Most of our equipment comes from retailers outside of Japan. This is partly because of availability. Our local outdoor store is more dedicated to wilderness chic than to real adventuring equipment. Our local bike shops cater for either road bikes or mami-chari city bikes, rather than expedition touring bikes. If we want a choice of sizes, colours or models, we usually can’t find them nearby. Partly it’s because of cost. Even with import taxes and delivery charges, we can often find what we want for a much cheaper price if we buy from Europe or the USA. And partly it’s because of our lack of Japanese language ability. Reading a product description in English is much easier for us than asking a shop attendant in our stuttering, stumbling Japanese.
Shopping online has been how we’ve bought pretty much everything except our bikes. With three weeks left until we set off for Hokkaido, we’re fast approaching the cut-off point for ordering any extra gear we need for the trip. We’ve already started. Right now, there are at least two packages heading our way.
Package one, from England.
We’ve ordered some adventure sandals from Keen that can be fitted with SPD cleats. We both have double-sided pedals, so we’ll try clipping in and see how we get on. The sandals should be comfortable in the warmth of the Hokkaido summer. This package, from Dave’s sister, will also contain a Kindle Keyboard 3G. Dave broke his original Kindle, and Amazon sent a replacement (to England) for free. This model includes free international 3G web browsing forever, which is going to be really useful for our journey across Asia and Russia next year.
Package two, from Germany
Laura wants more pannier space than she had on our trip across Honshu, so we’ve ordered a front rack and some panniers from Bike 24. We’re confident in the products we’ve chosen: the Tubus Ergo is the same model as Dave’s front rack, and the panniers are from the Vaude Aqua range that Laura likes so much. An Ortlieb drybag completes the expansion of Laura’s carrying capacity. We think her sleeping bag takes up too much pannier space, so we’re planning in stowing it, inside the drybag, on top of the back rack. We’ve also ordered some specialised headlamp brackets that fit around our cantilever brakes.
For the next three weeks, we’ll be leaping up every time the doorbell rings, running to the door, and hoping to see the postman standing there with a parcel. Two packages. Three weeks. Will everything come in time?