Tracing Isabella Bird's tracks in Fukushima (Day 4), July 23, 2016 (イザベラ・バードの福島の足跡を追って(4日目) 2016年7月23日)

P7239957 (560x332)
This is the final day, and I started from Aizubange and headed to Kuruma Pass of Nishiaizu Town, near the border to Niigata Pref. Kuruma Pass was Isabella's last stay in Fukushima, before leaving to Niigata. She wrote, 'this house (=yadoya) is magnificently situated, almost hanging over the edge of the knife-edge ridge of the pass of Kuruma, ---'. As I visited Kuruma Pass today, there was nothing but a description board that said Isabella stayed two nights here, as shown above. More details are shown in this article later.

P7239892 (560x420)
Leaving the center of Aizubange Town, I pedaled along the old Echigo Kaido (=Highway) all the way to Kuruma Pass. Soon I came to a bridge over the Tadami River at 'the hamlet of Katakado' as she referred to in her book. This is a bridge that Isabella praised such that '---so good a bridge as that by which we crossed the broad river Agano ----'. The name of the bridge is Katakado Bridge and the river was actually the Tadami River not Agano, as shown above.

P7239920 (560x420)
From Katakado of Aizubange Town to Nozawa, which is the center of Nishiaizu Town, Isabella took an old mountain route of Echigo Kaido passing over Tabanematsu Pass. The route barely remains today only for walk. The entrance of this route was grass mowed road as shown above.

P7239926 (560x305)
Going forward on this path, I found a map board of this old Echigo Kaido route to Tabanematsu Pass as shown above. This map board was created by a local preservation group.

P7239932 (560x411)
Photo above shows a view along the road. This reminds me how the actual path looked like in those days. But there were many other narrower and steep up and down mountain paths on the way, especially beyond the Tabanematsu Pass until getting to a regular road. I barely walked this path carrying by bike.

P7239939 (560x297)
I finally reached Tabanematsu Pass and found a description board as shown above. It says that there were two tea-houses here and they served some specialty foods.

P7239952 (560x420)
Along the path beyond the pass, I could overlook mountainsides and winding Ban-etsu Express way as shown above.

P7239945 (560x420)
Also I found a small pretty orange flower of lily (Lilium medeoloide A. Gray) as shown above.

P7239954 (560x420)
Then I pedaled along a paved Echigo Kaido, choosing old Echigo Kaido paths if there remained any, until I reached 'village of Nojiri', Nishiaizu Town. Photo above shows an entrance to the old pass of Kuruma. The old Echigo Kaido path remained unpaved and grassy. The current Echigo kaido is Kuruma Tunnel of National Route 49 running just beside this old path.

P7239969 (560x420)
Photo above shows a view at Kuruma Pass in wilderness today. There was nothing but a description board for Isabella Bird's track here. The old Echigo Kaido path beyond this pass continued for a while but finally it came to a dead end.
車峠に着くと、そこは草がはびこり何もありませんが、ただ一つ、イザベラ・バードの足跡の看板が立っていました。その先も進みましたが、終に新越後街道に(あと少しでしたが)出ることなく、行き止まりになりました。 (看板に感激して、後で宿の方に聞くと、街おこしの一貫で、建てたとのことでした。)

Since there was no yadoya anymore at Kuruma Pass, I stayed tonight at yadoya in Nozawa. This was the last stay of my bike tour that traced Isabella Bird's tracks in 1878. I think I got some image of how she traveled and how she felt in those days. I am also grateful to local Aizu people for preservation work for history and reminder work for Isabella Bird's track.

P7239864 (560x417)
As additional information, I stopped at Tachiki Kannon Hall today, which was located along the old Echigo Kaido. Tachiki Kannon is the 31st of Aizu 33 Kannons for Fudasho tour, which was recently designated as Japan Heritage. The hall building is shown above.

P7239971 (560x419)
At Tachiki Kannon, I also got a special collective stamp book for all the Aizu 33 Kannon 'Goshuin', which is a unique red stamp of the temple which Kannon belongs. (Photo above)

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.
20160723Bird_4 (560x420)

You can trace the route and altitude in the map below. (Up: 4.8%, gained elevation: 740m, Distance: 47.5km)
下の地図で、ルートの距離や標高を見ることができます。(上り4.8%、獲得標高740m、走行距離 47.5km)

Tracing Isabella Bird's tracks in Fukushima (Day 3), July 22, 2016 (イザベラ・バードの福島の足跡を追って(3日目) 2016年7月22日)

P7229780 (560x418)
The third day started from Ouchijuku and I headed to Aizubange Town, mostly passing through broad area of Aizumisato Town. In her book 'Unbeaten Tracks in Japan', she referred to 'magnificent pass of Ichikawa'. I believe this is today's Ichino Pass in Asahi-Ichihawa district of Aizumisato Town. Photo above shows a description board at Ichino Pass which says this was a track that Isabella Bird traveled. (The board says the height of the pass is 870m, but my GPS measured 880m.)

P7229754 (560x413)
After I left Ouchi-juku, I followed the old Nikko Kaido (=Highway) for a while as shown above. This should have been a way Isabella traveled, but this road today had a dead end. So I switched to a paved road instead.

P7229757 (560x419)
Soon after, I came to Ouchi Dam Lake as shown above. When Isabella traveled here, there was no such big lake. As she wrote '---passing the pretty little lake of Oyake---', there was actually only small Ouchi Pond. This was expanded to Ouchi Dam Lake afterward. Ouchi Dam is now being used as an upper reservoir for Shimogo Pumped-storage Hydroelectric Power Plant.

P7229766 (560x420)
From Ouchi Dam Lake at the height of 800m above sea level, I could see a magnificent view of mountainside on the other direction as shown above. You can overlook Ouchi-juku village on the small basin near the center. I imagine that this may be a similar view that Isabella experienced 138 years ago.

P7229774 (560x420)
Near the end of Ouchi Dam Lake, I came to a branch to a mountain road which Isabella Bird traveled. And there was even a sign pillar of her name as shown above.

P7229784 (560x420)
There were similar sign pillars with her name in other places as shown above. This mountain road passing Ichino Pass was really a hard one for both ascent and descent.

P7229821 (560x420)
Descending from Ichino Pass, I pedaled through a large plain of rice field as shown above and finally came to a town of Aizutakada. This is the center of Aizumisato Town. Isabella wrote, 'An avenue of crypromeria and two handsome and somewhat gilded Buddhist temples denoted the approach to a place of some importance, and such Takata is ---'. I am not sure which temples she meant, but I visited two temples along the way at Aizumisato Town as below.

P7229806 (560x420)
The first temple was Fukushoji Temple. The Tomioka Kannondo Hall as shown above is a historic heritage and it is designated as a National Important Tangible Curtural Asset. It is also the 26th of 33 Aizu Kannons for Fudasho tour, which were designated as Japan Heritage.

P7229826 (560x337)
The second temple was Ryukoji Temple. Ukimi Kannon of this temple is also one of Aizu 33 Kannons for Fudasho tour, although it is an extra one.

P7229837 (560x420)
Lotus flowers were blooming at lotus garden of Ryukoji Temple as shown above. The bloom was in the latter half of the whole stage.

Tonight, I stayed at an inn in Aizubange Town. Isabella also stayed a night at Bange due to fatigue.

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.
20160722Bird_3 (560x420)

You can trace the route and altitude in the map below. (Up: 5.4%, gained elevation: 330m, Distance: 36.5km)
下の地図で、ルートの距離や標高を見ることができます。(上り5.4%、獲得標高330m、走行距離 36.5km)

Tracing Isabella Bird's tracks in Fukushima (Day 2), July 21, 2016 (イザベラ・バードの福島の足跡を追って(2日目) 2016年7月21日)

P7219740 (560x420)
The second day started from Aizutajima and I headed to Ouchijuku, Shimogo Town. In her book 'Unbeaten Tracks in Japan', Ouchijuku is referred to as 'hamlet of Ouchi'. Photo above is the former yadoya (=inn) she stayed at that time. Today, it does not provide lodging anymore, but the house is open to public. More details are in this article later.

P7219699 (560x420)
I left Aizutajima and pedaled along the old Nikko Kaido (=Highway). In her days, there was a place that the kaido crossed the Aga River before it reached Aizushimogo Town. The place was called Nagano ferry port and it was located near Nagano village about 7km apart from Aizutajima. Photo above shows today's view of the approximate location. The former ferry port does not exist anymore, instead a bridge connects Nikko Kaido from a bank to the other.

20160721長野の渡し (560x499)
I found an old map which shows Nikko Kaido crossed the Aga River by a ferry as shown above.

P7219706 (560x420)
At Shimogo Town, the old Nikko kaido branches into mountainous area to the northwest and then to the north toward Ouchijuku. This is a different way to Ouchijuku from a popular way today from Yunokami Onsen. The actual old mountain road as shown above runs parallel to the current paved road until Nakayama Pass (710m).

P7219708 (560x420)
On the way, I found natural water welling out called Choju-no-mizu or water for long life, as shown above. The water was cold and really refreshing.

P7219714 (560x332)
At the same place as the water, there stood a board which explained details about Shimotsuke Kaido, which is the same as Nikko Kaido and Aizunishi Kaido.

P7219720 (560x420)
Soon after passing Nakayama Pass, I came across an amazing old giant Zelkova tree which is 950 years old as shown above. This is called Yahata Zelkova tree.

P7219732 (560x439)
I finally got to Ouchijuku village and I visited former yadoya (=inn) which Isabella Bird stayed 138 years ago. A note in front of the house said that she stayed here, as shown above.

P7219750 (560x420)
The house was open to visitors with 200-yen charge, and the master told me that this room above was the one Isabella stayed. Six years later in 1884, a new Nikko Kaido road was completed which bypassed Ouchijuku and this changed the village.

P7219726 (560x420)
Tonight, I stayed at a minshuku (=private lodging) called Honke-0giya as shown above. It was a good lodging with an excellent meal and a very kind landlady.

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.
20160721Bird_2 (560x420)

You can trace the route and altitude in the map below. (Up: 4.9%, gained elevation: 504m, Distance: 28.7km)
下の地図で、ルートの距離や標高を見ることができます。(上り4.9%、獲得標高504m、走行距離 28.7km)
Welcome! 福が満開、福のしま。
Welcome to Fukushima 2021 
Calendar (カレンダー)

08 | 2021/09 | 10
- - - 1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 - -
Search (検索フォーム)
Locations (会津/中通り/浜通り 市町村別)
Keywords (キーワード別)


Dates (月別)
Latest articles (最新記事)
Profile (プロフィール)

A man who loves Fukushima (福島大好きおじさん)

Author:A man who loves Fukushima (福島大好きおじさん)
Local guide for Fukushima (English)(福島地域通訳案内士(英語))
Member of Omotenashi Guide Fukushima

Omotenashi Guide Fukushima 2021 Calendar

Fukushima Slide Show 2021 Video
おもてなし福島スライドショー 2021ビデオ

Access counter (カウンター)
Latest comments (最新コメント)
Latest trackbacks (最新トラックバック)