Saturday, May 30, 2015

Mount Fuji

Brompton and I climbed Mount Fuji to get to the fifth step where is a goal of the Mt. Fuji Hillclimb Race held on June 14 (Sunday). Mt. Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft).

Mt. Fuji Hillclimb Race is the largest and most popular hill climb race in which 8,500 cyclists are going to participate to run on the famous Fuji Subaru Line Highway with a distance of 24 km and total elevation of 1,255 meters. The participants start at the gate of Fuji Subaru Line Highway and head for the upper part of Mt. Fuji to end up at an elevation of 2,305 meters.

In a Today's training I decided to cut both of distance and elevation into a half of the race. I went to the third step of mt. Fuji by bus and started from the third step instead of the gate of the Fuji Subaru Line.

route: from Mt. Fuji third step bus stop (1,709m) to Mt. Fji fifth step (2305m)
distance: 12.98 km
difference in elevation: 596 meters
average inclination:  4.6%
average speed: 11.7km/h

A lot of riders also came here for training. They are supposed to run for the race.

Those beautiful ladies are also expected to join the race.

They must be participants!

Not a few riders have already reached the top and are going down the mountain at high speed. I still need some hundred meters to climb. I was gradually exhausted.

But what a fine day!

I am approaching to the goal. It is almost at 2250 meters in elevation here.

Because Mt. Fuji is a volcano, there are a lot of traces of land slides because volcanic rocks and soil are fragile.

Finally I arrived at the fifth step, the end of Fuji Subaru Highway. The elevation is about 2300 meters, two thirds of Mt. Fuji's total elevation. There are a lot of riders to take a rest after their hard runs.

Then, let's go down to have a lunch and take a bath at one of the secluded hot spring at the foot of mt. Fuji.

I arrived at Yoshinoike Onsen (a hot spring lodge) near Mount Fuji.

In the end of the day, relaxed and enjoyed in the hot spring!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Akiyamago, the most secluded mountain village in Japan

Yesterday Brompton and I went to Akiyamago, one of the most secluded regions in Japan and located deep in the Nakatsugawa Valley between Nagano and Nigata Prefecture.

[Course Data]
route: Okushiga - Kiriake (Akiyamago) - Koakazawa (Akiyamago) - Tsunan Station
distance: 57.9km
maximum difference in elevation: 1217m
% of inclination: ascent 5.3% descent 5.1%
gained elevation: ascent 770m, descent 1977m

Akiyamago is in the history known for long-time isolation from outside. The isolation to some extent continues even nowadays because of the presence of heavy snowfall far more than 3 meters in height during winter and frequent road collapse due to landslide. However, this isolation preserved a lot of Japan's lost traditions and scenary of the good old days in nostalgia. Akiyamago attracts a lot of Japanese for sight seeing. Another attraction is presence of excellent hot springs there.

Due to its inconvenient location at the end of the deep mountain vallay, it seemed almost impossible to make a day trip to Akiyamago even using Japan's excellent public transportation system. But I came across a good idea. If it is at the deepest in the mountain, let's go from another side of the mountain using a wild mountain path by Brompton! Another side of Akiyamago is Okushiga Kogen, known for a Ski resort and there is bus transportation service from Yudanaka Hot Spring Station where is close to Jigokudani, the place the world-famous snow monkeys bathing in a hot spring pond.

Using a night bus, Brompton and I arrived in Nagano Station very early in the morning.

Then we took a local train (Kita-Shinano Railway) departing Nagano Station at 5:14 am and got off the train at Tategahana Station (5:31 am). Unfolded my Brompton and took north to Yudanaka Onsen Station by Brompton.

It took about an hour by Brompton ride, 10 km in distance and 200 meters of elevation to ascend. Then fold Brompton to take this bus to Okushiga Kogen Hotel.

Get off at Okushiga Kogen Ryo bus stop which is just a prior to the final bus stop.

Start a today's ride. The road was nicely built to go with Brompton.

What a beautiful view it is!

I came to the junction. Take right to use Akiyama mountain path which is famous for its wonderful views.

The ride to Kiriake was a beautiful trip in itself with a winding road threading its way through the mountains. But you need to be careful a bit because there are frequent stone and rock falls on the way.

Snow may be dangerous sometimes. On the way to Akiyamago, there was a big snow layer even it was already in mid May.

Lastly, I crossed the bridge beyond Nakatsugawa River.

I was already in Akiyamago village. Beautiful!

Kiriake is the deepest part of Akiyamago. The hot spring of Kiriake is with the strongest curative effects in Akiyamago. At Kiriake, I visited Yusenkaku, the Inn with a long wooden framed building offering simple, homely Japanese style rooms on the banks of the river. Yusenkaku has indoor and outdoor onsen.

It is said that the hot spring have been gushing consistently since the Edo period.

I bathed in the outdoor hot spring but you can dig your own open-air bath in the river bank as there are a lot of hot spring spots gushing out here and there in the riverside.

I visited another one in Koakazawa.

Red color hot spring! It was also so nice.

I enjoyed excellent hot springs and beautiful views in Akiyamago. I need to visit here again to experience tinted autumnal leaves in the mountains. Why don't you try to head for Akiyamago with your Brompton!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Three Bromptons reached the Shibu Touge Pass of 2172 meter high

Today three Bromptons went out for a hillclimb ride to reach the Shibu Touge where was the highest point of all the roads in Japan.

route Kusatsu International Ski Resort Parking→Shibu Touge(2172m)→
           Shibu Touge Hotel→Kusatsu Hot Spring Bus terminal
distance 39.3km
max. difference in elevation 1000m
average % of slope total-0.1% ascent5.8% descent5.9%
gained elevation ascent 1092m descent 1144m

An hour and half after starting a ride, we were already beyond 2000 meter high.

In the back we can see a long and winding road extended from the foot to the peak of the mountain.

My friend has caught up with me.

In this high mountain a thick pile of snow was still seen even during mid May.

The three Bromptons were posing in front of a glacier-like snow layer.

The steep slope still continued to the peak.

But, see, what a stunning view it is!

We finally reached the peak of Route 292, the highest point in Japan as a part of all the national roads.

Then we went on another 200 meters to get to the Shibu Touge located at a border of Nagano and Gunma Prefecture. Many skiers enjoyed a plenty of snow here.

I was hungry after a tough ride. Let's have a late lunch at the Shibu Touge Hotel.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Brompton Lovers Gathering in Tokyo #20

On a bright, clear day of May 10, 102 Bromptons gathered in front of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo. We regularly meet here on the second Sunday in every two months. Why don't you join us if you have a chance to visit Japan?

Quite a few Brompton are specially customized by owners.

What a good day it is!