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So I got back yesterday from a tour around Nara and Shikoku, Japan. Here's the report:

DAY 1
I was all set to head out the door on Sunday the 27th, when the best wife in the world refused to let me leave without a hot breakfast:



Fully energized with bacon (mmm... bacon...), off I went.



I had the KTM 990 SM-T all kitted out with a Givi Maxia topcase and E21 panniers. I am probably the only person in Japan who has the Givi mounts for the SM-T, since they aren't on sale here yet and you basically have to know people overseas who will send them to you. (Thanks, Trevor!) Aren't I special! :D



Anyway, the SM-T is still not too wide (93cm) with the E21's on it. I was lane-splitting (legal in Japan!) with no problem:



The weather was beautiful, and I wasn't cold at all. Mt. Fuji was in fine form on my way out west:



By the time I got to Nara and rode a few local roads, the sun was heading down and I decided to stay in the next hotel I saw. Which turned out to be this one:



After I got inside, I found out it was a "love hotel"; a place where Japanese couples go to have sex discreetly if neither partner has his or her own house. But there's nothing to stop you from just renting a room for yourself and crashing for the night. Some of the rooms have "themes" (to spice up the sex, I guess); mine was done in kind of an Austin Powers 60's future style:



Yeah, baby! :cool:

They had plenty of costumes available for ladies to rent. Supposedly these are supposed to help her turn on her fella. Nonsense, where's the woman in full race leathers? :p



I highly recommend love hotels for lodging on Japanese motorcycle tours. Your room will probably have a gigantic (i.e., 2-person) bathtub, free dinner and breakfast, nice big bed, and covered parking (so no one can see who's parked outside ;)), all for less money than your average business hotel.

I took a nice hot bath in my giant bathtub and fell right to sleep in the comfy bed.

DAY 2

I woke up early (like, 5:30-ish) on Day 2 and the TV news was saying the weather would be rainy and/or cloudy. And in fact, it was raining outside my window. But by 7:00 the rain had stopped completely and I was on my way. Here's the Day 2 Zumo track:



Early on, I hit this scenic route in Nara:



There were groups of 4 and 6 deer at a time bouncing across the road, so I was on full deer alert. Unfortunately, I did not get any photos of them. I need a quicker system for taking out my camera and snapping a photo during a ride.

Now, here's the interesting thing: The scenic road turned into a rindo ("forest road"; really any dirt road or trail) midway through:



A very gentle one no doubt, but it was still dirt. I pressed on, despite having road tires, expensive camera gear in the panniers, and no dirt-riding skills, because I'm stupid like that. But I made it through, no problem! (Although it took a few hours for my sphincter to unclench.) Look, ma, dirt!



More dirt! On my bike! So now this trip qualifies as adventure riding! :D



A stunning accomplishment like that calls for a dramatic silhouette photo:



Time for some more twisties!



Sorry about the BMW-branded Zumo. I got it for my old bike because the black color matched. (Not sure why the Zumo thought there were "exits" on that road. Maybe if you fall off the edge at those points...)

Then time for lunch. My SM-T waited patiently for me outside:



It had been cloudy all morning, but the skies really cleared as I headed closer to Osaka:



I made it over the Windy Bridge From Hell to Awaji island, where I was greeted by this giant Ferris wheel:



Here's the killer bridge I crossed to get there:



Way up high over exposed water, extra-long, and with no crosswind protection. I though I was going to get blown off the edge and die. F*** you, bridge designers.

The sun was setting on a beautiful day of touring, so I headed off to a ryokan (traditional Japanese-style inn) for an onsen (natural hot spring bath) and bed:



Continued in Part 2...
 

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dramatic silhouette photo:

Greetings Emperor Ming:D impressive egghead:eek:

Nice collection of photos:cool::smokin::burnout:
 

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I'm so jealous, can't wait to see the rest of the pictures.
 
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