Weekend Trip to the MountainsJan Heine
Short trips often are the most enjoyable. Last weekend, we did not venture far from Tokyo. After an hour on the commuter train, we were assembling our bikes in a mountain valley.
Our ride started on backroads. In Tokyo, the cherry blossoms are long gone, but here in the mountains, the whispy “sakura” still herald the coming of spring. We were only three at this point; our fourth rider was going to join us later.
The weather forecast was mixed, but the day unexpectedly turned sunny.
Cycling in the mountains of Japan feels different from the Cascades in Washington: Lunch was at a 300-year-old restaurant. After the delicious meal, we got a tour around the building.
The mountains were lush with the fresh green of spring. It was nice to see different touring styles. If you thought all Japanese cyclotourists rode on classic, French-inspired machines… The bike on the left is mine, whereas the Cannondale belongs to our Japanese friend.
We climbed a beautiful mountain pass. The road has many sharp curves, and it’s equally popular with cyclists, motorcyclists and car enthusiasts. Drivers and riders were skilled, and clearly enjoying themselves.
The top of the pass was in the clouds, at 1146 m (3760 ft).
In Japanese, “cute” is always considered a positive attribute… The sign indicating the pass certainly qualifies!
During the descent, we met up with our fourth rider. He had to work late, so he went to another train station and backtracked along the course until he met us. We enjoyed the long descent together.
Japan has no shortage of beautiful hotels. We enjoyed a hot bath, as well as a great dinner and breakfast, before heading out again the next morning.
Our ride continued on old road that see hardly any traffic, because new highways bypass them.
We visited what must be one of the tallest fish ladders in the world. You see about 1/3 of it in the photo above. It allows the fish to climb up to a 27 m (89 ft) tall dam.
We stopped to visit beautiful old buildings…
… and to watch a procession for a local religious festival.
Our ride ended in the suburbs, where we joined more friends for dinner, before boarding the train that took us back to the city. These friends hadn’t toured together in many years, but at the end, everybody decided that it was a fun weekend in every way. Hopefully the next trip will be planned soon.
What short weekend tours have you taken lately, or plan to take this year?
Photo credits: Natsuko Hirose (photos 3, 4, 12, 14)