Floored

And it two years is all it took to get the floor started; winter is the only time I can work on the apiaries maintenance. I still need to add a door and make some of the spaces smaller so the ferrets and monkeys can’t get in. Bugs I can live with, ferret poo I can not.

New Motorcycle…

After riding my Honda PCX150 into the ground, I finally needed a new two-wheeled companion for the new year.

About six months ago I made a list of possible motorbikes/scooters which fit the way I ride and ended up with five bikes on that list, I’m not a sports bike person, so hardcore petrol heads are going to cringe a bit.

  • Honda NC750S
  • Honda Forza 250
  • Honda Super cub 125
  • Honda PCX 150
  • Yamaha X-MAX 250
motorbike choice

I hummed and hawed for the good part of those months and broke my touring needs up into a few groups.

Storage space

The Super Cub and the NC750S failed here. My criteria, enough space for clothes for two days, onsen kit, summer sleeping bag and bivy sack.

  • Honda NC750S -1
  • Honda Forza 250 +1
  • Honda Super cub 125 -1
  • Honda PCX 150 +1
  • Yamaha X-MAX +1

Tank Capacity

Simply 350km per fill up, because I mainly spend Sundays travelling around the Island of Shikoku with many a gasoline station close on that day of fun.

The X-MAX, NC750 and Forza all easily hit 400km. The cub and the PCX come around in at 300km.

  • Honda NC750S +1
  • Honda Forza 250 +1
  • Honda Super cub 125 -1
  • Honda PCX 150 -1
  • Yamaha X-MAX +1

Mobile Phone Mountable Handlebars

Yeah, seriously… only the PCX and the NC750S can do this, the X-MAX requires an optional part. Not sure what Honda’s R&D was thinking when they designed the Forza cockpit.

  • Honda NC750S +1
  • Honda Forza 250 -1
  • Honda Super cub 125 -1
  • Honda PCX 150 +1
  • Yamaha X-MAX +1
mounted iphone.jpg

Highway Rideable

Japan requires an engine capacity of 126cc to ride on the highways, and since I live on Awaji Island, to leave the island, I need a motorcycle legally capable of using those highways. Granted if I wanted to go north, Awaji island does have a ferry service for bikes with an engine capacity of 125cc and under, but this then ties me to boat schedules which is something I want to avoid when getting off and on the island.

  • Honda NC750S +2
  • Honda Forza 250 +1
  • Honda Super cub 125 -1
  • Honda PCX 150 +0
  • Yamaha X-MAX +1

The PCX150 can ride the highways; it’s just not good at doing it.

Fuel Economy 30km/l

Judging from real-world user blogs, the Yamaha X-MAX rides in at 32km/l (72mpg) compared to my old PCX150 38km/l (90mpg). The Forza is apparently around the same as the X-MAX and the NC750S chimes in around 30km/l (70mpg). The Super cubs’ mileage is off the charts, doubling any of the above.

  • Honda NC750S -1
  • Honda Forza 250 +1
  • Honda Super cub 125 +2
  • Honda PCX 150 +2
  • Yamaha X-MAX +1

Conclusion

  1. Yamaha X-MAX 5
  2. Honda PCX 150 3
  3. Honda Forza 250 3
  4. Honda NC750S 2
  5. Honda Super cub 125 -2

Japan’s Ultimate Touring Bike

Weekends usually involve beekeeping, which eats my weekends and leaving me with just scraps to tour on, thus, for now, sits the Honda Super Cub on the bench as a touring bike which is sad because even though it scored the lowest marks on my check-sheet, this, in my opinion, is the ultimate tourer for Japan.

Ride Slower, See More

My Touring Bike

The Yamaha X-MAX checked all the boxes, and after riding her for two months, I must say. I am most pleased with the choice I have made.

Ride on…..

Akashi-kakyo bridge tour

At almost 4km long, surviving a 7.2 magnitude earthquake before the competition the Akashi Bridge is currently the longest suspension bridge in the world.

This tour runs between April and November, the trip is 2 hours long, Twenty minutes of those up top and costs 3000 yen for adults and 1500 yen for children. There are some conditions so please check their website.

Location and Information

You need to book in advancd and since the tour is weather reliant remember to have a backup plan.

Hebo Matsuri – The Edible Wasp Festival

Black hornet festival

Smoking the hornets to sleep

Japan’s most dangerous festival 

YOUは何しに日本へ?

Landlocked Gifu prefecture is well known for insect delicacies from soy sauce boiled locusts to the more evil hornet larvae.

Held every year on Culture day (文化の日 Bunka no Hi) the 3rd of November in the small mountain city of Ena this festival attracts over 100 hornet-keepers who bring their boxed hornet nests to be weighed and sold to the public. On TV it’s plugged as Japan’s Most Dangerous Festival(日本一危険祭り Nihon Ichi Kiken Matsuri),  The chances of getting stung are fairly high (as I did) , But in reality it’s not that dangerous unless you are allergic to bees.

The festival starts at 10:00 and runs for around three hours. Festival food like venison and wild boar sausages, sticky rice goheibo mochi on a flat stick and dipped in an adult black hornet sauce are available if you get hungry and can endure the forty minute wait.

sticky rice goheibo mochi

If you are a beekeeper or have no problem with little flying insects buzzing around your head, I highly recommend this festival. Just remember to bring your beekeeper’s suit if you want to go in the hornet tent. If you have asthma or hate smoke, don’t even think about the tent, the smoke bombs used are rather obnoxious.

Campgrounds and a hot spring (Onsen) are located nearby if you want to rough it. The Onsen was 600 yen and a refreshing break from the buzzing black hornets.

The night before I decided to stay on the outskirts of Toyota city at a reasonably priced hotel and take a sixty-minute drive to the festival in the morning.

Festival Information

  • Festival name: Hebo Matsuri ヘボ祭り
  • Date: November 3rd (Culture Day)
  • Location: 3146 Kushihara, Ena-shi, Gifu-ken 509-7831

Gear used

  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • DJI Osmo 2
  • Nikon D5000 with 50mm

Good Bye PCX150

Over Looking Sumoto city

Five years, 67,000km and my first scooter and all I can say is Thank you. I rode you into the ground, I mistreated you and punished you severely, and you kept on giving.

But honestly, The PCX is a great machine. I had almost no issues with her, and the ones I did have were user made… like crashing into a ditch and crapping out on ice… And more than once I might add.

I travelled the island of Shikoku and many places in Kansai. Although I feel this scooter is to small for travelling long distances with someone who has little free time on their hands like me. Those times where I did have ample time for long rides I found the PCX comfortable and easy to park are tourist spots because of the small footprint.

Crashing into ditches is expensive and scary

Travelling with the big boys

Friends hives, Un-friendly have

Last year my friend’s beehives were ravaged by hornets, so whenever I have the chance I like to check on them for him during hornet season.

Now, This year’s weather has been pretty much disastrous (lucky us) for the hornets on Awaji Island, torrential rain in spring to hinder the nest building followed by a couple of huge typhoons in late summer which drove the final nail into the coffin for the underground dwelling species. As for the hornets who build up high and dry, well…. Even that practice was no match against the tree uprooting wind and the bucket loads of endless rain

  1. The Japanese giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia japonica) is called ōsuzumebachi 大雀蜂 which is literally “great sparrow bee”.
  2. The Japanese yellow hornet (Vespa simillima xanthoptera) kiiro suzumebacho (キイロスズメバチ) the English translation is the same as the Japanese name.

Equipment used

Hard

  1. iPhone 7 Plus
  2. Quad lock case
  3. iMac (Retina 5K, 27 inch late 2015)

Soft

  1. Adobe Premiere Pro
  2. Keynote

Kicked Out!

Last year around April the owner of the land my Ayuya apiary lives on decided to kick me off her land. What sucks sorry disappoints me the most is the time I lost developing the apiary, money aside I probably lost close to 1,000 hours of work over three years and only got to harvest one hive.

In 2016 I was lucky enough to overwinter six hives which were due to be harvested the early summer of 2017, But because I was kicked out I needed to move them to a new apiary. Sadly three of the hives did not take to the new area, and two were stolen, yes stolen – seriously! – from the new location.

Just before getting kicked off!

CLEANING UP! What a BITCH! The job of cleaning up that is, not the land owner 🙂

Man I am lucky to have a fellow beekeeper friend who has a excavator.

🙁

All complete!

  • Loss of money around JPY400,000 (USD 3,600)
  • Loss of time 1,000 hours
  • Loss of hives 5!
  • Lesson learnt – PRICELESS

Holy honey

Capping honey is the final stage honey production for the bee. After hours and hours of to and fro flight, visiting an untold number of flowers and the uncountable bee hours of fanning the honey the bee essentially does what the beekeeper does when they bottle the honey, they put neat little lid on the cell.

Autumn is normally my best haul of the year, spring pales in comparison. So after bumper spring haul, great weather and and amazing comb grow I was expecting great numbers for spring…. I could not have been more wrong.

Ten honey harvests I was set to do on this somewhat warm autumn Sunday afternoon. The apiary a buzz with yellow hornets (wait …. that’s not good) I cut open the first and biggest hive with my trusty bread knife. The moment the knife enters the hive you know if this harvest is going to be good or bad, the disappointing cardboard sound of the blade cutting though dry honey comb. I could stop, but the hive was to big and a believe it or not a harvest honey is an essential part of good winter health maintenance.

The result of the harvest is below, The other hives I`ll leave for the next spring as the a new hives this year and hopefully they’ll sort themselves out over winter.

 

Doctor fish

 

I’ve always wanted to try doctor fish! I love foot massages and this must be similar.

To sum it up in bullet points

  • Doctor fish come from Turkey.
  • They eat dead skin.
  • I must have a lot of dead skin because they loved me.
  • You can feel them biting and it feels SO good.
  • It’s nothing like a foot massage.
  • I am hooked!!

Chow Down