from Pas Normal Studios…
The mountains have always allured me. Coming from flat Copenhagen in Denmark, I have always sought after the mountains, it has been no different living here in Tokyo, Japan. Tokyo is a fantastic confusing place for any foreigner. The etiquette of Japanese life is very far from anything I know. Anywhere you go in Japan you feel like you are the barbarian with all the wrong moves and bad manners. It takes time to learn the decency and respect of the Japanese customs. At first it can seem utterly time consuming and stupid, but once you get to understand how it works and how it enables 37 million people to live in Tokyo it all makes sense.
Queuing is a part of your daily life in Tokyo, you queue to get on the train, you queue to get off the train, you queue for breakfast, you queue for dinner and you queue to get back home with the train. You queue a lot in Tokyo. As frustrating as this can be for someone coming from a “small town”, it’s actually fantastic experience to witness how the masses move silently across town. The silence and decency of people makes it possible for 40 million people to move across Tokyo every day.
I used to take the metro until I got myself a 1-geared Fuji. Navigating through the small streets crammed with traffic lights every hundred meters somehow became a daily habit. Commuting my 11km to university daydreaming about the mountain ranges close to Tokyo. On clear days, the symmetrical cone also known as Mt. Fuji can be seen from Tokyo along with other smaller mountain peaks. This is a spectacular sight and the mountains look like they are right there for you to touch – even if they’re actually 40 kilometres away.
Cycling from Tokyo to the mountains via the rivers or the Onekan leading out the city is a strenuous ride. Not because of its length or hardness but because of its traffic. Mentally 40km is not very long but 40km in traffic is tough. Once you reach the outskirts of Tokyo the flow and beauty starts to show and the reward of cycling there kicks in. From here, it is an endless playground with numerous peaks and enough steepness to keep the legs happy. It is truly a Disney land for cyclists – you just need to remember that you have 40km back in traffic.
When my friend Alex and I got the chance to go cycling in Toyama we could not decline. I like looking at maps and planning rides, I mean any cyclist does, right? So when I checked out Toyama on a map I got thrilled. Toyama is located along the Sea of Japan and neighbours up to the great Northern Japan Alps. With only 1 million inhabitants compared to Tokyo’s 37 million, Toyama is relaxed. The 3000-meter-high Tateyama mountain range can be easily reached from Toyama and delivers incredible scenery. When we arrived in Toyama it was pitch black and raining, not what we were used to in neon light bright Tokyo. The thing about arriving somewhere at night is that you cannot see or get an idea of the place. You can only imagine. The weather forecast looked horrible for the upcoming two days. We decided not to talk about it.
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