My latest Post.

This view,this beauty
A tear unbidden
Creeps into my eye.

My stay is short
But I shall return to this place
If only my life is long enough.

Such beauty
Gazing upon it
I hope my years are many.

Bokusui Wakayama.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Route-307. Koka to Kyotanabe.

   Route-307 is classified as a National Highway, but I refer to them as Inter-Prefecture Roads.  Commencing it's journey in Hirakata City, '307 passes through three prefectures, before ending at the city of Hikone, a journey of just over 100-kilometers. My plan however is to cover a small section, beginning at the junction with route-5, at Koka City, and ending at the Yamashiro-ohashi Bridge, in Kyotanabe City, and I will do this by cycling roads and lanes that run parallel to, or, in the vicinity of '307 (in some sections I will have no alternative than to use '307), and, along the way, check-out what lies alongside or nearby. 
Raccoondog Figurines.

   A kilometer into my exploration and my first point-of-interest. The area surrounding Shigaraki is famous for it's pottery & ceramics, and this shop (map location), selling Racoondog figurines, is just one of dozens selling a range of products. This video best shows the selection available, and not just Raccoondogs.
   Just down the road from the gallery, and my first detour off '307, and into the settlement of Kamiasamiya. I spot a lane branching-off the street that begs further investigation, and I am so pleased I did. This video, taken using my INOU device (sorry no sound), best describes the feeling I get, when passing through settlements such as this. Though one does have to be careful, as one doesn't know what/who lies just around the corner.

Map Location. 
   And, it was one such corner that I happened-across this establishment - a Ramen restaurant. This is a popular chain throughout Japan, and can be found in many cities across the land. But here? In this isolated settlement? I couldn't believe it. This begs further investigation, at another time when I'm not wearing my sweaty cycling gear.
Torii, entrance to
Entrance Gate and Purification Trough.

   Next door to the restaurant, and set in amongst tall cedar, is the Sansho-jinja Shrine (sorry no information available). Always on the lookout for these complexes, I found this particular jinja different, in as much as the buildings located throughout the site. As this video will show.
  Leaving the shrine I continue my way through Kamiasamiya, where I re-connect with '307, albeit for about 100-meters, before exiting into the settlement of Shimoasamiya. Nothing here that attracts my attention and, before long, I'm back-onto '307 and my next junction.
Map Location.
   It's at this junction (map location) where route-307 originally came through, before they bored the tunnel and made a bypass. I remember, in 2003, driving to Shigaraki along the old road and feeling quite squirmish  with all the tight bends. This video, I hope, will give you an idea of the conditions (sorry no sound). From here '307 runs in the vicinity and, until I re-join it, at the settlement of Hatatani, I get to see/experience some awesome scenery. Then, after two more junctions, one being route-283, the road to Wazuka Town, I come 
Map Location.
across this place of worship. Judging by the small Kitsune either side of the monument, this is an Inari Okami.
   By now my stomach is sending me massages that it's time to refuel if I am to continue (up to this point I had covered about 55km, and been on the road for just over 4-hours) then, suddenly, out-of-the-blue, my ideal location for a lunch-break.
Torii, entrance to
Yuki/Sachi-jinja Shrine.

Map Location.
   Yuki/Sachi-jinja ( please excuse the dual name. Because of the difficulty in interpreting Kanji, it can be difficult to name a place) was an ideal location to re-charge my batteries, check my map and some of the images taken so far.

   Looking at the materials used in the construction of this complex, I would hazard-a-guess this is  fairly new, or has recently been restored. This video will give you an idea of my surroundings while I took my break. 
   The settlement of Hatatani wouldn't have know what struck it when, about 10-years ago, route-307 was re-routed past the town, instead of passing through it. Some of the houses border right on the edge of the road, and the road itself is very narrow.
Map Location.

   As I exit the settlement of Hatatani, a lane takes me away from '307 and into the hills, and some great rural scenery, as seen in this video (sorry no sound). Oh it is so great to be in my kinda' environment. For the next couple of kilometers I enter the forest and muddy/rutted tracks.
Map Location.

   I reach a junction where I am forced to alight my bike and lug myself up a muddy track. With all the rain of the past week, I was cautious of fallen debris and slipping. Then, when I reach the plateau, this Jizo. As you can see in the image, I was thankful for the respite. I also detected the sound of drizzle above, which lasted all of a few minutes, and the canopy allowed me shelter.
   A short distance on and I exit the forest and emerge at a clearing, and another junction. Here, five tracks  converge coming from the major points of the compass (map location), which also indicated that I was on the outskirts of the settlement of Yuyadani. 
Map Location.

   I enter another forest and, as I exit and descend the lane, my attention is drawn to this interesting house. This was the homestead of Nagatani Soen, a man famous in this area for developing a technique for processing tea. Today his house is a museum dedicated to his work. Surrounding the house is a beautiful garden with picnic area. The day I visited, the hydrangeas were in full bloom, which added a touch of color to the surroundings.
Torii, entrance to
Chasomyo-jinja Shrine,
 Across the road from the homestead, is the Chasomyo-jinja, which is also dedicated to Nagatani Soen. Some months ago, while hiking through the area (Pilgrimage of Prayer), I recorded this video.
Map Location.

   Time to move on and, as I pass through Yuyadani, my first view of '307 for over an hour (but I don't re-join it). I then take another lane that takes me through tea plantations and a forest-pass (above image) before emerging into the suburbs (for want of a better description) of Ujitawara.
   I am now to be reacquainted with '307, but just for a few hundred meters, before I veer-off again into the back-blocks and narrow lanes of Ujitawara. My next junction is with route-62, the Ujitawara-to-Wazuka road. This part of '62 was once where the Tokaido Road passed through on it's way to Kontai-ji Temple, Wazuka, Mikuni-goe Rindo and beyond. Then, before I know it, there is '307 again. The next 2km is the most dangerous section of the entire length of this road. It's very narrow and allows no room for error. Come-off your bike, and pray that there isn't a vehicle on your tail. Emerging from this stretch, and into the town of Ide, I discover a lane branching-off to my left. Eager for an alternative I take it and discover it follows a stream and, after crossing several junctions, I emerge at the Yamashiro-ohashi Bridge (map location). But I'm not home yet. The junction of routes '307 and '24 is one hell of a busy intersection and, to get onto the bridge cycle-path, I take advantage of the pedestrian crossing, before my final segment. 
Map Location
    31-kilometers x 3.5-hours after leaving Koka City, and passing-through several settlements and experiencing some great scenery along the way, I have arrived at my goal - the Kizugawa River cycle-way, Kyotanabe City.
   Now, where shall I go for my next excursion? 

   Full video of trip.

   Trip, through Riding with G.P.S. page.

   Trip recorded using my INOU device.     


  1. You had me at Ramen restaurant. Is that as good as it sounds?

    Your roads amaze me. They are the same width as our rail trails. I don't see cars in any of the pictures. Is that typical? What is the traffic like. It doesn't look like two cars could fit on the road much less two cars & a bicyclist.

    Although I suppose people don't drive as much there and don't drive as recklessly.
    Thanks for sharing, Barry!!

    1. Hi Kevin,
      Thanks for your review & comment. In Japan all thoroughfares - motorways,interstate,local,lanes, - are busy. Some are more busy than others. Route-307 is what you refer to as an interstate road and can be very-very busy. A lot of these roads, because of the high volume of traffic, are now being diverted away from towns, as in the case of the settlement of Hatatani. But, in most cases the original roads are still there but one has to climb a gate or barrier.All the better for me. These days, with modern internet-maps, I can view a satellite image and plan my route, which is what I did with this post but, in the instance of the restaurant,I took a stab just to see what I would find.Cars in Japan? Worse than in the 'States. Everyone loves to drive.