Length of Japan
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Fukuoka - Tokyo : Attractive route with many attractions
Images of Nikko - Tokyo
Nikko and Hosoo Pass (320*240 pixels 7.3MB)
Copper road：Hosoo Pass
After visiting Toshogu, go back about 7 km in the direction of Irohazaka . This will enable you to escape the Nikko area, by climbing over Hosoo Pass (細尾峠).
Soon pass under the bridge of "new" R 122. Next to it, cross the bridge again while, this time, looking down on the "new" R 122. Make sure you don't wander onto this "new" R122 which leads to a 2.7 km long tunnel.
Hosoo Pass is frequently closed to traffic due to fallen snow. In winter, you are supposed to run through the long tunnel on the "new" R 122.
Old Hosoo Pass was the arterial road between Nikko and Ashio until quarter-century ago. Many people of Ashio Town carried the copper to Nikko over the Hosoo Pass road. It was the material used for the beautiful architecture of Nikko. Thanks to this former traffic, this road is wide enough, as yet and not so steep, considering it had been constructed prior to the motorization age.
From the pass, you can take a view of a big valley. After taking rest, start the fantastic down hill run. Free-wheeling from a mountain pass is just so, so, good.
After descending, the road will meet the "new" R 122 again, and the old road is terminated. From here, pedal along the "new" R 122 until Omama town which is 50 km from Hosoo Pass and is the gateway to the Kanto plain.
This Ashio copper mine was discovered in 1610 (Edo Era) and this city developed over 400 years. The copper was sent to Edo (Tokyo), Nikko, and overseas. Ashio town was once a larger city with a population of 40,000 but the copper industry was closed during the 1970s. Ashio became a quieter city. A good option is visit the museum Ashio Dozan Kanko (足尾銅山観光). In this museum, you can enter the old atmosphere by taking a handcar. Dioramas and sculptured human figures re-create the old copper mining.
Continue on the R 122 to Kiryu (桐生) City. R 122 is not always straight, so we have to turn left and right several times. Be guided by the signboards showing "122". After entering Kiryu City, 8 km away from border between Oomama (大間々) City and Kiryu City, a signboard indicates Kin-obashi Bridge (錦桜橋). Turn left as shown by the signboard, then cross Kin-obashi Bridge.
Now we're standing at a gateway to the broad Kanto Plain (関東平野). It has large population. About 30 per cent of Japanese people live here. Also, traffic is heavy. To avoid a traffic jam, we suggest using a major bike path – an exclusive road for bicycles. This route is much longer than taking R 122 to Tokyo, but much safer, more scenic, and definitely much more fun.
Remember that these bike paths can be confusing. Even Japanese cyclists are easy to be lost. You will l have to cross a lot of bridges, looking out for them, but we promise you an amazing ride.
Our paved bike path starts from the east side of Kin-obashi bridge, and extend to the southeast. Here, enjoy non-stop riding! But look out for, and Give Way to pedestrians and walkers. They cross the bike path at times. (Right-hand picture is the entrance of the bike path at Kin-obashi bridge.)
Soon you will arrive at the Sakai Bashi bridge (境橋). Cross this bridge and then turn right as entering a carriageway. That is as shown in the right-hand picture. There is no signboard. If you've done well, you must see a red shrine gate on your left.
Next to it, we can get back to the bike path from carriageway. About 300 m from the red shrine gate, is a small bridge crossing an equally small river. After crossing this bridge climb up the bank of the big Watarase River(渡良瀬川). And so you will be back on the bike path which extends along Watarase River once again.
About 3 km away from the red shrine gate (Sakai Bashi Br.) arrive at the east end of Hajika Bashi bridge (葉鹿橋). At this point, the bike path seems to fork. The right-hand road which extends along the bank is not the bike path. It is a reserved road that comes to a dead end. Instead, proceed to the left side which descends from the bank as shown in the picture.
At the center of Ashikaga city, the bike path crosses the river several times. So it's difficult to trace at times.. We recommend dropping from the bike path and riding on the carriageway for a short time. Arrive at the north side of the Midori Bashi bridge (緑橋) which is about 5.5 km away from Hajika Bashi bridge. Here, the bike path turns to the left itself and crosses the bridge. But our route is going straight ahead on the carriageway from this point. Ride about 2 km then reach the north side of Tanaka Bashi bridge(田中橋) where we are, this time, back on the bike path.
From Tanaka Bashi Bridge, it is very easy to follow the bike path. Once the bike path crosses the Watarase River, it keeps to the south bank all the way.
Watarase Lake (渡良瀬貯水池)
About 22 km away from Tanaka Bashi bridge, go under the Tobu Nikko railroad line. Then the bike path forks. Take the right-hand path as shown on the map (right). Soon it forks again. Again, take the right-hand path.
Ride along west side of Watarase lake, and you will see the Michi-No-Eki Kitakawabe(道の駅 きたかわべ)Road Station on your right. This is quite new, so it doesn't appear on most maps.
After leaving this rest area, a distance post "3.5 kilometers" will appear. It's about time to cross the river. Near the distance post, Mikuni Bashi bridge(三国橋) is found. Cross this bridge, then go on riding the bike path which extends along east bank of Watarase River.
When you look at the map, you might be tempted to ride the center lake road. That would be a nice option - but the west-side road is the better place for beautiful scenery.
Ride the bike path about 15 km from Mikuni Bashi bridge, along the river. Near a distance post with "120.5 kilometers," there is Sakai Ohashi (境大橋) bridge and you may be able to see a castle on your right, on the opposite bank.
You cannot cross the bridge directly. Pass under the bridge first, then turn left and get back onto the bank (do not drop to carriageway). Soon you'll reach the entrance to an exclusive bridge for bikers and foot traffic.
After crossing the bridge, go almost 2 km on the carriageway. Another bridge Sekiyado Bashi (関宿橋) will appear.
Cross the Sekiyado Bashi bridge (関宿橋).The Edo River Bike Path starts from west side of the bridge.
There are some larger supermarkets and convenience stores around this bike path. Near "50.5 km" distance post is a supermarket named Maruya Super (マルヤスーパー)at the other side of a Houjubana Bashi bridge (宝珠花橋) which is about 6.3 km from Sekiyado bridge. Near the "20.7 km" distance post is SATY supermarket (center of Misato City, Saitama Pref).
You can use the toilet (rest room) in these stores even if you do not buy something. Supermarkets usually open from 10 am daily. And convenience stores open 24 hours a day so that you can use the toilet and buy supplies even if you ride on early in the morning.
Japanese Convenience Stores are the greatest thing since sliced bread. They provide a bicycle traveler’s breakfast, toilet, lunch, afternoon ice cream, evening meal with beer and sake, Vodafone top-up, stationery, interesting novelties, and a great smile from staff members. Many Convenience Stores have a post box outside – just the correct height for a Westerner’s early-morning breakfast table.
(Comment added by cyclist Roy Sinclair from New Zealand, in 2000.)
The bike path along Edo River extends to Tokyo Bay. But here we'll take you on a tour to central Tokyo by diverting from the bike path.
33 kilometers away from Hojubana Bridge, there is Shin-Katsushika Bashi bridge (新葛飾橋) which is at the bike path and R 6 intersection. A distance post indicates 18 km from Tokyo. There are two confusing bridges called Katsushika Bashi (葛飾橋) and Katsushika Ohashi (葛飾大橋) before arriving at the Shin-Katsushika bridge. Don't confuse them.
To go to central Tokyo, take the R 6 from Shin-Katsushika Bashi bridge (新葛飾橋). The way is the same as from Sakai Ohashi bridge. First, pass under the bridge, then turn back to the bridge.
(If you are interested in a historical shopping street on the river side, Shibamata Town, leave the bike path at the "7" distance post. Traffic is light enough. Cross at the crosswalk, and go down the slope and turn right. You will see Shibamata shopping street is on your left, just after a 50 m ride.)
Take the R 6 to the west. This road takes you to the middle of Tokyo via Asakusa. R 6 is, of course, a busy road but the road is wide enough. Follow the signboards that saying "6" and city names, such as Asakusa(浅草) and Nihonbashi(日本橋). Once more you need to cross the bridge, Kototoi Bashi (言問橋) as turning to the right. After crossing the bridge, turn to the left as shown by the signboard.
The final destination of this "Length of Japan" Part 1 is Nihonbashi Bridge(日本橋). That has remained as the origination of all roads of Japan for 400 years. You might come across signboard that said "Nihonbashi (日本橋)" even if you were some distance from Tokyo. That was how it once was. Since this historical bridge is buried in a busy business district these days, no one could feel nostalgia for it. But you, who made a pilgrimage and arrived, will likely feel a well-deserved emotion of some kind.
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uploaded:04, 06, 2016
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