Kon’nichiwa from Japan! This past October, MotoQuest founder Phil Freeman and guide Ben Habecker took an adventurous group to Japan for our MotoGP Scout Tour! Ben was kind enough to give us a few day by day highlights from this trip and we’d like to share our favorite moments with you! The 2018 Japan MotoGP Adventure is still in the final stages of planning, but check back soon for more details!
Today marks the beginning of our Japan MotoGP Scout Tour! As of this afternoon everyone has arrived! We met in the city of Okayama, but today was the transfer by train through ancient hills littered with rice paddies to the city of Tsuyama (津山市 Tsuyama-shi). This is where we’ll pick up our bikes and start the tour tomorrow. Tsuyama is a city in Okayama Prefecture of Japan that was founded in 1929, but its history dates back to the 17th century. This is where “The Paddock” is located, where we’ll pick our bikes up tomorrow morning. Tonight was our welcome dinner in true Japanese fashion! Oyasuminasai (Good Night)!
Day 2: Tsuyama to Miyazu
Today’s route followed back roads all day. They carried us through mountains from town to town until we got to the coast. Then we followed the coast the whole afternoon and arrived at our hotel in Miyazu just in time for the sunset. A traditional Japanese dinner followed shortly after and a dip in some hot springs polished off an epic first day on the road.
Day 4: Miyazu to Karuizawa
We continued in the Japanese Alps, all day. As we followed twisty roads up and down river valleys, we carved our way up and over passes and tunneled under mountains from one valley to the next. The elevations we encountered today gave us a taste of winter coming. Cool temps at 5,600ft felt good and the colors of the leaves on the trees were breathtaking. Home for the night is a beautiful Japanese Ryokan nestled in the woods next to a stream with private hot springs.
Day 6: Nikko to Motegi
We finally arrived at our target for this tour, the Japanese MotoGP at the Motegi Twin Ring! Today was the qualifiers for tomorrow’s race. We had a short ride this morning to get to the track. We parked in the motorcycle parking area very close to the track with hundreds of other riders. Moto 2 & 3 had their qualifiers today as well. Along with our reserved seating we had “Paddock” passes for today to get behind the scenes a little and try to get glimpses of these celebrity MotoGP riders. Watching these guys cling to a motorcycle hurling over 200mph down the track is absolutely amazing! Watching this action on the television doesn’t do it any justice compared to real life. Wow! At the end of the day today we had a chance to walk through pit lane and look at some the machines up close and personal. Now at our hotel for the evening, we head back to the track in the morning for another day to watch the real race at 2:00 pm local time.
We spent the whole day today watching the Moto 2, 3 and GP practice laps and then the races. Great day! Great Races! Spectacular MotoGP!
Day 9: Mt. Fuji to Toba.
Mt. Fuji remained hidden in cloud from us this time, so we headed South toward the coast. The temps were cool in the morning along Lake Yamanaka, but warmed as we descended to the coast. We passed through coastal towns riddled with agriculture on our way to catch a ferry across the Irako Channel to get to our hotel for the night in Toba. We timed it perfectly and caught the last ferry before dark, arriving at our hotel along the shore in style. We dined at the hotel on the most significant authentic Japanese meal so far on this trip, in my opinion at least.
Day 12: Myoshi to Okayama
We left our mountain retreat and carved our way up and over a tight mountain pass before descending through river valleys to the north toward the coast. Here we crossed the Great Seto Bridge. Whether you have an appreciation for engineering or not, this is a marvel that will make you look twice. This a series of double decker bridges connecting the main Honshu Island and Shikoku by way of a number of small islands. It’s 8.1 miles in length and is the longest two-tiered bridge system in the world. It accommodates four lanes of traffic on the upper deck and two rail lines on the lower deck. There are plans to add two more rail lines to the lower deck to accommodate two way bullet trains (Shinkansen) eventually. It takes about 20 minutes to cross and is very impressive. After that we followed some more curvy roads up to Tsuyama where we returned our bikes back to Paddock. We boarded a small charter bus and headed to our hotel back in Okayama. Then off to our “Farewell Dinner” at a nearby Japanese Steakhouse. Good night and farewell to a great group of new riding friends. Thanks for the great trip!