JAPAN 2015
Fujikawaguchiko to Shiojiri
North of Mt Fuji
Friday 17 April 2015
I took an early morning walk from K's, crossing the bridge over lake Kawaguchi where I stumbled on some great views of Mt Fuji, framed in cherry blossom.

The plan for the day was to cycle north, climbing over the mountains that separate the Fuji Five Lakes region from the Kōfu Basin, then cycle and train up to Matsumoto to see the castle there. I had the choice of a long, winding climb over the mountain on a minor road or a shorter climb followed by a longish tunnel on a busier road.

I opted for the long, winding maybe scenic? climb over the top, but when I got to the appropriate junction I found a makeshift sign, scrawled in Japanese. I had no idea what it said but was approaching altitudes where snow was lingering, so decided it must be saying 'road ahead closed' and opted for the tunnel instead.

This wasn't much fun as there was no hard shoulder but plenty of traffic. I donned my lights and reflectors and got the hammer down to minimise time in the tunnel. Safely out the other side, it was largely downhill all the way to Kōfu station (via the Golden Arches for some mid-morning caffeine where I packed up my bike for the umpteenth time and hopped on the train to Matsumoto.
On arriving into Matsumoto, I put my bike together outside the station and headed off to find the castle - another of Japan's national treasures. I'd been cherry picking apt, given the time of year! the best castles to visit on this trip and Matsumoto was no exception. Known as Crow Castle because of its black exterior, it was the seat of the Matsumoto domain and still has the original sixteenth century wooden interiors and external stonework.

After my visit it was back on two wheels for practically the last time on this trip as I set the Sat Nav for Shiojiri and my hotel, 25km to the south.
I was planning to spend tomorrow cycling north to Hakuba, then visit the Tateyama Alpine route on Sunday but the forecast for tomorrow was azure blue skies, with Sunday becoming overcast and cloudy. So I decided to do the Alpine route tomorrow to take advantage of the fine weather.