North from Miyazaki City into the mountains

After a night in a cozy hotel in Aoshima, complete with an open-air bath and ramen, I rise early for a disappointing breakfast and to check out on time. Cycling to the post office, I mail home some books I’ve been lugging around since the flight over, as well as some extra clothing. It takes about an hour to get it all sorted, labelled and packed. Before setting off, I stop to visit Aoshima island, connected to the town by a small bridge. The island has a shrine hidden away in the foliage, and it’s a popular tourist spot. As it’s Golden Week (the busiest holiday period of the year), the promenade is full of tourists and food stalls, and it’s very lively. As I’m about to cycle away, a little old lady approaches and asks if I’m really cycling around with all my luggage. I tell her about my trip and she hands me a banana, wishing me luck. Yet another random act of kindness.

Aoshima island
Surfing waves

The journey north begins on the coastal roads into Miyazaki city. This area is well known as a surfing spot and the beach is pretty packed. It seems to be a more friendly and relaxed way of life out this way. I get a little lost following the bike routes on my GPS, and only make it into the main city around 1pm. Outside of some water stops, I don’t have much time to see the place. With only so much time in the country, you have to pick and choose what you focus on. If I’m to make it to the planned campsite by dusk, I have to get a move on. Ignoring the suggestions from the GPS to take me onto an expressway toll road, I find some nice roads through parkland and forest, before making it into the fields and small towns north of the city. One of my water bottles falls out of its cage and the lid is torn up under a truck’s wheels. I tape it up and it can just about hold water. Annoyingly, one of the things I had just posted home was a spare sports bottle I was carrying. Never mind.

Cycling through Miyazaki city
Nice cycle paths
Tea fields on the way to Hyuga

The roads north are tiring. I lose some time giving the GPS bike routes another go, as it tries to take me off into the countryside. Eventually I just ignore it and follow the main roads instead. I manage to arrive at the campsite outside Hyuga at sunset exactly, about 95km covered in one afternoon. The view is lovely, though the other campers are a bit rowdy and one biker in a bivvy next to me snores like a throttled pig all night.

The view from the campsite
Finally made it at sunset

The next morning I’m up at the crack of dawn, whether I like it or not, and hit the road. Today, the plan is to go inland to Takachiho. Passing palm trees along the way, it sometimes feels more like California than Japan. I make it into Nobeoka in the late morning, before turning west and beginning the long cycle into the mountains. The roads are pretty reasonable, though with some tiring uphill segments. I’ve been cycling solidly for four days now, and the previous exertions are beginning to take a toll. I make it into Takachiho in the late afternoon and, without thinking, cycle down into the gorge area.

Palm trees lining the roads
Into the mountains
Steep valleys and flyovers
Well paved roads

This is what the area is famous for and is the must-see spot in Miyazaki prefecture. It’s very picturesque, though a bit crowded. I have a matcha ice cream to recover, then begin pushing the bicycle back up the winding hills to the campsite at the top. Matt the Aussie, from the campsite in Kamikawa, is here too and has helpfully reserved me a spot. He’s been a few days ahead on a similar route. We head into town together and grab some chicken nanban and charcoal-smoked beef, two specialties of the area, and head to an izakaya.

Boats in Takachiho Gorge
Having an ice cream by a fish pond
Very peaceful views

Bad weather is on its way, so the next day of cycling is an important one. I need to decide where I’m headed next and book a hotel for the weekend ahead…

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A Japan-enthusiast from the UK, with a particular interest in history and the language, as well as cycling, writing and rock climbing.