The Echizen trip can be combined easily with a visit to Kanazawa 50 km further up the coast. This route can be recommended because there is a bikepath called the Kaga Kaigan Jitensha-do that starts almost as soon as the road returns to the coast again, near the city of Komatsu, and goes nearly all the way to Kanazawa, a distance of 32.6 kilometers. (If you'd rather cycle just the bikepath itself, take the train from Awara Onsen to Terai, nine stops up the coast. From this station, the bikepath is only a few blocks to seaward, and one can follow it virtually all the way to Kanazawa.) Note that you will have to spend 20-30 minutes biking from the coast where the bike path ends into the center of Kanazawa, since that's the nearest train station.

The city of Kanazawa has much to offer, including quiet traditional streets and Kenrokuen (shown here), one of the three most famous parks in Japan. The city is also not far from the Japan Alps - a route from here goes straight to Shirakawa-go, a World Heritage site and a village with many steeple-roofed houses preserved (and many are minshuku so you can actually spend the night in one). Routes to Shirakawa will be featured on this site in the future.

Kanazawa is also the starting point for the annual Tour du Noto, a 3-day ride in September in which hundreds of riders cycle around the Noto Peninsula to the north. This ride is NOT for beginners, as the distances are considerable; at 170-odd kilometers, the second day alone is more than a Century Ride! I did it twice years ago before the fees became outrageous (at last count it was a whopping 30,000 yen JUST to participate, not including accommodations or transport to and from Kanazawa). Still, it’s a unique experience and would be fun to do once. For more information, see the Noto route on this site.

If you don't feel like riding all the way to Kanazawa, you might just head to Fukui and then cycle to the Eiheiji temple located about 20 kilometers to the east. The roads are not crowded and there is reportedly a bicycle path from the city of Fukui (but I haven't been able to find it yet). Eiheiji is a monastery complex built in 1244 by Dogen of the Zen Soto sect. It is now the center for Zen meditation in Japan. Hundreds of priests live here year-round; if you want to participate, they'll reportedly let you stay there for up to a week - but the minimum stay is two nights, and you must rise before 4 a.m., meditate and eat the traditional shojin-ryori (monk's fare). A local private railway runs from the temple all the way back into Fukui, so if you're bushed you can train back the whole way.

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