Originally published on 2020/03/01
Today is a beautiful time to be in Japan…if we didn’t have the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) lurking around.
To be sure, people here are taking precautions like wearing masks and sometimes disposable gloves. There’s also been panic-buying going around. I can’t even find toilet paper anywhere because of that one damn fake news that spread around Japan.
Anyway, it was a long weekend, so I decided to go to a park on Sunday. I’m usually very lazy, and normally I would wake up at 10 in the morning on the weekends. Then, if I don’t have anything planned with friends, I do the laundry, clean up, and do some stuff on my laptop. I wouldn’t even step foot outside my apartment.
But that Sunday I wanted to try biking long distance. I wanted to visit Sayama Park, which I had heard about from a colleague. I checked it out on Google Maps, and I knew that I would want to explore it on my bike.
I hemmed and hawed, going through the pros and cons of getting to the park on my bike. It wouldn’t be a short journey. I was a new bicyclist, and I didn’t know the area well. I would have to constantly check my phone for directions, and I just knew I would get lost once in a while.
And I did.
But I was glad I pushed through with riding my bike to the park. It took me an hour and a couple of minutes to get there, with a few stops along the way.
When I spotted this, I knew riding my bike to the park was a great idea. If I had opted for sitting in a train car instead, I never would have found this place. I was still some ways from the park, and I passed through this lane.
It was so beautiful! There was quite a breeze, which knocked off some petals off the trees. It was a blossom shower, and it was wonderful to look at!
I’m waiting for this tree to flower this March, so I can bike through this area again.
The park has many beautiful areas and lovely trees that will soon be filled with cherry and plum blossoms in a few weeks’ time.
The park is pretty large — certainly not like Showa Kinen Park in Tachikawa or Shinjuku Gyoen Park, but there’s a lot of space to bike around, and there’s a playground where families spread out blankets for a picnic.
Up there is a view to die for — blue-green water and a distant horizon. Wait for the sun to go down a bit, and it’ll hit the water just right, splashing diamonds on the surface.
Beaches are so accessible in the Philippines. And while I don’t exactly know how to swim (I can float, if that counts), I miss that briny smell, cool breeze, and the sound of the waves hitting rocks.
I didn’t actually know there was a lake here, so I was amazed and surprised. It was a great feeling. I managed to get my bike up here on this bridge through another path that was really steep (near the rest stop).
Riding a bike against a cool breeze coming from a lake? Wonderful feeling! I felt like I was in a Kdrama or Jdrama. I brought some snacks with me, but I wasn’t really hungry. I guess my adrenaline and sense of wonder kept my appetite in check. I was just too busy taking in all the sights and the experience.
After a few hours I went home, following another path that was quicker. It was still an hour, though, because I got lost and happened upon a bunch of people in a tent offering free coffee and some stuff to sign.
With my paltry Japanese, I didn’t really understand what was going on, but some of the messages read, “Fighting!” so I wrote a simple message to the same effect.
I think it had something to do with preserving a plot of land with cotton flowers?
Jezus, I have no idea.
Anyway, I biked home.
And fell on the sidewalk.
I was on the main road and was about to get back to on the sidewalk to check the direction on my phone, but I lost control of my bike when the front wheel didn’t manage to get on the elevated pavement.
I fell and skinned my left knee, tearing my pants.
I thought it was just bruised at the time, but when I got back home, I found out that I had scraped my knee on the ground. It did hurt, but it lasted for only a few days.
Two things I learned that day:
- Bike slowly and carefully. Doesn’t matter if I don’t get to my destination in 30 minutes. What’s important is that I arrive in one piece.
- The journey matters as much as the destination. If I had decided to ride the train, I would’ve gotten to the park in under 30 minutes. But then I would also have missed out on the cherry (plum?) blossoms in bloom, and I wouldn’t have gotten that Kdrama bike moment.