Commencing at the junction with route-163, in the town of Kamo (map location), route-5 passes through the town of Wazuka (famous for it's Tea), as-well-as the settlements of Harayama, Yubune, Nakayama and Shigaraki, before completing it's journey at the junction of route-307 at Koka City (map location). For the main part the road is joined by the Wazuka River, albeit in a less direct course, and, as we progress, gradually decreases from a river to a stream before disappearing into the hills to it's source.
Next stop, Wazuka Town. It's here one gets the first glimpse of what this area is famous for - Tea. Tea, as far as the eye can see, and in some very isolated of places. Standing on the bridge (map location), at the junction of routes-5 & 62, and looking about the hills that surround this town, one can see hillside plantations with some great cycling & hiking tracks, tracks used by farmers as access to their crops. In front of you is Mount Taiko, which is in fact the Kofun, or Burial Mound of Prince Asaka (video), the 5th son of Emperor Shomu.
|Route-5/Tokaido Road Junction.|
From this point the valley closes-in and the road and river follow each other more closely then opens again, a few kilometers on, and a couple of tunnels, at the settlement of Yubune (map location). As I pass through the settlement the road becomes very narrow with the houses bordering right on the edge of the thoroughfare (as seen in the image on the left). With the occasional truck passing through, life must be hell inside these dwellings. One wrong move and someone may have a Mack Truck parked in their front room.
Just around the corner is the settlement of Nakayama and, like it's neighbour, the houses are very close to the road edge. Earlier this year, while waiting for a bus to take me to Kamo (this is the terminus), I had an hour to spare. So I decided to check-out and wander through the settlement. While doing so, I discovered this awesome temple overlooking the houses below. Taiti-Tera Temple is well worth the time to visit.
As I exit the valley confines of Yubune and Nakayama, the area opens up and more tea plantations. On this occasion right down to the very edge of the road, as seen in the image on the left. Also take note of how narrow the road is. A couple of kilometers back, two trucks had a hell of a job passing each other and one, towing a vehicle trailer, had to back-up to allow the other to pass.
A short distance along and I reach the border separating Kyoto and Shiga Prefectures (map location). After the gradual incline of the past 19-kilometers, I feel a distinctive change and freewheel into the city of Koka ( the stream accompanying the road is now flowing in the same direction). The area is made famous because of it's pottery making and, if pottery and ceramics is for you, this is heaven.
If you do plan to experience Route-5, regardless of your mode, don't be in a hurry. Especially when you arrive at the many settlements. Find a place to park, then take a leisurely stroll. You won't be disappointed with what you find.
So, in signing-off, I shall bid you farewell until the next time.
Full video of Route-5.
Map of the course - http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1457804