Japan Highlights – October 2010

Kyoto: We took two trains from Nagoya to Kyoto along dense urban areas and cycled to our ryokan from Kyoto Station.

We stayed in an excellent ryokan in Maruyama Park  http://yoshimizu.com/english/index.html with the best location ever. With the coordinates of all the temples of the Unesco World heritage in the GPS we visited them in one day thanks to the bikes at the highest efficiency possible.

We cycled to Nara taking on the way a pagode and one of the top temples. The road along a tea field on a steep road was superb. We arrived in Nara and stayed at a local guesthouse which was typically Japanese with an excellent cost/benefit.

The next day we visited Nara on foot and skipped cycling all together. We arrived by train and ferry in Tokushima. Good decision because the region seemed extremely populated and not interesting for cycling.

Convenient lodgement close to the railway station.

From Tokushima we took the train at 07:00 to Osugi. Arrival at 09:07. Excellent cycling (we took the smaller road on the other side of the river) although it started raining more and more. Charmant lunch in the smallest village of Japan.

We stayed at the fantastic hotel Tosoyama and we were the happiest people in the world. The hotel is situated in the middle of the mountains and is an excellent basis for hiking. I explored a nice forest road.

The next day the rain pushed us to take the shortest way to a train station. We took the train to Ozu and stayed in the local youth hostel with view on the castle. There was a museum inside. It was the best stay of the journey because of the hospitality and human contact with the owner. The next day we cycled to Wayatahama and took the boat to Beppu. The rain ceased and we had a lovely boat trip but we regretted to have missed the nicest parts of the innerland of Shikoku due to the rain.

We arrived at the hotel where the owner tried to charge us 10.000 Yen per person. Finally we paid 6.000 Yen without dinner. The onsen was nice and finally we gave good ratings to our stay.

The next morning the Minivan arrived perfectly in time. The Hiace could take us all, the extra car was unneeded but we were very happy with the 750 m ascent we didn’t have to cycle!

The road to Aso was very scenic and started with the beautiful old forest road but because of a bank holiday the main road afterwards was congested and lost a lot of his charm. The indicated waypoints ‘rest stop’, lunch stop’ were very much appreciated.

We ended in the Backpackers Youth Hostel which is brand new and offered an excellent cost-benefit.

The  next day we took our bicycles on the bus to the Aso caldera and came down cycling with a nice walking tour in between.

Then we took trains to Izumi and we missed a lot of the interior mountaineous landscapes of Kyushu.

The next day we cycled over small roads to the ferry. A nice ride, partially along a forest road across the mountains joining finally the route along the sea. The lodgement in Hondo was perfect: friendly, excellent dinner and onsen.

The next day we crossed Amakusa through the middle following a big road which only recently was opened and thus was very calm. Then we followed the coast and found a single sand beach to swim. The road along the sea was calm, the harbours gave a certain charm of tourism.

Then we continued our route to Kumamoto. After visiting the marvelous castle, we cycled to the airport of Kumamoto.

by Benny Van Bruwaene