Category: Japan 2020

The Hardest Word In Long-Distance Cycling (Is Not ‘Japan’)

Thirteen years ago this weekend I was sitting on my sofa at the start of the school holidays. It was 2008 and the Beijing Olympics had just started. Just outside the Chinese capital it was wet. Very wet. Nicole Cooke, the British cyclist was sodden, rain dripping from every square centimetre of her body. I watched, bleary-eyed (perhaps I was still recovering from the end-of-academic-year festivities) as she cycled under the fortifications of the Great Wall and then, as she approached the finish line, raised her fist and punched the damp air to celebrate her victory. She had just become the Olympic cycling road race champion. It was to become a pivotal moment in my middle-aged life. There and then I resolved to set off on an exotic cycling adventure…

The Roads To Sata By Alan Booth

I don’t think this is a spoiler but in the final lines of Alan Booth’s The Roads to Sata (that I have just this afternoon finished reading) he recounts a conversation he’d had with an old man towards the start of his walking journey through Japan that started at the northern extremity of Hokkaido, Cape Soya. The old man explains that you can’t understand Japan by looking at it, walking through it or talking to its people. Booth asks him how, then, do you understand Japan to which the old man answers ‘You can’t understand Japan’. It’s the final line of the book.

2020: The ‘Interesting’ Year In Review

So 2020… it will go down in history as the ‘interesting’ year. More infamous than famous. It does seem to have been a year that has passed very quickly. Perhaps it was the soap-opera nature of the whole COVID thing, waiting for the next bit of breaking news that might change our lives for the better but which, more often than not, delivered yet more bad news. However, in a year of many, many negatives it is worth reflecting upon the fact that the global pandemic did have knock-on positives. I don’t usually show it, but I consider myself to be an optimist and if ever there was a year when being an optimist – even a blind optimist – was more useful than ever, it has surely been 2020.

red and gray pagoda temple

‘Twas (The Rather Frustrating) Week Before Christmas / Japan 2021?

On Sunday 6th December I was awoken by a ping on my phone. When I looked it was the NHS COVID app. I’d received messages before from the app telling me that all was well and that it was continuing to do its job. This message was different… I was informed that I had been in contact with someone who had subsequently tested positive for the virus and that I should self-isolate for 14 days. For a few moments I pondered the situation. The app is anonymous so I could just ignore it… but that wouldn’t be the best thing to do. In fact it would be the wrong thing to do. So I resolved to stay at home. Somewhat of a pain on several levels, not least the inconvenience of having to, well, stay at home (although living as I do in the countryside, I didn’t see any harm in going for a wander down the valley on a couple of occasions) and that I had to cancel about ยฃ1,000 of supply teaching work for which I had already been booked. Not a great start to the month…

The Time To Stop Cycling? I Think It Might Be…

It seems likely is that in a few weeks time, we will be at the point on the curve where Spain and Italy now find themselves. Yesterday it was reported that in Italy “The latest crackdown effectively bans jogging and bicycle rides, the only types of outdoor exercise that were allowed.” Might it be a good idea to refrain from doing so here in the UK when we are at an earlier point on the curve? I think it might.

The Bear Necessities Of Cycling In Japan

A few weeks ago, I watched a short series of beautiful BBC natural history films called Japan: Earth’s Enchanted Islands. Alas they are are no longer on the iPlayer but a few short clips are available on YouTube. Here’s one of them: Bears… They featured several times in […]