• Joseph Simurdiak


One day, as I was biking across Japan, I found myself caught in a wild storm in the mountains near Hakone. Rain sheeted down on me, icy wind tore my clothes, and I found myself forced to get off my bike and press doggedly up the slope with my tattered umbrella angled before me. I could see no shelter in sight; now and then a car would zip by on the mountain road, but none of their drivers seemed inclined to stop and pick up a sopping wet traveler and his bicycle.

I was on the return trip of a fifteen-day bike journey, following the path of the historical Tokaido Road from Tokyo to Kyoto and back. As a mere college student with no money for hotels, I’d taken to sleeping in forests, parks, and mountain thickets. The weather had been fair for most of the trip, but now the sky had opened up with a vengeance and seemed determined to murder me. It was the worst possible moment for a storm to hit, caught as I was between cities with my phone battery dead. Soaked to the bone with freezing water, my movements began to slow and I realized with dread that I could barely move my fingers and that my hands were turning white. If I didn’t find shelter soon, my situation would become dire.

How on earth, I wondered, does a small-town Wisconsin boy end up all the way out here, alone in a deadly storm in the Japanese mountains? If Grandma could see me now, she’d have a heart attack.

Squinting my eyes against the rain, I realized that this whole ordeal could have been avoided if I’d just taken the bullet train like a sane person. What could possibly drive someone to cross Japan alone on bike? Why was I even here? What was I hoping to find?

Ah, that’s right. Adventure. Adventure and stories.

My name is Joseph. Welcome to my blog.

 © 2018 by Joseph Simurdiak