Shimizu to Shirakawago

Lugnuts, Bambi and I went and hooked up with EasternBeaver in Shimizu and went on one of his wonderous backroad tours. If you haven’t been out EB’s way yet, DO IT!

Met up and hit the road with EB at Shimizu exit of the Tomei. Yep, a couple of us were late! Tried to blame it on the fog but EB wasn’t having any of that!
First stop combini breakfast

Stopped to take in some highland views here

and there were some other riders in them there hills!

lot of water up there but luckily none falling on us yet.

EB had taken us up to Ikawa by the Hatanagi dam and it was a long way from Ebina so we rolled into a scenic Ikawa for fuel. On the way we found the local Hobbit train. Just like a real one only minnier

Got hit with a downpour at the fuel pump and hid out till the bulk had past. Then EB wanted to show us a mountain pass over into Yamanashi. The mapple shows it as 8km of dirt but he assures us it isn’t and all was hard bitumen last year. He’s the local mountain goat so off we went. Was pretty excited as my last mountain pass with him was great(Abe pass) and this one looked higher. Maybe 1800m.
A corner was missed somewhere and we ended up on, what do we call this EB?  DIRT?!

He swore it wasn’t dirt but the navi showed us to be on the wrong road. He got lucky this time!
So back we went down the 60 scouting for the .
Found the turn and the navi tried to lead us over this bridge

Avoided that and then headed for the top of the Southern Alps

As the road went higher, it got dodgier with very real chances of landslides and became an excersize in puncture avoidance from the debris of previous slides.

And then the road came to an definite end at about 1850m Check it out here
So another turnaround and back down we went. But EB took us down an alternate route with great views, turns, much improved surface, upto 1870m and no one around. Could see all the way back down to Ikawa from up there

Someway down we stopped for a powow and resigned ourselves to the fact a Yamanashi crossing wasn’t on the cards for Bambi, Lugnuts and I so we were going to skip heading for the TR BBQ and go west skirting the southern edge of the Alps and see how far west we could get.
EasternBeaver left us contemplating trying to make it to the BBQ or just head home. We split above Ikawa with him going south-east for Abe Pass or Shimizu. All this before lunch!

Now 3, off we went down the 60 and 388. That 388 is a beauty!
Starving, we found a soba/udon place at the top of another dam(lotta dams up that way)
Then that little train went chugging down the line hanging off the other side of the valley

It was around half 2 and our chances of making IIda in Naganao were looking slim but we decided to ride till we either found a place on route or madeit to IIda. The later meant the 152 at night with atleast a little rain, a good chance of fog and Lugnuts and Bambi not used to that sort of thing.
We swung south on the 77 and west on the 362. A long stop found no accomodations so it looked like the long hall. Some way down the 362 we tried to short cut across the 286. A caution had us at a stop and Bambi told us to turn around and check out a Ryokan a little ways back. Great call!
Monzenya Ryokan – 3500yen + meals. Dinner – 1100yen. Big rooms, by a famous temple and the Tenryu river. Nice place.
Day 1 + 380km done!

Couple of happy riders there!


Day 2 and woke up to a corker of a day! Early start, around half seven and the roads were empty.
Plan was north up 152, west to Iida at the big tunnel and onto Magome. Hopefully make Takayama by nightfall

Here’s the nights accomodations. They said they get some foreign bikers camping there by the river from time to time so maybe someone here knows it.

They had a photo of Egon with another 15 years in Japan in him on the side of the road at the 389 turn off

These guys get to live on the 389

The 389, although wet and leaf strewn had an awesome atmosphere

And an even better touge. Here’s Bambi on the climb

and scorching to the summit!

If signs were indicators of roads.. . .   .

Finally on the 152, we’d already ridden some good roads but the sun was climbing and we still had a long way to go. Thankfully the southern leg of the 152 has a lot of new tarmac and the touge has a some nice sswitchbacks. Maybe better north to south though.
Some funny signs on route

These yellow ones came corner after corner

Bucked teeth, a fat ass and looked like it was wearing massive glasses. Poor bastard needs a reward on his head not a warning

That 152 was a cool ride and then turned west into the tunnel to nowhere. Hoped to try some konyaku softcream on the other side but it was closed. :crying:
From there it was a trudge through Iida and jumped the Chuo to shave some time. Lugnuts had ETC trouble -got it sorted- and then the navi started sending us on the longest possible route to Magome. Crossed the Chuo 3 times, saw the hidden jungles of the area and almost rode into a horse field off a hairpin. Got to explete a lot of pent up stress there :aggressive:
Some time later rolled into Magome

and tried the local cuisine including soy slathered rice on an oversized popstick.. . . .. that looked like it was just pulled out of a sewer pipe but was delicious!

and walnut icecream

Nice little traditional Edo era town

Time to get back on the road we headed out the 19/256/257/41/257 and then the glorious 73 into Takayama. Was a fair trek but the roads were great, valley scenery superb, weather clear and cool and not much traffic about. We beat the navi!  :tongue:
Another great night at the Gasshou-en

Great dinner – nevver fear there weren’t really cats cooking in that box

Had some fish

And few of the local brews

and then staggered around the gardens unloading our heavy metal rich blood to the local mozzies

Wasn’t long out of bed and dropped off to the pitta patta of rain… . .  .


Fine outside but a quick look at the internet weather showed a whopper storm headed our way from the west. So Shirakawago pronto

Day 3
Woke up a little grogged from the night before and staggered down for breaky. Couldn’t afford the deluxe rate so got allocated the chairs without legs!

Here was round 1 – the Houba miso(cooking on the houba-leaf) is a local speciality and was perfect!  :ok1:

Saying farewell to a quickly greying Takayama, we hit the road for Shirakawago. Wanted to do the twisties on the way there but rain was approaching so hoafed it on the expressway. The newish extension runs right from Takayama to Shirakawago and is about 70% tunnels. Only about 45km but the longest tunnel is 10.7km. Stopped before entering the looong tunnel to get a snap of the name on the tunnel before.

Pulled into Shirakawago to find the ETC lane being repaired and tried to pull a  :dontknow:  to get a freebee but had to pull the card to pay the piper.

Shirakawago was wet with a little drizzle here and there but the low cloud seemed to suit the place. Wanted to get a Geezer shot before checking in at the Ryokan

The Ryokan – the old Matron was kind enough to move her van outa the shed to let us park the bikes in there  :thumbs_up:

Got unpacked and changed, was about 20deg and drizzling out so went to take some pics and get some lunch. Last time there it was about 30deg, fine, dry and roasting. Also it was on a long weekend and packed. This time it was a Tuesday and not many people about. Felt like a town not a theme park.

Rice looked great in the wet conditions

Went inside some of the big houses. The upper floors felt like the bowls of a capsized ship

Wandered back for a 6:30 dinner

Then went for an onsen and to look for the local fireflies the Matron said used to be down the base of the hill the last time she was there – could have been a long time ago – but as sure as her word they were still there. Here’s a close up of one( couldn’t pick up one on the fly

Bambi went to get a drink but had to wait in line behind this guy!

After a great day with not much riding, we went to bed with just the flyscreens shut, doors open and the soft sound of a gentle drizzle outside.
Great day!


Final day 380km

Woke up early after a cold night. The air was fresh and cool with the doors open which made for good sleeping. Couldn’t get back to sleep so went out to take a walk and get some early morning snaps.

Our place

The streets were empty at 6.30

found a cow shed with a little calf in there

headed into the forest

trekked back up the hill for an overview

The public toilets were quite flash but soaking wet inside

The detail is cool

Made it back for a 7:30 breaky. Another great meal and perfect riding fuel for the trek home

Saying goodbye to Shirakawago we fueled up on the way outa town and got on the expressway back to Takayama. I had to be back to start work in the late afternoon so left Lugnuts and Bambi to dawdle home via Matsumoto castle

I was having too much fun enjoying the 80 odd kms of twisties and tunnels on the 158 to stop and see the eclipse. Was wondering what all the people were looking up at! Was cloudy anyhow. Besides there had been a lot of rain up there and some of those tunnels were downright dastardly! Got a two wheel drift going into a corner in one narrow leaky tunnel. Pukker factor 10  :shock1:
Bambi tried to get a shot of the eclipse though

Made it back after a 5hr run with minimal rain and traffic. Coming down onto the Kanto plain was a steaming return to reality. Sure did enjoy those cool mountains.

Very cool trip with a great pair of riding amigos. Hope to be back out that way again soon. So much to see, great roads to ride and delicious food to try.

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