tobitabi トビ旅

just another travel blog

Mountains of Wakayama


Destinations: Wakayama, Kudoyama, Kouya
Distance traveled: 110 km

Wakayama is the prefecture south of Osaka, known for its mountains and beaches. Again, I left my house in the early morning and returned many hours after sunset, and since I often have my days of spread out over the week I had to make it home the same day. For my next trip I would really like to make it a two-day excursion so that there’s more time to enjoy the surroundings.
When traveling north or east you do leave Osaka behind fairly soon, but going south Osaka seems to never end! As you get further and further away, buildings around you shrink more and more, giant skyscrapers become small houses, but I didn’t reach anything like ‘the countryside’ for at least two hours on the bicycle. Also, this time I had my GPS and was happy to try it out. It worked like a charm :D I would never had been able to reach my destination without it since I, literally and a bit sadly, didn’t have any time to get lost or leave my planned rout.
After reaching this place called Kudoyama I parked my bicycle and continued by foot up the mountains. I climed for about four hours and had the most amazing views. A couple of times I even felt like I was walking through some Swedish forest.

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Nara in spring


Destinations: Nara, Kizu River, Yodo River
Distance traveled: 90 km

Finally, spring has arrived and cherry trees are blooming all over Japan. It’s very beautiful and so I just had to go somewhere. I’ve had some bad luck with the weather lately, so it’s been about two months since my last bicycle adventure. This time I went to Nara, famous for all the deers strolling around just about everywhere, hoping to get something to eat from the tourists. There is also this area of temples called Todai and one of these temples houses an enormous statue of Buddha.

From Osaka, Nara lies beyond the Ikoma mountains in the east and to get there by bicycle I traveled through cities, mountains, on the high way, even carried my bike up some stairs. I spent about five or six hours in Nara, walking in the mountains, petting the deers, taking a lot of pictures, all the things you have to do when visiting Nara. On my way home I headed north till I reached Kizu River (this took a very long time since I got totally lost), but then following the river back to Osaka. I don’t mind getting lost because the locals can always give you the right direction again, however, when you know that it’s soon going to be dark before you reach home you rather not get too lost. That’s why I’m aiming at buying a GPS for the bicycle, maybe I’ll have it till my next trip!? :)

Trekking at Mt. Atago


Destinations: Katsura River, Kyoto, Mt. Atago
Distance traveled: 110 km

Last night I prepared some lunch boxes, went to bed early, and woke up at 4.15 AM. The reason for going up this early is that it’s getting dark really early as well, and I knew today’s trip would take about 14 hours. Because the sun rise around 6.30 I was well under way when morning arrived. It was a good feeling.

As aaalways, I followed Yodo River to where it merges with Katsura River and Kizu River, and this time around I continued along Katsura River till I reached Mt. Atago in Kyoto. It was quite cloudy and a bit cold, but as soon as I reached the mountain and began to climb I had to take of both my jacket and my gloves :) I had my first lunch after about 30 minutes of climbing, and when I was ready to go again a lady who had just had her break also started to walk and so we had company all the way to the top, talking and talking about this and that for about two hours. It was very nice. There were some different routs to take around the mountain and I followed the one I had read about earlier and thus went pass a very nice water fall and some temples. I also so some wild monkeys and a lot of snow :D

On my way home I took another road through Kyoto-city and happened to run into a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the temple Tenryu-ji. However, since I had about 4 hours back to Osaka I didn’t stay very long.

Lake Biwa via Yodo River


Destinations: Yodo River, Uji, Lake Biwa
Distance traveled: 150 km

My second and so far longest bicycle trip took me to Lake Biwa and back to Osaka again. As often the case I tend to be a bit too optimistic, having planned to do 150 km with quite ease and time for some sightseeing withouth feeling stressed about getting home before dark. Well, theory and practice did not meet and as the sun set I had about three hours back to Osaka :/ I’m also, as a result, revising my 41.000 km around-the-world plan a bit, from an about 260 days trip, to a one year journey.

At 8 AM I left my apartment and headed for Yodo River. As always I got a lot of energy by the mere scenery it provides, and with some favorite music in the earphones the first couple of hours went really smooth. I reached the point where Kizu River and Katsura River merge with Yodo River. On my previous trip I followed Kizu River, but this time I continued along Yodo River, which further upstream is called Uji River, and before reaching Lake Biwa, Seta River.

It turned out that the Yodo River would get a lot more spectacular than I could never imagine, despite having followed it closely on google maps. Steep mountain sides and several suspention bridges and temples along the way made me want to stop every second minute for a picture.

After four hours I arrived at the city Uji and had my brought lunch on an small island in the Uji River, connected to the main land by a couple of bridges. From Uji it wasn’t far to the Amagase Dam that control the flood of the Uji River but also serves as a hydroelectric power station. It was the first dam I had ever seen, it was cool :)

From here to Lake Biwa there was no bicycle path available and unfortunately a lot of trucks came down this road as well. However, this place felt like a mini Grand Canyon of Japan and it was well worth the traffic, choosing this road. Finally, Seta River slowly started to broaden and at some point here, i guess, becoming Lake Biwa. I went along the east coast and crossed the Lake on the Omi Ohashi bridge.

A curvy and steep mountain road became my rout back to the Amagase Dam. I litteraly climbed some mountains, and even had to get of the bicycle and walk from time to time when my leg muscles couldn’t take it anymore. Here, at the peak of this mountain road I found a nice spot where I could sit down and eat. When getting back on the saddle it was about 5 p.m. and only one hour till it was dark. I wanted to reach Amagase Dam and Uji before the sun set, because then I would basically have a bicycle path to follow all the way to Osaka, and I felt it would be kind of creepy bicycling in the mountains in the middle of the dark. I stod on the brakes all the way down to the Dam, and by now it was dark. Even though I could only think about getting home at this point, I had about three hours to Osaka, but as I continued on the bicycle path with music in my ears the dark didn’t bother me at all as I happily paddled back to Osaka.

Yodo River into Kizu River


Destinations: Yodo River and Kizu River
Distance traveled: 105 km

And then it was time for my first “road trip”.

Had planned to follow the Yodo River upstream about a week earlier, but a fever put it on a short hold. The intentions of this trip was first to test the iron horse and second to get a sense of, in practice, how long 100 km on the saddle would actually feel.

From my apartment in Osaka it’s about 4 boring km through the city till you reach Yodo River. However, Yodo River is beautiful and I always get filled with a kind of happiness whenever arriving at it. Today the weather was also good, and there was a lot of activity along the river – fishing ojisans (grandpas), kite flying fathers and sons, a couple playing badminton, and many bicyclists.

I enjoyed it all as I headed upstream. When I came outside the city there was only me and some sport bicyclists on the road. After about two hours and 40 km I sat down to eat my lunch – home chopped salad with rice and dressing :) At this rest area we were about five bicyclists, everyone with no other intention than just enjoying the day from the saddle.

Now I was actually following the Kizu River, one of the three rivers that merge to form the Yodo River. Today I had planned to continue alongside Kizu River,  I guess you can say the southern one, before  turning back on the opposite side. The sky had turned a little gray and it was a bit windy, making my way back home a bit slow. Overall my first bicycle adventure turned into a great day with friendly encounters and an urge to plan my next trip.

The adventure starts here

Finally,

As my granny bike got stolen some weeks ago, I now had a god reason for buying a nice road bike, and also some space left to park it in our small bicycle garage.

It wasn’t a big investment. Quite cheap, and really, more though was put into the design than anything else on this road bike. However, some quality still lies in its simplicity. For example the top tube-mounted shifters, besides from being very cool and everything, are also more robust compared to most modern shifters. Well, we’ll see how long till it falls apart.

The most important thing though: Now I can finally go on some serious adventures :)