The Old Ski Hill Run
Another of our favourites in the category of short, sweet and fast downhill runs is the route down to Kaesa train station from the old Toyoda ski hill entrance near Madarao No Yu hot springs. It is an easy route available to riders of any age or experience. It is approximately 15 km and also ends near a great hot spring bath.
From Madarao Kogen Hotel turn right towards Number 7 car park. Go past Monaile Madarao and Silk Inn down the hill towards Madarao No Yu hot springs. You will pass Madarao No Yu hot springs on your right and the entrance to the Shinetsu Trail hiking trail. Continue past O-Ike pond and about 500 metres further on you will see the old Toyoda Ski Resort on your right. There is a small pond at the entrance where you can swim in summer with a diving platform.
Opposite the entrance to Toyoda Ski Resort you will see an old car park and a logging trail on the other side. Enter the car park and take the logging trail up a gentle incline along a dirt road. The road will then descend down through pine forest and agricultural land towards Route 96. You will see sweeping views of Shiga Kogen in the distance.
Eventually the old road comes out on Route 96 at the small hamlet of Oyagawa. Follow the Route 96 down the hill to the village of Nagata below.
Nagata is quite famous in Japan as it is home to the famous composer Tatsuyuki Takano, who wrote the song `Furusato`. Furusato means your `hometown` in Japanese, and it is a sentimental song that is learnt in all schools in Japan. There is a museum in his honour in the village and you can visit the temple on the Kano River and see life in this old village which is central to the song lyrics.
After leaving Nagata, follow Route 416 along the Madarao River to Kaesa. This river leads into the Chikuma River at the bottom, which is Japan`s longest river. If you feel the need for a hot spring, Kaesa has a wonderful hot spring called Momijiso Hot Spring. Soak in a hot bath and have lunch at Momijiso hot springs for a perfect way to end the trip.
For more information about Momijiso Hot Springs click this link:
The Buddha Bus Stop Downhill.
Madarao is more than a ski resort. In the trails and back roads that lead down the mountain from Madarao village is some amazing cycling that starts at the end of April. This is our favourite...its short and its sweet...The Buddha Bus Stop Downhill to Iiyama Station. It is around 12 km of easy, downhill terrain that follows the old highway to Iiyama along the Kiyo River. For an easy day, catch the bus back up the hill to Madarao- or ride back to make it super challenging.
Starting from the Madarao Kogen Hotel, ride straight back down route 97 towards Iiyama past Active Life Madarao. Continue for around 2km, go past the Madarao Kanko Hotel and descend down to the tiny hamlet of Bundo. In Bundo, on the left side of the road you will find a large statue of a smiling Buddha next to a bus stop. This is the Buddha Bus Stop.
Opposite the Buddha bus stop on the right side of the road if your coming down from Madarao, is the entrance to the old road to Iiyama.
Leave Route 97 and take the old road down past some small houses and a large decrepit ski lodge that is on your right hand side. The road is steep and passes through the abandoned village of Dodaira into the Kiyo River Gorge.
The road then follows a gravel path all the way down along the Kiyo river to Iiyama. It meanders past rice fields and pine forest groves until finally coming out near Iiyama Jonan Junior High School. You will then enter the outskirts of Iiyama town. Continue down the hill and finish at Iiyama station. From Iiyama station you can then catch the bus back up the hill.