Thursday, 24 September 2009


Sat am. saw us sleep in beyond the alarm; 6 was always going to be optimistic.
When setting out, a bit before 8, most cars northbound cars were Tokyo plated, by the end of our first break however much more of the traffic was from places south of Tokyo. 1 As could reasonably be predicted, on a 5 day holiday, traffic was heavy. The information sites that give frequent updates on the 'jutai' or heavy traffic situation had little cheery news; the 'jutai' extended from Tokyo through Saitama, Tochigi, Fukushima and Miyagi with expressway traffic travelling at 30-50kms for much of the trip. A BIG bonus of motorbike travel is being able to weave through traffic at a standstill.
Turning off the Tohoku expressway at the exit for Zao less than 300 ks but 6 hours laters, we stopped for some much anticipated lunch - soba noodles.
Inspired by Japan Rail East's promotion posters from a couple of years ago,  I've been wanting to go to Zao for a long time. Could it really be as impressive as the posters?
It was. It was exactly like the posters. A comment which could be interpreted as one of disappointment, but it wasn't. It was spectacular. It was also very cold and very windy, which meant we opted not to climb to the shrine at the top. My ears were happy with the decision. It reminded me of being in Kaifeng where the Siberian winds necessitated buying a scarf to cover my head - ears- as well as one for my neck. Brrrrrr... no old ladies on the mountain selling silk scarves. Perhaps that's a business idea for when the new govt. axe Hiro's job....

1. Japan divides number plates into quite small areas - usually a couple for each prefecture - so you can tell with reasonable accuracy where a car is from. Just in case you are interested

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