Posts Tagged ‘bike’

Cycling in Beautiful Fukushima

July 17, 2018

Last year I went to Setouchi area for cycling with my Brompton, and this year my bike mate, Haruna with whom I had traveled last year suggests me to go to Aizu area in Fukushima. I have been to Aizu many times, mainly for skiing but it is first time for me to go for cycling. So four of TGCT guides, Haruna, Etsuko, Kazu and I had two nights three days cycling trip in early June, when just before the rainy season has started.

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(Three beauties and our Bromptons 😉

The trip was brilliant, beautiful natural landscape, Onsen on top of local Sake and foods , nice bike friends and beautiful weather made our cycling trip such an unforgettable memory. We discovered a lot of hidden gems which only local people know. Unfortunately the name “Fukushima” became world famous after that hideous catastrophe happened in March 11, 2011. But Aizu in Fukushima is truly lovely place for cycling and we recommend to anyone who are planning cycling holiday in Japan. Actually Fukushima (福島) literally means lucky (福) Island (島). Fukushima prefecture is divided into three areas, Aizu, Nakadori and Hamadori. The nuclear power plant is located in Hamadori and the area we visited this time, Aizu is 130 km away from Fukushima Daiishi Nuclear Power Station. Although we reaffirmed that accident when we watched TV news at Onsen Ryokan room and news mentioned Today’s radiation level as well as tomorrow’s weather forecast. In Tokyo we hardly hear this news recently, so it was a bit shocking for us…

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Anyway, here is our cycling story…

+++Day 1+++

We met at Asakusa station in Tokyo at 8 am and took Tobu Line for Aizuwakamatsu.  The best part of cycling with Brompton is easy for Rinko (輪行). In Japan, we need to fold our bikes and put them into Rinko bags.

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After three hours, we got off at Yunokami Onsen station. The design of the train and the station building are so cute and we were so happy to take pictures. From the station, it is 6 km uphill cycling to Ouchi-Juku . Ouchi-Juku is a small post station along the old trail (Aizu Nishi Kaido) from Edo period. It is only 6 km but the hill was quite steep… But that’s why when we finally arrived at Ouchi-Juku, we were so excited by those charming thatched roof houses, pretty sure we enjoyed the scenery more than those lazy people who went there by bus, huh!

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After tasting yummy Soba noodle lunch, we enjoyed nice down hill back to the station and took the train again heading to Nishi-Aizu station. Before checking in tonight Onsen Ryokan, we enjoyed easy cycling in Aizu-Wakamatsu city, visiting Aizu castle, a few Japanese Sake brewers (shopping for tonight Sake as well!) and old downtown.

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+++ Day 2 +++

It was a big day. We started Inawashiro Lake ( 500 m elevation) ended at Noji Onsen at 1,200 m for about 40 km. Good thing is that the weather is just perfect for cycling again and another thing is that I had great cycling mates.

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We started at around 8:30 am and cycling in the fresh green rice paddies are just gorgeous. The morning fog coming from Lake Inawashiro covered the fields and that give us nice and mysterious scenery to enjoy. Mt. Bandai is at our back as if she is helping to push our back to pedal further.

After 20-25 km easy moderate cycling, hill climbing has started. Among us, Kazu is the most experienced hill climber, while Etsuko is the first time to do hill climb cycling and she was a bit nervous. I am just OK, it is my second one this year after the one in Nagano during Golden Week.

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I say some cyclists passing me but didn’t see anyone who are riding mini-velo and they are all surprised to see us as we were all on small wheel bikes (3 Bromptons and 1 Birdy), and which I was proud of ! We all made being at 1,400 meters point with big smile.

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We stay at the traditional Onsen Ryokan tonight. Sagamiya Ryokan at Shinojionsen. They are a member of small sized Onsen Ryokan group called Japan Association of Secluded Hot Spring Inns. Their Onsen has nice rustic atmosphere especially their outdoor bath was super cool!

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Smells sulfur and color is creamy white, look good for beautiful skins 🙂 So we jumped into the water!

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Before dinner, after dinner, just before going to bed (or Futon) and the next early morning before breakfast, I enjoyed four times at one night stay there.

 

+++ Day 3 +++

The last day of our trip was another beautiful weather! Today’s cycling is on the road named Bandai-Azuma Skyline with 29 km distance over the Tsuchiyu pass. This was originally toll road but it is now toll free for reconstruction after Fukushima was devastated by the earthquake in 2011. Actually the road is selected top 100 beautiful road in Japan.

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After the highest point of 1622 meters, we had a rest at Jyodo-Daira. The whole area was in National park and originally created by volcanic activity. There landscape is so unique, very stark but beautiful. There are 111 volcano in Japan and 5 of them are in this area. The latest eruption was happened about 120 years ago, but we can see the clear sign that the mountains are still active here and there.

 

 

Oops! What should we do? The caution says “Poison Gas. Another sign even mention ” You have better close your window” We are cycling, there is no window to close! No wonder this area is named “Fox hell” Means that poison gas might kill small animals such as foxes or rabbits.

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All of us enjoyed down hill cycling, yeah, downhill! That’s the reward of our climbing yesterday and this morning 🙂

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We finally arrived at JR Fukushima station, the goal of this trip. We cannot help jumping to joy.  We love cycling, we love Fukushima!

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Rinko (輪行) to Hanamigawa cycling road

October 6, 2014

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This is Kazu writing. Peter and Kathy, our friends who are repeat guests of our bike tour had wanted to try something new. So we had suggested them to join our trial tour to Hanamigawa, Chiba Prefecture to test our plan by RINKO, train and bike. They had got interested in this idea, so that we decided to do the bike tour on September 19, 2014.

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(Rinko literally means “putting bike into a bag”. Black bag next to Peter is the Rinko bag and a bike is inside.)

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There are cycling roads in good condition and adequate distance along three rivers; Tamagawa, Arakawa and Edogawa in Tokyo and its neighborhood. Compared with these three cycling roads, Hanamigawa Cycling Road is not so famous but much better, I think. It has more varieties in scenery. It starts from sea shore in Tokyo Bay. As we go on along the river, it leads to a valley rich with woods and then open field of Inba-numa, swamps.

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(Rice paddy is so beautiful and rice stalks are ready to be cultivated.)

 

The weather was just nice, neither hot nor cold on that day. Four of us, Peter, Kathy, Yuki and I enjoyed cycling, viewing Autumn flowers such as cosmoses, red spider lily and ripe rice just before harvesting.

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As it was a trial, we made a few U-turns. Sorry, Peter and Kathy for the inconvenience. The distance we ended up was about 41 km and it took about 6 hours including breaks, sightseeing and lunch. It was a fun to explore countryside of one-hour train ride from Tokyo.

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(A short break at the old Samurai’s house. Me, Peter and Kathy)

Karuizawa Great Cycling Tour in Golden Week

May 17, 2013

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Hello, I am Kazu. I would like to write on 2013 Karuizawa Great Cycling Tour (KGCT). It was held at Karuizawa, Nagano, known as an old and famous resort area in Japan, on May 4, 2013, in the middle of Golden Week, national holiday week.
It was a beautiful day, just blue sky without clouds, perfect for cycling. Participants of the tour were fifteen(15) ; Yukiko, Carlos, Masa, Naoko, Akane, Yayoi, Etsuko, Haruna, Nobutaka, Takk, Linda, Jan, Yoshiko, Yoshiko’s daughter and myself.
We joined either A-Course with a hill of 250m elevation or B-Course without it. Both courses merged in a half way and all of us went on the same course after that.
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The spring has come here in Karuizawa, which is about one month later than in Tokyo. We enjoyed seeing beautiful flowers including cherry blossoms and vivid green leaves on trees under sunshine on our way. We stopped at a park and had lunch under cherry blossoms, viewing Asama Mountain in the distance.
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We also stopped at a popular sweet shop for coffee break and enjoyed chatting at open air space of the shop. All of us finished the tour after 3 p.m. with feeling of satisfaction. Nobody failed. Good job, everyone!
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The most beautiful cycling road in Japan ~Shimanami-Kaido

June 2, 2011

As I accomplished what I have wanted to do for a long time in my golden week holiday,  my next long-held goal is cycling at Shimanami-Kaido where all cyclists without any exception say “must do” if you are cyclists. So I asked three of my friends to go cycling together. All of us have similar folding bikes, so it is easier to pedal in the same pace. Our itinerary is as follows;

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Day 1   Take the overnight sleeper train, “Sunrise Seto” (サンライズ瀬戸), departing from Tokyo station at 10:00 p.m.

Day 2  Arrive at Sakaide(坂出) station at 7:08 a.m., then change to JR Yosan line(予讃線).  Ishizuchi express No.5 (特急いしづち5号)departing  at Sakaide stn. at 7:52 a.m. and arriving  at Imabari (今治)station at 9:29 a.m.

Start cycling from Imabari station heading to the first bridge named “Kurushima Kaikyo Ohashi” bridge ( 来島海峡大橋). Cycling from one island to another then stop at Omishima (大三島)to stay overnight.

Day 3  Start cycling at around 9:00 a.m. to continue our way to Onomichi (尾道). Arrive at Onomichi station at about 4:00 p.m. Take the bullet train (Shinkansen) to back to Tokyo.

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Overnight sleeper train “Sunrise Seto” /My friends got on board from Yokohama station / I already happily started my first beer in my seat.

Folding bike is very easy carry, easy set-up. Two BD-1 & two Brompton. Mine is a red Brompton/ In front of Imabari castle / Imabari is famous for shipbuilding, we saw many shipyards.

 

Kurushima Kaikyo Ohashi, consisting of three suspension bridges, 4,015 meters in total. The longest suspension bridge in the world/ The lane for cyclists and pedestrians is completely separated from the lane for cars/Look at this beautiful sea!

Gorgeous sea food!! /Pay a toll to put in the box/ The bridge between Hakata (伯方)island and Omishima (大三島)

The access to the bridge is gentle slope/ Easy to understand signs/ This area is major production area of citrus fruits/ Sweet perfume everywhere!

We decided to stay at a Minshuku ( guest house) near the beach/ We need Onsen hot spring after long ride! / Beautiful sunset

Oyamazumi shrine (大山祇神社)has 8 national treasures/ giant camphor trees, natural treasure and a holy tree

There are some ups and downs / We stopped over for shopping a bottle of lemonchero /Tatara (多々羅)bridge

Lunch time! Fresh sushi and also very good Kamameshi (釜めし Steamed rice with octopus) We asked a local fisherman for good restaurant and it was right decision!  Keima (桂馬) 251 Setoda, Setoda-cho, Onomichi city, Hiroshima (Tel. 08452-7-1989) / Local shopping street – Shiomachi / Desert time! Right after the lunch? Oh, yes…!

Comfortably flat path along the coast / Our trip is ending… / Noz, Meg, me and Q

Finally the last bridge to Mukai island (向島)/ From Mukai island to Onomichi, it is 1 min. by boat / Completed !

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It was a really nice cycling in easy and relaxed mode with good friends. Beautiful view of Seto inland sea and bridges, we could enjoy nice food and drink, people are very friendly as well. If you have time for two days, please try to go cycling on Shimanami-Kaido. I will guarantee that you never regret.

We brought our own bikes, but rental bike is also available. For more information about Shimanami-Kaido,  you can check following websites.

JNTO  http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/regional/hiroshima/shimanamikaidou.html

Shimanami official web   http://www.go-shimanami.jp/global/english/

A koala on a bike

June 1, 2011

Today I found a parcel in our mail box and when I opened it, to my surprise, a letter and a little cute koala are inside of the envelop. It was from one of our guests who joined the tour in February. I was so much encouraged by her letter asking the situation after the earthquake.

Thank you very much for your thought! We are riding bikes same as before, like this little koala!

 Yukiko

From Tokyo to Karuizawa ~ Long bike ride in my Golden Week vacation

May 11, 2011

It has been my long time target to go to Karuizawa in Nagano from my house in Tokyo by bike. It is about 190 km.  I’m doing the tours mostly four days every week and that means I ride a bike about 120 km every week. And it is helping me to stay healthy (maybe?). But so far, my longest distance of bike riding in one day is about 85 km which I had done in Norway three years ago.

Fortunately or unfortunately, at this moment I’m not so busy as usual year as many of our tours were cancelled due to the disaster, I decided to set my plan into action this Golden Week. I asked my friend, Pierre to go together as he had done the same bike ride before.

 On April 29, I left my house at 4:00 am for Pierre’s house and we started our trip together. We took nice and easy path by the river same as Pierre did last year. Here is the similar route.

The weather was just perfect for cycling and lots of colorful flowers were blooming, so beautiful! It was just very comfortable cycling ! ….. for the first 1/3 of the distance. Gradually my knee and ankle started to hurt and it was getting worse and worse. As last 20 km from Yokokawa to Karuizawa, we had to climb the hill from 300 meters to 1,000 meters (Usui Pass), once I was almost about to give up continuing, but Pierre was kind enough to cheer me up patiently.

It also got dark, we were delaying about 2 hours from our original plan. But finally we arrived at Karuizawa at 7:00 pm after 15 hours we left Tokyo!

I was so — exhausted and I took almost three days to recover after this, but my face looks very happy, doesn’t it?  🙂

Yukiko

Cycling in Niseko, Hokkaido

June 28, 2010

Perhaps you’ve heard this name of Niseko as a good ski resort on the northern island of  Hokkaido. Since Australian skiers and snowboarders were enchanted by Niseko’s powder snow, this name has passed from person to person in the overseas countries and thus Niseko became very popular destination especially in winter.

I am also one of them who love Niseko’s powder snow and so I was led there to join a ski race competition in this March. This is the picture from the race. Not so bad for 52 years old skier, am I?

  Luckily I could get the prize and that was free air ticket between Tokyo and Sapporo! 

That’s why I returned to Niseko, and this time with my bike! It was so sunny but not too hot and perfect weather for cycling. I could totally escape from wet and humid Tokyo.

Aoki san at Niseko Promotion Board took me around Mt. Yotei by bike. Mt. Yotei is so-called “Mt. Fuji of Hokkaido”, and it is so beautiful still partially covered with snow. The terrain was moderate, with some hill climbing and some down hill, very comfortable about 50 kilo meters ride. He also took me beautiful natural spring water where we can drink nice and cold water, hidden local hot spring and also very tasty Soba restaurant, bakery, Italian restaurant (I ate too much…!) . Thanks, Aoki san!

I will totally recommend Niseko as summer destination as well as winter!!!

They have a cycle event ” Niseko Cycle Week” in every September. Check their HP for details.

 Carlos @ Niseko

Winter Sale – TGCT T-shirts

December 2, 2009

As we’ve informed already, now we have original T-shirts for sale.

Some of our tour guests have purchased them for souvenirs. Thank you!!

 It is available at 3,000 yen now!!  (orignal price is 3,500yen)

 We have 3 sizes, Men’s XL, L and M.

 The material of the shirts is fast dry 100% Polyester, and the brand of the shirts is Jack Wolfskin.

At the left side of the back, our Logo is printed vertically and on the right shoulder, our course map is printed.

Bicycle Design Welcome Signboard

July 27, 2009

velo_AKOur new “Welcome signboard” arrived at our office today. A beautiful stained-glass panel using my favorite colour — GREEN.

Nozomi is the artist who created this artwork and  she usually makes interior accessories like  candle holders, mirrors or vase etc.  She herself has recently found the joy of cycling, and so she accepted our special request.

It definitely brightened up the office, we are very happy with it. Thanks, Nozomi!

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Long Ride Event @Japan in 2009

June 2, 2009

While we are operators of a city bike tour, a fun ride with many stops in between, lots of chatting, a bit of walking, lunch and rest…if you are a more serious cyclist, here are a few things to you might want to try! 

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Click here for a larger image. (MS Excel file will open)

 This year, I want to try my first ever hill climb but maybe in the autumn…summer might be too hot :p