Japan | Tokyo -> Hachinohe

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  • Back in May of this year, my girlfriend (at the time) and I spend a month in Japan. 3 weeks of that month was spend cycling from Tokyo to Hachinohe, a route that took us 1200km with 12000 meters of elevation and it was just incredible!

    So I couldn't just leave it at that and although I've been very absent from LFGSS for months, I just have to share the experience and hopefully somebody else decides to take the same route after seeing this.

    I used the route from CyclingAbout.com

    (worth the watch), which was based on the route from "Length of Japan".

    The first day was spend cycling out of Tokyo, which takes all of 30km, and the towns and cities around it. So not too much excitement there. Next few days are mainly cycling through hills full of rice fields and visiting the beautiful Nikko shrines and waterfalls.

    We had a rest day in Aizuwakamatsu, which is a great little city to stay for an extra day and eat some green chocolate bananas.

    After that we headed into some serious climbing, straight out of Aizu we had an 11km climb averaging 6%. Being on top of that mountain gave me a chance to show off my setup.

    Continuing past the great lake Inawashiro and climbing up the vulcano Adata, which was a 15 km climb past both beautiful but sad abandoned villages and ski-resorts into a somewhat snowy top.

    Descending into Fukushima was very weird. It's a pretty sizable city, but it is just so quiet there. Even for a Japanese city.. Which did mean a nice luxury hotel for next to nothing.

    We rode along Abukuma river through Sendai towards the heavily 2011-tsunami hit coastal area. Haven't got any good pictures really from this part.. Since it was just brand new buildings, huge cemeteries, huge road and waterworks.. Though the people there were the most positive people I've ever met.

    Now the stuff gets serious. Going back land inwards the first day brought us 3 climbs of about 6 or 7km, one of those being mostly 14% gradient and heavy gravel.

    After this we had our one and only (!) day with (a total of 2 hours of) rain. But with beautiful countryside roads and hardly any traffic the whole thing was still very enjoyable.

    Cycling past mount Iwate we had some close to private climbs, where the main highway was through a tunnel, the roads that go through the hills hardly get any use. PERFECT for us.

    With 2 huges climbs left to go we first went up mount Hachimantai. A monstrous 30km uphill where most of it is around 9 to 11%. After about 15km the permanent snow started showing, slowly changing into snow walls all the way up to the top with snowboarders whizzing past and the sulfur smell from the hot water sources all around.

    30km of climbing means 30km of decending through beautiful Japanese roads and villages. But the next day was back to business. We had to get through the Ou mountains, which was another 18km of solid climbing with large parts being 10% up hill. All the way up we where surrounded by beautiful waterfalls.

    After a beautiful descent we stayed at a volcanic lake (a volcano erupted, collapsed and turned into a lake). And with just one day left had the best apple pie of my life.

    The last day was just a descent through parts that seemed like a jungle with waterfalls and some rolling hills towards the end at Hachinohe.

    The last thing to do was to catch a bullet train back towards Tokyo, covering what took us 3 weeks in just over 2,5 hours.

    I've rambled on quite a bit here, but the trip was just so perfect. Always close to restaurants, convenience stores or in the worst case vending machines. We had around 23 to 26 degrees and sun every day, apart from the 2 hours of rain and one day around 10 degrees.

    You can find my route here: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28897252

    I've changed quite a bit from the original since some of the roads in the original are closed off. Hopefully any of you readers will consider doing this trip and find my route helpful!


  • Simply incredible!

    That gravel climb looks the nuts!!

  • Thanks!

    It was, but somehow loads of old folks parked their car up that hill. No clue why.

  • Super interesting. Video bookmarked to watch later.

  • Japan is just the best. Thanks for sharing

  • You're very welcome.

    Yeah I'm planning to go back somewhere in the next 2 years. I'm just not sure I'll find a route as good as this one.

  • Did you get to stay in Kesennuma or just pass through? the wife and I stayed there twice some time ago after the tsunami. Lovely people and a lovely place.

  • We stayed there for 2 days. Everybody there was so interested in our story, but also eager tell their story. And a beautiful place.

  • I enjoyed this as well:

    Originally posted in the generic touring thread.

  • I'm just not sure I'll find a route as good as this one.

    You will....there is quite a lot to discover there. Have done almost 4500km in the country now - last one was Hokkaido, which you should check out. The guy from the video was also there and has a guide...

    Thanks for sharing btw!

  • The guy from the video was also there and has a guide...

    Yeah I've been looking into that, but since I'm a credit card bikepacker, the lack of hotels along the way kind of turns me off...

    Have done almost 4500km in the country now

    Very jealous! Any good things/routes to share?

  • Credit card tourer as well here. No problems in sparely populated areas like Kyushu (which is also really incredible) and Hokkaido.

    In Kyushu you will always find Minshukus, in Hokkaido as well - but they're often a little bit more basic with shared bathrooms, if you don't mind. Also you'll probably end sleeping on some farm a little outside the next small city, which can be really nice.

    Didn't try out Ryder Houses, but this will also give you some backup.

    Started doing a blog on the trips just last year (while doing bicycle trips since 10 years), so not much is documented. But if you want, you can find some information there about Taiwan and Hokkaido.....


  • Ah yes, of course it's chronological - but there are two overviews of the trips to make it easier...

  • Thanks! Your pictures look great. Now I can't wait to go back again..

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Japan | Tokyo -> Hachinohe

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