I went to see autumn color to Niigata prefecture with my friend's family. The destination place was Mt.Hakkaisan and Akiyamagou.
Because of coming after two typhoon, the weather was always a little rain, and it was not good to mountain hiking and the sight always had very thin cloud curtain.
But autumn color in this area was lovely good.
I went to Echigo Yuzawa from Tokyo area by Shinkansen "Max Tanigawa No.403", and we used JR rent-a-car from the JR Echigo Yuzawa station. I met the family of mine at the train of Sinkansen. I arrived at the JR Echigo Yuzawa station at 9:32am, and got a booked rent-a-car in short time. The shop and car park are under a track of Shinkansen, so we can walk avoiding the rain or snow until a car parking.
The first destination place to see the autumn color was Mt.Hakkai. Mt.Hakkai is famous for the beautiful colored leaves.
One of the information URL of Mt.Hakkai ropeway is the next line.
It took about less than 1 hour from Echigo Yuzawa Station to the ropeway station of Hakkaisan by car.
The traffic road condition was uncrowded in this area, and it was easy driving to the destination. I arrived at the parking area at 11:15am. A few sightseeing buses were parking at the base station of the ropeway of Mt.Hakkai. The cabin of the ropeway was uncrowded, too. The ropeway lifts up us to the 4th level of the mountain. I arrived at the 4th level ropeway station at 11:30am. Wao, it's very fast!
I walked up the observation tower near the ropeway station, and walked mountain path about 30 minutes around the station with kids. The mountain side of Mt.Hakkai had a beautiful autumn color, I saw it through a gap in the clouds. When we came back to the ropeway station of mountain side, so many person had been waiting for the next departure train. We were on the tail end of the waiting persons. I wondered if we can ride on the train? The time was almost 12:20pm, then we went down the ropeway and went to a soba restaurant for lunch.
I know a good restaurant in Koide, but it was situated away from the ropeway station. So, I drove toward Koide but I searched the suitable restaurant while driving. It was about 20 minutes after the driving, I found a soba restaurant on a small town.
We selected a box lunch with tempura, Tempura Soba, Kakiage(small shrimp and vegetables that are fried) Soba. The lunch at the soba restaurant was taste very good for us. I found the URL of the restaurant where we took a lunch, after I returned from the trip.
The next destination was the Hotel we reserved, but I drove a side trip to the forest named "Bijinbayashi (= lovely woods)". That forest is beauty spot that has beautiful beech woods.
I drove route 253 toward the west from Tokamachi and turned left at Matsudai onto the route 353. It had taken about 80minutes from the restaurant. I arrived at the forest at 15:15pm. It has a lovely path, and a small pond surrounded by beech woods. I walked a lovely path a little.
After I walked in the woods for a while, I drove to the hotel at Atema highland. I drove route 353 toward south again to route 117. I turned to the left at the T-crossing and drove about 3.5km to the route 342 and from this crossing, I drove along a road to the Belnatio resort hotel. It had taken about 35 minutes from "Bijin-bayashi" to the hotel by car.
The hotel that I reserved was a cottage that has 6 beds in it. The car we drove was parked in front of the cottage.
http://www.belnatio.com/ (N37.048296, E138.738179)
A big common tub of Onsen and eating facility are in administration building. We had to walk to the main building from our cottage at the bath and the meal time, but I thought it had a lovely view and a little exercise while walking, that's all the nice things. I bathed in spa before the dinner. The open-air and indoor spa that is keeping the moderate temperature healed my body and soul.
I needed to book the time of dinner by phone at the morning to avoid congestion at dinner time. We could reserve it at 6:00pm. ( Main switchboard of BELNATIO Tel: 025-758-4888)
The dinner and breakfast was a buffet style that I can eat as much as I like. It had Japanese dishes, Chinese dishes and western style dishes. There were many kind of foods that served from appetizers to desserts, on the serving table. I drank a glass of beer, and enjoyed buffet style dinner with families.
We felt sleepy when returned to the cottage after spa and dinner, I guess that it must be the removal of routine stresses, so we went to bed about 9:30pm.
At Sunday morning, we waked up at routine time but felt good wake-up and fresh air. I took a buffet style breakfast, after I took a bath in the morning. We enjoyed the delicious breakfast in the big dining hall, we could see the beautiful green landscape of golf course through windows of the hall.
We went to the next famous place "Akiyamagou" after a sluggish pace breakfast.
I checked out the hotel and started at 9:20am. I drove route 342 and 117 in the opposite direction.
The area of Akiyamagou is located on the west of Mt.Naeba. That is to say the place is opposite direction of Naeba or Yuzawa ski resort. The vally of Akiyamagou is surrounded by hills on three sides. I have to go there from the opened area of north side. The deep area of Akiyamagou is located about the south end of route 405. I drove to the left at the Tsunan town office, and drove on the route 405.
The road along the valley of Akiyamagou was not so wide. So, it had some difficulties to drive on the smooth pass because the road was very narrow. But, it was a scenic driveway along the river, I could see the river bed and lovely meander of Nakatsu river while driving. And, the mountain-side and its valley had a lovely mingled red,yellow and green. Visitors were gradually increased on the road to the deepest mountain of Akiyamagou. So, it had some difficulties to drive on the smooth pass, and it was very difficult to park and see at the beautiful spot freely.
I was slipped the sign of our destination parking and drove over about 10.6km. I already passed the destination place at 10:18am. The kids got car sickness because of the long term twisty mountain road. I backed to "Moegi-no-sato(Tel:025-767-2000)" and parked and took a lunch. I arrived the destination place at 11:17am. (N36.914829, E138.63413)
This is the specially deep snow area. The memorial scale of piled snow of 8 years ago was beside the restaurant. It was 5m60cm!
I'd like to eat a hot soupe with soba noodle, but too many person rushed into small restaurant, we had to order another meals. I ordered a Tofu cutlet that is the regionally specific menu. The outside shape was the same as pork cutlet but the inside is Tofu as an alternative to pork meat.
After a plenty of lunch time, I went to Mikura bridge near the restaurant.
http://snow-country.jp/?a=contents&lang=_en&id=619 (N36 54.890, E138 38.050)
The bridge is a hanging bridge that weight limitation is 500kg. And footboards of the bridge were made of thin wooden board, and easily swinging on a small weight fluctuation. A rope for parapet was a little far from walk board, so the bridge walk made us a kind of thrilling. But I could see a beautiful view of the river and its autumn-colored valley of Nakatsu from top of the bridge.
I walked up the mountain side near the bridge along the mountain pass. I found many kind of lovely colored leaves around the mountain pass.
I drove route 405 and 117 in the opposite direction to Echigo Yuzawa station. When I leave from the Akiyamagou, I saw a rainbow in the north sky through the car front window. I wanted to shot it, but it was vanished in a short time while I slowed down the car and moved it to a parking area. I guess it was a sign of goodbye ceremony from Akiyamagou.
I selected route 353 as a return road. The route 353 is the shortcut route to the station.
But it has a beautiful spot of Kiyotsu river and its valley. Around the summit of the route, I parked the car and saw the lovely view of Kiyotsu river.
I stopped at the gas station to fill the gas, and arrived at the rent-a-car-parking about 3:50pm without traffic accidents. I returned the car to the office while we changed the railway ticket to the earlier time than booked. We could ride on the Shinkansen at 4:39pm at JR Echigo Yuzawa.
When the train backed through from Niigata to Gunma, I was a slight shock because it was a fine weather.
09:32 Arrived at JR Echigo Yuzawa station
11:15 Arrived at base station of the ropeway (N37.10797, E138.977851)
11:30 Arrived at the top of the ropeway terminal station
12:30 Left the ropeway terminal of Mt.Hakkai
12:50 Lunch at soba restaurant (N37.130836, E138.945438)
16:30 Bath time
18:00 Dinner time
21:30 Bed time
09:22 Left the Hotel (N37 02.925, E138 44.261)
09:46 I took a break and a shot (N36 58.795, E138 40.199)
10:27 I passed though the Maekura bridge
10:44 The deepest location that we went on Akiyamagou (N36 50.655, E138 37.277)
10:59 The Maekura bridge (N36 53.156, E138 38.249)
11:17 Lunch at Moegi-no-sato restaurant (Tel. 025-767-2000) (N36 54.892, E138 38.052)
12:56 Parking lot near the Mikura bridge (N36 55.087, E138 38.279)
13:11 Mikura bridge (N36 55.023, E138 38.395)
14:07 Departure from the parking lot of Mikura bridge
14:43 I took a break at stop-off Onsen point (N37 01.792, E138 41.807)
15:13 I took a break and a shot (N36 59.042, E138 44.933)
15:41 Gas stand (N36 56.235, E138 48.928)
15:48 Arrived at the parking lot of the rent-a-car (N36 56.118, E138 48.602)
16:39 Departure from JR Echigo Yuzawa station
My trail route of Sunday
Location; about 170km North-West area from Tokyo Station
Destination; Mt.Hakkai ropeway, Mt.Hakkaisan (八海山), Bijinbayashi (美人林), Akiyamagou (秋山郷), Maekura bridge (見倉橋), Mikura bridge (前倉橋)
Date travelled; October 26 (Sat.) - 27 (Sun.), 2013
Map; GPS and Map; Garmin GPS(OREGON 650)
+ Japan RoadNavi 25000 v3 produced by UUD Co.,Ltd.
Walk type; Field walk with kids
Soba restaurant for the lunch at Saturday
The forest named "Bijinbayashi (= lovely woods)".
The hotel "BELNATIO"
The Mikura bridge at Akiyamagou
Echigo-Akiyamago Driving Course (Autumn)