Monday, December 27, 2010

Himeji-Momiji PEPY Ride

At the risk of reaching too far back, I'd like to get this entry up now and be almost finished with my backward blogging!

The Himeji-Momiji bike ride was on November 13th, and it was a great success! We shortened the ride from the springtime because of restrictions on the daylight hours, and the way that the cloudy sky was making me want to take a nap.

But by and large, we had an awesome day, and raised 35,200 yen for PEPY!

PEPY is an organization which works with education in Cambodia. Education is an issue pretty dear to me, as I believe strongly that education of our children is essential for anything good to happen in the future. I sort of fell into working with PEPY (dare I call what we do "working with" PEPY?) because I want to take one of their bike-including tours of Cambodia one of these days.

Here is my post-ride report (edited for content/enhanced with photos for your viewing pleasure):

Team Name (prefecture): Hyogo

Team leader: EmLem, Chip Boles

Team members and nationalities: 19 people, American, British, Japanese, Canadian

Distance covered: about 25 km.

Date(s)/Time: November 13th, 2010, from about 9am to 5pm.

Amount raised: 35,200 yen

Cost per team member (travel to cycle route, bicycle rental, food, accommodation, etc): 500 – 1700 per person (bike rental 300, Shosha ropeway 900 or 500 or 0, depending on how much you like mountain hiking, 500 for entrance to Engyoji)

Please provide a description of your ride (including details of times, meals, weather, morale, sightseeing, anecdotes, anything else you feel we might like to know!):

Our ride this fall followed much the same route as the spring ride, although we had to trim some of the stops and activities because of the early sundown time.

We tried to time the ride to catch some momiji color on Mt. Shosha without conflicting with Hyogo’s mid-year JET conference.

We met at Himeji station at about 9am to introduce ourselves and sign waivers.

From Himeji Ride Fall 2010

After sorting out the bike rentals (14 people rented) and stopping to allow people to grab food for lunch if they didn’t bring anything,

From Himeji Ride Fall 2010

we were off to Sosha shrine, near Himeji-jo, where it just so happened to be 3-5-7 day (aka Adorable Children Festival), so we got to see a lot of 3, 5, and 7-year-olds dressed up in tuxedoes and kimono.

From Himeji Ride Fall 2010

From Himeji Ride Fall 2010

We moved on to Himeji-jo itself, which is almost invisible right now because of the restoration scaffolding, and took a group photo [note: still waiting on my copy of this damn photo], then headed for the Yumesaki River, which we followed north to Mt. Shosha. Some of us decided to hike up the mountain,

From Himeji Ride Fall 2010

while others took the ropeway.

We met at the top for our picnic lunches,

From Himeji Ride Fall 2010

then wandered around exploring Engyoji, the temple on top of the mountain.

From Himeji Ride Fall 2010

From Himeji Ride Fall 2010

It was the weekend of their momiji matsuri, so some of the temple buildings which are normally kept shut were opened up to public viewing.

From Himeji Ride Fall 2010

Also, the momiji were looking beautiful.

From Himeji Ride Fall 2010

After descending the mountain, we stopped for Taiyaki snacks at Marukura, where we gave the PEPY information and summary of how far we’d ridden and how much money we’d raised that day.

From Himeji Ride Fall 2010

From there, we returned to the station, then grouped off for dinner and later, karaoke.

From Himeji Ride Fall 2010

One thing that struck me as really fun was seeing the faces of Japanese children we passed along the way within the city itself. As the rear captain, I was the last foreigner they were seeing in a very long single-file train of them, and it was fun to hear their exclamations and remarks as we went by. It’s anybody’s guess what such a mass of foreigners would be doing on bikes in a city whose main tourist attraction is currently closed!

From Himeji Ride Fall 2010

The day was cloudy and a little bit chilly, which made us feel a bit lazier and had us moving a little slower (at least true of me!). This also meant it got dark as soon as the sun began to set, so we cut the last planned stop, “Bowser’s Castle” in Tegarayama park where we’d hoped to do a sort of Mario themed Easter-egg hunt activity. That, and Taiyo Koen, we will save for the spring!

Of our 19 riders, 7 had also attended the spring ride. A few were experienced cyclists and others expert grocery-store goin’ mamachari-ers. Everyone had a good time, and no one even needed a band-aid from my first aid kit! Special thanks to Miriam, who stayed in Himeji all day on-call with her car at the ready.

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