Sports Day ride through Yamanobe no Michi

This past Monday was a holiday here in Japan. The holiday is known simply as Sports Day or “Taiiku no Hi”. Since I came to Japan, I have annually enjoyed this “day off work” never exactly knowing why it existed. A quick Google search however, solved that. The holiday was first held in 1966 to commemorate the opening of the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and is meant to promote sports and an active lifestyle.  For me obviously that just translates into one thing, a day of cycling!

The gears in my head hadn’t even begun to turn when suddenly the Instagram messages started coming in from the local Nara crew.  Before I could even get a word in, I had already been nominated as the Navigator for Sports Day. Okay, no problem, but where to go?  With a mixed group of riders, I thought the ride should be fairly flat, yet slightly challenging, but most of all scenic and fun.  My first idea was “Yamanobe no Michi” which I have ridden a few times.  After a KCDC also mentioned there, it was set in stone. 

Yamanobe no Michi, is the oldest known road in Japan. It is located in Nara prefecture, just south of Tenri city, along the eastern mountains in Nara. The road is said to have originally connected Nara city and Sakurai. It is mentioned in the history book “Nihon Shoki” (The chronicles of Japan) which was finished in the year 720 A.D. 

Fast forward to 2017, and we are out cycling on the same road which has now become a very popular hiking trail with many sites of historical significance along the way.  

A late morning meetup started off with a bit of coffee and cookies. Unfortunately we were one man down as the night before local Nara legend KCDC had a small mishap on his bike. It sucked not to have him ride along, but hopefully he will be well soon enough to join next time.

Nishitonotsuka tomb mound is just one example of the many historical sites along the way.

Kaki, or Japanese Persimmon, is in season and can be found all over Nara, especially along the Yamanobe no Michi trail. Slightly later in the season one can find several stands along the trail that sell bags of kaki for a reasonable price. If you happen to visit I highly recommend to get some as the taste is so good!

After a finishing the trail it was definitely time to get a bite to eat. As Miwa is known for it's somen, we decided to try some at a local restaurant  named "Miwa no sato ikegawa" . This was the second time I had been there, and it is definitely one of my favorite stops around Sakurai to eat.

A big cheers to @standardgrey / @monmon_photographyl.arrydodds  for fun time and a great ride!


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