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I joined a Bicycle Race in Japan! (And You Should Too!)

I joined a Bicycle Race in Japan! (And You Should Too!)

I joined a cycling event/road race in Fukushima, Japan and cycled the popular hill climb course up the Bandai-Azuma Skyline to the Jododaira Visitors Center. 

I was super nervous; I have been cycling for several years but this was my first road race ever. The other cyclists were all so friendly and encouraging! Some cyclists were dressed very unique as there is a completion category specifically for “cosplayers” so I met cyclists dressed as a squid, a minion, and even a skinny sumo wrestler! 

Into the Clouds...

From the start of the course, we were already in the clouds. Thick fog made it difficult to see far ahead, fortunately the course is straight forward and the other cyclists helped to show me the way. The dense forest looks unreal in the mist, and it was very exciting to be traveling through the mist with a whole herd of cyclists! As challenging as the course was, whenever I felt like giving up, I would hear an encouraging voice from another cyclist that pushed me to keep going! 

Entering the Volcano-Zone!

Suddenly the dense trees disappeared and through the mist I could see that the surrounding terrain changed to volcanic rocks that look pale orange and red. Turning a corner, the mist had cleared and I could see the volcano, blue sky and felt a surge of energy! Volcanic lakes and ponds scatter the are actually small crater that were formed from the impact of boulders that were blown into the sky during an eruption that took place many years ago. Although the scenery is unique and it is tempting to stop and explore, it’s best not to linger for too long! Volcanic gasses can collect here and prolonged exposure could lead to fainting. Views of Fukushima city below are beautiful, and there is a better place to stop for photos at the top of the hill, at the Jododaira Visitors Center!

Reaching the Finish Line!

Finally, we reached the Jododaira Visitors Center! There were trays or healthy snacks and food to recharge after the long climb! It was a lot of fun chatting with the other cyclists after sharing this experience together. I hope that I can join another cycling event in Fukushima soon, and I hope that hearing about my experience encourages you to try a cycling event when you visit Fukushima. 

I raced in the 17km Hill Climb cycling event on the Bandai-Azuma Skyline.. However, if that is a bit intimidating, worry not! Fukushima has routes for cyclists of all levels!

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    Heroes and Kaijyu Adventures in Japan

    Inside each of us there is a struggle. Call it what you want: Light vs. Dark... Good vs. Evil... Hero vs. Kaijyu... There comes a day when you must decide, which are you? I visited Sukagawa City in Fukushima prefecture to delve into this concept a bit more. Why Sukagawa City? Sukagawa City is the home town of Tsuburaya Eiji, the creator of Ultraman and a co-creator of Godzilla. He came to be known at the “Father of Tokusatsu,” or, the “Father of Japanese special effects.” His post war work on the Godzilla film of 1954 brought him international success which allowed him to create more science fiction films featuring different monsters, or kaijyu, as well as the internationally popular Ultra-series! Today, Tsuburaya Eiji’s legacy lives on in his hometown where his heroes and monsters roam the streets! With this in mind we set off on our adventure! Eating our heroes... You are what you eat? Or are you conquering the enemy by eating them? You decide… My first stop was the Tamakiya Bakery in Sukagawa City where you will find a wonderful family owned and operated small business. Decorated with Ultraman related memorabilia. The creativity of the (now adult) kids of the family shines through in the various Ultraman and Kaijyu related breads and cookies! Each one is absolutely delicious. I recommend stocking up for your adventure, if there is one thing that heroes and kaijyu have in common, it is that they must eat to stay strong and battle ready! I ate a Kanegon chocolate bread, and suddenly the money in my pocket started looking like a.. snack?? Kanegon is a kaijyu who is known to eat money! Oh no, have I absorbed his powers? It’s impossible to say. Somehow, I managed to contain my dark urges.   Doing some research Suddenly it became clear that there was a lot that I still don’t know about Ultraman and Kaiju. So, I walked over to the Eiji Tsuburaya Museum to conduct some important research.  The museum has a lot of interesting information about Eiji Tsuburaya’s life and accomplishments, various kaijyu, heroes, and the filming of classic sci-fi and kaijyu related movies. There is even an original Godzilla suit on display! As you walk around the room, you may feel the eyes of Godzilla following you. Perhaps he is eyeing you up, trying to decide if you are an ally, or a delicious snack. Please tread lightly. There is a video exhibit and an interactive exhibit that turns you into various Kaijyu and heroes. There is also a station where you can create your own original Kaijyu, unfortunately this exhibit is temporarily suspended, however, it will hopefully be up and running again soon.   Having important discussions with IRL heroes and Kaijyu When you walk the streets of Sukagawa, you’ll never walk alone. Kaijyu and Heroes line the streets causing trouble and cleaning up said trouble. I recommend stopping and having a chat with these monsters and heroes to get some diverse perspectives on good and evil. I sat and spoke with Kanegon for quite a while, and we even discussed our struggles with wanting to eat money.   Channeling my hero energy Next we stopped by the Sukagawa Enobori Yoshinoya Workshop to create an Ultraman banner. It was so cool to experience the use of these traditional banner making techniques in a place with so much historical significance. As I admired my new Ultraman banner, I thought, maybe I am a hero after all.   The final test Next we headed over to the Sukagawa Tokusatsu Archive Center! Succumbing to my true nature and terrorizing a small town. Ultimately, the sight of an unprotected town brought out my worst instincts. I almost went full KAIJYU mode. Fortunately, my coworker is a hero, and he saved the town! After our battle, we explored the various miniature exhibits and classic special effects tools on display. We were also able to watch a short film and then a video about the special effects that were used to create that short film. It was really incredible, and made me want to try to make my own miniatures at home. If you are interested in sci-fi or classic special effects, then I highly recommend checking out the Sukagawa Tokusatsu archive center! You won’t be disappointed. Contact us through email or through our social media channels if you have any questions or need help planning a trip here! ©円谷プロ Published 2022/06/10

    Heroes and Kaijyu Adventures in Japan
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    5 things to do in Aizu Misato Town

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    5 things to do in Aizu Misato Town
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    Fishing at Aquamarine Fukushima
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