Thursday, February 12, 2009

Japan on 1,000 yen a day.


Was over the river at the store yesterday and saw this guy come cycling through the village. It is rare we see any foreigners in this part of the world, and rarer still foreigners touring by bicycle, but with full panniers that was obviously what he was doing. I stopped and asked him if he needed any help or information, and asked the obvious first question "where have you cycled from?". My jaw dropped with his answer "England!"


Justin, from Sheffield, left England at the end of July, cycled across Europe, then Asia, and arrived in Shimonoseki on a ferry from China on January 18th. He then did a circuit of Kyushu before coming back to Honshu and is now on his way up to the northernmost point of Tohuku before heading back down to Tokyo for a flight to Canada.


His answer to the question "why?" is simple and obvious "because I like cycling".

Since 2002 he has cycled his away across all the continents of the planet, with brief returns to England to work at a job for a few months to raise the cash to go cycling again. Other than the times people invite him into their homes for the night he camps out every night by the side of the road and prepares porridge, vegetables, and japatis to eat everyday.

Our offer of a cup of English tea he found impossible to refuse, and while chatting our offer of fish and chips and a bed for the night was accepted.


He is travelling the back roads in Japan, and reckons Japanese roads are some of the steepest he's encountered. In terms of being a cyclist he reckons the Japanese are the worst drivers in the world, but he has no real complaints and is thoroughly enjoying his time here.

So, if you live along the Japan Sea coast, keep your eyes open for him during the next month, and trade a bed and a meal for some fascinating stories.


  1. Pretty cool. Does he have a blog ?

  2. No camera. That blows my mind. But, that kind of singleminded goal-oriented thing. I really respect that. But I would have _GIVEN_ him a camera. Amazing man.

  3. across europe?! across asia?!!! that is one amazing guy.

  4. It's the romance of a man. Freedom, perseverance, and life minimalism. Awesome! I wish I had the guts to drop it all and persue such a challange. If I see him in Aomori, he'll have a cold beer, warm meal and futon for the night.

  5. Wish you had sent him my way - We would have loved to hear his stories and maybe ride with him for a day or two! We are only a few kilometers from the coast, but there is a mountain in the way...

    BTW, is that tea I see in the last photo on his left? If so, why the heck are your offering him English tea? :p

  6. yes, its tea. If you have to ask the question "why english tea" then you are obviously not a sophisticated tea drinker. You must be american :)

  7. Japan would be a better place for cycling without nasty drivers. Good luck, Justin.

  8. I guess its safer without camera.

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  10. He stayed here a few nights, enjoying our wash machine, fire stove, warm futon, and hot spring bath, but left two days ago while it was still sunny. Of course, it started snowing last night, and I am wondering if he is not on his way back to the warmth now!

    Our local paper did an article about him, and I gave him a copy so he can show people he meets along the way to explain his story. Hopefully that will win him some nights in a warm house - and if not, I hope he heeds my advice to follow the hot-spring marks on the map. (warm bath and tatami-mat rest-area to dine in is worth 300 hundred yen I think!) I only regret I did not tell him about all-night internet cafes in the big cities and map their locations!