How did you feel the first time you rode with friends after pandemic lockdowns lifted? Intense, right? While it’s been a weird and difficult time for most people, there’s also something to be said for the heightened joy you might feel at finally getting back to doing something fun. Group motorcycle rides with just a handful of people are ideal, because you’re safely spaced apart—but you’re still together. That’s also where good Bluetooth communications systems can help—not necessary, but certainly nice to have.
This is the spirit in which Yamaha recruited four riders to come take a relaxing 2,000-kilometer tour (just under 1,243 mile) on its bikes in Japan, visiting a number of important Yamaha historical sites along the way. It was low-key and laid back, with the riders taking everything at the leisurely pace of about 55 mph so they could take in all the beautiful scenery.
Yamaha’s roots are located in Hamamatsu. Riders Rowland Kirishima, Keisuke Kawanishi, Reina Tomomura, and Tanya Parshina all rode together from Tokyo to the town of Kochi in Shikoku, and then back. Kirishima is from Shikoku, so his roots are there—and along the way, the quartet also visited Hamamatsu to take in some of Yamaha’s roots, as well.
Once there, the four riders took a much-needed break from their motorcycles to ride another Yamaha vehicle—through Yamaha Motor’s rental service, Sea-Style. They took off from Yamaha Marina Hamanako (of course), where they enjoyed a lovely time on the water before remounting their bikes to go to Iwata, Yamaha’s hometown.
Of course, it would be impossible to visit without going to the Yamaha museum, which the four riders of course gladly did. Among bikes historic to the brand were things like the YA-1, Yamaha’s first motorcycle—and there was also a special Valentino Rossi exhibition on display at the time, as well. The quartet also stayed in Katsuragi Hotel Kitanomaru on the final night of their journey, which was constructed under the direction of Yamaha Motor founder Genichi Kawakami. It’s a place that’s both quintessentially Japanese and also quintessentially Yamaha, so what could be more appropriate on such a journey?
Along the way, of course, there was plenty of time for reflection, both internally and within the group. That’s the nature of a trip like this, putting you in touch with so much personal, interpersonal, and cultural history. While it might be possible to do using other vehicles, it wouldn’t be as fun—and probably not as meditative an experience, if we’re honest. Are we biased? Maybe, but if you’re reading this, clearly so are you.