An excitingly adventurous road trip in Japan so far and one I want to relive many times. A 3 day weekend was quickly approaching and Jon and I did not want to sit idly in Sasebo. Our road trip was unplanned and on a whim… the carefree kind. We stopped for a couple of road beers (not for me of course since I was the driver) and some extremely exciting road tunes. As you know I drive a 2000 Toyota Vitz in Japan a very dependable (for $1,500) model but not the most exotic. We either had CDs or we had nothing so we got right to business choosing from a meager selection of tunes at the local NEX. In the end our theme CD was “Sorry for Party Rocking” by LMFAO coupled with the 70s Billboard hits, John Denver, and Eric Church. It was quite the selection and one we didn’t take lightly. For the first 2 hours it was all windows down, music blasting, highway driving (in Japan that puts you at around 40mph instead of the usual 25mph) and it was a blast.

Jon has been to where we were headed a couple of times and he has said he’s seen this awesome biker bar called the “Strong Boss Saloon” every time he’s been by and he would like to stop. Unplanned stops are my favorite so I readily agreed. We found it around or about Mt. Aso on one of the smaller roads. We were driving by Jon’s memory so it wasn’t the easiest for me to recall the exact location.

IMG_3301This bar turned out to be an awesome adventure. The bar tender was a Native American Japanese woman and we were just taking in the scenery of the bar from the get go.  It would be such a good time if we weren’t 1.5 hours away. haha. IMG_3302I think the parties get serious here. There’s a live band every Saturday night apparently. We stopped to do a little bit of day drinking with Coors Light since they actually didn’t have too many choices (typical for Japan)  and then we were headed out to finish the trip up the winding mountain to our ultimate destination, a hiking cabin.IMG_3303I strong sign for a classy establishment.IMG_3304Strong Boss Saloon Son. That’s what I told Jon when we first walked in. this bar definitely has alot of character like the bars from back in America, it made me think I was there for a minute.IMG_3306Jon did a little bit more investigating…. to reveal…IMG_3309A map with pins of the places people are from whom have been to this bar. For how out of the way it is I was completely shocked by the number of world travel’s who have been through. I suppose I underestimate the true power of the Motorcycle Circle. They go everywhere.IMG_3311The South Dakota Outlaw is on the loose and I think it’s time to hit the road running, which is exactly what happened when we continued on our way.IMG_3319Now how did even one American end up at the home of a Great Japanese Climber whom was one of the most well known pioneers for climbing in both South Korea and Japan in the 1960’s? That’s a mystery I’ll let you try to guess on and maybe I’ll share the real story a few posts down the road.

As soon as we arrived I knew that I was experiencing something that only about 10 Americans before me have every experienced and the anticipation was in the air, believe me. The mountain that we were driving to is run by a bunch of Great and older Japanese climbers that still do what they love most which is climb on the mountains. The great Japanese legend has a house that he and his wife live in and then right next door they have a climber’s lodge where other climbers can come and spend the night and then go out and climb the next day or the whole weekend.That’s what you do when you retire from a life of climbing. You continue climbing and figure out a way to maintain a climbable mountain. From the donations of the people who go to climb and stay at the lodge they maintain the upkeep for the whole mountain they live on. In-genius.

Jon told me a few of the stories: He told me that certain occasions when he comes the house is packed and there is always a lively party in the evenings. Everyone brings food and one time an excellent Shell Fish chef came up to the lodge and prepared a fine meal of shell fish for the group. There is much drinking to be done in the evenings and they have plum wine that has been refining for over 30 years, boy was it potent.IMG_3315On the walls are pictures of peaks that the circle of Japanese climbers whom frequent the lodge often have been to the summit. A good many of them are first climbs for peaks in both Korea and Japan. I can’t believe I was in the presence of such a climbing master.IMG_3314If you look at the wall above the doors you will see some of the climbing gear that was used back in the 60s when many of the first peaks were being made. The wood stove kept us warm through the night, which was much appreciated.IMG_3320Out on the back porch you can lazily listen to the river as you sit in the lodge. This was one of the best things about the lodge. Waking up and walking outside to this. Unfortunately when you prepare unexpected trips sometimes you forget to check the weather which is what happened to us. It started raining that evening and continued till the next morning. This meant there was no climbers in the lodge and the next morning our climbing hopes were dashed in a steady stream of water after a 4 hour drive to arrive.IMG_3313Above are peaks that have been summited by the owner of this lodge. As I said before, some of them are first ascents. IMG_3316What a cozy and awesome lodge. I really wished that I could have met some of the climbers and had a party with them but it was a glorious evening drinking beers, eating dinner, and enjoying the lodge and all of its wonders, the stacked books, the numerous photos. I. am. in. love. with. this. place.IMG_3317Another snap shot in the morning.IMG_3318I will come back soon for an actual climbing adventure. IMG_3321This is a way the Japanese grill and also if you see the sticks attached to the rope above you will see that you can hang a pretty big sized pot above the grill to make soup. A delicious soup I am sure.IMG_3322A better picture.IMG_3323The Stove. I feel like I write this often in Japan because they come up with such novel ways to make a stove. I like this because its similar to a grill.IMG_3326Now this is actually how they provide hit to their bathrooms out here on the mountain. They light a fire on the outside of the house under where the wooden cover is and it heats up the entire room and all of the water beneath it. It was burning when we arrived and the perfect thing to suffocate the light chill I had when I woke up in the  morning.IMG_3325A panoramic view of some great mountains. If only I was an excellent climber. I would love to find myself at the top of one of these peaks one day.IMG_3324Before we left we signed the guest book and wrote our best thank-you in Japanese. It helped that we had google translate by our side. haha.

The next day it was time to make the journey back but so it wasn’t a total waste we stopped in Kumomoto to check out a castle. Let me know what you think of this climbing lodge!