All-City Japan Tour 2016: Osaka and Kobe
We're excited to start bringing you coverage of our December tour of Japan. The trip was one of the best travel experiences of my life, meeting so many amazing people and visiting some of the most beautiful places and best bike shops in the world.
When All-City last visited in 2014 we left feeling good about the trip, but a bit ineffectual as we didn't meet many All-City owners and had a very small presence in the shops we toured. We had a wonderful time, but couldn't help but feel a bit unsure of whether or not we had had much impact or spread enough stoke. Well two years on we were totally blown away by how things had changed. The seeds we planted have begun to blossom, and we met so many rad people who were excited about our little brand and were very proud to represent and show us their custom builds. To a person, everyone we met was exceedingly kind and gracious and eager to show us around their cities and bike shops. And of course, 'cause they're cyclists, they knew all the right corners to hang out on and the best places to grab some food or a drink. We were welcomed with open arms by all the riders we met, and in turn we were filled with that dumb sort of giddiness that you (or at least I) only get during travel where everyone you meet gets the benefit of the doubt, your mind and heart are open, you feel like the best possible version of yourself, and the only thing on the agenda is to appreciate how wonderful this world can be.
So anyway, let's get to it...
Nate and I packed our bikes, hopped the direct flight from MPLS to Tokyo and then jumped a commuter full of salarymen winging into Osaka. After 17 hours of travel we were dead tired but jet lag didn't allow for much sleep, so the next day at 5am we built our bikes did a little leg stretching.
Jeff's Macho King near an Osaka shrine in the early morning hours - just look at that bike, so stoked to tour the world on this beauty
After riding around until a more reasonable time in the morning, our first stop on the agenda was a drive to Kobe to visit Spark & Scone. A super rad coffee and scone shop that also rents and sells fine bikes. The husband and wife team who run the place blew our minds by producing custom All-City chocolates featuring the Log Lady. Kobe seems like a super cool laid back town that is into nature and the surf, with tons of singletrack trails and parks. Apparently there is also an island nearby with spectacular beaches and camping, which Nate and I are already scheming on making a destination for a huge AC campout on the next visit.
Like most places we visited in Japan, the owners of Spark really go all in to create a unique atmosphere and every last detail is carefully looked after. Their charming little street sign for example.
Hot scones and coffee
the owner Ko
Photo Shuji - Log Lady chocolate anyone?
Photo Shuji - The lady in front was the first ever Space Horse owner in Kobe! She had Nate and I sign her bike, we were honored.
Photo Shuji - the crew outside Spark, the folks in the upper right are Rie and Saku from our Japan distributor Motocross Intl. they're the ones who looked after us and planned the trip. It would be impossible for us to explain how wonderful, kind, and patient they are or how lucky we are to have them building All-City in Japan.
After Spark we headed back to Osaka to check out Ultimate Factory, a bigger footprint shop who at this location specializes in steel bikes.
Nate seems pretty happy to be here
Photo Shuji - Like most All-City shops they really get into the custom build game, we particularly dig the geared flat bar Nature Boy
Photo Shuji - Crew
That night we met up with Koshi and a bunch of locals for a night ride around Osaka. As everyone knows the best way to see a city is by bike and this ride didn't disappoint. Around twenty folks showed up to roll around and see the sites in forty degree weather. Not quite as warm as we were hoping for, but since it was in the teens back home, we weren't complaining.
All Photos Below by Shuji - did you know that in Japan we are at least 25% more dashing?
They do the Christimas lights big in Japan
Walking through a major tourist spot in Osaka
walking through a shrine is the respectful move
post ride debriefing
It was a terrific first day, and I'm stoked to be able to share these memories with you. Lots more to come as went on some spectacular rides and did some things!