Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tokyo to Osaka: the tunnel

Given Japan is a hilly country, there are a lot of tunnels. But what is annoying, on roads, that on a map look cycling friendly, you can find yourself at a tunnel, which you are not allowed to ride through. Or simply, bicycle unfriendly tunnels are not marked on maps. This is a problem as finding an alternate route, is not always going to be easy, and can add a lot of kilometres to your journey. 

You can however ride through a lot of tunnels, and I think its a good idea to have lights on your bike all the time, so you can turn them on quickly when needed, as the tunnels are not all well lit, and don't necessarily have good shoulders for riding. 

After I decided to make the trip from Tokyo to Osaka I did a quick search "cycling tokyo to osaka" and I came across this website "" that documents a similar trip made some years back by a group of fixie riders.  They made a short film {below} and if you look @ 5:40 they came across a tunnel which they could not ride through.

As luck would have it - I too came across this tunnel. Well, from looking at the video it seems to be the exact same tunnel, there was also a temple, and it was also on the way to Omaezaki. So possibly this tunnel is here to taunt all crazy cyclists on this trip. Anyway, in my mind I decided that I'd just ride through it, no one would know. It had been a slow day, and I needed to make up some km's.  

Upon approaching the tunnel, a voice came over a loudspeaker, and I assumed who ever it was, had seen me via some camera, and was telling me not to ride through. The same thing happened to the Fixie riders. So reluctantly I turned around.

Luckily enough, I found an alternate route with not too much trouble. The great thing was that this alternate route, was a highlight of the trip. I had to ride closer to the coast and I came across was this crazy road built around the mountain the tunnel went through. But it wasn't on land, it was built over the sea. As one person put it too me, "Japanese love over engineering".

Then I went through a series of small tunnels, sort of ironic, as some were single lane. The view of the coast was great, and the road was winding, with gentle up and downhill sections. The type of road I love to ride. If anyone does this trip, this is definitely a stretch to ride. It's Route 416, around Yaizu. 

Below are just a couple of pics: