The Sun in My Eyes is a funny cycling travelogue detailing Josie Dew's second trip around Japan, in 2000. Light-hearted, yet full of interesting facts, this is an enjoyable book that is much more than your typical cycling jaunt around a country.
Starting out from Hong Kong, Dew is looking forward to returning to Japan, from where she travelled a couple of years ago and wrote her third cycling travelogue book, A Ride in the Neon Sun. Armed with a few more words of Japanese than she previously had, she first spends some time checking out the Chinese islands of Hong Kong, Macau and Hainan.
Travelling by boat to each of these destinations and subjected to prolonged periods of being cooped up in confined spaces with smoking and seasick companions doesn't deter her from arranging passage on an Outward Bound ship to Japan. From here she sets off in earnest to experience the country on her own two wheels during the middle of their rainy season.
Dew delivers an amazingly upbeat and whimsical of her journey. Heading north from Kyushu, she travels up the west coast of Honshu and then onto the northern island of Hokkaido. Along they way she visits a number of the smaller islands that comprises the archipelago, including the beautiful islands of Rishiri and Rebun, near the northern tip of Hoikkaido, from where does a spot of hiking and mountain climbing. A pending wedding results in a mad pedal back down the north and eastern coast of Honshu to Tokyo, where she finishes her journey in abrupt fashion.
The Sun in My Eyes latches onto a winning formula by not focussing too much on the cycling aspect of the journey and instead concentrating on the wonderful, friendly people whom she meets along the way. In addition to this, Dew spends a fair amount of time taking in the sites that Japan offers, rather than simply cycling on past. By doing so, she is able to provide history of these places and as a result of the insights that she shares, we are able to get a much better feel for the country and its magnificent sites. Another bonus is the quirky maps and drawings that are peppered throughout the book and which adds another humurous touch.
In addition to the two books that Dew has written about her cycling trips around Japan, she has also written a further five travel books, nearly all based on her cycling experiences. On the strength of The Sun in My Eyes, I'd be more than happy saddle up and partake more of these experiences with her. So long as my bike was of the electric variety.
3 and a half stars out of 5
Credit: Banner photo by Gabriel Rodríguez