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.

Monday, 24 February 2020

4 prefectures, 3 days - Day 3: Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama & Ibaraki 3日間4県〜本日:栃木県、群馬、埼玉、茨城

Bicycle: 63.5 km
Route: Ashikaga - Sugito
Total riding time: 4:31 h 
Total ascent: 133 m 
Average speed: 14.0 km/h
Weather: Very Sunny, no clouds, some wind, perfect weather,  14 C

Todays highlight was probably visiting Gunma, while the bicycle was in Tochigi (front wheel) and Saitama (rear wheel):

Front wheel: Tochigi; rear wheel: Saitama, rider: Gunma

And only 3.5 km later, I was in Ibaraki. And only because I hadn’t planned this ride carefully enough, I missed Chiba, which would have been only an other 4 km from my route today, and actually quite feasible. But well, then I would have needed to change the title of all 3 days’ worth of posts.

The day started in Tochigi city, which to my surprise I found out yesterday evening, still has some old buildings. It is not so nice as e.g. Sawara, where the old buildings are all very much centred around a small channel, but the interest in the old buildings in Tochigi is more that there are also some from Taisho area, clearly influenced by Western architecture, as this hospital (which continues to be a medical center to today)…

… the restaurant where I ate yesterday evening and the old city hall, which however was totally in refurbishment. There were also some more normal old Japanese houses in town:

The one attraction I had found before going to Tochigi was the New Ginger Museum, which was definitely a very pink (and strange) experience. This awaits you at the entrance:

And it is not what it seems to be… or well, actually it kind of is, but by saying that it is a ginger root, it becomes totally acceptable to dedicate a complete, pink museum to a penis.

All possible things one can prepare with New Ginger, which actually isn’t fresh, but pickled ginger. I even took a sweet with ginger and a ginger soda.

But the highlight of this museum, without doubt was this video of the entire company dancing the New Ginger dance:

After these first touristic stops the ride of today could start. When I planned, I had not really found anything else interesting in the area, so set as a goal a super-sento with a convenient train station closeby, at a reasonable distance. For the ride itself I handed over the planning mainly to the komoot app. However I entered a few changes to avoid any major roads, and the ride was really great. Nothing by itself outstanding, but just a nice enjoyable ride through Japanese countryside with some mountains in the far distance. Some, closer to Nikko even with still some snow on the top, but not a lot, for end of February. This year was unseasonally warm in Japan. Mainly I rode on small country lanes and then on the typical Japanese bicycle path along a heavily dammed river. The rivers in that region still show the signs of the flood last year October, and are still being cleaned up from debris (mainly vegetation) lying around.

I finally came to a big water reservoir which has a cycling road right through the middle of it. On the center is a small artificial island, where I hate some cookies I had bought on the first day. Shortly afterwards, and just before the point with the 3 prefectures, there was a Michi-no-eki, where I got the best grilled sweet potato I had in my live. Only grilled, nothing added, but so creamy and sweet.

After the picture of at the prefecture boarders, the ride continued through similar landscape, although become a bit more built up over time, as I was approaching Tokyo.

The super-sento for today, was really nice. With 3 pools inside, and a whooping 5 pools outside and a small forest in which to gaze (although the supersento is in a built up area, there are no houses close or high enough, to warrant a high wall around it. Very nice. I had a long soak in the different waters, followed by dinner and am now sitting in the Tobu express train, back to Tokyo, heading for Otemachi, where I should be arriving in about 5 minutes. Perfect timing for this post. 

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