An easy 30 minute bicycle ride from Kinosaki to Genbudo
Museum & Park
To begin your trip, head on over to SOZORO Kinosaki Information Center, located in front of the train station, and rent a bicycle. Even though you can rent the bicycle by for 2 hours for the low cost of 500 yen, I highly recommend getting it for the whole day. An all day rental is very reasonably priced at 1,000 yen and will give you more time to stop along the route to take in the sites.
Go HERE for more information on bicycle rentals.
The course will take you down and along the east side of the Maruyama River, the main river that runs past Kinosaki and out to the Sea of Japan. For the most part, the course if fairly flat with just one slightly big hill. On your way to Genbudo, a geological point of interest that is also a national natural monument famous for its basalt caves, enjoy gorgeous views over the river, and spot cute little farms and vegetable gardens. On our ride we also enjoyed the mountain views as we rode the course during the autumn, but it would be just as beautiful in the spring and summer I imagine.
From Kinosaki and along Maruyama River
From SOZORO we road our bikes down the main road past the train station on the left, elementary school and fire-station on the right, and out to the river. If you time it right you will get to wave high to all the people coming into town or leaving on the local train. It is especially fun to wave hi when there is a group of enthusiastic school children on board. Pictured above is the narrow little blue bridge just past the railroads, cross this to get across the Maruyama River and onto the main road to Genbudo.
After you get past the railroad tracks turn right and try to stay on the right side of the guardrail. It is a little bumpy an narrow, so if you aren’t confident in your balance feel free to walk your bike to the light. The walk light here isn’t on a timer, you will have to push the button to get the green walk sign.
The view from the bridge is spectacular. It is also a surprisingly narrow bridge and you will find cars passing you as you ride. There is a slightly wider section near the center of the bridge you can pull off the side at and snap a picture of the river here. The river is Maruyama River, on some days during the warmer months you can see rowing teams from the local school out practicing. Most days you will see people out catching some fish. This time, being autumn, we enjoyed views of susuki, Japanese Autumn Silver Grass, obviously named for the way the tall grass shimmers like silver under the autumn sun.
Once we got enough of the river views, we still stopped on the way back and several more times later on to see it some more though, we took a right at the other side of the river. You will see a smaller brownish sign for “Genbudo Park” pointing you in the right direction. Going to the left will bring you to the Toshima Wetland and a viewing point to see the Oriental White Stork, a natural national treasure.
If you have time and want to check it out, it is only a 5 minute ride from here.
The first part of the course just after the bridge was almost flat and very easy for riding. There was also minimal traffic and some open land where we could park our bikes and watch the trains glide by. I loved hearing the clatter of the trains echo off the mountain sides as it passed. You will notice the silver grass in the photos, if you come in spring or summer the view is just as beautiful. The mountains look denser and greener. The swaying of the many bamboo groves in the wind was another favorite view. In the spring you are sure spot specks of light pink from the cherry blossoms in full bloom, this is usually around late March depending on the yearly temperatures and weather conditions of course.
We also found several wonderfully cared for gardens and some great looking traditional buildings nestled at the foot of the mountain forests. At some of the homes you could see giant white radish and persimmon, the seasonal vegetable and fruit at the time, hung up to dry.
Now this is where you start to get a work out. Soon the road will start curving away from the river and you will come across a four-way section. Keep going straight and up the slope that you see winding up alongside the mountain. You really get a feel for the mountain valley here, especially if you look to your right and see the steep mountains practically interweaving with each other. It is only 2 km to Genbudo from this intersection. Don’t worry, this is the only big hill you have to worry about, until you have to peddle back that is.
After you have reached the top, it is all downhill from there. This part was great for cruising. We ended up stopping several times to take in the breathtaking views of the river. There was a small island that seemed to be a little getaway for some local birds, there was a good number of ducks bobbing around the island as well. The view changed every few meters, making us stop to take a ton of pictures. There are no “rest spots” here and there isn’t too much room between you and on-coming traffic so use caution when stopping.
Before long we had reached our destination, Genbudo Park and Museum. This place is well known as what people here refer to as a “power spot”. Although, historically it is famous for playing a significant role in the discovery of reverse magnetization. The rock formations that make up the caves are especially interesting. Magma from a volcanic eruption over 1.6 million years ago hardened and formed polygonal shapes that jut upwards. The rocks look like a giant honeycomb formation if you look at their cross sections where the rocks have been broken off. The park and newly renovated (finished in 2018) museum are fascinating and worth a visit. Find out more about the park and museum at the link below.
Overall this was a great cycling course, very easy to ride and find our way. Would suggest it for anyone that likes the outdoors, cycling and exploring new places. The roads are very well maintained and fairly easy to navigate, very hard to get lost. The rental bikes from SOZORO were also great, especially since they had a basket on the handle bars to help us carry our bags and things. The ride alone probably took about 30-40 min round trip and then I would suggest about 2 hours to look around the park and museum, as well as grab a coffee at the museum’s cafe.