26 December 2013


My wife planned an onsen ryokan (hot spring inn) trip for our family, just an overnight on Christmas Eve/Christmas Morning with our two sons back in town from university for the holidays.  She found a place in Yugawara.  Yugawara is a town on the coast between Odawara and Atami, just at the gateway to the Izu Peninsula from the eastern (Tokyo) side.

As the weather was nice, and I needed to stop back at the Keio SFC campus to teach a class on Wednesday afternoon (Christmas is NOT a public holiday in Japan), of course, I decided to ride my bicycle.  I had wanted to take Yabitsu Pass, but my start was delayed until just before 1PM, so I headed straight out Route 246.  This meant I would traverse the entirety of Kanagawa Prefecture and its sprawl in each direction.  Not my favorite place for riding, but if I need to do it, best in winter.

I turned south off Route 246 somewhere around Yamato as 246 got completely clogged up, with the shoulder too narrow at places to pass the cars and trucks at anywhere near full speed.  I hunted and pecked my way to the coast, through Samukawa and to Hiratsuka, names I recognize but cannot quite place.

As I rode along the coast, at one point I saw a sign for the "Pacific Coast Bicycle Path" and headed about 200 meters off Route 1 to find a bike path adjacent to the Seisho By-Pass.  I had seen the sign before, on ekiden rides, but never tried it.  The bike path was passable, but only continued for 2 kms and ended in a sandy cul-de-sac.  I needed to dismount through the sandy patch, then remount and head back up a neighborhood street to Route 1.  (On the way back, I also took this path, and managed another 500 meters or so in the eastern direction to confirm the entire length.  The eastern end also dumped out into a bit of sand.  Slower than Route 1, pathetically short, but good to know of.

Mikan orchards between Odawara and Yugawara
Route 135, the coastal road from Odawara to Yugawara offered its benefits, despite the traffic volumes.  The fresh air and views were a relief, both in late afternoon and the following day.

The last surprise was finding the onsen.  I got to Manazuru, just north of Yugawara, around 430 or 445PM.  Only then did I try to identify the exact location of the onsen.  It was not in Yugawara, but at the far edge of "Oku Yugawara", more than 5 kms beyond Yugawara station and at several hundred meters elevation.  I arrived in the dark, after 515PM.  The attendant took my bicycle inside and to a luggage room, no questions asked.  I wanted to go straight to the room and meet my family, but was told "no", the correct order was that I first rest in the lounge and be served a bowl of "macha" tea.  This happened very quickly, I downed it in one gulp, and was led to the room.  Greetings, then off to a hot bath and a gorgeous meal.
Trying to get a photo without a car in it ...
Was a bit of a challenge.


mob said...

Nice one. When I started to cycle in Japan (alone) I went these roads many time to Odawara, then ride up to Hakone or take the Shinkansen back, depending on the time. This was before I discovered rindos and nicer roads in the mountains. Good luck with the Festive500, for me so far 266km.

Graham said...

Nice. There are some nice ryokans in Yugawara indeed, and also a nice French restaurant above the town called Harlequin Bis. I also like the ride up from Yugawara to Ashinoko - I think it is around 17km, and 5-6%, so long but not killingly steep. It does get some motorbikes on it but otherwise pretty empty. You can then continue on and down the ekiden route or old Tokaido to Odawara.