In 2007 I did my first ever bike trip. My friend and I had just bought brand new discount touring bicycles and we were eager to try them out in Kyushu. It being our very first cycling trip ever, we had no idea what to expect. In retrospect, nothing we could possibly have expected would have been as amazing as the actual trip. That's when I knew I was hooked to fully loaded touring.
The years after that I've done some smaller trips, but never anything that had the same impact on me as that very first trip. Until 2010, the year I left Japan. I was determined to go out with a bang, and, not knowing whether to stay in Japan or not, I decided to just go cycling instead and see what I would come up with along the way. It was the first tour I ever did by myself, and it was as novel an experience as that first trip back in 2007. Since then I've done several smaller trips: the Netherlands, Spain, Sicily, and bits of the UK. Most of those were not fully loaded as I wasn't carrying a tent with me, or was carrying it but did not use it.
I have a constant feeling in the back of my mind that I did not quite 'finish' Japan. There's many ways in which you could consider a cycle tour of Japan 'complete'. The most common definition seems to be that of the "一周" (issyuu,): one lap. Traversing the entire coastline of Japan, or as much as is allowable by roads.
I'm not going to do a lap around Japan, but I have decided on something else: this year, I will finish cycling Japan from North to South! I've done Tokyo all the way down to Kyushu, this time I will do Tokyo all the way up to Wakkanai. Fully loaded. I've planned the first few days of the trip but I will let randomness guide me for the bulk of the trip. I'm not planning to know how to get back to Tokyo until I reach Wakkanai. I have my girlfriend to thank for this idea: I was planning to do a two-week trip myself, pre-booking hotels and staying around the Tokyo area. But she convinced me to bring my tent and do some camping, and that made me realize how long it's been since I've done a proper adventure cycle.
One month until the trip. I have a lot to do.