Have you ever noticed how we have one hard emotion eye, and one soft? Sometime what split you can see in these pools of soul is incredible. Passion, desire, pain, deceit; each eye is different and how they mix together in our gaze totally fascinates me; is it left/ right brain; good and bad.. I am not sure; but it is totally intriguing! Eyes don't lie- and what you can recognise and see in them is the true essence of a person's spirit. I am constantly fascinated by our species and how we grow and interact; these clues and subtle awarenesses shape our lives and relationships. I love eyes, and I love smiles- do. what. you. love. because it shows.
You are me, I am you- the person in front of you is on a path you could have decided to walk or is to come in your future. Dare to create your desires.
I decided to completely trust my brain, instincts and skills and leave Tokyo on a three day adventure riding the brand new Yamaha MT09 with no GPS, two destinations and a belief, that between my knowledge, navigation, memory, decisions, and the tendency field of the universe (faith in self, trust, instincts; it's all the same thing)- it would all work out. Everything came together perfectly.
Fate is another name for Karma, which is another name for Time, which is another name for Love.
I dont belive in Luck- we make decisions that define our place and progress in this world, and I don't hippy-dippy completely hands-off-wheel rely 'on the Universe to provide' because we live in the modern world, with modern consumerist needs- we impact resources and opportunities by our actions within this. I believe in hard work, kindness and energy- and have learnt over time, that we have everything + more than we expect and that worry is completely counterproductive, and just another sneaky form of fear. It's there because it is love and doubt- we want to make the best decisions, to keep our loved ones and ourselves safe; it creates hesitation and reflection, but I've learnt over time, how to work with this emotion; not trying to change, suppress or ignore it. Often that big 'worry' we've been building like Jenga is an ash pile once we really get down the road up close. I DO believe however that we can do the best with that Monkey brain- but really, all you need to do is just open your heart, eyes and ears and just BE. The universe works- you are part of it; we ARE it- there is a bigger force than my thought and brain which is so immensely limited in comparison, and chained by ego and interpretation.
I can be a lavish squirrel with my resources- gather, stockpile, accumulate; building the pile bigger and bigger and then I'll use them up with generous and excited abandon- right before winter dawns- propelling myself into having to re-create the pile again in order to preempt the situations I see in the future. Yes- this has given me more stripes than a zebra in a line up in how to make things work- but took a few years to learn how to get the oil and water mix right without complete worry combustion. My creativity works best with a little fire behind but not with the whole damn tree on fire!
Our brains left to their own devices can become wired in loop- and negative worry bubbles go round with much more velocity than positive ones, but we can learn to change these patterns. The brain is a magnificent engine, we can teach it wonderful new tricks and indulge in thought that diminishes limitations. I call my moving passions (motorcycling and snowboarding are two biggies) 'moving mediation' because it allows me to quickly access the boundless capacity of blank thought which is to the right of this rutted racetrack. My monkey brain is focusing on the obstacles and situations infront of me, while my conscious can float free.
After locking on the the concept that 'yes- I am totally going to hunt down that incredible new Yamaha MT09 I have been dreaming about', I started amassing my nut pile and got in contact with the wonderful gentlemen at Rental819. I met with these souls last time I was in Tokyo and did a road trip with the new Ducati Monster. I cannot urge you enough to contact them if you are keen to make your own motorbike adventure memories- they are phenomenal to deal with. With brand new bikes, comprehensive insurance, English speaking staff, Dianese gear and Shoei helmets- you are set to go on the right foot feeling comfortable and looked after. Rental819 have locations all around Japan and a huge selection of perfectly maintained Triumph, Ducati, KTM, BMW, Honda, Yamaha, Harley- Davison, Suzuki, Kawasaki and other brands bikes for you to ride- ya can't beat them! Special mention going out to Adrian, Kosuke Eguchi, Yosuke and Tsutomu Tanaka at Ikebukuro- どうもありがとうございました!
T.O.K.Y.O.- it's the most incredible place on earth and filled with other motorbike enthusiasts- I met an Indonesian motorbike racer called Mak and had the pleasure to share his passion for the Motegi race circuit and surrounding facilities. It was great to have company on day one- riding with others brings another dynamic to the motorcycling experience.
Ducking and diving through traffic and making our way out of Tokyo was superb complex fun and we aimed in the direction of Motegi. Famous for the Motegi GP motorbike race, Twin Ring Motegi is a motorsport venue with facilities bursting with goodies. While there I was spoilt rotten to meet with the team and riders putting the unreleased Yamaha M1 through it's paces around the circuit (vid below)- a fantastic highlight, but there are racing simulators, goKarting, mini-bikes, shops, onsen, restaurants and other things to keep you busy also.
The Yamaha MT09 just puuuuuurrrs. Combing the best of the Triumph and the MV Agusta Brutalle, plus extras I had soO much pleasure playing with this machine! The high torque 3-cylinder engine clicks in with the most beautiful purr- literally- and between 5 and 9,000 rpm the MT09 sings. With three settings A, B, and Standard you can start your day moving up and down through the settings to match how you are feeling, the conditions and how you want to ride. With 115hp - 87,5 Nm it's got ooph in all the best ways- equipped with ABS it stops on the head of pin and shoots with adrenaline on the take off. Immensely nimble and very responsive to peg weighting the MT performed more like the III than the lighter Agusta. Perfect for touring, was fantastic for whipping around Tokyo central and handled amazingly on the gravel. I. HAD. SO. MUCH. FUN! Repeating Houston!- I. HAD. SoooOO. MUCH. Fun- yeah, you know you want to go try for yourself now!
Keeping with tradition: This bike is a mercurial triple agent. Tapping into what is needed with etherial and logical adeptness- she has already figured out what you need before you have. Sugar, spice and all things nice- you'll be playing a uphill game to oneup this intellectual mega babe. This minx has all the cards and she'll be playing them without fanfare but class so sleek you'll be begging for more.
The Honda Collection Hall Museum is a must see. With level one dedicated to the developments of artificial intelligence, two motorbikes through the decades and three cars. I ❤ Honda museum! My first proper motorbike was a Honda VTR 250 while my Dad loved the VFR800's: superb engineering- easy to work on and 110% reliable: Japan you winner ;)
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Day two brought Mak and I splitting ways after a competitive race around the goKarts (the decider not influencing our travel plans!) and back into the game of mental highway bingo for me to make my way to Nikko. Known for it's stunning scenery with the change of seasons and beautiful temples I totally recommend it as a day trip from Tokyo. There are regular trains and lots to do and see- so making a long weekend of it is highly recommended.
This time of the year (late October onwards) is perfect to see the changing colours of the flora and fauna and be wrapped in the pastel hues of autumn light.
There are many different activities, onsen, sites and museums in Nikko- and although it can be a bit heavy in tourist population, if you hit the sites late evening and early morning it's rather chill. The countryside is stunning up in Tochigi prefecture- I'm already looking forwards to the next time I can visit.
That's the face of an incredibly happy motorbike furrball post 450km round trip! ;) Japan roads are left hand drive, can be quite variable in conditions and the IEC toll highways pack a $ sucker punch. I took the local highways, which meant more changes and turns, but less cost and didn't get lost by riding on my memory and instincts. The highways system is logical, I can read & decipher Hiragana and Katakana, but even without this skill there is English pointers here and there (& tbh- deciphering can be a stressful skill than being blissfully ignorant to all the additional information coming at you!)- trust your gut and the process and have some serious FUN!
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Tokyo Where to start?! This city is friggin amazeballs. There is something for everyone and it's a dream to travel around. Safe, logical, something interesting (and tasty!) at every turn- this megalopolis holds a very special place in my heart. I was thrilled to be back for meetings, catch ups with old friends and new, and to check out events. While back for the week I was delighted to go to the just opened '500 Arhats' exhibit by Takashi Murakami at the Mori Art Museum in Roppongi.
One of my favourite artists and a creative who I have much admiration for his ethos and direction; Murakami is a Japanese art powerhouse. He exploded onto the Western art scene with a collaboration with Louis Vuitton and the worldwide visual combustion of his 'Superflat' cartoon pop characters. At the time, I was in New York, and every it girl, poster advertisement and fakie merchant was wearing and pushing his and LV's goodies. What I love about Murakami is that he embraces high and low consumerism; viewers and the ordinary consumer are encouraged by him to continue to engage with the work on whatever platform they have- highlighted in this exhibition by being allowed and encouraged to take photos of the art and share on social media. He is fascinated with exploring hopelessness- yet his work often evokes feelings in viewers quite the opposite; he is the quintessential Japanese mix of colour and darkness, good and bad, traditional and modern.
The epic The 500 Arhats (2012), a 3-meterhigh, 100-meter-long painting of the 500 enlightened followers (Arhats) of Buddha, created in response to the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Some large sculptural pieces and abstract paintings are also included. This work explores the power of prayer and how this transcends religious differences through the exploration of finite life and the infinite nature of the universe. It allows us to understand Murakami's new artistic interests and directions.
Real, forthright; an ardent supporter of young artists and consistently true to his vision, his work is enthralling, energising, modern, technologically embracing and brilliant.
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Kamakura is a really nifty and relaxed seaside city an hour and a bit out of Tokyo. Surrounded by small mountains on three sides and the Pacific Ocean to the south, you can enjoy swimming, hiking and surfing in the clean ocean air. Famous for the great Daibutsu Buddha located at the Kotokuin Temple in Hase, and the location of the first Buddhist Zen Temple in Japan, the area is steeped in history, yet maintains a funky, relaxed and easygoing feeling.
^ You can jump on the train at Shinjuku and for ¥1470 get to Fujisawa where you change onto a local train. You can jump on and off this one as many times as you like on your day pass and enjoy the attractions along the way. The local train is gorgeous and was a juxtaposition from the city connect where people were engrossed in their cellphones. The local winds gently thorough the residencies to Kamakura with people chatting and interacting along the way.
At 11.312m in height the Great Buddha is a sight to see and fascinated me as it is cast and joined from bronze. The interior is hollow and you can walk around inside. It really is a wonder to behold in person and it's majesty is surrounded by stunning gardens.
Along with the Buddha I was keen to see the largest sculpture of Kannon (Guanyin Bodhisattva) at the Hasedera Temple (above pictured with Buddha's feet). Golden, carved from wood and standing at 9.18m it is breathtaking and exudes reverence. However it was the cave and winding catacombe below that really fasicnated me. Filled with hundreds of small sculptures and statues of worship it is a powerful and spiritual experience as you wind through bent double as the ceiling is so low. Outside the Ojizō-sama statues (pictured below) allow us to remember and pray to the Guardian of Children for the protection of those living and past 🙏🏻
In hindsight, potentially a night here would have been lovely, but that may be for another trip. The ease of transport in Japan encourages and allows for access to spectacular opportunities. Wherever you go there is something fascinating to entice the senses- if you are like me, your curiosity can only be rewarded. Being curious means you are engaged- and being engaged means you are learning, to me this is the key to happiness, appreciation and being content.
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