Across Japan 2017

Tuomas

Maximum Pace
Aug 12, 2014
88
47
48
#1
Hello everyone.

I would like to borrow the collective knowledge of the TCC community.

On March 2017 (At the moment looking at Sunday 12th) I am planning on embarking on a journey Across Japan. I will start from Okinawa and ultimately would like to reach Wakkanai, but I have no idea about the weather up there so I will do my best and play it by ear. I know I will have issues with the bike, issues with my body, issues with the weather and whatnot, so I do not wish to commit to a strict schedule.

I have created a draft of the daily routes, but since my budget and schedule is somewhat limited, I would like to keep it at 20 riding days.Daily Routes (draft)

There are many individuals with vast amount of knowledge about riding in Japan, so I would like to ask for Your help to help me optimize the routes.

Also, if someone would like to join me for a day, a part of a day at any locations, I would be more than happy do ride together!

And since my budget is limited, I would also like to ask tips about good budget lodging, or if I could borrow anyones sofa along the route, it would all be very much appreciated.

Thank you!

-Tuomas
 

jdd

Maximum Pace
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Jul 26, 2008
2,519
650
133
Kanazawa
#5
@Tuomas -- Not much time right now, but for your day 12, from Tsuruga to Kaga, I'd suggest moving your course over to the coast, onto what would mostly be route 305.

The coast would be somewhat longer, but far more scenic and relaxing. Second, the route as mapped from Sabae (even Echizen) north to Kaga is on route 8, and this is a major, traffic/truck heavy, four/six lane industrial artery. It would not be pleasant riding. Also, near the end of the day, you're skipping Tojinbo, some sea cliffs that are really worth seeing, and then continue on to Kaga from there.

For comparison, take a look at this: http://www.kancycling.com/Echizen/Echizen_Route.html (an old site, but still good)

(I'll get back to you about a few of your later days this afternoon or evening.)
 

andywood

Maximum Pace
Apr 8, 2008
1,719
1,366
133
Niigata
#7
As jdd knows, route 8 through Kanazawa is dodgy.

I'll research the section between Toyama and Itoigawa.

From Itoigawa to Joetsu is nice.

From Joetsu to Kashiwazaki is okay but there is the original road closer to the sea which is nicer.

There are a few tunnels as you approach Kashiwazaki. Not too stressful, but you can avoid them by ducking in and out of the little fishing villages if you have time.

R8 moves inland from Kashiwazaki. From Kashiwazaki following the coast road is up to Niigata is great.

Yahiko village and the skyline road up Mt. Yahiko are well worth a visit.

Great views to Sado Island on a clear day.

Sado Island itself is probably the best cyling in Japan if you aren't in a rush to get from A to B.

Once through Niigata city the coast is spectacular. Asami onsen is worth a visit.

Again the mountains on the coast are beautiful.

First Gasan. A nice climb.

Keep to the coast all the way.

I can hook you up with nice people to stay with in Sakata. They own a cycling mad cafe and bakery.

From there Chokai san is definitely worth climbing. The Blue Line starts on the coast and drops you down a little bit further up. A really spectacular road.

Through Akita the Oga peninsula is nice. The famous lakes up that way are also worth a look.

Up in Aomori I know a cyclist who would probably like to put you up.

Shit man.

Oh to be young again!

Andy

www.jyonnobitime.com/time
 

jdd

Maximum Pace
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Jul 26, 2008
2,519
650
133
Kanazawa
#8
I thought I was going to be able to map some stuff out via RideWithGPS, but it's late, so maybe tomorrow. I do have a couple garmin tracks tho.

***

For this ride, one thing I'd suggest is to rinko a few sections along the way. While for a cyclist riding the whole way is admirable (thinking of going from oki to wakkanai), riding the best parts (or at least leaving out the worst), could be a lot better. (and safer)

E.g., there's one chunk of coastline between Toyama and Itoigawa (day 15, km 65-80), only a few kilometers, but the alps pretty much come out to and fall into the sea there, and there aren't many options to get past that, and there's like only one busy road thru that bottleneck. Cycling that stretch is possible, but also kind of dangerous. Others may differ, but bagging your bike for a train thru there would be my choice.

Once past there, Niigata and on north is wide open.
 
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Tuomas

Maximum Pace
Aug 12, 2014
88
47
48
#9
@andywood really appreciate all the help! In the current plan I have a big loop around Noto () but I think due to the schedule I might have to skip that. But thanks to your pointers I will be able to make the route more scenic!

@jdd Thank you. I have no issues with rinkoing if it saves my life. There is still plenty of pedaling to do and I think my legs and bum would appreciate it too. Will look into it as I modify the route!
 

nishiki2013

http://www.bikepackingjapan.com
#10
@Tuomas I agree with @jdd. The stretch from Toyama to Itogawa is pretty busy with traffic. I've only driven along though it and saw a couple of cyclists when I did but I'm not sure it'd be much fun.

I've got some routes up on www.bikepackingjapan.com, including one of the Noto Hanto. I think most of the routes I have are out of your way though. Send me an email if you need any help as I don't check TCC very often.
 
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ryanm

Speeding Up
May 28, 2016
38
9
28
38
#11
Hey, what a cool trip. I am sure this will be lots of fun. I haven't done any bike touring in over 10 years, but I found motorcycle touring maps to actually be quite helpful. These maps had markings that indicated whether a road was scenic, filled with trucks and traffic etc... I have no idea if these maps still exist, but it would be worth checking out for the areas through which you are passing. Even if you don't want to pack them, you could take photos to save them on your phone.

Also, the Noto is really beautiful. If I were to cut anything out of that section, I would cut out the stretch from Kaga to Nanao. My memories are from over ten years ago and things might have changed or I might be remembering incorrectly. However, I remember the area around Kanazawa as being fairly crowded. As others have noted, it could be a bit busy and dangerous. Once you're out of Kanazawa, 249 between Kanazawa and Nanao is a somewhat narrow road with little shoulder. If you want to head up to Nanao from Kanazawa, there is a bike path, which might be a better option. This will go up the coast aways, perhaps to around Hakui. From there, you can get back on the 249 up to Nanao (although that last 30-40KM between Hakui and Nanao won't be great either). The bike path will take you along the coast while the 249 will keep you inland. However, if you're going to cut out a section, I think it would be worth it to rinko up to Nanao and do your loop there. The Noto-hanto is really beautiful. Noto-jima is also nice and there are several amazing onsen up that way.

edit: Here's info on the cycling path: http://www.pref.ishikawa.jp/douken/jitensya/index.html
It actually looks a bit better than I remember, so they might have updated it. From Hakui, you would get the 159 to Nanao. Getting through Kanazawa traffic to the cycle path's start at Uchinada would not be fun, but it looks a bit better than I had imagined.
 
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andywood

Maximum Pace
Apr 8, 2008
1,719
1,366
133
Niigata
#12
@andywood really appreciate all the help! In the current plan I have a big loop around Noto () but I think due to the schedule I might have to skip that. But thanks to your pointers I will be able to make the route more scenic!

@jdd Thank you. I have no issues with rinkoing if it saves my life. There is still plenty of pedaling to do and I think my legs and bum would appreciate it too. Will look into it as I modify the route!
I too would recommend doing the whole of Nota Penninsula up and around the coast.

I'd also recommend seeing some of the sights in Kanawazawa city if you haven't visited before. Really beautiful city. There are some cheap guest houses. We stayed here last year.

http://khaosan-tokyo.com/ja/kanazawa/

I've ridden out from Kanazawa station to Uchinada a few times no problem, but that is always early Sunday morning (before the Uchinada RR).

If you take the cycling path from Uchinada, there is also the rare chance to ride your bike on the beach. If that's your thing.

Check out Michael Rice's adventure on youtube


Probably a good idea to check all his videos! Do you know him? Don't know if he still posts on here but you can find him on facebook.

But anyway, go up that coast and check out Wajima and the rice terraces. You could even just follow or adapt the Tour de Noto 400 route.

http://tour-de-noto.com/map/

If you spent extra time riding around Noto you could then jump on a train from Kanazawa or Toyama up to Itoigawa, Joetsu or even as far as Kashiwazaki...and keep on schedule...

Andy

www.jyonnobitime.com/time
 

jdd

Maximum Pace
Hardest Crash
Jul 26, 2008
2,519
650
133
Kanazawa
#13
Gosh--lots of posts since yesterday!

Assuming you take the Fukui coast and get to Tojinbo, here's how to get on up the coast a ways. (First sorry for the gap between Kaga and where this route starts--I know this mapped course very well, but not the coastal Komatsu-Kaga area.)


After the bridge, turn left and follow the road. One turn at 8.4km, go under the expressway and again just follow the road. There are turns at 14.5 and 14.8, but it's just follow the road there. Between there and the T at 15.6 there are maybe five combini in quick succession. After crossing the bridge, 16.5, you'll see a bike path to your left--take it. (probably) It's a short stretch, but you should easily be able to connect back to this course at 17.3.

Edit: If you instead take this cycle path upriver, it's the best way to get to one side of the downtown area.

Choice time at 16.8km (on the course as drawn): You can follow the longer route I've drawn, and get a look at the bay/harbor/breakwater and some boats, OR, at 16.8 you can bear right and follow the main road, to rejoin my route at 22.1. That's a busy road, and tho it is route 8, it's the local 8, not the national route 8. That road is busy enough that I would ride the sidewalk instead of the road up to the turn at about 24.

The turn at 25 is easy, and at 26, another choice: I've routed this thru residential streets, and got really used to going the "back way" when someone I know was in the hospital over there (coming up). The residential/slower part ends at 27.7, and from there to the hospital is a long, broad road with very light traffic. You'll see the hospital after 30, it's huge.

Or, at 26 you can try going straight and wander thru town. Traffic in town is usually not bad, so that's an option, but I like my route better. On down from 26 tho, just be careful not to follow the cars onto the のと里山海道--that's a free expressway up the peninsula (no bikes).

Just after going around the hospital you cross a large bridge, called Sunset Bridge. It's safe and easy, and you're waaay up high, so a great view. Here's a pic that was in the newspaper a few years ago. The hospital is the obvious cluster of buildings, the bridge is dead centre with the large towers. The のと里山海道 on the left.
proxy.php?image=http%3A%2F%2Fi4.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fy142%2Fjdd489%2Fuchinada-b.jpg&hash=439fc2f4edbf943127ac35cf49b9da56


(off to the upper right is where @andywood wins races!)
 
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jdd

Maximum Pace
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Jul 26, 2008
2,519
650
133
Kanazawa
#14
Cycle paths along this route...

I've pointed out the one leading downtown, but there's also a beachside cycle path that starts just a few hundred meters from the bridge where this route begins (also to the south, past Komatsu towards Kaga, as via @ryanm http://www.pref.ishikawa.jp/douken/jitensya/index.html ). I sometimes ride this one.

But since it's right on the beach, and March is after the storms of winter, it will very likely be sanded over--deep drifts in places. Since it's the only course, you can't go around, you have to walk over... (add the smiley here for yuk!)

The cycle path between Uchinada and Hakui is slightly better, since it's back from the beach a little more, but it still gets sandy at the 'intersections', such as where a local road has an underpass under the 里山海道. Sometimes light, sometimes a couple inches. The time I tried this was the day after some rain, and some low spots had and inch or so of water on top of some sand. I gave up on it and have never been back. Also, the path itself is concrete, and not especially smooth or fast. There's nothing to look at--big road on one side or the other, and scrubby oceanside pine on the opposite.

So back to the route I made. (After the bridge at 31.3 you could go left and look for the cycle path down next to the road.) After the bridge, this is the guiding principle--stay on small roads between the 里山海道 on the left, and highway 249 on the right. These two roads pinch you in a couple places. On my route, I've guided you onto 249 in a couple places. Alternatively at km 46.6 go left to the expressway, and use the bike path to get around the small hill there. And, at km 53.9, you could go straight, and take the bike path (and not 249) to get around the golf course.

Here's something that's key, at the end of the mapped route: zoom in and see how close km 67 is to highway 249? Most cyclists would follow 249. And the Tour de Noto does. But see where my route ends? There's a small coffee shop there. Look carefully--there's a really, really nice bike path that starts there. Go that way! At first it's just you and the ocean, then some houses, trees, sometimes some beach areas on the left. There are occasional gates when there are houses around, but this is really pleasant riding.

It's maybe 8-9km to where you'll get back on a highway, which is where I'll start the next rwGPS map.

(break time)
 

jdd

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Jul 26, 2008
2,519
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133
Kanazawa
#15
Here's the next section to Wajima:
Actually, look on the map there at 0.5km, an intersection labeled はまなす. That's where the bike path, above, meets the regular road.

From there, you'll be on route 38 for a while, closer to the coast than the inland route 249. You'll go past the local nuke between 9-10km. There are a couple of tunnels at about km 18 as you arrive in 富来町, but nothing to worry too much about. There are restaurants here, and a couple of supers (the second one, a Co-op, is better) and some overnight choices.

This is one, next to the mall-like, not-so-good supermarket: http://www.bokkai.jp If you stay there, go breakfast only, and have dinner at the nice izakaya across the road (hard to miss). This place has an adequate bath/sauna, and the times I've been there with a bike, they said to just take/roll the bike into the room. They won't be busy in March, and neither will the beach area at 22.1. There are some cabins there, also camping (and you could camp wild), but the downside is that it's out of town, and you'd either have to bring food along, or go back into town to eat or shop. The beach there is nice, and when the kids were young, we'd be up there twice a year.

Another cheaper stay choice is at km 20.7--not shown on the maps I see, but there on that corner. It's supposedly a cycling terminal, haven't stayed there, but it's cheaper, tho neither on the beach, nor in town.

That corner is also a decision point: Follow the less trafficked route on my map, OR, follow the shorter 249 and rejoin my route at the km 36.2 point. For this one, and in March, take the shorter highway 249 choice.

Follow the rest of the route as mapped, but the next decision point is at km 53.3. Here, you can choose the easy way, don't turn, and follow 249 into Wajima. Most public routings (and people who think they're doing a Noto loop), and the tour de noto, do just that--they're a bunch of wusses and they take the easy, non-scenic road into Wajima.

(Whew. Glad I got that out of the way.)

Follow the route I have mapped and you have a very hard, but short, climb, a nice descent, and then some up-downs along the coast into Wajima.

***

Along the way, at around km 48.8 or so, you should take and hour or two to visit 総持寺, kind of important in Buddhism.
 

jdd

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Jul 26, 2008
2,519
650
133
Kanazawa
#16
Of course it's obvious that I've changed your day 13/14, and instead of Nanao, have routed you around outer Noto.

Outer Noto is the place to tour/ride (across the top of the peninsula); inner Noto is not. The outer side (a bit east and then west of Wajima) is known as the Sosogi Coast. Get up to that outer side quick and do that, and skip everything on the way and the way back.

The northeast sector of Notojima does have some nice, but brief riding, but I'm not sure if, given your trip constraints, it's worth trying to get there.
 
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Tuomas

Maximum Pace
Aug 12, 2014
88
47
48
#17
Looks like Noto is keeper. Thank you so much for the input guys. @andywood @ryanm My heart rate goes up 15 beats just by looking at the scenery...

Massive kudos to @jdd for all this support. I will spend more time on this information and adjust the maps. I think it is a good strategy to rinko more in order to see more scenic bits. If I rinko 50km here and there, there will still be enough...
 

jdd

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Jul 26, 2008
2,519
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133
Kanazawa
#18
This is the cycling terminal just outside Togi: https://www.google.co.jp/maps/place...65800ade0b10e642!8m2!3d37.150412!4d136.720405
Never stayed there, but looked in once. It seems oriented towards groups r/t individuals. Kind of bare & impersonal feel. Go direct west about 1km for the 増穂浦 beach cabins & camping.

Wajima has a lot of minshuku & hotels, even a Route Inn biz hotel. And a morning market that is worth a browse

If you make it around this far, this is an okay place to stay: https://www.google.co.jp/maps/place...aecd2d5e927bcb!8m2!3d37.3986304!4d137.2440138
I've had a small tatami room there with two meals for maybe ¥8,000, toilet down the hall. Good laundry facilities, several machines and dryers and soap packets on sale. Bath is excellent--2nd floor looking out at Mitsuke-jima. Had to leave the bike outside.

So you know, there are trains between Kanazawa and Nanao, and then on to Anamizu, and I think they're usually pretty empty, so easy to rinko.

Streetview was there on a rainy day, but the obvious choice/course from Nanao to Himi/Toyama would be route 160 on the edge of Toyama bay. Spectacular views of the Tateyama mountains in the distance.
 
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Tuomas

Maximum Pace
Aug 12, 2014
88
47
48
#19
I have made quite substantial modifications to the route and uploaded them as V02 in RidewthGPS
Now my problem is, if I truly do the whole Noto thing, I will again run for the same problem. From meeting @andywood I only have a few days to finish, and its a long way.
Any suggestions where to rinko in order to see the most beautiful places and actually make it until the end?

As always, I truly appreciate the support.

-Tuomas
 

andywood

Maximum Pace
Apr 8, 2008
1,719
1,366
133
Niigata
#20
You could drop Itoigawa to Kashiwazaki. However, I don't know if you would save a day. You would have to plan your trains in advance. Local trains don't run late.

And / or, you could try to get from Kashiwazaki to Aomori in two days!

Kashiwazaki to Sakata is about 250 km. I could ride that with you and we could stay in Sakata. I'd go back the next day.

To Aomori is another 310 km. Don't know about the train connections or schedules to rinko part of it. But I can ask my friend in Sakata if you like.

All exciting stuff,

Andy

www.jyonnobitime.com/time