Don and I are booked into the Hotel Route Inn in Tsuruoka, Yamagata, for the night of July 31.
There are vacancies as of today (May 20) should you opt for the same accomodation.
The hotel offers an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet. The evening before Don and I will have dinner and drinks at a nearby pizzeria.
To contact me on the day, my cell is: 080-8724-8539.
The "Instructables" site has published a report on cycle touring in Hokkaido by one Diane Whitmore. Diane claims to have cycled Japan's northernmost island for 28 days for $1000, including roundtrip airfare from the US west coast; this in the year 2010, when the yen was about 30% stronger than now.
Diane's report reads like a "How-to" in moochery. She instructs the reader in the best way to get freebies from shopkeepers: "Look for small stands and taste the farmer's food in front of them. It's not uncommon for them to load you up if they see you enjoying their fine fresh food. "
Apparently, Ms. Whitmore spent as much time scrounging and foraging as riding: "Food can be found in the woods, parks, and on the road in Hokkaido's ripe September. I also picked up countless potatoes and onions that were dropped by trucks. I gathered nuts, fruit, mushrooms and herbs."
This section of Diane's report is my favorite:
Here is a list of edibles I found-
Wrong, Diane, concerning fishing licenses and rules. And really, carry all that fishing kit on a month-long tour? Just go to the damn supermarket and spend a couple hundred yen.
And nettle? If picking this "nice green vegetable" poses a pricking risk, how is it to be eaten? Do I have to remove the thorns first? I think I'll just spend 100 yen and buy a nice green head of lettuce and save a few hours, maybe pedal on down the road.
I'm curious to know whence the competition for chestnuts in Asahikawa comes. Bears? The locals?
Laundry can be a challenge for the cycle tourist, and even here, Diane finds a way to save a few yen:
"I did my own (laundry) using a sturdy plastic bag as a sink, but they may be hard to find.The mountain supply store in Asahikawa gave me the one in the picture."
Diane, plastic shopping bags are not hard to find and when not free will cost you 3 yen at most. But clearly, our cyclist considers this small savings a major score.
Not surprisingly, Diane does not inform her readers of her route or daily mileage, matters that might interest the serious cyclist but which Ms. Whitmore considers too mundane to mention.
She's too busy hunting for bargains to let cycling get in the way.
I'm not making this stuff up. For Diane's priceless report, see here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Bike-Touring-in-Japan-on-a-shoestring
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