This blog is about travelling through Japan on a foldable bicycle (Brompton) but also by train, ferry, plane, bus or any other transport, if sea, weather, mountains or the like come between me and my desire to ride.
I have tried to summarise information that could be potentially helpful also for other bicycle travellers through Japan, such as list of bicycle roads, helpful web pages etc. Once I start my ride, I will upload the actual routes taken, together with some pictures and description.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Day 35 - Bentenjima to Irago 弁天島から伊良湖岬へ

Bicycle touring Japan - Day 35

Continuing on the Pacific Coast Bicycle Course I have today reached Irago, however most parts of the bicycle lane were not transitable (e.g. permanently closed, not yet built, covered in vegetation...). But with perfect weather, who cares?

Bicycle: 74 km
Riding time: 5:30 h
Total ascent: 529 m (no idea why, but this is a new record on this trip and also explains why I am quite tired)
Route: Bentenjima to Irago
Weather: Sunny and not a single cloud, 20 C

After the rain yesterday, today it was sunny, warm, not a single cloud. Simply perfect weather for a ride.

In the morning, before starting the ride, I was actually feeling a bit down. I guess I was simply tired, as I had not got a lot of sleep last night, due to trains passing below my window every few minutes. I thought that the last train was around midnight, but apparently all night freight trains are running...

When I finally started, I took a picture of the view of the other side of the hotel, where this large torii is standing in the Hamana lake. What seems to be a romantic bridge in the background is the express way.

The hot shower my poor brompton had yesterday evening was a good thing. Today only initially a bit of strange sound came out of the front wheel direction, but as I continued to ride it got less and less. So I guess that the sand corns that had remained somewhere inside have now also fallen out.

I had plotted out yesterday a detailed Garmin route until the point where I knew (from this web page)  that the Pacific Coast Bicycle Course would restart. In summary I have to admit that my planned course was often much better than the official bicycle lane I found.

After riding out of Bentenjima I headed relatively soon (starting at km 4) into a small neighborhood road. With nice houses lining it and little to no traffic.

After some time I came to the "Michi no eki" (Rest station), got an icecream and ate it while soaking my feet in the feet-onsen. At this point I decided to make an ad-hoc change to my route, as what I had plotted looked in reality to be just the express way. So I took a small road on the sea shore.

After a few hundred meters the street became a non-asphalted way. At this point maybe I should have decided to take a road up (which was available), but initially the non-asphalted way wasn't so bad and I could actually ride it and it seemed (per Google maps) that after some time asphalt would reappear. Well, asphalt did not reappear, instead in some stretches these enormous ponds appeared.

But really this here was the only stretch where I needed to find an alternative, so I pushed the bike over the beach. This time it wasn't actually so hard, as there was some vegetation that gave the sand more consistency.

After riding a bit on this path, I finally found an other street up and took it. This did lead me into a very rural landscape, with a lot of vegetable fields (mainly cabbage), green houses (some of them actually "high-class" green houses, aka built with glass windows, not plastic, and even a few animal farms.

The roads through this surrounding were small, rural ways, but well paved.

At km 25 then the long awaited bicycle lane did officially start. Finding the entrance would not be easy if you can't read kanjis, as it is kanji only. However that was not the only problem with this bicycle lane. It started slightly overgrown, so instead of the left hand side of this picture, I rod on the right hand side where the "real" street was.

However after not too long the bicycle lane and the street parted, so I changed back on the bicycle lane, which definitely had an invasion problem:

This picture here is a wild growing green beans bush, that has nearly completely invaded the bicycle lane. I somehow made it through without getting eaten by any bean-monster.

But there were also stretches with purposely built bridges. I had again the strong suspicion that this route once upon the time was a train track, with all these bridges and also the inclination and gentle curves. I didn't see any confirmation for my suspicion on the way though.

At about km 29 this expedition through the vegetation of Aichi prefecture ended at this nicely built rest place, where I had my simple lunch.

From the map that you can see behind the bicycle, it was not really clear if the bicycle lane would continue. It seemed kind of not, as the continuation was dashed. So I returned to the main road and continued there. After not too long a new sign indicated the bicycle lane and I turned. However after riding a bit on it, I came to this stop:

Which was actually totally justified, as at km 32 the vegetation had again won a decisive victory against the bicycle lane.

The supposed bicycle lane is on the right BEHIND the white fence.

And anyway this bicycle lane was going in the wrong direction (so probably this was the above mentioned dotted line).

So I made my way up again to the main road. The main road itself is actually not so bad for riding. Per the map of the area there is a bicycle lane along most of it, but generally it is just the pedestrian side walk that has been double labeled also as bicycle lane. Sometimes these kind of bike paths are rideable, sometimes less so (e.g. because of gravel, plants, bad asphalt, sudden turns...). So generally I stayed on the main road. And had a nice ride through the endless fields of cabbage, sweet potatoes, green houses etc... Also some of the villages along the route where quite nice. Nothing spectacular, but simply old relatively well maintained farm houses.

And then at km 54, there was again a sign to the mythical bicycle lane. A first attempt only brought me to a place "called" はいちゃダメ (No entry), but I was not put off so quickly. There was an other indication to the bicycle lane, so I road again down to the Pacific. And well, there it was the bicycle lane...

... however with a gate across it and more vegetation looming.

Today in several spots I came down to the beach. And while there was no one ON the beach, in all places were a considerable number of surfers in the water on their boards, waiting for the next wave. Most really were waiting. There wasn't a lot of riding. Probably also because - lucky for me - there was not a lot of wind today.

An other remarkable feature of this region is, that many sign posts are written in Japanese, Portuguese and English. This is likely because Japanese Brazilians have re-immigrated here. No idea if they also brought the surf boards with them.

So well, at this new failed attempt to get on to the Pacific Coast Bicycle Course, I returned once again up the hill to the main road. At this point I had not plotted out an alternative route throught country roads (as I had hopes for the bicycle lane), so I just stayed on the main road, which however was okay to ride. Not too many cars & trucks.

And then finally at km 63, there was it again. No announcement this time, but here it was, a perfect bicycle lane atop the beach:

This time no invasion by sand, vegetation or anything else. And it was even used by some evening walkers and a cyclist or two. The sun was slowly setting right in front of me, with the mountains around Ise in the background:

Just shortly before reaching cape Irago, the bicycle lane was again closed, but at that point I had gotten used to it and made my way up a hill just before reaching the cape, with a very nice sunset moment

Then I road quickly down towards my accommodation for tonight, the Kyuka Mura. I found an other bicycle lane, which ended rather abruptly... so I changed back to the street.

The Kyuka Mura hotel is located a bit off the cape in a flat wooden area. It is actually a surprisingly nice hotel complex, with an onsen including 2 semi-rotenburos (they are kind of inside, but there are no windows to close them from the outside, so a bit of the refreshing air comes in) and a nice buffet dinner. Even with a lot of fruits! And the view from my hotel room seemed to be very nice, but already a bit too dark to get a good shot. So I will try again tomorrow morning.

Also today internet connection is very patchy, so I will upload pictures and more details later. Hopefully tomorrow!

Bicycle touring Japan - Ride maps

For details on the bicycle tour today in Shizuoka and Aichi on the Pacific Coast Bicycle Route, checkout the below maps:

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