Start out by going to JAF (Japanese Automobile Federation) to get that stupid stamp customs can’t live without. I also become a member of the organization, in case I need legal help, and buy myself some road maps better suited for my tank bag. It all takes 1 ½ hours – so much for Japanese efficiency – but they bow a lot, and I politely bow back at them.
I’m back at Crazy Pete’s motorcycle shop at about two o’clock, so we head for Narita again. And hold our collective breath, when the senior customs official points out, that the carnet was incorrectly stamped in Denmark. Obviously the Japanese aren’t the only ones unfamiliar with this type of document. But after another hour, and 3-4 people working on my case, everything is hunky-dory, and the bike can be picked up at the airline warehouse. Then yet another hour partially dismantling the metal frame and making the bike ready to go. Pete offers to keep the frame pieces on his truck while I’m out there, which I gratefully accept.
After filling up with gas at the customs area, I ride out. And immediately stand face-to-face with an enormous green truck. Aah, they all drive on the left side here, remember? Being outnumbered 1 to 126,000,000, I better do it their way. Could have trained a bit at home, of course, but that would probably not have made me all that popular. Especially not on the freeway.
Returning to Chiba in the dark we lose each other, so I get to test the concept of finding my way using only Japanese road maps. This appears to work, and after being shown off to one of Pete’s friends, and after the best Japanese meal so far (Suriaki), I take a regular road home. This means 45-50 kilometers and at least twice that umber of traffic lights before I get to the hotel, but I don’t want to pay the 1,000 yen for the toll road. Had to try out city riding anyway, and 10.30 at night seems to be a good time for this. Riding here seems easy, as all two-wheelers filter safely up through the rows of cars. I’m back at the hotel before midnight.