The Monkey Mountain Craft Beer brewery is one of those pocket-sized delights that Japan as a whole…
The Maple Yabakei Cycling Road follows the beautiful Yabakei Gorge from Ao-no-Domon to Morizane Onsen along the old route of the single-track Yabakei Railway, along which steam trains once threaded their way up the valley until 1975. In 1982, the route of the old line was repurposed to create a delightful 22km cycle path that follows the Yamakuni-gawa, the river that carved out the gorge over millennia.
As it was originally created for trains, the route of the Maple Yabakei Cycling Road has a very gentle gradient as it climbs through charming rural countryside past paddy fields and small settlements. Towering on either side, the gorge’s beautiful scenery is especially stunning in November when the leaves of the forest turn into their full autumn colours. En route, the cycle path threads its way through the railway’s old tunnels and over its bridges spanning the Yamakuni-gawa before reaching the terminus at Morizane Onsen. Here is the intriguing Core Yamakuni civic facility that also includes an ice-rink. Designed by Akira Kuryu, it is a suprisingly extravagant shimmering work of architecture to find in rural Japan. Nearby is Yasuragi-no-Sato Onsen, an ideally located place to waylay at, relax in the therapeutic hot waters and enjoy refreshments.
A large selection of rental bicycles of various shapes and sizes, including electric-assist, tandem and children’s cycles, are available at the Yabakei Cycling Terminal, which is located about half-way along the route. Bicycles can be returned here or dropped off at either end of the Cycle Road at Ao-no-Domon or Core Yamakuni.
At a glance
Cycling in the gorgeously rural Yabakei gorge.