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Biking Japan: First Rides of Spring

This winter brought more snow than usual to Sendai. There were a few storms that came through and dropped at least 35cm or more. I was starting to wonder exactly when it would begin to warm up and finally clear out the last of the snow piles. Surprisingly, though, I got out on a few rides in March as we had a couple of pretty warm days. Last year I didn’t manage to start riding until halfway through April.

I am by no means a winter cyclist. I will bike to work as long as it’s not much below freezing, but there are many more serious cyclists in this area who will ride throughout the winter.

So far I’ve been using an iPhone 5s to grab any shots while riding. The image quality is actually not too bad, considering the sensor is the size of a hangnail. However, I do need something closer to a real camera that can slip in my back pocket and take some workable RAW photos. The JPEG files are alright, but there’s a limit to what you can do with them, as some may notice with these photos. I’ve been thinking over what I should get and considering a Canon G16, G1X, FujiFilm X20 or Ricoh GR V. I have read good things about all of them, but a zoom lens would be most useful for this purpose, I think. The Fuji and G16 both have quite a small sensor but are only 60% of the weight of the G1X. Although, now that the prices of all three are about the same after the G1X mkII came out, I am leaning to the original G1X due to the much better image quality for the same price. It’s over 500g, but I don’t think I will really notice any difference with it sitting on my back.

If all of that was too much, below are twenty photos from the first rides of spring:



The empty, sad looking rice fields sit in the transition between snow cover and flooded with water. This whole area will look completely different in a few weeks. It doesn’t take long for the next crop to begin.


The back, back roads – nothing around except the sound of bike wheels on pavement.


…and some fine erosion.


Two options: down the right is steep and winding (and closed, I discovered the other year), up the left could be bears…


Trying a new route down and across the river to avoid the busy and narrow main road.


Instead, what I find is something too common – a blocked road that didn’t show up on Google Maps, which was last updated about two years ago for this area. No way to get around this unless I walk through the freezing river. Back up to the main road.


All kinds of interesting things you see on the roads most people never take.


In some areas the tractors came out early, getting the fields ready for another year of rice.

Jose RenteriaMay 1, 2014 - 11:19

For me it’d be hard to choose between the G16 and the Fuji X20. The G16 for it’s new sensor, dials and features and the Fuji for the nice and solid body, fine lens and compact size. The iphone shots look great!

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