Kanto to Shimokita-hanto return

The northernmost point of Honshu is the home of the famous blue fin fisherman and some great riding on empty roads with views for miles.

The getting there and back is the bigger challenge and a great ride. Let’s roll!

Let’s just start with this. . .

JamesK bankin the big Tuna hard at Oma – Most northern point of Honshu

DAY/Night? 1

JamesK had left early Saturday morning to rack up several hundred kms on his way to Niigata where we were to meet up. He’ll patch in with his day’s riding soon I guess. I couldn’t get outa town till late so had planned to meet him at the end of his twisty session.
I was waiting on a tyre and it arrived just in the nick of time. As I was opening the front door on my way to reluctantly get a tyre from the local Naps when the buzzer rang and I could see the delivery guy with a big box in the monitor. Yippee, tyre delivery! So, 5pm, darted to the tyre fitter and while the bike was off the road went for a big dinner. Was gonna need it for the 400odd km run to Nigatta. Tyre on, gas up, load navi and stagger through the traffic out the 16 to Hachioji and the Chuo. Then Chuo, Keno, Kanetsu. So far so good.
Was lovin the cooling temps on the rise outa Kanto and looking forward to that loooong tunnel just north of the Gunma – Niigata border. What is it, 10-12km of dead straight tailwind assisted tarmac. Entered the warp hole expecting to come barreling out into Niigata but even before halfway in the engine warning light came on. Damn! clutch in, switch off, find nuetral, clutch out, toggle starter to on, fire it up and the warning light is still there. Error Code 24. Temp OK, rpms OK, engine/exhaust pulse OK, throttle response OK. Mmm
Pitstopped at the snowchain change area outside the tunnel and called Lugnuts for some online sloothing. Seems it was an O2 sensor thing experienced at extended high velocity. Who me? No.. .. . Anyway, word on the web said it was harmless and to continue. So, off I trundled down the slopes into Niigata. A few km down the road, alone and in an unlit tunnel, and cough, lights out, thrown against the tank, splutter and somewhere between ‘What the’ and ‘f##k?’ she’s running again but without lights! I’d gone from HID heaven to the bowls of Haedes. Looking down for the white line to the left I crawled down the expressway, hazards saving my tail, desperately in need of the overhead lights in the distance.
Blown fuse! wtf! 2 hiccups in row at the start of a tour. Not good. But, always believed in better out than in and maybe this was just clearing the throat and getting the BS out of the way.
Anyways, lights back on and engine warning light still brighter than the sun, JK talked me into a smooth but late landing in Shibata, northern Niigata. A bowl of Ramen and bottle of beer later we decided not to torture the FZ and instead leave the troubleshooting for the morning. Who would’ve been electrocuted first if we hadn’t anyway? :silly:

Sorry, no photos for some reason

Day 2

Woke up at 6 feeling a little crusty and bloated after the nail biting crawl into Shibata and then the ramen and beer the night before. Actually, word of caution: when ordering beer in the sticks after midnight, make sure to specify size. That old ramen den master had 2 bottles, uncapped, saddle with glasses & in our faces seemingly before we had even ordered em. We must’ve looked :mouthwatering:

Anyway, we’d agreed on a 6:30 meet the following morning and I got started on the bike a little early. Took a little bodywork off, lifted the tank and checked all the connections related to aftermarket gizmos and the o2 sensor connections. All looked as it should be so entered the diagnostic mode in the instrument cluster. With JamesK on point, we fumbled around trying to work it all out and found that pesky error code 24 and erased it, along with a few other remnants in the error code history. Then the moment of truth… . fired it up and left it to warm itself. No error codes, warning lights or blown fuses so the game was on. :big_boss:

Rolling out of Shibatta we had a good run along the 290 in the fresh morning air under a blue as blue sky. That 290 is a smooth and fast pastoral valley byway with nice views and little traffic. Next was the Asahi Super Line. I’d been looking forward to this for a while and on getting there and starting up the ex-super-rindo, it was looking to be as technical and scenic as I’d hoped. So we stopped soon on for the mandatory bridge pic as neither of us likes to ease up on great roads

and deep jungle tarmac

and on we went. The road climbing, snaking, weaving. Cliffs here, bridges there, a bit of debris and rockfall as is o be expected plus the odd unexpected cyclist and bird watcher. Don’t think the bird watchers appreciated JamesK’s blueflame muffler followed by my graves rasp though :nonono:
Well, the honeymoon didn’t last long as we met a closed gate and had to go back along the 30something kms we’d just enjoyed. Yep, those bird watchers enjoyed us even more the 2nd time round.
JamesK showing what he thinks of road closures. Returning some Asahi Super Dry to the Asahi Super Line

So we took the long way round back down to the 7 and then jumped some links across to a very quick and quiet 345. That was a fun road and where J’s tyre nursing started. It was so fun that by the time we stopped in Tsuruoka, we were almost back on schedule.
But it was hot, we were hungry and we happened upon an anime freaks wet dream with a countryside combini full to overflowing with an endless stream of super-short skirted highschool girls running around everywhere. :shocker: So we had no choice but to stop. Trying to figure out where they’d come from as it seemed we were still fair square in the middle of farmers’ country and they were all on bicycles, I reminded J that they’re pitch fork swingin fathers were probably not far off. . . . Well, saddling up and high tailing it outa jailbait country, digestive furnaces stoked and a fine sky overhead, rt47 lured us east into Miyagi.
Nice smooth rollin road the 47 and we took it as far as the 457 where we met our 1st earthquake carnage. The 457 is a great strip of smooth arcing twisties and at about 3-4km in we met a road block with big red, black & yellow signs everywhere. But J was in the lead and there was enough room between gates to drive a car through, so he didn’t even think twice. Ahead we found a big landslide with a few smaller ones and a pretty cracked up road, luckily with a lot of chalk or paint around the deeper and more disturbing stuff. So, we picked our way along that road, unscathed, to the 398.
Now, I like to write about roads and how long, sweet, twisty, delectible, entrancing or whatever befitting description I can throw at it but for the next 3 roads I have no photos or words to match what we found there. So this will have to suffice:
The 398 – 282 -342 combo is . .. .

Go there and ride it and see. It is in great condition with widened cambered hairpins for buses servicing the onsen at the top somewhere and almost no one on it. It snakes along skylines, climbs and falls without hazard and is well.. . just go there when you have the chance. Southwest to nor-east was great. Wish I had time to spend the day there.
While I enjoyed, J was lookin a little blue havin to nurse his tyre through such heavenly temptation but he’s a patient man – when he HAS to be.
So on we sailed around some more mantle rattled carnage until finding ourselves at the newly minted World Heritage Site tagged Hiraizumi. Wanted to get a pic at Chuson-ji but one look at the hordes of tourists and we were on our way.
Onto the expressway and figuring whether to run for Miyako as planned or not, the sun was on the downhill slide to China. Pulled into the 1st PA and started doing serious calcs. Ok, 150km to Miyako which means a 7pmish landing which means no photos..hmmm. . . or.. . loiter around here a bit, drink, snack and then slab it 200km straight to Hachinohe? Gotta tell ya, I was startin to feel exactly how outa road worthy shape I was/am :blush2: Well, best to live to fight another day or atleast be ready to fight, so Hachinohe it was.
Around 8, after 200km of bug culling, we pulled into Hachinohe to find Tanabata in full swing and the navi working overtime to get around the procession of floats and yukatas. We made it to our distaster cheapened hotel ¥3250 by 8.30 encrusted in bugs and ravenous. So we just parked out front, checked in and freshened up.

Then went looking for local delicacies :toothless:

Roll on Day 3

Waking up in the shitty park hotel to fury gums and an alarm clock that had been ringing for . .. I don’t know how long, looked over toward the starwars-era control centre for the time

J was ready to ride downstairs. Just checking his rear tyre was still there

We hit the road around 7 and put on around 80km before breakfast. Running the 338 at or near sea level no more than a few kilometres from the coast most of the way provided the incentive not to stop. Running the gauntlet between Rokkasho and Higashi-dori nuclear facilities did nothing to slow our pace either.
We were headed for Shimokita-hanto (the big axe head looking peninsula off the north east corner of Honshu) and this was our final day on the road. We ate, chatted about the route and wondered wtf people did to afford such monstrous houses in the middle of seemingly nowhere.
Next stop Lake Usori and the stinky sulphur springs west of Mutsu. Rt 4 was a fun run along ribbons off fantastically planned and kept tarmac cutting a passage through big, heavy trunked woods. Magic!
Lake Usori

Yep, J definitely wanted to ride the mighty FJR up on top that delicate little bridge but was worried about ground clearance :laugh3:

Back on rt4 and the fun continued up to the coast where we swung nor-west for Ooma and the northernmost point of Honshu.

Then JamesK mounted the tuna, as you saw in the 1st post, and a friggin giant stone fist popped outa the ground and socked us both

Got one more pic in though

Anyways we headed over to the Kamoshika Line (Japanese Serrow) rt46 and encountered our first rain, pea soup fog and slick conditions :nonono: Conditions eased on the south side and we proceded on south around the bay and stumbled into the Michinoku Toll Road. What a fricken gem! Feigning a leaky earphone I sent JamesK on ahead to see how fast I could catch him up. I’ll be back!
Then onto the expressway around to Hirosaki and through the old castle town on route to the wonder of the north

Iwaki Skyline

How many corners in under 10km?

Gotta dig looking down and seeing this

At the top

Looking down

Looking out

Hillclimb onboard with JamesK

From there we found J a rear tyre and then took the loooong slab home. Man, that was a torturous ride with the uneven road surface all the way back 7pm-3am badump-bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz-bdump-bzzzzzzzzzzzzz-bdump-bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz But we made it.

Here’s the log for day 3.
* Stopped isn’t right as I was switching off most times when stopped, like on the tyre change

Thanx for the spin J and thanx for the curves Tohoku

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