Crashing waves, quiet little coves, waterfalls splashing down hillsides, spectacularly craggy rocks... In my opinion, Echizen is one of the finest bike trips in all of Japan. Practically nowhere else can you get such wonderful scenery for so little effort. Other advantages: light traffic almost all the way, and easy access - the route starts just outside Tsuruga, a major station on the main JR line going north from Kansai.

This is not a long trip; you can ride all the way from the starting point at Tsuruga Station to the rocky cliffs of Tojimbo in a day. But why should you? If ever a route was meant to be savored, this is the one. Go slowly - eat some grilled squid from a roadside stand, take a dip in the cool, clear water and by all means spend the night in a "minshuku." You might find yourself deciding to invest in a summer home on the Japan Sea...

Note: portions of this section originally appeared in the cycling newsletter Oikaze and subsequent book "Cycling Japan."

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