After it seems the team will be voted to take the predictable route south towards famous cities like Kyoto and Osaka, suddenly the vote swings inland deep into Shizuoka, to a places quite frankly, we have never heard of! With typhoon warnings on the coast, perhaps the sudden detour inland makes sense, but inland means into the mountains and uphill! A near marathon distance uphill run pushes the team to the limit, and with Megan matching Dean every step of the way, she has established her place on the team as way more than the sexy girl in pink – This is one tough chick!
Dean Newcombe, Duncan Buckley, Megan Page and Natali Jacobsen
Points of Interest
Shizuoka City, Shikambara, Mount Kuno, Sumatakyo and Shimada
After finishing on the wrong side of ‘Suruga Bay’ in the last episode, Dean must get back on his bike to make up distance and catch up with his team mates in Shizuoka City. He rides towards the town of ‘Shinkambara’ while his team explore Shizuoka. Duncan, Natali, and Megan explore the city streets, its museums, statues and shrines. They play games in local arcades, take photos in Purikura booths and dress up in costumes (Only in Japan explores Japanese Game Center!). Considering Dean rides alone in the rain, it didn’t quite seem fair, but there was a little stop for famous Sushi that he may have forgotten to tell his team about! It is evening before Dean finally reaches them, and he goes from riding in rain to singing Karaoke as they start their Japanese evening out. It concludes in a Japanese local Izakaya (something like a pub, but with more food), where they make friends easily.
The team hear about a beautiful village in the mountains of Shizuoka. Despite the public vote being to head south into Aichi, they decide to detour inland to find the town of ‘Sumatakyo’. Before they leave, Duncan and Dean head to ‘Mt. Kuno’ on the coast, despite this morning’s typhoon warnings! The thrill of the typhoon passes as quickly as the bad weather, and somehow they are eating strawberries in the sun, before making their way up ‘Mt. Kuno’. From the top beautiful views of the Nihondaira area await, as does Dean’s bike, which he rides down into ‘Shizuoka City’ to find the girls once again. Megan decides she will join Dean and run as far as one afternoon could take them, towards ‘Sumatakyo’, but after 17km, Megan suffers from sickness and the team must retire for the day. They have made it as far as a beautiful village with rope bridges over a local river, and it is here they must again return to in the morning to continue the run. They drive off into the night to stay at ‘Kazekobo’ a cafe and guest house recommended to them. The excitement is not over though, as deep into the mountains with no alternative route they hit a road block. Duncan saves the day hurling sandbags aside to clear a safe passage and save hours of lost time. Soon enough they are eating well, and must now prepare for the huge run which awaits them tomorrow.
The morning is slow, but soon enough Megan and Dean must begin to stretch, before heading off to complete 36km of running from ‘Aimata’ to ‘Sumatakyo’. Immediately Dean and Megan must run a long uphill stretch, and they decide to split up to run at their own pace. After conquering the first peak, Dean rings a bell at the top. He hears the same bell minutes later and knows that Megan is hot on his heels. Natali, inspired by Megan, joins the running, but can’t keep the pace. After one of the hardest runs of Dean’s life and over four hours of jogging uphill, Dean arrives at Sumatakyo Village where he drops backwards into a fountain to cool off. Megan, equally exhausted, soon appears and falls to the ground after the longest run of her life. As if the town had been waiting for the team, it suddenly begins to rain hard, and the team head for the Japanese ‘Ofuro’ bath to watch the rain from shelter. Tonight’s dinner is a huge course in a local restaurant, and before they can go and sleep all of this off, they head to meet a local mathematician called ‘Akio Hizume’, famous for his work with Fibonacci architecture. Could this be where they learn more about the Soul of Japan?
The Hanging Bridge
After yesterday’s long day, the team wake in their beautiful, mountain-town Ryokan (Japanese Inn). At breakfast they wear traditional ‘Yukata’ (Japanese loungewear) and over the road, they enjoy shopping in a very local store. The big reason for going this far into the mountains, though, was to see a rope-bridge called ‘Yumenotsurihashi’, which would look at home in an Indiana Jones movie! They hike out together as a team, and cross the narrow swaying rope bridge above the river below. They had found an area worth spending far more time in, but for this group of adventurers it was onto the next challenge already. Well, for Natali and Megan, perhaps more fun than a challenge. ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ has been reproduced in this town and can be rode as far as ‘Shimada’. Dean would take the same route but, of course, by bike. The race was won easily by the girls, who spent their time with excited children, peering from the windows. Dean and Duncan got distracted en-route at a traditional Japanese green tea shop, but were more than willing to take a break. They all eventually finished in Shimada. They had almost seen everything Shizuoka had to offer, and could surely make it to Aichi in the next episode…