Quit our jobs, sold our home, riding around the world!!!

Less than 15 minutes ride and we arrive at Takachiho Gorge.

Takachiho Gorge is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Miyazaki Prefecture. However, we're arriving so late in the afternoon that all the tour buses have already left. We park on the sidewalk next to a scooter and the parking lot attendant walks right by us and ignores our bikes. *shrug* Cool. Free parking once again!

Clear blue sky refected off a pond at Takachiho Gorge. Neda says the duck looks like a painted wooden statue! It was real.

The Gorge was carved out during the same lava flow that created Harajiri Falls that we visited earlier on, about 90,000 years ago when Mount Aso erupted.

A popular activity is to rent boats and take a leisurely ride beneath the small waterfalls
that flow into the gorge. Very pretty!

Our daylight hours are short enough as it is! The mountains are no help at all when the sun disappears below them at 4:30PM!

I can totally picture the lava cutting through the rock when I see these striations on the gorge walls

Beautiful reflections on the Gokase River's waters

We are one of the last people to leave the Gorge as we climb back onto our bikes. There's about 140 kms we still need to cover if we want to make it to the next populated centre further south.

So ironic that in the Land of the Rising Sun, it always feels like we are racing against the setting sun every evening.
Although the days have been getting noticeably longer since we arrived in Japan, this was quite a long riding day and we pulled into the city of Miyazaki well after sunset. We haven't booked any hotel or AirBnB yet, plus we are starving (!), having eaten nothing since a late breakfast.

Just as we cross into the city limits, we see a large lit sign by the side of the road with pictures of well-marbled red meat! Yes! We are totally in the mood for meat! Also, we can sit down in a warm restaurant and try to find a place to sleep tonight.

Usually we would have taken the time to search for a cheap Japanese chain restaurant, like a Yoshinoya or Coco Curryhouse, but today is a special day. It's Neda's birthday, so we are treating her to a nice dinner! Fifth birthday on the road! :D

Taking our shoes/boots off is a regular ritual before entering any building in Japan. Once we're in, we treat ourselves to a meat fest!
You can see Neda is straightening her chopsticks the proper Japanese way - with two hands. She is so nerdy that way...

Yakiniku is Japanese BBQ. It's heavily borrowed from the Korean BBQ restaraunts where they bring you plates of raw meat and you cook it yourself over a personal grill set in the middle of the table. It's not really traditional as Yakiniku only came to Japan after WWII, but it's very popular here, especially in Miyazaki because they are known for their Wagyu beef in this prefecture.

What is Wagyu beef? It's a special way of breeding cattle so they have lots of marbled fat in the meat. VERY TASTY! But very expensive. We only ordered a small plate to taste (it was delicious!), and had regular meat and seafood to fill ourselves up. I've heard Wagyu cattle get regular massages by Japanese women and then are fed a steady diet of beer to raise their fat content, but wikipedia says this is a myth. That's too bad, because massages and beer totally sounds like a place I could stay at for awhile. Um... minus the slaughter at the end of the stay, I guess...
During dinner, we hopped on the Internet and found a budget business hotel situated right in the centre of the city. So off we go! But as soon as we depart the restaurant, it's freezing once again because the sun has disappeared. Thankfully, it's a short ride into town at city speeds and traffic is sparse because it is so late at night. We circle around the deserted streets of Miyazaki in the dark, searching for the hotel.

Street parking in Miyazaki

The hotel doesn't have covered parking for our motorcycles. There's a paid parking lot across the street, but the staff just told us to park outside the front door. For the first time in Japan, we're just leaving the bikes out on the street! 8O

This doesn't concern us too much. Japan is probably the safest country we've ever visited. Really enjoying our travels through the Land of the Rising Sun!