It’s boiling hot and the heat and humidity are energy sapping, but I still love summer in Tokyo.
The heat means I can eat to my heart’s content and won’t gain too much weight, especially if I can continue cycling.
I’m still able to ride at least twice a day on weekdays even though we’re in our busy period, though that seems almost certain to end when we lose yet another member of staff next week and no replacement in sight.
We are paying the price for having a toxic boss, and trying to deal with it has me encapsulated in fear.
To counter this, I’m trying to be aware of what I can and can’t do, and accepting things that are beyond my control.
Enraged, Kangaeroo headed to the police to report the issue, even if only to be able to received formal notification to enable making an insurance claim.
Astonishingly, instead of largely ignoring a bicycle-related theft issue, as is customary among police in Japan, the officer was extremely helpful in dealing with the case, telling Kangaeroo that a number of people had filed complaints.
Amazingly, within an hour of making contact, the police had found the perpetrator and recovered all the stolen goods.
Kangaeroo had feared a hate crime as his bikes prominently display the Australian flag.
It was over-dramatic.
In fact, the case was sad. The “perpetrator” was a young lad with an intellectual disability. He had not intended to damage anything and the things he removed he simply hoarded.
Kangaeroo was delighted to get his stuff back. And even more delighted not to have filed a criminal complaint (pressed charges). Japan being Japan, those that did file a formal complaint now have to go through the rigmarole of following it through even though there will be no prosecution.
And that is the least surprising aspect of the world’s largest city.
Kangaeroo got a pleasant surprise yesterday while pottering through the backstreets of Shinjuku, one of the Japanese capital’s many sub-capitals.
For some reason, Lord alone knows why, there was a statue of a koala and her joey in a pocket-stamp sized park in Shinjuku.
Japan had something of a mini-love affair with koalas in the mid-1980s when Australia successfully sold itself as a tourist destination to more gullible markets and then got greedy with price gouging to compliment the traditionally abysmal service.
Remnants of that adoration for koalas survive to this day, most notably with the popular kids’ snack, Koala’s March.
Still, it was too good an opportunity to pass up the chance of seeing a touch of Oz in Tokyo, so warranted a quick shot with the Brommie.
If nothing else, 2023 sure started far better than the awful year of 2022 did, and eventually led to a wonderful ride focused on a central Tokyo loop.
Just as had happened 12 months ago, Kangaeroo headed off on the first day of the year before the dawn.
Unlike 2022, when sleet and snow had been the order of the day, 2023 was bright and clear, a much more attractive prospect even if it was still equally as cold and dark as it had been the previous annum.
Heading out just after 6 a.m., it seemed there would be ample time to make the 35 km trip to the start of the ride from JR Shinagawa Station at 7:30 a.m.
Getting through the first few clicks at a pace topping 35 km p/h augured well.
But the good weather proved a bane more than a boon in this instance.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of people had braved the pre-dawn cold and dark to head down to the river to watch the year’s first sunrise. It was somewhat moving, and an experience Kangaeroo would have enjoyed taking in more had it not been for the fact that it was threatening to make him late: too tardy to take part in a ride for which he didn’t know or have the route.
After more unexpected hassles, notably construction work that rendered tarmac into a gravel road threatening tires, Kangaeroo was back on track. Fortunately, another HFC member was on the way, too, and kindly guided your writer to the meeting point, arriving just seconds before the latest scheduled departure time.
The ride was fantastic in glorious sunshine and on mostly deserted streets.
Unfortunately, the slow pace of the ride (it is a half-fast cycling club, after all, so there is no room for complaining) and shade from the buildings made it chilly.
Fortunately, the cold and exertions made lunch even more desirable, and quaint Cafe Petticoat Lane in the downtown Tokyo district of Nezu served up a delight. Kangaeroo was so hungry, and the food looked so delightful, he forgot to take a snapshot of the delicious cheese pizza toast dish and banana choco French toast and cuppa. Still, it was good! And the staff did an amazing job considering more than a dozen mostly foreign cyclists lobbed up on their door on the morning of new year’s day and started demanding food!
The ride (very) roughly tracked the Yamanote Line that circles central Tokyo. This year, for the second year in a row, it started and finished in Shinagawa rather than the traditional launching place of Ebisu. It’s a great way to see central Tokyo and discover how easily accessible the world’s largest city really is.
Following the ride, the Half-Faster’s hit a restaurant to quaff some well-earned brews, but there was a caged dinosaur needing some loving at the Kangaeroo Corner, so it was down to the Tama River and back up along the banks to get home and give some attention to the winged princess before she needed to get some beauty sleep to cause more pterror again!
The roughly 120-km ride at a very genteel pace was a lovely, relaxing start to the year.
Yet, thanks to the humble bicycle, this exercise-averse old codger can enjoy a relatively healthy lifestyle.
Every morning, almost without fail, Kangaeroo wakes, dresses, has a cup of joe and gets on his bike.
For the most part, it’s not a long ride, but it’s a ride.
Kangeroo has got a lot of cobwebs in his head and these rides usually help to clean them out.
They’re back soon after the rides are finished, but even so, they would be much worse without them.
Kangaeroo got into cycling well into middle age, but it has become an increasingly central part of his life.
Things would have been much easier had it been a bigger player further back in time.
So it goes.
Every ride is special, but the past week has been a little bit more so than others.
The weather has been exceptional, especially on the cusp of deep autumn.
The mornings have been crisp, but not too cold, hovering somewhere from 8-10 degrees, making the first few minutes of a ride a bit of a trial, but easily accommodated thereafter.
Skies have been clear and stars visible. Although the morning ride generally heads in a northeasterly direction, the rising sun provides radiant heat from behind.
As the light broadens, the days have soon warmed up.
The warmth combined with the lingering cold of the night brings dawns where mist rises up over the river.
Being a river rider for the most part in the morning, Kangaeroo is then blessed with the delightful sight of mists rising over the greenery of the Tama River parks and riverside and, upon rounding and turning for home, the rising sun.
They provide priceless views.
It’s not just the mists, though.
Starting the ride downstream at this time of the year opens up the opportunity of getting a glorious view of the sunrise.
The sun seems huge heading over the Tama River.
Turning back also offers a few wonderful sights.
Gates along the river provide wonderful backdrops for a quick photo.
And not far from the river are plenty of wooded areas and parks offering delightful views of autumnal leaves in their burning red and yellow hues.
It’s worth rising early to get to see these views.
Blessed with great company, brilliant sunshine and time, Kangaeroo got to enjoy the unexpected pleasure of HANA BIYORI.
HANA BIYORI is a new type of botanical garden that forms part of the sprawling entertainment complex centered around Yomiuriland in the Tokyo suburb of Inagi.
HANA BIYORI was a delight simply to see all the vibrant spring flowers in bloom in a pretty park with lots of greenery, water and the occasional spectacular view.
The site also has a magnificent projection mapping show on the half-hour every hour during operation.
Also on site are stores with some interesting house plants on sale (mostly beautiful but overpriced), a Starbucks coffee shop that has adopted a unique, greenhouse-like appearance with some wonderful aquariums (but retained its exorbitantly priced and tasteless menu it offers ubiquitously) and a petting zoo for the littlies.
Absolutely loved the visit, though that was highly influenced by companions and the weather.