We, staffs of Tokyo Great Cycling Tour traveled to Karuizawa, Nagano during Golden Week holiday in this year as has happened in the past.
This year, we have decided to head to Kirizumi Onsen which is located in the deep mountain in Gunma prefecture.
The first 2 hours were rather easy ride with lots of fun. With decent distance and angle of hill climbing, we enjoyed watching cherry blossoms in the mountain. Here is about 1200 meters high from the sea level, so flowers have just started blooming. We were trying to cycle in the same pace as we were afraid of meeting bears who might have just come out from their hibernation. Yes, there are many bears in this mountain! Actually the area is named Kuma no Daira and Kuma means bear in Japanese.
Two hours later we arrived at a kind of dead end but we found the sign pointing the very steep cliff and narrow road to Kirizumi Onsen.
We put our bikes on our shoulders and climbing up this mountain wall standing in front of us. There are not many pictures we could take as the road was so hard and we didn’t have enough remaining power to do so… Some parts of the road were very slippery and one side of the slope face is all the way down to the bottom of the valley…!
After another one hour of cycling (well, actually we were pushing our bike most of the parts), we finally arrived Kirizumi Onsen. It was truly a hidden gem, very quiet even in Golden Week and wonderful location Onsen in the serene hush. Onsen water contains lots of carbonic acid so when you soak in the bath you can see your hands and legs would be wrapped lots of fine bubbles. We had late lunch along a fresh stream.
The time spending in the heaven can last only a short time… We need to cycle back to Karuizawa. We cycle down from Kirizumi Onsen which locates 1200 meters elevation to 400 meters (fun and easy!) and then hill climb again to Karuizawa which also is 1200 meters! What the hell !!!
In total, we are very much enjoying a day between the heaven and the hell. If you are interested in this route, we can tell you more details, or you can join us next year golden week 🙂