Cycling event “Hashitte-mippe” in Minamiaizu Town, July 17, 2017 (走ってみっぺ南会津!サイクリングに参加 2017年7月17日)

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I participated in a cycling event “Hashitte-mippe” or “let’s go cycling” held in Minamiaizu Town on July 17th, 2017 which was a national holiday “Marine Day”. The route covered western part of the town area, which was mostly mountainous with green forests and rivers making it really refreshing to ride. About 700 cycling fans gathered for the event from across Japan including many from Tokyo metropolitan area. A photo above shows Byobuiwa Site with rocky landscape along the upper stream of the Ina River. The site was located at the southwestern end of the route near the border with Hinoemata Village. We had a light lunch and a short break on the rock at this aid station.

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A photo above shows a scene just before the start at Takatsue ski resort located 950m above sea level.

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Major part of the cycling route ran south to north along the Ina River which was beautiful as shown above. Many anglers enjoyed ayu fishing soaking into the river.

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At a roadside station “Kirara 289” located along national Route 289 in the northwestern part of the town, new wooden bike stands which were made from local wood were installed as shown above.

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Luckily I could successfully complete the course and got the certificate as shown above. The last 3km hill climb to the goal was extremely hard for me being already exhausted.

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The day before, I packed my bike and traveled to Aizukogen-0zeguchi Station which was the nearest to the event site, although it still took another 18km bike tour including a mountain pass to get to the site. I was lucky that I could experience a new limited express train “Revaty” as shown above between Aizutajima and Aizukogen-Ozeguchi Station introduced from just last April. The limited express train was comfortable and required no extra charge between the two stations.

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Also on return trip, I could again take the limited express Revaty which came from Asakusa, Tokyo. Photo above shows the train coming into Aizukogen-Ozeguchi Station where I got on.

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.
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You can play back the route and altitude on the map below.

Snow scenery at Minamiaizu Town, Feb. 22, 2017 (南会津の雪景色 2017年2月22日)

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Today I visited Minamiaizu Town which is located in the southern area of Aizu Region. Aizu Railway runs through the area and the railroad track extends all the way to Asakusa Tokyo. Photo above shows snow scenery at Okuaizu History Museum which is about 20-minute walk from Sansondojo Station. An old tea house and traditional farmers' houses are preserved in this complex, all of which are from Edo Period more than 200 years ago. All the houses were covered with deep snow today due to heavy snowfall over the past few days. The old tea house in the picture is called Sannojaya which was originally located at Sanno Pass on the border between Tochigi Pref. and Fukushima during Edo Period. It was once burnt down by Boshin Civil War but was rebuilt soon afterward on the site and then moved to here for preservation. This house is being used today as soba restaurant and cafe during all season. In fact I had a delicious soba noodle and Shingoro or rice ball with miso paste for lunch at here today.

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Photo above shows today's Aizu Railway train running powerful through a snow field. From April 21 of this year, a brand new super express train "Revaty" is scheduled to connect Asakusa, Tokyo and Aizutajima, Minamiaizu Town directly without changing trains. This may greatly push tourism in this region.

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.
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Tracing Isavella Bird's tracks in Fukushima (Day 1), July 20, 2016 (イザベラ・バードの福島の足跡を追って(1日目) 2016年7月20日)

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I decided to trace an English woman, Isabella Bird's tracks in Fukushima by riding a bicycle. The total distance is estimated about 150km. She travelled through Aizu region from south to north between June 26 and 29, 1878. It was only eleven years after Meiji Restoration, when Japan reopened itself to the world. Her transportation was mainly by riding a horse or walking along kaido roads (=old highways) and also along steep mountain ridges as high as 800m above sea level. Today, not all the kaido roads remain, but I tried to go as close as her tracks. Photo above shows a scene along the old Nikko Highway near Kawashima-Juku, where juku means an old village for lodgings. Isabella Bird's first stay in Fukushima was at Kawashima-Juku. Today, there is no lodging place in this hamlet.

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I started from Takahara, which is Kawaji Onsen in Tochigi Pref. and pedaled north. Soon after, I came to Lake Ikari as shown above. (These names of location with bold letters appear in her book 'Unbeaten Tracks in Japan'.)

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Near Lake Ikari, there once was an old lodging village called Ikari-juku as a sign in the photo above shows. (The sigh says 'Aizunishi Kaido', not 'Nikko Kaido', but these two are the same in this case.) Isabella's last stay in Tochigi Pref. was at Ikari-juku. There are only limited lodging facilities left today, so I chose Takahara for my start.

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I passed Yokokawa and then came to Sanno Pass. The current Sanno Pass is different from that of the old Nikko Kaido (=Highway). Photos above show a road block for the old Nikko Highway entrance and the abandoned old road hereafter. So I had to give up and pedaled through Sanno Tunnel, which was the current path.

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After I passed Sanno Pass (860m), I entered into Itosawa district of Minamiaizu Town, Fukushima. Then, I came to Kawashima village. In her book this is referred to as Kayashima hamlet and she stayed a night here. Today, there is neither inn nor ryokan here, so I decided to stay at adjacent large town of Tajima. In Tajima, where official name is Aizutajima today and it is a center of Minamiaizu Town, there was an old office building of Minamiaizu County.facing the old Nikko Kaido (=Aizunishi Kaido) as shown above.
山王峠(860m)を過ぎると、福島県の南会津町の糸沢地区にでます。ここを過ぎて、川島地区に入ります。川島宿があった場所で、イザベラ・バードはここで、福島県の最初の宿をとります。現在は、ここには宿は残っておらず、隣の田島地区に、今回は泊まることにします。南会津町の中心地で、会津西街道沿いに、旧南会津郡役所があります。(写真) (福島県内で,旧郡役所が残っているのは、桑折町と南会津町の2箇所だけです。)
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The inn I stayed at Tajima was a historic building which was registered as a National Tangible Cultural Asset and also located along Aizunishi Kaido as shown above. It is called Izumiya Ryocan and this was the second time I stayed here following autumn of 2012. It was a nice inn with very good meal and friendly masters, and with reasonable charge.

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.
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You can play back the route and altitude on the map below. (gained elevation: 949m, Distance: 50.6km)
下の地図で、ルート再生や標高を見ることができます。(獲得標高949m、走行距離 50.6km)
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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)(福島特例通訳案内士(英語))
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