A Summer of Adventure

TFK catches up with author Charles Scott about the journey behind his book Rising Son

May 10, 2013 | By TFK Kid Reporter Faye Collins
CHARLES SCOTT

Charles Scott and his son, Sho, spent the summer of 2009 bicycling the length of Japan.

Imagine your second grade summer: two months of vacations and popsicles, right? In 2009, Charles Scott and his son, Sho, wanted to have an adventure together, which eventually led to biking the length of Japan – more than 2,000 miles – in 67 days. Sho was 8 years old at the time. Charles transformed his journal into the book, Rising Son. TFK Kid Reporter Faye Collins talked to the father and son team about their experience.

TFK:

What inspired you to bike across Japan?

CHARLES:

I wanted to spend more time with my kids, so Sho and I sat down when he was 7 and came up with an idea for an adventure. I said, “It can be anything” and we decided to cycle the length of Japan. My wife is Japanese, so we’ve been to Japan before. We decided it would be cool to make it a bike adventure, and then we got carried away. First we imagined a week or two in Japan, then we thought: “Why don’t we do the whole country?” That was that.

TFK Kid Reporter Faye Collins chats with author Charles Scott.
COURTESY COLLINS FAMILY
TFK Kid Reporter Faye Collins chats with author Charles Scott.

TFK:

How did you feel after the first week of cycling?

SHO:

At first it was hard, because after the first week my mom and my sister left, I didn’t really want that to happen. But once I got used to it I felt fine.

TFK:

What were some of the most fun and exciting parts?

CHARLES:

I really enjoyed getting out in the nature of Japan. Our image of Japan is kind of like New York City, a big megalopolis. But actually the country is has lots of mountains and beautiful places to go. We slept in a tent on the beach a lot of times, or in the mountains, and that was really a wonderful experience to share with my son. The second best thing was the fact that we met so many nice people.

TFK:

What were some of the most challenging parts?

SHO:

The mountains were really, really big. And when we were in Hokkaido, which was a part of town we were in, it was windy and cold.

CHARLES:

We crossed the Japan Alps mountain chain, and it is no joke. They call it the Japan Alps because it is a whole really serious mountain chain. In the whole trip, we went over ten mountain passes. You ride up these switchbacks straight up a mountain, and it was very hard physically. But going down is scarier! And Sho is right, the weather was tough. There were times when we would just get caught in these big rainstorms. You would get soaked and you were pushing into the wind, and kept you from getting anywhere.

My wife joined us for the first week in a car, just to make sure everything was okay. After a week, she and my daughter went home. So for the rest of the trip we didn’t have an easy option. It made us possible to just say: “Well, let’s just and deal with it.”

TFK:

How many bike malfunctions did you have throughout the trip?

CHARLES:

We had a total of ten flat tires over 67 days. I brought patches, spare tires, a toolkit and a little emergency roadside repair book with me.

TFK:

How did the book come together?

CHARLES:

I kept a journal during the trip, and also kept a blog so friends could stay updated. When I was a teenager, one of my life goals was to write a book. In the middle of this trip I realized, “This is the book!”

TFK:

Was writing the book or getting it published harder than the actual journey?

CHARLES:

In a way, it was. I joined a writing group. These wonderful people gave me suggestions to improve my book. It was really as much of a challenge as it was doing this trip. In both cases, I needed help.

TFK:

How did it feel when you completed the quest?

SHO:

It was a relief, but also disappointing because it was really fun.

CHARLES:

I was happy for it to end, because I was so tired. I didn’t know if I could do this, I had self-doubts, so finishing felt like an accomplishment. I mentioned that one of the reasons I wanted to do this was to spend more time with my son. Now we share a great set of memories.