Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Vespa Spot (23)

Some words of advice. Do not drive during any holiday period in Japan!

I keep hearing this advice, but for some reason, I keep ignoring it. So again, with naivety or stupidity, during the Silver Week (an extended holiday period in September), I thought the 47km drive to Nara to visit some famous temples would be easy.

3.5hrs later, the famous temples had half of Japan visiting them. Seems like everyone had the same idea as us. Anyway, the temples are amazing and those people keen on feeding deer will have a ball, as there are hundreds of them to feed.

Anyway, back to the Vespa blog. On the drive back (which only took 1.5hrs), my youngest daughter noticed we were being tailed by a Vespa. So with her best photography, she snapped these "on the go" action shots.

Nara is an amazing place and was the capital of Japan well before Tokyo and Kyoto. More can be found about Nara here:

Vespa Spot (22)

It's been a long time since I have spotted a Vespa and had my camera with me. Basically I have seen many but just haven't been prepared.

Well, after attending a colleague's wedding on Kiyamachi Dori recently, I stumbled across the following small frame Vespa. I believe I have seen this one around before but never photographed it. Unfortunately I only had my mobile phone with me so the images are a little poor.

Kiyamachi Dori is one of my favourite streets in Kyoto. In spring, the Cherry Blossoms are spectacular and hang over the Takase River. It is also host to numerous restaurants and bars, and also houses many of Kyoto's more disreputable "entertainment" establishments.

More about Kiyamachi Dori can be found here:

Home Therapy

Once again I thought I was off to Shirai Vespa for some more repairs. The reason being, lately the Vespa has been difficult to start, and runs very roughly for the first 10 minutes. After this, its fine but has problems achieving full rev's/speed.

As an example, the Vespa on the open road easily exceeds 80km/h, however, I struggled to even reach 70km/h.

I stopped by Shirai san to advise him it would be coming in for another visit, but as he explained, the Vespa has a 2 stroke engine, and in reality, only the spark plug or carburettor would be at fault. His suggestion was to check the spark plug and if that fails, bring it in.

So with his suggestion in mind, I removed the current spark plug and discovered caked in carbon and oil. A qucik trip to the local Home Centre and JPY240 later, I purchased a new spark plug. Once I had adjusted the gap on the plug, screwed it in tight, a first kick, the Vespa was up and running. The Vespa hadn't felt this good in ages, and all for JPY240!!

Thanks Shirai san.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

First Aid......again!

Well its been a while since I the Vespa has had to go back to Shirai san to have some work done, but for a while now, there has been a disturbing problem.

Quite a while ago, before changing to a new set of tyres, I noticed the right side of the front wheel was rubbing on the forks. Slowly this was eating away the side of the tyre. The risk being of course that the sidewall of the tyre would wear through and eventually cause a puncture. Hopefully not at high speed.

Once I changed the tyres (an earlier blog post), the problem didn't go away and I certainly didn't want to wreck a brand new tyre.

So off again to Shirai san, who initially though the problem was a worn spindle that attaches the hub to the front forks. (See part 45 in the attached photo). However after changing this, there was little improvement so he also had to replace bearings surrounding the front axle (see part 10 in the attached photo). This has rectified the problem and the Vespa is back on the road....... for the mean time!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Vespa Spot (18,19, 20 & 21)


Its raining Vespa's at Sydney Airport!!

Within one minute, in one car park, 4 Vespa's spotted.

Take a close look at the black one. It seems the owner may have dropped it on its side. Maybe going to fast!

Vespa Spot (17)


Today was the day it rained Vespa's. I mentioned earlier that Sydney people have been incentivized to buy scooters, but I wasn't prepared for a constant barrage of sightings.

This one is at a major intersection in Sydney, Oxford Street and Park Street. For those of you who know, its the starting area of Sydney's gay Mardi Gras.

Its difficult to see, but directly opposite is a Vespa waiting at the lights and the second shot is of the owner, a girl rising past us. Apologies that the steering wheel of the car is in the way of the second shot.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Vespa Spot (16)


Well I know this blog is about Vespa's in Japan, however as I am in Australia at present, I couldn't help getting a shot of my first Australian spot.

Located in Milsons Point, just above Luna Park and below the Sydney Harbour Bridge, we found this modern version.

Sydney has incentivized the public to buy scooters by offering free parking and other benefits. I have seen a couple of modern Vespa's on the road in the last couple of days, and below you will also see the signage of a Vespa dealer I found.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Vespa Spot (15)

Two in two minutes!

Immediately after my first spot in Kobe, I spotted my second Vespa of the day. Only 100 metres north from where I was and directly opposite the Hotel b kobe, I found this nice blue PX.

Almost identical to my second ever spot back in early May and owned by a Chef at the Kyoto Royal Hotel & Spa, the only difference was the storage on the back of this Vespa.

Again, I love the big windshield which would make riding far more enjoyable.

The location of this Vespa was in Sannomiya in the heart of Kobe's entertainment area.

The Hotel b kobe is part of a chain of hotels called "the b". More information can be found here:

Vespa Spot (14)

I knew today would be my lucky day for spotting Vespa's, because today was the day I was going to Kobe.

Whenever I visit Kobe, I always manage to see Vespa's. In my laziness, I decided to take the Shinkansen from Kyoto to Shin Kobe instead of the local train, and immediately after hopping in a cab for a short ride to my destination, I spotted one immediately on the side of the road.

Unfortunately I didn't have my camera on and I missed it, but within a couple of minutes I spotted my first for the day.

Located just north of Tor Road, I found this modern Vespa, red in colour. I am a little confused what the rider was trying to do, but on the left side rear engine cover, you will note a 4 leaf clover. Not quite Italian, however who really cares.

Kobe is a great city and considered one of the most international in Japan. A little piece of information about Kobe can be found here:

Friday, June 19, 2009

Vespa Spot (13)

I had a false alarm this morning when I spotted a nice red Vespa travelling south along Horikawa Dori. Unfortunately, after taking some shots and returning home, I discovered that I had already spotted this Vespa earlier.

However, all was not lost as a valuable spot by my daughter occurred shortly after. She found this silver Vespa 100 on Marutamachi Dori, between Karasuma Dori and Horikawa Dori, almost directly opposite the Kojima Pet shop.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Osawa's Lake - 14 June 2009

I have been lazy, the post has taken longer than expected!

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I decided to take the Vespa for a nice drive through an area I had discovered a couple of weeks before.

One of my favourite areas to ride through is the road leading from Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion), past Rioanji and Ninaji Temple. If you follow this further along heading south west to wards Saga, you will come across Osawa's Lake.

The lake is in the middle of nowhere and you will find it surrounded by Rice fields. Around the shallows of the lake and the surrounding rice fields, many kids are in the water catching what us Australians call Yabbies, or the Americans might call Craw fish. I don't know what they do with them once they are caught because they seem remarkably small, but it looks like a lot of fun.
Surrounding Osawa's Lake, is a specially designated historical area where some previous Emperors of Japan are entombed. I had never known this and its certainly not on the tourist route, but I think its quite amazing you can get so close to some of the former emperors, dating back to when Kyoto was the capital of Japan.

I couldn't find much information on the lake, but here is a little. Its a great place to visit and rest:

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Vespa Spot (12)

Maybe there is something in the air, maybe its because the weather is warmer, but suddenly the Vespa's are out and about.

Yesterday I spotted three Vespa's and whilst today I only have one spot, I did see two others on the road.

The following Vespa, a PX200 was parked outside a convenience store on Kawaramachi Dori, slightly north of Imadegawa Dori.

For those of you that don't know, Japan has more Convenience Stores per person than any other country in the world. And as a resident of Japan.....they are the greatest thing ever!

Some of the larger brands are 7/11, Family Mart, AM/PM, Lawson...the list goes on....

Friday, June 5, 2009

Vespa Spot (11)

A third Vespa on the same day!! Well a bike made by Piaggio, and maybe not exactly a Vespa Scooter that you see on this blog, but from the same company.

Maybe it had to do with the pizza, but driving home in the same street as my apartment, this was the latest find.

These are called a Vespa Ciao and have pedals as well as a small motor. I believe this one has seen better days, but it still seems to be in use on the roads.

I have included some information on the Vespa Ciao here:

Vespa Spot (10)

Same day, same Street, another Vespa!

Can you believe it? I have picked up the pizza and was heading down Omiya Dori when I spotted the next Vespa.

This little Vespa has seen better days and doesn't seem to be registered for the road anymore. No number plate and the rear light smashed off, but still another valuable spot.

Interestingly enough, it looks great outside of this Deli. I have never noticed the Garnish Deli before and its something I will definitely go back to have another look.

Vespa Spot (9)

In the process of buying some take-away pizza, I took a walk towards Omiya Dori in Kita Ku. Luck was upon me, when I discovered this nice Vespa outside of a fish shop.

Initially I thought this was a Vespa I had already photographed earlier in this blog, but after reviewing both bikes and comparing number plates, they are different.

Omiya Dori has a great set of shops running from north to south, between Kitaoji Dori and Kitayama Dori. Basically there is every type of shop you desire in a village type atmosphere. There are also some very nice cafes towards the southern end of Omiya Dori.

Unfortunately the quality of the images are poor as they are taken with my mobile phone.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Vespa Spot (8)

Today whilst venturing along Shijo Dori, at the intersection of Teramachi / Shijo, I discovered at the traffic lights this well weathered Vespa.

Ridden by a girl, who I believe was most shocked that a Gaijin (Foreigner) was taking photo's of her, she seemed to be having the same problem faced by most Vespa riders.
If you view the close up photo of her hand on the left hand grip, you will note she is trying to do something with both hands. What she is attempting to do is get the bike out of first gear and into neutral whilst stationary. It is a common problem that when idling in first gear, even with pulling in the clutch, its extremely difficult to get the Vespa into neutral. Whilst this is happening, the bike is normally creepeing forward or you are burning out the clutch.

Oh the joys of a Vespa!!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Shizuhara - 31 May 2009

What was meant to be a great day riding with fellow Vespa's owners to Miyama, (about 130km return trip) turned out to be a trip to hospital thanks to my daughter gouging herself with a chisel and adding 5 stitches to her hand yesterday.

This effectively meant another trip to the hospital this morning to change the dressing, and this meant I missed the 10am start for the Vespa ride.

All was not lost however, as the afternoon weather was beautiful, thus I set out on my own heading north to Ohara. Once arriving at Ohara, I turned left and headed west to Shizuhara and then Kibune & Kurama. After Kibune, I headed south, for Horikawa Dori and then home.

The ride isn't too long, about 40km's, however it heads up a meandering mountain, the across a flat level surrounded by the Shizuhara village and rice fields. This areas is particularly beautiful and allowed me to take some shots of the Vespa on a rusty old bridge and beside some rice fields.
Unfortunately I didn't take any shots of Kibune and Kurama and will save these for Autumn when they truly stand out.

I am unable to tell you what is so special about Shizuhara as Wikipedia doesn't say anything about it and most sites are in Japanese. All I can say its a lovely place to ride through with very little traffic.

However, whilst the ride was nice, I would have loved to be on the ride with Shirai san and company and the annoying sound of multiple Vespa's belting through the country side of Kyoto.