We’re a bit behind in our coverage of cycle touring guides in Japan due to COVID-related dislocation. Here are four of the more interesting guides that have appeared recently in local bookstores.

Kyu-Kaido Jitensha-Tabi: Kyu-Nakasendo

Second in the new “Jitensha-tabi” series devoted to the ancient Kaido routes, this one covers the exact same starting and ending destinations as the previous “Tokkaido” edition: Kyoto (Sanjo) and Tokyo (Nihonbashi). But the Tokkaido mostly follows the Pacific coast, whereas the Nakasendo (Central Mountain Route) travels through the more mountainous areas that include the modern Nagano and Gifu prefectures. As with the previous one in the series, this features wonderful photographs, detailed maps with both the modern highway and station names and the old Edo period way-stations, and of course food recommendations along the way. With the release of this guide, Jitensha-tabi has now covered both of the original five Kaido that connected Tokyo with Kyoto; hopefully we’ll see guides for the other three Kaido as well in the not-too-distant future.

100 Mei-Toge Guide (Guide to 100 Famous Mountain Passes)


This guide was actually released in 2019 but we missed it in the pre-COVID days.  It’s a good one: maps of Japan with the locations of all of the 100 passes scattered throughout the country, as well as elevation maps (in some cases) and ratings for difficulty, scenery and lack of vehicular traffic. Only caveat: some surprising omissions (why on earth is Tokushima’s spectacular Kyobashira-toge not here?!).

Kansai Hill Climb Course Guide

Another guide to uphill routes, this one is specific to the Kansai region and is devoted to “hill climbs” as opposed to mountain passes. The latter are on roads that lead from one place to another, whereas hill climbs usually go up and dead-end (although this guide includes some mountain passes as well). The 85+ routes are organized by prefecture and include elevation maps. However, the thing that makes this guide different from most is the extensive use of QR codes for maps — and while the online maps are undoubtedly detailed, if you don’t have an Internet connection you’re out of luck. At this point, there’s only a Kansai guide, and there’s no word yet on whether a Kanto guide is in the works.

Japan Bicycle Route

The previous three guides are from Cycle Sports magazine; this one is from Bicycle Club. Despite the awkward English title, it actually showcases not one route but 10 — major long-distance routes that in most cases will be very familiar to KANcycling readers, including Shimanami, Lake Biwa, the Hakuba area of Nagano Prefecture and Kyushu’s Yamanami Highway. Includes elevation guides. detailed coverage of each section and many, many lovely photos featuring well-known “cycle-navigator” Kinuyo. Also nice to see extensive use made of the new National Cycle Route logo.

All of these guides should be available in major book stores. (Detailed publishing details will be included in the “Resources” section listings.)


Cycle-Touring Guide Update (April 2021)

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