cycling across Japan's Kii peninsula in 1 day

so when I moved to Nagoya, i wanted to keep it light. I only brought my two backpacks and sent 2 medium-sized boxes of stuff when I moved.
So naturally I had to leave a lot of stuff behind in Wakayama, at the Egawas. (just temporarily)
That included my beloved road bike!
But to tell the truth, I actually kind of left it there on purpose.
My plan was to cycle across Kii, Japan's largest peninsula, during Golden Week... and go home to Nagoya by the power of my own two legs.
Sounds reasonable, right? well... it meant that on my first day I had to cycle across three whole prefectures, from coast to coast. Wakayama, Nara, and Mie! I would also have to leave before 5 am (I actually left at about 4:37). Could I have done it in three days and stayed in Nara on the first night... yep. but after my 150 km ride to and from Koyasan I was looking for a bigger challenge.
From seeing Japanese towns, you may think Japan is quite flat. But actually Japan is mostly mountains, especially the inland areas. and I knew Nara is a basin, so I would have a range of mountains to go up when entering Nara and another exiting!

Day 1

in Kinokawa city, Wakayama
the road from Arida to Kainan is relatively easy, but I thought I would also have a hard time getting from Kainan to Hashimoto in Wakayama prefecture. There are a lot of mountains around there.  actually, however, I found a road, Route 424 I think, following a river. It went through Kinokawa city. Quite a lovely ride through there, and I got to Hashimoto around 8 am, long before all the shops opened. Speaking of stores... thank the gods for convenience stores, with their long hours and immaculate bathrooms. I love Lawson.
My next stop from Hashimoto was Gojo, in Nara prefecture. In Gojo there's a temple called Tenporin-ji so I stopped by there and got a kewl sticker. The man selling omamori at the temple also gave me some snacks, a grab bag of offerings. so I stopped there to munch on potato chips and my home made rice balls. yum.
this is in Nabari city.
From Gojo I went to Sakurai. I got a bit confused about the route a couple of times but no major mixups. Nothing much to see around that area... there was a bit of construction here and there so it wasn't too pleasant. After Sakurai I headed to Nabari, which is the first town I would enter in Mie, passing through Uda. Between Sakurai and Nabari there are a lot of trees and mountains but the road wasn't so steep. It was just pleasant. and I was also getting excited because this was the last half of my ride!
In Iga city.
my bike is somewhere in this picture.
try to find it. (hint: it's on the bridge)
this is a river in Iga city
this is a cherry tree in Iga... and the blossoms still haven't fallen?! what is this, Hokkaido?
just before starting up the mountain road.
hey that's a sweet bike, I wonder whose it is :D
Iga was the last city before I got to Tsu, my destination. Going through Iga was my biggest challenge. Normally I think I could've ridden it without stopping, but at this point (130, 150 km?) with no 30 minute lunch break I was kind of worn thin. so I stopped for about 10 minutes to rest and then continued to the top of the mountain. at this point it was maybe 3 or 4 pm! When I got to the tunnel at the top, I was ecstatic! Needless to say I had never done something like this before. Then I saw the sign that said "Tsu" and enjoyed the beautiful views and a leisurely cruise down the mountain... (okay, I actually yelled Yatta! all the way down going top speed!)
just entered Tsu city, at the top of a mountain!
oh hi guys I'm in Mie
I got to Tsu, the town area, around 6 pm. I was actually going to stay in Hisai, which is closer to where I was coming from than central/downtown Tsu. But when I got there I decided to go a bit further and go right to the ocean, before checking in to the hotel. after all, what's a coast-to-coast ride if you don't go right to the coast?
my love.
after that I went back to the hotel and immediately took a bath in their Onsen, a hot spring public bath. that is the best feeling ever.
Everyone should have the chance to go on a super long bike ride and then relax in an onsen after. It's one of my favourite pastimes!

Here's a map of the route I took. I also took some video and photo footage with my gopro so I will be uploading that to Youtube soon.

View Larger Map

[Edit 2012-06-22] here is the video I put off editing for so long. hope you enjoy it. the video is of wakayama to mie (day 1) only.
[End edit]

Day 2

From Tsu, Mie prefecture to Nagoya, Aichi prefecture it's only about 70 km. I planned my trip like this on purpose, so I would have an easy ride on the second day. But actually I found the first day more enjoyable because I got to go through so many mountains and see all the pretty trees. From Tsu to Nagoya I had to take the highway, and despite being a stat holiday it seemed like every trucker in the Tokai region was going the same way. So there was a lot of traffic! But what the heck could they be bringing from Tsu city, the one place in Japan with no special exports and nothing interesting to its name whatsoever?
All those trucks made me kind of nervous so I tried riding on the shoulder, or on the sidewalk (yes you can ride on the sidewalk in Japan!), but that was really bumpy and not fun at all. so near Yokka-ichi city I stopped to take a rest once and happened to see these two guys fixing their bikes in a parking lot. I went over and asked for directions and it turned out they were going the same way! so we decided to ride together. They had actually ridden from Kyoto that day! One of the guys, Eiji was riding to Tokyo over 4 days. I want to do that someday :D but maybe I'll stick to shorter rides for now!
me and Eiji in Nagoya

No comments: