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Hanamaki to Kitakami Cycling Road

Follow the old rail line along the Kitakami river

The cycling road from Hanamaki onsen to Kitakami is a lovely and under utilized cycling road passing through some amazing vistas and wildlife. It follows the old tram line from Hanamaki onsen to the old station in the center of town and then follows the Kitakami River to Tenshochi in Kitakami. Before cars were common, the tram lines were the main mode of transportation to Hanamaki onsen and Namari onsen in the south part of Hanamaki.

The tram lines were decommissioned in the late 1960's and the section that connected the center of Hanamaki to Hanamaki onsen was converted to a cycling road. From Hanamaki onsen to Tenshochi in Kitakami it's about 20 kilometers one way. The cycling road passes through scenic forests, quiet parks and busy thoroughfares so you'll experience a lot of different views along the way. One of the main features, at least to me, is that it isn't crowded so you can go at a leisurely pace or faster if you're so inclined. The first part from Hanamaki onsen is lined with cherry trees, it's very beautiful in late April, in August the hibiscus flowers are blooming and they are gorgeous. The entire summer season you'll be able to see some kind of flowers along the way. A little further down the road you'll pass a pine grove and the Hanamaki athletic park and Hanamaki East high school. Hanamaki East is a baseball power house, virtually every year they go to the summer high school baseball tournament at Koshien ground in Nishinomiya. The stars of that tournament usually end up pros, baseball is still a very important sport in Japan.

After that you'll pass the Hanamaki train station and just after that the old tram station that has been turned into a community house. You can stop and have a look at one of the old trams next to the old station. A few kilometers further you'll have to turn left but there isn't much in terms of signage so look carefully. At the bottom of a hill at the last traffic light before the bridge is where you should turn left, from there you'll follow the Toyosawa River and go under Route 4, a National highway. Just after that you'll see a big bridge (Asahi ohashi) or Morning Big Bridge that goes over the Kitakami River, cross it and on the other side you'll see a sign for the cycling road. After that it's well indicated, then you'll be riding on the dike and there are no cars to worry about from that point on. The scenery is breathtaking, there is a look out to see the Kitakami River, there are always ducks, cranes, herons and other birds along the river. About 5 kilometers further you'll see a water mill, it usually runs during Golden Week in spring and also in October to make buckwheat flour for noodles. The last part of the road is mostly through trees along the river, it's very quiet you can hear a lot of song birds and in August the cicadas are quite loud. You'll end up at a place called Tenshochi in Kitakami, a good place to soak your feet in the river and enjoy the scenery before getting ready to go back.

For those that don't have bicycles, there is a rental shop near Hanamaki station, it's called "Maruroku". The prices are reasonable, it starts at ¥400 for an hour and goes up ¥100 for each additional hour. It's ¥1000 for 7 hours or a full day. Be sure to bring an ID card with you. The address is 1-3-1 Oodori, Hanamaki, about 1 block south of the station, past Takeda Sports. It's right against the rail road so it's easy to find. Their phone number 0198-23-2825, English is very limited but they are very friendly.

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Justin Velgus 8 years ago
Great find! Bike riding with some history. Same in Sendai we used to have a tram system until the number of cars on the streets made it impossible around the 60s and 70s.

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