I love that nowadays you can travel pretty much anywhere you can think of without even leaving your house. With all the videos, essays, and photographs available online, it’s not hard to travel halfway across the world through the internet.
That’s why I was really excited to find a video series that takes you all over some of the most unexplored, rural parts of Japan. Following in the vein of TofuguTV, this series, Cycling Japan’s Abandoned Rail, really came out of left field as a pleasant surprise.
The premise of the series is pretty simple: an American couple, Adam and Beth, explore Hokkaido’s abandoned rail lines on bikes.
Videos about Tokyo are a dime a dozen, but videos exploring Hokkaido are pretty rare. And going to abandoned places in Hokkaido? Even more few and far between.
Adam and Beth do a great job of going off the beaten path and exploring the rural parts of Japan that few people get an opportunity to see.
The introduction to Cycling Japans Abandoned Rail starts off what seems to be a perilous journey full of giant wasps, narrow roads, fierce dogs, and small, empty towns.
The scenery though, couldn’t be more gorgeous. Biking along the coast of Hokkaido during the summertime provides some of the most idyllic landscapes you could ask for. Open fields, blue sea, and giant wind turbines seem like something out of a story.
Part 2 did a great job showing just how rural parts of Japan (especially Hokkaido) can be. Adam and Beth find a bicycle path that once used to be an old rail line, but there’s one little complication — it’s officially closed because there are too many wild bears.
There aren’t many other parts of Japan where you would fear bear attacks, but fortunately Adam and Beth manage to elude these vicious beasts and survive for the next installment.
This part in particular is great because it incorporates so much archival footage from these old train lines. Not just of their everyday usage, but of their final rides, too. Train otaku, get your tissues because this will be a tear-jerker.
The fourth and final part does a great job and wrapping it all up. The journey comes to a close and you forget that you’ve witnessed 30 days of travel in just under an hour.
Overall, I was really impressed with this whole series. It’s clear that these two put in a lot of hard work not only in cycling all over Hokkaido, but the production is great too.
It’s inspiring that these two could create something so cool with so little. With nothing but their bikes, a camera, and (presumably) a shoestring budget, they were able to produce a very cool little documentary. And hey, I learned something too!