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Cycling Japan

By Takashi Niwa

Okutadami: Cycling Through Autumn's Finest Colors


Japan in autumn is a sight to behold, and there are many cycling routes that allow you to take in the beautiful autumn foliage. I’ve chosen one which goes across the border between Fukushima and Niigata prefectures through an area called Miike, which can be best recognized as the northern entrance to Oze.

The surrounding virgin forest is made up of buna (beech) and other trees that are breathtakingly beautiful. A side, round- trip ride to Numayama-toge Pass is highly recommended.

The route is located in all but the widest part of Honshu Island. It cuts deep into the mountains and is sparsely populated. Due to heavy snowfall, the 100-kilometer section from the village of Hinoemata to the spa town of Ouyu Onsen has no other year-round settlements. You may occasionally spot huts for commuting farmers who grow vegetables and collect edible wild plants in the non-snow season, and stands catering to sightseers, but not many. Cycling this route requires not only physical strength to pedal the distance, but also skills and tools to x mechanical troubles, if any occur, on your bike as well as preparedness in securing and carrying necessary food and drink.

Autumn leaves on the route are best in mid-October. Including time needed for transportation to and from the start and nish, a three-day itinerary with overnight stays at hot springs is recommended.