To the Sea of Japan (Day 3: Isobe to Ueda)

On August 7th, we climbed up Usui pass, visited Karuizawa and reached Ueda City.

8:00AM Start riding in the rain

In front of Miharu-kan

When we left the ryokan (inns), It was raining lightly and my son complained that he didn’t want to ride in the rain.
But the weather forecast said Ueda district would be cloudy so we decided to ride.

We went on the Nakasendo, one of the five routes of the Edo period that connected Edo and Kyoto.

9:40 Yokokawa Station

Yokokawa Station

Yokokawa Station is located on foot of Usui-toge and is now a terminal station for its segment of the Shinetsu Main Line.

Usui-toge (Usui Pass) lies between Nagano and Gunma Pref and it was one of the main traffic points.
In the Edo period, there used to be a Sekisho(barrier station) at the foot of Usui pass for checking travelers.

The remain of Usui Sekisho gate. Every traveler checked their passport here in Edo period.

In 1893, from Yokokawa station to Karuizawa station, new railways started operation, this was Japan’s first Abt-system Railway. However, in 1997, Nagano Shinkansen opened and this segment was closed.

10:15 Usui-Toge Pass


We climbed up old R18, 20km long slope to Usui-toge. There is less traffic on old Usui pass because new Usui Bypass and Jyoshinetsu Expressway run parallel, so we rode comfortably.

After we started climbing, I began to fall behind my son and my husband. Even though I had mounted bags on my bike, I felt my son’s growth.
We stopped at Megane-Bashi(a bridge looks like a pair of glasses), which is one of the remains of old railways.
We parked our bikes and went to the top of the bridge. Some visitors asked us about our bike trip. All of them were surprised my son did such a long ride, praised and encouraged him.

12:00 Karuizawa Town

A path in Karuizawa Town we went through.

Karuizawa town is one of the most expensive resort towns. It was first developed as the post town on Nakasendo and after Meiji Restoration, the town became popular among western missionaries, intellectuals, and artists. They built their summer houses because of the cool weather, that’s why the town has a western atmosphere.

After that, the town also became popular among Japanese and the town developed as a popular sightseeing spot.

We became hungry so we stopped at Atelier de Fromage.

Cheese fondue
Cheese salad, I recommend it

We had pizza, cheese salad, and cheese fondue. Everything was delicious but we especially we enjoyed various kinds of cheese in the Cheese salad.

Fontaine Bleau, fresh cheese cake

My son and I added dessert. I ate Fontaine bleau(Fresh Cheese dessert wrapped with gauze)
After lunch, the rain stopped.

Karuizawa Oiwake

We went through Karuizawa Oiwake, the junction of Nakasendo to Kyoto and Hokkoku-Kaido to Nagano and the Sea of Japan. From here we started tracing Hokkoku-Kaido.

Karuizawa Oiwake

Asama Sunline (the highland route from Oiwake to Ueda city)

A view of Miyoda town

We rode along R18 and Asama Sunline which runs on highland. From Karuizawa, the road inclines toward to Ueda city.
We enjoyed a stunning view of the road, but the traffic is relatively heavy and lots of trucks passed by. Durling the tour, I rode in the front of my son and my husband rode behind my son. My husband said he was scared because my son could not keep to the leftmost lane and he might be hit by a car from behind in the segment.

17:00 Ueda City

We arrived at Ueda city and put our baggage at “Sai-No-Tsuno” where we stayed.
Then we went to see Ueda Castle.
Ueda castle was first built in 1583 by Sanada Masayuki, who was a Daimyo, a feudal lord in this area.

There was a river running beside the castle.

He skillfully constructed the castle using the river bank as natural retaining walls. The castle beat off the forces of Tokugawa twice.
In the second attack in 1600, Tokugawa Hidetada, a son of Tokugawa Ieyasu and the future second Tokugawa Shogun led 38,000 warriors and attacked the castle, but could not conquer the castle which was protected by only 3,000 warriors. Hidetada stayed in Ueda so long that he arrived at Sekigahara after the battle ended. (Of course, Ieyasu got angry and their relationship never recovered.)

Sanada Ishi(Stone) next to the castle gate. (2.5m high and 3m wide)

18:30 Eating Yakitori with “Oi-dare”, special sauce

IMG_4257.jpgAfter took a bath, we went to Torimasa, Yakitori (grilled chicken) Izakaya restaurant.
Torimasa was the birthplace of “Oi-dare” which literally means delicious sauce. The sauce is the local specialty of Ueda city. The ingredients of the sauce are soy sauce and grated garlic. In Ueda city, Many Izakaya serves Yakitori with the sauce.

Pour Oi-dare on Yakitori before eating.

Distance: 71.77km
UP: 830 m
Down: 556 m


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