some effort to see as mother nature is reclaiming the clearing in a hurry.  As is often the case, Mt Fuji was hiding behind distant clouds.  From here it was time to head down and I took one of my favorite routes down through the Tennin trail system before popping out on another street.  

After a short bit of road interconnecting I got onto a series of trails that headed westward towards Kamakura.   There are some really good trails that are quite popular with hikers.  Many of the trails are hundreds of years old with some of the more direct routes between the temples being over a thousand years old.   

There are several sections along the route where the trail cuts through the top of the ridge via a slot or notch.  Sometimes the notches are 20-30 feet deep.  I orginally thought that this was a result of the trail being “cut” by some machinery or tools sometime in the past.   The slots in the ridge were actually created from the countless footsteps of people who have walked these trails for hundreds of years.   Feet, time and errosion have cut through the ridge tops.  After riding and climbing along these ridges the exit was like most of the trails in the mountains around here, Hike-A-Bike up and White Knucklers on the way down.   The wet conditions earlier in the week made the descent quite challenging to ride and not much easier to walk.    There was a least a couple of clay samples taken.

Once I dropped off the ridgelines down into Kamakura I worked my way along the streets back to Yokosuka and my hotel.  Later on that evening I met some old friends for dinner to catch up on thngs and to fawn over their new baby girl.   It was good times on pretty much all facets of the day.

“Taiiku no hi” Ride

 This past  Monday was Columbus day in the United States, but I’m not in the States.  Lucky for me Monday was also the Japanese Holiday of  “Taiiku no hi” which is “Health-Sports Day”.   What better way to celebrate that than a bike ride. 

Fall is happening here.   The summer heat is gone and the cooler temps of fall have taken over. There are no huge splash of colors just yet but you can tell that mother nature is dusting off her brushes and shaking the paint cans.

The closest mountain to town is Yumihari.  I have been on most of the flanks of this mountain and have found some stuff to ride in all those areas.   The place suffers from little use and even less maintenance.    This place would be incredibly awesome if there were enough riders to keep this place debrushed.  I was focusing on the southern area today and was quite pleased with what I found and that it is seeing some use.   One such trails was an awesome benchcut along a ruggedly steep hill side.

I eventually found my way over to what I was looking for.  There is a large statue that you can see from town perched up along the ridgeline that I had been eyeing from work for a couple of weeks now.    This thing is huge.  At least 20 feet high and it sets top of 20 foot raised base.  This was a great spot for some snacks so I enjoyed them while taking in some of the views. 

There was an old couple there tending to the grounds.  Eventually the husband and I struck up a conversation which was a mixture of my bad Japanese, his bad English and a healthy dose of International Charades.   From the jest of the conversation, the man was 70 years old and his father made the sculpture.    He was very proud of his father’s work.  He was also proud of the fact his wife was much younger than him (only in her 50s).   The wife snickered at this and gave him a gentle slap on the arm.  While I did not catch what see said, the facial expressions translated to something along the lines of “You Dirty Old Fool”.  While he looked old, he was mighty healthy and was doing some significant work like cutting grass, trimming back branches, etc…   I hope to be that spry when I am his age.  You can tell they loved and cared for this place.    After a bit more broken chit-chat over a can of coffee he gave me, I was on my way.  After such a nice little life enriching experience I could have called it a day right then and have been quite happy.

Lucky for the me the old man had “Charaded” me some more information on trails, so settting off from the shrine, I did some more snooping around.

What the old man had pointed to was a really cool bit of trail where you descend down along a mostly steep ridgeline through a forest of mixed bamboo and hardwoods.   It was a pretty fun descent with some scary bits thrown in when things got rocky and really steep.  

After this I climbed back up the mountain and hit some one the loops I have done several times which put me back onto the side of the mountain I wanted to be on.   After another rather technical descent I popped out into another neighborhood.   From here I zipped along a series of narrow twisting sidewalks that descended the rest of the way down the mountain back into town.  I love when the navigation calls for anyway that is downhill to get “home”.    I might get another ride or two in before I leave Japan but if not this would be a downright cool closer ride.