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.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Part 4 (Day 15 - Day 21) - Akita and Yamagata 秋田と山形 - Summary

Bicycle touring Japan - Akita & Yamagata - Part 4

In this post I review my bicycle tour of Akita and the little riding I have been doing in Yamagata. Highlights of this week were the onsen and the Tozawa lake region as well as the temple in Yamaera. Apart from bicycle touring it also included some considerable train riding.  

Bicycle: 120 km
Other transport: 434 km
Region: Akita & Yamagata
Total riding time: 8:00 h
Total ascent: 432 m (plus the 1000 steps at Yamadera)
Total descent: 1,245 m (actually this is not strictly speaking TOTAL descent, but the main descent of days 17 and 18)

This part had two highlights, the temple in Yamadera (and specially my perfect timing when visiting them) and Tozawa lake region including its relaxing in Onsens. Kakunodate wasn't bad either.
However there was also a low point, the rainy ride from Kakunodate to Omagari and the continuation all soaked in the train. Not a good idea. But at least something learnt.

Here an overview map of the approximate routes taken (those by bicycle):

In between these far away stretches of rides I didn't teletransport, but took old-school local trains.

The actual routes I took are in the Strava or Garmin feed of each day:
  • Day 15 Noheji to Tozawa Lake
  • Day 16 Relaxing in Nyuto onsen
  • Day 17 Around Tozawa Lake
  • Day 18 Nyuto Onsen to Kakunodate
  • Day 19 Kakunodate to Omagari and on to Yamagata
  • Day 20 Sightseeing in Yamadera
  • Day 21 Yamagata through Kaminoyama onsen and Yunezawa to Niigata

And here an overview of the costs.

Not a lot of this trip was in my original plan for Akita and Yamagata. Specially I hadn't realized how close Kakunodate is from Tazawako, where I had planned from the beginning to go for some relaxing onsen. In Yamagata I had planned on more (and different riding), but after the rain on day 19, I was not going to take chances on day 20, so no ride to Yamadera.

View from Yamadera

Yamadera temple buildings
From a bicycle ride perspective, without any doubt the best part was the ride around Tazawa lake. Perfect weather in a nice environment.

Lake Tazawa
Torii on the lake 

Shrine on the shore of Lake Tazawa
As said above, the total low point was the ride in the rain from Kakunodate to Omagari on Day 19.

Drying after a day out in the rain

Regarding gear, I have learnt that even wearing my rain jacket, I still get wet inside, because of the sweat. But I also tried on the T-bag rain cover and saw that it fits, but only if one does put it on slowly and methodically. I.e. not slip in on while it is raining.

This part was heavily influenced by the weather. Aka RAIN! It lead to one relaxing day in Nyuto onsen, without any ride nor sightseeing, just soaking in the traditional onsen at Tsuru-no-yu, but also a rain soak on day 19 and an on-foot (and train) exploration of Yamadera, because I was simply too afraid of rain, which in the end didn't occur at all on Day 20.
Also when I first arrived in Yamagata and looked at my next options, it seemed that the next 10 days would be dominated by rain practically everywhere in Japan, with just a few days of exceptions in Hokkaido, where I didn't want to return. So I had been contemplating going back to Tokyo for some days and wait out the rain. However after more data became available, right now it looks like Sado islands from tomorrow will be good and the day today (Day 21) also did not see any rain, at least not during my hours outside in  the open.

As a last picture of this week, a flower from Kakunodate:

This week did also conclude the trip to Tohoku, now on to Hokuriku!

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