Day 2: Yokohama to Kyoto

After a great send-off by Sotheby’s this morning at the Marine Tower in Yokohama, we hit the road about 10:15 and traveled 450km to Kyoto.

During the first third of our six-hour drive, Mount Fuji was the star. Here’s a picture of the 1928 Plymouth being driven by John and Luke with the mountain in the background:


View of Mount Fuji from the road (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

Mount Fuji reminds me of Mount Rainier in my home state of Washington — both mountains seem to hold court over the surrounding countryside.

Around 12:30 we stopped for lunch and more views of Mount Fuji and John refueled the Plymouth — it can only travel  unrefueled about 150 miles. That’s fine with me — I can’t stand being in a car for more than about two hours for a single stretch anyway.

In Kyoto this evening our guide, Hiro, suggested we have Japanese “pizza” for dinner. We followed him down an alley to a restaurant where the quality of the food far outstripped the size of the restaurant. Here’s what that delicious meal looked like:


Trying out “Japanese Pizza” (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

Tomorrow morning we rest for a bit and then have a very short drive to Kobe.

Day 1: Customs at Yokohama

We arrived yesterday in Tokyo and had drivers bring us to the Breezbay Hotel in Yokohama. After a nice tour of Yokohama this morning and then lunch in Chinatown, the next step was to retrieve the cars from Customs.

But there was a small snag. The cars themselves were able to clear customs with no problems, but some items that Leo and John had shipped in the cars (such as a case of bottled water) hadn’t been declared, and the customs process came to a screeching halt.

At 3:30 on a Friday afternoon, we were beginning to worry that our cars would be stuck in customs through the weekend. Even worse, Hollis, the auto import/export in Japan helping us facilitate the customs release had both Leo’s and John’s passports, and he seemed to have vanished.

Although we concluded that Yokohama wouldn’t be a bad place to be stuck for the weekend, we really wanted to get moving out on our trip, especially since we didn’t want to miss the ferry to Vladivostok — it only runs once a week.

At ten minutes to four, Hollis arrived, and after a few more phone calls and a trip to the warehouse at Yamashita Pier, we had both cars in hand. We made it back to the hotel at 5:20, just in time to meet friends for a wonderful dinner of sushi (not like anything you would get in the US). Here’s a picture of the cars right before we departed the warehouse:

Yokohama Customs

The customs warehouse in Yokohama (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

Saturday we have a press conference in the morning and then we drive to Kyoto.

Thomas Flyer Sails from Seattle in 1908

Hello everyone! I’m Eileen Bjorkman, the fourth World Team member. Today, April 21, is the anniversary of the day that the Thomas Flyer and its American crew set sail from Seattle to Japan on a steamer named Shawmut.

Here’s an aerial view of what Seattle looked like in 1908:



Seattle in 1908 (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The American team had to sail to Japan because they weren’t able to get their Russian visas due to the lack of a Russian Consul in Seattle. They made the decision to sail on to Japan and sort things out when they got there. Fortunately, our modern team members have all the visas we should need already!

For the full New York Times article on the Flyer sailing, click here.

I’m leaving Seattle May 7th on an airliner to Tokyo, so my trip across the Pacific will be a lot faster. Once in Tokyo, I’ll make my way about 30 miles south to the port in Yokohama, where I’ll connect with my teammates who will be flying in from San Francisco.

I’m looking forward to blogging  my way across the race route! Please feel free to respond to my posts with comments or requests for more information.

For more information about me, you can visit my website at