Day 20   85.7km  And this was suppose to be a shorter day!!  How did we miss calculate another big day?  Oh well, we need to get to Asahikawa to do laundry.  Usually we wash out our clothes daily and dry them under the net on our trailer.   At least it is sunny and we are heading down hill from this beautiful resort town of Sounkyu.                 

Luckily after a long 50km, traffic getting heavy, we cross a bridge. Below, Steve spots a little path with white lines like a bike trail.   Low and behold that is exactly what it is!   A Cycle Path!!

We are thrilled, tired and glad to be off the main road coming into a big city.  We realize it is 68km long so we missed quite a bit of it.

But we enjoy every inch, and glide right into the lovely  town of Asahikawa.





                                                             CLICK ON PHOTO ABOVE

It is a beautiful ride, quiet,  through the countryside with rice fields and along a big river where Play Golf is in full swing.    It ends near a big bridge where a bike race is to start tomorrow. 

We meet Bob Hoff from Iowa who has lived here 20 years.  He gives us great directions to an Italian restaurant and confirms a camp ground nearby.

                                                 It is getting to be dusk. We find the restaurant but where is the camp ground?? 

We ask a taxi driver, a lady who is anxious to help, but like the taxi is baffled by our Mapple. 

We climb a hill  (oh no, please, not a hill)  and a neighbor man tries to help. NO LUCK! We see a hotel.  PERHAPS?   But it is a Love Hotel, charges by the hour.  No luck again and we seem to be heading nowhere. Then finally we realize we had turned about 300m too soon.  Finally on the right road we find the campground just over the hill.


It is dark.  We must bike to the Italian restaurant with our head lights on.

But we have a great Carbonara and Shrimp Rigatoni with wine.

Next door is an onsen reputed to be one of the best!  And it is!! 

We are given Yukata's (little robes) a towel (thank goodness, ours are dirty) and a kimono clad Japanese women saying in English "please feel at home."


I can not believe in just over an hour of being lost  I am strolling  through a bamboo enclosed outdoor Japanese garden lined with banzai trees, my little modest towel in place. No one but me among  rows of  glowing  lanterns.  Then slowly I glide into the warm natural rock pools.


Day 21  10km around Asahikawa.  This is not really a biking day but we use the bikes to find a place to do laundry. 

It is in a small family run hotel (we passed this one last night) and we are ushered in by a guest translating our dilemma and side tracked by a young man, Hiro, anxious to speak English. 

He invites us into the hotel restaurant, where he works, for a huge Japanese meal while our clothes are washing. 


We plug in the computer and as I rest my arm, the computer not fully on the table, tumbles to the floor breaking the CD Rom drive. 

I am in hot water and not the onsen kind! 


But the computer works ok and we relax with a huge lunch, collect our laundry and Hiro then guides us to the famous Hokkaido Snow Museum.


It is magnificent with winding stairway past glistening white walls adorned with crystal chandeliers.  Then into a hallway of arches and glass behind which are walls of frozen ice cascading down.  It is freezing cold and a relief from the warm Hokkaido autumn.   There is a rotunda of glass with photo's of magnified snowflakes, all so unique.


A huge hall, a place of silk brocade chairs, a white grand piano and chandeliers, welcome us.  This is a room for weddings and concerts, and an adjoining room for sit down meals....all in white and crystal.  It is magnificent!  We also see the textile museum with brocaded kimono's and weavings.   


This evening we meet Hiro's mom, Hitomi, dressed in one of  these most delicate Kimono's.   Later we meet the father, Kazuhiro.  Turns out he OWNS the hotel and Hiro and Hitomi work there.  


This night is very special as we are invited to stay in Hiro's back yard in our 'golden pagoda'  beside the bonsai garden overlooking the city.  No need for a sento, we are crisp and clean after a very white crystalline day!!


Day 22    53km.  Asahikawa to Kami-Furano.  'Asahi' means 'morning sun' and 'kawa' means 'river'.  We wake to the smell of coffee and greeted with a "O hayo" (good morning) and a cup of hot coffee by Hiro and Kazuhiro in their lovely home,                                              

                                                                                               Hitomi wakes in time to wish us a good journey and we head down to the big Tour de Hokkaido bike race that begins today at 9AM.  



We arrive at  9:02....It is all over, the bikers have left.   Hiro is embarrassed but we are so impressed by the promptness so typical of Japan.           

But we do meet Watanabe a 55year old biker who did the perimeter of Hokkaido in 17days, 2,370km.  WHEW! 

Wonder if he was inspired by our friend Richard in Tucson who set the record for biking the entire perimeter of JAPAN

                We are still impressed.

NO MONKEYing  around for us.   We have a banana break and get back into a good bike day directed by Hiro who sets us off biking through beautiful countryside much like that of France.          


Only here we find the farms growing FLOWERS! 




 We are in a sea of steep hills and valleys adorned with every color of the rainbow, flowing up and down, in rows of brilliant reds, yellows and purples.   This is in the area of Kami Furano.


We visit a famous landscape photographers gallery, Shinzo Maeda and find most of his photo's taken in this season.    We have at least arrived somewhere on time!   

 As I pull into the Kami-Furano camp ground while Steve checks in, two Japanese motorcyclists come charging over to me with an offer to share their homemade meal.  I am elated, no cooking!   


We often eat our big meal at lunch and cook up a little raman on our Jet Boil stove at night. 

Tonight we dine on homemade chicken stew with potatoes and carrots. 



                        Sento around the corner, Interneto, washy clothes, fully tummy, goldy pagody,

                                                            O YA SAMI NASI  (Good Night)