Trip on unexplored national roads in Japan – Part 2

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Trip on unexplored national roads in Japan – Part 2

However, do be careful when walking along rough and uneven paths in the mountain. For example, on the way to the lodge, there is a section comprising plank paths made of logs.

While walking to the lodge, you will also come across a unique sight, a restroom in the middle of a national road! Called Restroom National Road, it was built for users of the lodge. Karisaka Lodge is located at a height of 1,950m. Do note that meals are not served at this mountain lodge so you’ll have to bring your own food and prepare your meals yourself.

On the second day of this trip along Route 140, wake up early and climb to the top of the Karisaka Ridge to see not only Mt. Fuji but also the gorgeous sunrise. In fact, Karisaka Ridge is known as one of the best three ridges in Japan. Besides Mt. Fuji, the beautiful peaks of the Southern Japan Alps can also be seen from the ridge.

After this, continue walking towards the end of Route 140, which is about 5km away. However, you’ll have to walk downhill to the goal - the toll gate of Karisaka Tunnel at the foot of the mountain. Be careful as you make your way down the steep path. Many animals can be found in the mountain and if you’re lucky, you may come across some of the cute inhabitants such as deer. Later, walk on a path along a stream. Take a break once you reach an open space and drink some water from the stream. Resume your trek downhill and soon you will arrive at a bridge, which is 2km away from the goal. From here onwards, the road is paved. Continue walking till you reach the toll gate, which is the final destination of this two-day 15.2km-trip along Route 140.

The next national road we will check out is Route 422. It connects Otsu city in Shiga prefecture and Kihoku town in Mie prefecture. The entire route spans about 176km, but we’ll be travelling only about 50km to Matsusaka city in Mie prefecture over two days. This time, we will be riding on bicycles during most of the route. Begin at the station at Iga Ueno, which is known as a ninja town. Ride your bicycle and enjoy the mountain scenery as you make your way to the Mikuniya Inn. It’ll take you over four hours to reach the inn located high in the mountain. The inn is run by local housewives and the lodging fee, which includes two meals, starts from 6,000 yen. The rooms come with a nice view of rice fields and Mt. Obora. Unfortunately, the inn doesn’t have a bathtub but fret not, you can ride to an open-air hot spring called Himeishi-no-Yu. It is situated beside a station. Return to the hotel after soaking in the refreshing bath and enjoy a dinner featuring dishes such as local trout from Misugi.

On the second day, ride your bicycle along Route 422 for about 30 minutes. The road gets narrower and you will reach a woodland path which is impassable to cars. You’ll have to ride your bicycle up the steep slope and later push your bicycle along the unpaved path. After this rough path comes the Shoji Ridge. Do note that you’ll have to carry your bicycle on your shoulders to climb the ridge. It’ll take you about 30 minutes to climb to the top of the ridge. Once you reach the top of Shoji Ridge, take a well-deserved break and have a quick packed lunch.

Then, head downhill by bicycle while admiring the beautiful mountain azaleas along the way. You may have to carry your bicycle again when you reach the woodland path. After this path comes an open space and then a prefectural path. Ride your bicycle carefully along this road as it can be muddy and slippery, especially if it has been raining. Continue along Route 422 and you will eventually reach Matsusaka city, which is famous for its beef.


1) Meals are not served at the Karisaka mountain lodge, so you’ll have to bring and cook your own food

2) Mountain paths get slippery and muddy after it has been raining, so do walk or cycle carefully

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