The fourth day, we rode on Chikumagawa cycling road from Ueda city to Shibu Onsen, which is located on foot of Shiga Kogen Highland.
8:00 AM Chikumagawa River Cycling Road
We started riding on “Chikumagawa Cycling road”, which runs along Chikumagawa river.
Chikuma river (Shinano River) is the longest and widest river in Japan, which runs in both Nagano and Niigata Pref.
The cycling road is still expanding, and we don’t know it’s length officially, but we could ride over 30 km on it to the central area of Nagano city.
We entered the road at Ueda-Bashi bridge and rode comfortably without any car traffic.
The path was almost flat so my son maintained a good pace.
Three years ago, we had ridden from Ueda to the south of Nagano city and my son remembered some places we went through.
11:00 AM Kawanakajima historic battlefield park
We rode on our schedule and took a short break at the park of Kawanakajima historic battlefield where two Sengoku Daimyo, feudal loads(Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin) battled five times during the 16th century.
We missed seeing the statue of two daimyos but found a statue of Sakuma Shozan, a scholar of the Edo period.
He was a master of Sakamoto Ryoma, Katsu Kaishu and Yoshida shoin who were the most important figures at the end of Edo period. (Bakumatsu).
At Ochiai-Bashi bridge, the cycling route suddenly ended. We had to ride in a heavy traffic on the river bank road.
We left Chikumagawa river and arrived at Michino-Eki Obuse and had lunch.
Obuse town, Hokusai
After lunch, we visited Obuse Town and Hokusai-kan.
Obuse is one of the highlights of this tour and I’ve been longing to visit Hokusai-Kan, the art museum of Katsushika Hokusai, the great Ukiyoe master.
Hokusai was born and lived in Ryogoku, my neighborhood.
Now there is the Sumida Hokusai Museum in Ryogoku museum opened in honor of him.
Why there is another museum of Hokusai in Obuse?
Because Takai Kozan, who was a wealthy farmer and merchant in this area and a pupil and patron of Hokusai invited him.
In 1842, the 83 years old Hokusai traveled from Edo to Obuse. After that, he visited Obuse three more time until when he was 89 years old.
In Obuse, he painted lots of originals and we enjoyed his masterpieces at the museum.
Our bike trip almost traced Hokusai’s footsteps to Obuse. I can’t imagine an eighty year old man traveling over 250 km and crossing Usui-pass.
I was astonished by Hokusai’s “angry wave” paintings on the ceiling of festival floats. It is said he adhered to depict waves as they looked, and had improved his technique after he had drawn “Great Wave off Kanagawa.”
After we enjoyed the great works, we ate ice creams. Obuse town is also famous for chestnuts and it’s confectionaries.
I ate chestnut ice cream at Marrone.
We left Obuse town and went to Shibu Onsen
Shibu Onsen is a Japanese traditional Onsen town and there is the very popular wild snow monkey park in the town.
Five years ago, we visited the monkey park and watched monkeys bathing in hot springs. (Monkeys only bathe in hot springs in the cold season)
This time, we didn’t expect to see wild snow monkeys, but on the way to Shibu Onsen, we encountered wild monkeys on the slope down to Shibu Onsen.
We stayed at Koishiya Ryokan, which is a guest house reformed into an old traditional ryokan.
The inn has no Onsen, but the guests can bathe in nearby Ryokan’s Onsen. The inn’s staff took us to Yorozuya in Yudanaka Onsen and we enjoyed its bath, classic and magnificent architecture, where we stayed five years ago.
After bathing, we came back to Koishiya Ryokan and enjoyed supper at a cozy restaurant at the inn.