The deepest Honshu ride

#1
This is a short report on my recent trip in this fall in case you might be interested.

It is getting customary to do a multi days ride in spring and fall. So far, I did coast-to-coast in the spring of 2009, Noto peninsula circle in fall of 2009, and south of Tohoku circle in the spring 2010. Then, why not another one in this fall.

This time, I joined in the guided tour titled like the Deepest Honshu which is named by the tour guide. The guide is Takashi Niwa, the one who wrote the 10 Best cycling courses in Japan. The area we visited is the second largest area where no one lives throughout the year according to him. The largest one is in the area around Shumarinai-ko Lake in Hokkaido where we passed through during the Hokkaido tour which he guided several years ago.

The tour started from Aizu-Tajima station in Fukushima pre. I took a Tobu line to the station which takes about three hours from Asakusa st. From the station, we firstly hit the road to Komadome tunnel which is 16Km away and 400m climb. The road as you can expect has very little traffic and scenery is just representing Japanese rural area. The tunnel is 2Km long and easy to pass through with light. Be sure there are many tunnel in Fukushima pre. without any lights. So, bring a decent light with you. We experienced once a long tunnel without light. It was completely dark. We could not even see the other side of the tunnel.

After going down from the tunnel, we met with Rt 351, where we made left toward Hinoemata village. In about 20Km, we arrived Hinoemata village. This village had been secluded from other area for a long time due to its geographical location without decent road. This has nurtured its special kinds of culture. Hinoemata Kabuki play is one of the examples. It is played a few times a year by the village people and has over 260 years of history. The Kabuki stage in the village is recognized as one of the national treasures. Here I do recommend staying in one of minshuku in this village. Since tourism is the important industry in this community, they keep learning a new service and cousins. They basically cook local vegetables and fishes. They do not use expensive materials like lobsters but the dishes are really good and healthy Japanese dishes. I have never experienced such a rich dinner at any minshuku. FYI, we stayed in Hoshi no ya.(星の家). I do not think they are English proof.

From Hinoemata, we stayed on Rt.352. In about 10Km, we reached to Miike which is a gateway to the famous Ozegahara for trekkers. It is 600m climb. On the way to Miike, you will see gorgeously colored trees until November. This area is also famous for the grove of beech trees. From Miike, you may want to go forward to Numayama toge which is 200m climb in 9 km from Miike. No car is allowed to this toge. This is another view point of colored trees. You need to go back to Miike. From Miike, we ridded down to Ginzan daira where there are about 10 log houses for visitors. Here this is no mans land. No one live in this area as I explained during winter.
From Ginzan daira, we reached Shiori toge after 300m climb. From Shiori toge, we enjoyed 25Km downhill toward Koide station of Joetsu line.

All these routes make 170Km. We spent two and half days. Yes, this is very relaxed trip to enjoy scenery along the route. I actually gained 3 Kg of weight during the tour. Along the route, there is no traffic light and no convenience store. So bring all your foods before you start riding in Tajima. Winter comes early in this area and the trees will be good by the end of November in lower area.

I parted from the tour group at Koide and took a famous local train of Tadami line toward Tadami st. where I stayed in a minshuku. In the following day, I rode from Tadami to Koide, going over the famous 60 miles pass. This pass was named since in old days people used to feel like it is over 60miles long even though it is actually 6miles since the pass was too hard to go over. Again, there are a few tunnels without light. The scenery along the Tadami line is just excellent. I really like this type of scenery with river, rice fields and mountains. From Tadami to Koide is 60Km.

This is all I can tell. Again, I am expecting the guide will introduce this route in the next volume of the 10 best cycling courses in Japan.


For those who are interested, here is the my GPS data.
http://www.mapmyride.com/route/jp/tokyo/509128700905645871


Minoru Arai
 

Mike

Maximum Pace
Sep 24, 2007
1,066
9
58
Kanagawa
#4
Pics are in the members gallery under araim1. please enjoy some flavor of Japanese fall.
Arai san, thanks for the information and photo's. It looks like a very beautiful place. Is there any chance you could map the route out on mapmyfitness or something similar? It'd be very useful for many members I'm sure.
 

kpykc

Speeding Up
Jun 13, 2007
804
4
38
38
Tokyo
#7
Arai-san, your ride is, as usual, very inspirational - I will keep it in mind next time I head to Fukushima. There are some great roads out there! Thanks for posting it.