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Exploring the beauty and culture of Japan on a motorcycle is an amazing way to see the country and the Fukushima Prefecture is full of twisty roads to make it all the more fun. This particular route is mostly the Bandai Azuma Skyline (Road 70) which is voted the #1 motorcycle road in Japan by motorcycle riders. The route can be completed in 4 hours over 72 mi (116 km).
Fukushima 福島市, pronounced Fukushima-shi, is the capital city of Fukushima Prefecture and has a population of 290,000 is known for its world famous Hot Springs. Must see places are the hotsprings in Iizaka, Takayu, or Tsuchiyu, all of which a great place to relax before you take on the twistiest and most enjoyable motorcycle roads in Japan. Another beautiful sight is the Five Colored Lakes 五色沼 pronounced Goshiki-numa; these lakes are a beautiful attraction visited by many sightseers. The lakes were formed after Mount Bandai erupted in the 1800's. The minerals from the eruption gave each lake a different color.
During an earthquake and tsunami on March 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant was compromised. Officially Fukushima city is in a safe area located50 mi (80 km) from the Dai-ichi plant reactor No. 1, and a full 37 mi (60 km) outside the excluded danger zone,but still radiation levels here are much higher than normal. A short stay in Fukushima City to experience the great motorcycle roads will not be of harm to you according to the Japanese government. For more information on what to see, where to eat and sleep in Fukushima see: http://www.f-kankou.jp/en/
From Fukushima ride your motorbike West on Road 70, which in Japanese looks like this çœŒé“70ç¥žå¥ˆå·, for 12 mi (19 km) to the start of the Bandai Azuma Skyline. From this point on, road signs will be in Japanese, so keep an eye out for the road numbers. The road here is very twisty and varies in elevation from 2,625 to 5,250 feet (800 to 1600 metres).
The Bandai-Azuma Roadway ç£æ¢¯å¾å¦»é“è·¯ pronounced, Bandai Azuma DÅroor also known as the Bandai-Azuma Skyline ç£æ¢¯å¾å¦»ã‚¹ã‚«ã‚¤ãƒ©ã‚¤ãƒ³ pronounced, Bandai-Azuma Sukairain, is a toll road in Fukushima Prefecture. The road was built as a passage-way to access Mount Azuma (å¾å¦»å°å¯Œå£« Mount Azuma-kofuji) and Bandai-Asahi National Park (ç£æ¢¯æœæ—¥å›½ç«‹å…¬åœ’ Bandai Asahi Kokuritsu KÅen). The completed road runs from Fukushima City's Takayu Hot Springs to Tsuchiyu Pass åœŸæ¹¯å³ , pronounced Tsuchiyu TÅge, for a total distance of 17.8 mi (28.7 km) of twisty roads and hairpin turns! The roadway passes near the crater of Mt. Azuma. If you'd like to see its beauty, park your motorcycle at the nearby visitor center and take the short hike up to the crater's rim.
The Bandai-Azuma Skyline was selected by the Japanese Ministry of Construction as 17th of the top 100 roads in Japan, but Japanese motorcycle riders voted it number 1. Be aware the road is closed from mid-November until early April. The toll for motorcycles is Â¥1,150 (approx: $15 US) cash only. The best time to ride is summer or autumn for spectacular fall colours.
Photo credit: Motorcycle Paradise Blog - http://esr.cc/SNKJ3l
From the end of the Bandai Azuma Skyline near Tsuchiyu Pass at the intersection of Road 70 & 30, go Southwest on Road 30 for 5 mi (8 km) passing through Wakamiya then ride your motorbike West on Road 70 to the start of the Bandai Azuma Lakeline ç£æ¢¯å¾å¦»ãƒ¬ãƒ¼ã‚¯ãƒ©ã‚¤ãƒ³ 5 miles (8 km) down the road. The roads here are very twisty and get ready for several hairpin turns!
The Bandai Azuma Lakeline is a 7.3 mile (11.7 km) long road that is locally known as the second Bandai Azuma Road. This is also a toll road and motorcycles pay Â¥630 (approx: $8 US). The road has many twisties as it rounds Lake Akimoto and Lake Onogawa passing over the Nakatsugawa Gorge, and the scenery looks great year round, riding in autumn will be spectacular, as the trees here all turn orange.
From the end of the Bandai Azuma Lakeline ride to Kitakata ( å–œå¤šæ–¹å¸‚) and pronounced Kitakata-shi, - you'll be taking the long scenic route. At the intersection with Road 459 go West through Hibara then Northwest on Road 2 followed by a transfer onto Road 64 passing through Hakashita. Cruise around the shores of Lake Hibara on twisty roads. When you reach the intersection of Road 459 and 64 (near Oshizawa) on the Southwest bank of Lake Hibara, Ride West on the curvy Road 459 for 12.5 mi (20 km) to reach Kitakata.
Now for some ramen and sake! Kitakata is a city of 52,000 people, the city is well known for its distinctive ramen. It has the highest per-capita number of ramen establishments in all of Japan. Kitakata's ramen consists of rather thick, flat, curly noodles served in a pork and niboshi broth. The city also has over 2,600 kura storehouses which are now typically used as sake breweries, living quarters and workshops. Kitakata's scenery is stunning, as the city is surrounded by tree covered mountain ranges.
Getting to ride Japan's number #1 motorcycle roads is its own reward! Not only is the route from Fukushima to Kitakar on the Bandai Azuma Skyline and Lakeline but it's very twisty combined with beautiful scenery and culture. The Bandai Azuma Skyline (Road 70) is voted to be the best road in Japan by motorcycle riders and I can see why. This is the best motorcycle road in Japan and an average rider can accomplished it in 4 hours and 72 mi (116 km). If you've done it, tell your story. Enjoy The Ride! Eat Sleep RIDE.
Another great road to check out in Japan is the Venus Line:
Check out this story on motorcycle speed limits in Japan: