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    • Spring
      • Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.

        Into the Mystic

        While you probably won’t encounter an elusive river sprite in the highlands of the Northern Japan Alps, you may feel a bit lightheaded from the refreshing thin air, remarkable vistas and mystical aura of the mountains and valleys in Kamikochi.
        video

        Niseko Untapped

        Niseko draws th...
    • Summer
      • Return to Palau

        I am sitting in...
        A glass of beer from Kyoto Brewing

        Kampai! in Kansai

        Kansai has been...

        Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
    • Autumn
      • Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
    • Winter
      • video

        Mad About Pow

        A powder pocket...

        Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
        video

        Shuzenji Sanctuary

        Nestled in the ...
    • Near Tokyo
      • Air it Out

        There is no bet...

        Ark Hills Marche

        Tucked away in ...

        Music Festival Guide 2018

        Warmer months mean awesome music festivals in Japan. Check out our favorite music festivals!

        Summer Runs, Races & Tours

        Trail running is a great way to explore the beautiful nature of a country while getting away from the usual tourist spots.

        Tokyo Escapes: Summer Camping

        Tokyo summers can be stifling—luckily it’s easy to escape the city for a cool break from the heat.
    • Near Kyoto
      • A glass of beer from Kyoto Brewing

        Kampai! in Kansai

        Kansai has been...

        Music Festival Guide 2018

        Warmer months mean awesome music festivals in Japan. Check out our favorite music festivals!

        Cycling Awaichi

        “Awaichi” is sh...
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • Return to Palau

        I am sitting in...

        Air it Out

        There is no bet...

        Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
        video

        Niseko Untapped

        Niseko draws th...
    • River and Lake
      • Air it Out

        There is no bet...
        video

        Niseko Untapped

        Niseko draws th...

        Minakami Mofest

        Head up to Japan's outdoor mecca of Minakami for the country's biggest outdoor adventure festival!
        video

        All-Season Outdoor Playgr...

        Enter the all-season world of Shinetsu Shinzekyo in Nagano and Niigata with outdoor professionals
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
    • Snow and Ice
      • video

        Mad About Pow

        A powder pocket...

        The Reemergence of Arai

        Lotte Arai Resort will definitely become a hotspot for western skiers and boarders over the next few years.

        Tohoku Storm Chasing

        Just a few hours north of Tokyo by Shinkansen (bullet train) await remote mountains and the countryside of Tohoku’s Akita and Iwate prefectures.
    • Travel
      • Gravity-Defying Farming in Nishi Awa

        Discover the centuries-old secret behind what keeps southern Japan's mountains growing

        Up Market in Osaka

        There wasn’t mu...

        Return to Palau

        I am sitting in...
    • Food and Drinks
      • Gravity-Defying Farming in Nishi Awa

        Discover the centuries-old secret behind what keeps southern Japan's mountains growing

        Up Market in Osaka

        There wasn’t mu...

        Return to Palau

        I am sitting in...
    • Races and Events
      • Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.

        Music Festival Guide 2018

        Warmer months mean awesome music festivals in Japan. Check out our favorite music festivals!

Tsugaru, Honshu’s True North

Hokkaido is the most northern island in Japan, yet it is so different from the main island of Honshu, that in some ways it feels like a foreign land. Tsugaru, however, which lies in the farthest reaches of Honshu, feels like you are venturing deep into Japan’s true north.

We begin our two-wheeled journey north of Hirosaki, an old castle town in Midwest Aomori Prefecture. Hirosaki-jo is well known for the cherry trees that line the moats of this famous Tohoku castle.

From Hirosaki, we pedal on toward the foot of Mount Iwaki (Iwaki-san). The mountain has been dubbed “Tsugaru Fuji” for its beautifully balanced shape, resembling iconic Mt. Fuji. The area boasts the largest apple crop in Japan; enjoy the blossoms in early summer and eating some delicious apples in autumn and winter. Continuing on, about one kilometer west of Narusawa Station on the JR Gono Line, you will hit a north-to-south stretch called Melon Road. We pedal northbound on the road toward Jusan-ko (Lake Jusan).

As we go north along the lakeshore past Kodomari, the road gets quite hilly with sections exceeding a ten-percent grade as we head up to Chokandai lookout at an altitude of 502 meters, the highest point of the route. From here, a breathtaking descent will leads down to Cape Tappi (Tappi-misaki). A lighthouse is located on the top of a hill and the national route from here weaves down to the coast below through a series of stops. No cars are allowed on this national route, yet you can push your bike down on the ramp on the side of the steps or take the paved detour.

From the cape, we crank on through quaint fishing villages with the sea rolling in on the left. Hokkaido’s mountains look close – and they are – only twenty kilometers across the water. After rounding Cape Takano (Takano-saki), the route heads south towards the bustling capital of Aomori City.  

Takashi Niwa actively organizes guided tours around the world, from the back alleys of Tokyo to remote villages in Tibet. He has authored many books including “Otona no Tame no Jitensha Nyūmon” (Nihon Keizai Shinbun Shuppansha). His company, Niwa Cycling Tours organizes tours in Japan and around the world.  

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