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Length of Japan:Hokkaido
3.Sapporo to Asahikawa
Map of this Route
Shiroishi Cycling Road
To find the Shiroishi Cycling Road, head for the Higashi-Sapporo subway station as the street signs in other parts of the City may not be clear enough. When you will arrive at Higashi-Sapporo station, take to the right (Southwest) to get onto the Shiroishi Cycling Road.
The Shiroishi Cycling Road takes you to Kitahiroshima and runs along the old railway tracks just like many other special cycling roads in Japan. The beauty of this cycling road is that most of the intersections with vehicular roads have an overpass or an underpass and you can continue to ride without interruption. As the intersections are either bridges or tunnels, even cyclists from Europe are impressed with the quality of the facilites. We can say that the Shiroishi Cycling Road is the ideal bicycle road for an urban area.
The first city reached on the road is Yubari which is riding east from Kitahiroshima(北広島). There may be a lot of vacation traffic on this route especially at weekends. Be careful!
Symbol of Hokkaido
The city of Yubari(夕張) was famous for coal mining. However, the mine operations closed in 70s and 80s and so Yubari re-invented itself as a tourist centre.
Into the woods
If you ride toward south out of Yubari on Prefecture Road #38, you will enter Shimizusawa(清水沢). When you take National Route #452 at Shimizusawa, our "Length of Japan" route goes into the mountains and there will be no shop for another 100 km!!
The area called Kashima(鹿島), 15 km from Shimizusawa,also had coal mining operations with at population of about 20,000. Since the coal complex shut down, the population of Kashima has fallen dramatically. What is more, much of the Kashima area will eventually be underwater when the Yubari Shuparo Dam is completed in 2013.
Furano city(富良野市) is always busy with many tourists since this city was featured in the well known TV series "Kitanokunikara (1981 to 2002)".
The scenery of the area from Kami-Furano(上富良野) to Biei(美瑛) is very beautiful. You will enjoy the dramatic farming landscape and you can just crank-away as you like without having to check the map.
A tip for photographers in Biei is to climb up to the highest point in the
district where you can find some narrow local roads on the hillside, which
will avoid using the National Road. For example, so called the "Roller
Coaster Road (Jet Coaster Road)"(ジェットコースターの道) is highly recommended.
Not to be missed!!
While riding from Furano to Asahikawa, you will see the Daisetsuzan(大雪山) on your right (East). You may be interested in climbing up Daisetsuzan and it is so huge, you will not appreciate the landscape of this mountain by bike. It will take 5 days to ride through the Daisetsuzan district from south to north. There are no lodges to stay in. Only basic unattended shelters. In Tokachidake(十勝岳), part of Daisetsuzan, the unattended shelter has collapsed and not been repaired since Jun. 2006.
However, Daisetsuzan can be scaled by cable car at Asahidake-onsen from
the east (or at Souunkyou canyon from the west).
Remember, make sure to carry warm clothing, food, compass and map.
Banei Keiba(Draft horse races)
Banei is a breed of horse, developed in Japan. It is used in horse racing, and pulling heavy sleds in Banei Keiba races(ばんえい競馬). The breed comes originally from Percheron and Breton horses. (Quoted from Wikipedia)
The horse culture in Hokkaido is world famous because of the Banei Keiba races and their associated activities. The origins of the races come from the use of the powerful, rugged draft horses during the pioneering phase when this region was being opened up. In the races, the horses pull a sled weighing about 1 ton and the course climbs two artificial hills. The pace of the race is quite slow and this means you can see and enjoy the whole race in its entirety.
The course is on soft sandy ground and this, together with the artificial mounds and heavy sled, make it very arduous for the horses. This means that the jockey must be very skilful in giving his/her horse short rests so as not to overstretch its ability, especially on the approach to the mound. The way in which the jockeys control the stopping and starting of the horses is one thing that spectators especially appreciate”
Banei Keiba races have been held in Iwamizawa, Asahikawa, Obihiro and Kitami. However, it has not always been profitable and a financial reorganization was needed in early 2007 when Softbank, a famous IT company, stepped in to back the Banei Keiba. Since then the Banei Keiba has been held only in Obihiro(帯広).
It's a shame that "Banei Keiba" has been suspended in Asahikawa and the other 2 places so that Obihiro is only one place you can see it. This means you should be sure to check the schedule in advance.
(Red: National Route, Green: Prefecture Road, Yellow green: cycle path, gray: other roads)
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uploaded:14, 04, 2019
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