Sunday, April 26, 2015

Spring has come. Let's go beyond the clouds!

Spring has come. Let's go to high mountains to look for their wakes for spring.

Today Brompton and I went to Takamine-Yunomaru Woodland Path. I heard that the path was in process of clearing snow last week toward being opened by this coming early-May holiday season. I expect that the work has been almost completed and a bike can go through from Takamine to Yunomaru.

Route: Takamine - Yunomaru - Kazawa Hot Spring - JR Manza Kazawaguchi Station
Distance: 30.4km

Take Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Sakudaira Station of Nagano prefecture.

Then take bus to Takamine Kogen located at the altitude of 1973 meters.


Then proceeded to the gate to the mountain path "Takamine Yunomaru Line".

The path leads from Takamine Hot Spring to Yunomaru Toge where is located 8 km from the gate.

You might be surprised at this stunning view of the road and mountain in the mid of the route.

Pile of snow on the unpaved road has been all cleared.

However, not a few parts of the road had been destroyed by avalanche. That is a part of why the road is closed to vehicles except bicycles.

The road still runs uphill. Due to thin air at the 2000-meter mountain, my breathing is gettig difficult and I needs a rest every 5 minutes.

But, what a wonderful view it is!

Arrived at the mid of the course. Uphill turns to downhill from here.

Almost 2 hours after leaving the gate, Brompton and I reached a famous hot spring lodge at Kazawa. The place is one of my favorites.

I washed sweat away in the hot spring.
Thirsty. Let's drink my favorite mineral water. 

After bathing, I ordered soba noodle which was the specialty at the attached restaurant.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Cherry Blossoms in Hocchi

Brompton and I went to Hocchi, Numata City of Gunma Prefecture yesterday to visit some of famous old cherry blossom trees in bloom. The area was filled with full bloom cherry flowers at present. Because of its elevation of 600-700 meters, the full blooming of the cherry blossom trees there start about 2 weeks late from those in Tokyo and its vicinity.

Take bus bound for "Tambara" at JR Numata Station. (It takes about 3 hours from Tokyo Station by local train.)

Getting off the bus at Kashozan bus stop, I unfolded the bike and started to ride here. First destination was Kami-Hocchi Jizo Zakura,  an old famous weeping cherry tree in the area with more than 200-year old of its life. It still takes another few days to be fully bloomed.

Next, I arrived at Hocchi Higanzakura, a kind of cherry blossom, which is 15 meter tall and more than 500 hundred year old. It is very famous as one of Natural Monuments (Gunma Prefecture Designated).

Weeping cherry trees in full bloom at Tenshoji temple. Always wonderful.

I was also impressed by this cherry tree. It says "Cherry Blossom Tree of Hocchi Castle Ruins."

The tree has observed many wars and survivals of Samurai Lords for some hundreds years.

Brompton and I went down the sloped road to Numata-City. The town was covered by full bloomed cherry trees, too. The 2 photos below were Jobori River cherry blossoms. The Numata Castle was surrounded by several moats like Jobori River (Jobori means a moat). The castle was built in 1532 and existed until 1682.

Due to unsettled climate in recent weeks, quite a few Japanese were not able to enjoy cherry‐blossom viewing. But still you are in time for cherry-blossom viewing when you visit Numata City this week!

Spring soon finishes and rainy season will follow before Summer.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Yoshitaka Great Old Cherry Blossom

Brompton and I went to Inzai City of Chiba Prefecture where is within an hour area from the central Tokyo by train. Today's mission is to look at and enjoy Yoshitaka Great Old Cherry Blossom in full bloom.

Get off the train (Hokuso Railway) at Imba Nihon-idai Station and use your Brompton.

It takes about 20 minutes to reach the destination if you follow the route indicated above. As you need to go over some of unpaved roads, I recommend not to use slick tires for biking.

Suddenly you will see the 300-year old great cherry tree in full bloom!

Combination of colors, blue in sky, yellow of rapeseed blossom, and pink of cherry blossom, are perfect for feeling an arrival of the Spring season.

The full bloom only lasts for two or three days. I was lucky.

The field is totally owned by a farmar family whose ancestors developped and cultivated more than three hundred years ago.  By courtesy of the farmer family a lot of people come and enjoy Ohanami (cherry‐blossom viewing) of this famous old tree during the period at free of charge!!!

The board tells about the background and history of the tree. If you have a chance, let's go there next spring!