Kasumigaseki, Saitama to Kyoto (4-5 day ride)


Mar 24, 2020
Hey guys,

I just recently bought a Giant Escape and took it for my first multi-day tour to Kyoto.

I found the route with just Google Map; I took the "on foot" route from Kasumigaseki (Kawagoeshi) to Kyoto that led through (a small part of) Gunma, Nagano, Gifu, Shiga, and eventually to Kyoto.
I didn't want to take the coastal route (route 1?) because I assumed that it would be busy and/or windy.

I calculated about 482 total km. It's a slight estimate as my odometer stopped working.
First day:
- Kasumigaseki to outskirts of Fuse, Saku-shi, Nagano
Second day:
- Fuse, Saku-shi, Nagano to Sakatsuka, Gifu
Third day:
- Sakatsuka, Gifu to Ogaki, Gifu
Fourth day:
Ogaki, Gifu to Kyoto

Each day I woke up around 5am, rode out at 5:30am until 7pm-8pm, with several breaks in between.

Here are some photos, you can take a look at what the ride kinda looks like.
I didn't bother to take photos in Saitama prefecture, since it was relatively boring/industrial areas with heavy traffic. Everywhere seemed to be like Kasumigaseki/Tsurugashima.
I also didn't realize how high I would climb going through Nagano. I think the elevation was above 1200m at the highest.

Going deeper into Nagano via route 254 (through Tomioka)

Climbing to get to Saku-shi. Couple tunnels and several bridges that were kinda narrow, all up-hill. There are "old mountain roads" that are steeper but can avoid traffic (usually trucks). Definitely pushed the bicycle here.

Big downhill into nice flat ground into/out of Saku-shi. When you leave, there are couple more climbing and going down. I wish I would've taken more photos on the downhill because it was a gorgeous ride down :S

IMG_20200502_140428.jpg IMG_20200502_132531.jpg
By far the hardest part of the ride besides the downhill into Okaya.
After you leave Nagawa-machi (bigger town after Saku-shi), the elevation slowly rises towards ~1300m.
Tunnel/toll fee = 50 yen. The first bride is VERY narrow.
I stopped and took a nap at the toll. It doesn't look like bicycles can go on that road since it's so narrow, but they are okay with cyclists. If you need to refill water, there is a small mountain neighborhood parking lot with a big water fountain in the middle. Only about 150m detour.
There are two tunnels. I didn't take the first one, as there is a road going around it up to the toll.
The second tunnel was almost 2km if I remember correctly.

early morning in Nakatsugawa

A lot of the time you follow these signs "Nakasendo"

Rizzla bar. The owner and staff were really friendly folks, got myself a good burger and tacos there and shared a smoke with the owner.
Probably one of the highlights of my time on the ride. Just a good atmosphere.

Last 80~km from Ogaki to Kyoto.

Took a longer route to ride along Lake Biwa.

I wish I had more days to really check out some of the places in between, especially coming down from Shiojiri to Sakatsuka; the river I rode along looked amazing.
I definitely recommend the route!


Maximum Pace
Dec 14, 2006
I find I remeber experiences with people and food much more than the sights. That's what makes travelling so good. Nice report thanks.
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Maximum Pace
Aug 7, 2014
Quite an escape! However mention of a 2km tunnel has triggered a post-traumatic event in me.
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Mar 24, 2020
Quite an escape! However mention of a 2km tunnel has triggered a post-traumatic event in me.
haha yeah, I'll always avoid a tunnel if I can now. The noise and the wind blow-back from the trucks...intense stuff.