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Tue, Jan. 8, 2019 Kamioka: Pedaling Ahead to the Past
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The town of Kamioka lies in the mountains of central Japan. It was once famous as a major center for mining. Now the mine is closed, but these days the area has become a center for a new and unusual style of tourism - on mountain bikes that run along the tracks of a disused railroad.

On this edition of Journeys in Japan, Dean peddles through beautiful mountain scenery to explore a town that still retains its old-school atmosphere. Finally he arrives in a mountain village where people still follow their traditional, age-old way of life.

Rail Mountain Bike Gattan Go!!
Rail Mountain Bike Gattan Go!!
Riding power-assist mountain bikes along the tracks of the former Kamioka Railroad offers an amazing new way to explore the area. The route follows the valley, offering beautiful views of the mountains and fascinating glimpses of old towns.
Address: Toun 1327-2 Kamioka-cho, Hida-shi, Gifu pre. 506-1147
TEL:+81-(0)90-7020-5852
Kamioka Railroad Garage Tour
Kamioka Railroad Garage Tour
Visitors can view a diesel locomotive that used to haul wagons full of ore from the Kamioka mine. They can also climb inside an old-school passenger railcar that has been meticulously preserved.
Kamioka Town Guide
Address: Tonomachi 8-17, Furukawa-cho, Hida-shi, Gifu pre.509-4224
TEL: +81-(0)557-74-1192
Mine museum
Mine museum
The displays in this museum chart the history of the Kamioka mine, and the ores that were extracted during its century-long operation.
Address: Shirogaoka 1-1, Kamioka-cho, Hida-shi, Gifu pre. 506-1147
TEL: +81-(0)578-82-0253
Traditional high-end restaurant
Traditional high-end restaurant
In the heyday of the Kamioka mine, there were many high-end restaurants that were patronized by wealthy visitors and government officials. Some have been preserved as museums, and visitors can view rare old photographs showing what Kamioka looked like in the old days.
Kamioka Town Guide
Address: Tonomachi 8-17, Furukawa-cho, Hida-shi, Gifu pre.509-4224
TEL: +81-(0)557-74-1192
Funatsu Shoyu Miso Co.
Funatsu Shoyu Miso Co.
This company continues to produce miso and soy sauce in the traditional way, using traditional cedar-wood casks. It ships its products throughout the country.
Address: Funatsu 1365, Kamioka-cho, Hida-shi, Gifu pre. 506-1161
TEL: 81-(0)578-82-0071
Communal water tanks
Communal water tanks
There are 16 places around Kamioka where local people can wash their vegetables and take advantage of the fresh running water. Known in Japanese as mizuya, these water tanks remain a vital part of life for the local community.
Kamioka Town Guide
Address: Tonomachi 8-17, Furukawa-cho, Hida-shi, Gifu pre.509-4224
TEL: +81-(0)557-74-1192
Yamanomura village
Yamanomura village
Higher up in the mountains, some 1,000 meters above sea level, is an area of Kamioka known as Yamanomura, which simply means "mountain village." It is known for its local specialty, kanboshi daikon, slices of long white radish that are preserved by drying them in the cold winter air.
Autumn festival
Autumn festival
Every year a colorful festival is held at a local shrine that dates back many centuries. The local people perform a traditional lion dance that depicts farmers fighting the wild animals that damage their crops and farmland.
Access
accessmap
To reach Kamioka from Tokyo, it takes about five hours by car. By train, it is a two-hour journey by Shinkansen bullet train to Toyama, and then about 90 minutes from there by express bus.
Travel Log

Traveler: Dean Newcomb > More Info

Nationality:British

Occupation:Model, actor

Length of residence in Japan:9 years

Reason:For the love of culture, travel and challenge

Traveler's Archives:

> A RIVER RUNS THROUGH HOKKAIDO

> Tottori: Sculpted by Nature

> Koza: A Rhythm All Its Own

> Tanegashima: Guns, Rockets and Surf

> Hidden Village Kuma

> Iwate Winter Rite

Kamioka is not a place I expect you to have heard of. In fact, you will have a hard enough time locating it on a map. It's located in the northern part of Gifu Prefecture, and I only reached it after a long, five-hour drive through the mountains of Nagano Prefecture.

It is the isolation that helps to keep Kamioka so special. It feels like it's a part of Japan that continues to live its own way, regardless of what is happening in Tokyo or the other major cities. Life seems to move slowly here and the influence of the mining industry that dominated the town throughout the last century has surely shaped the town that we see today.

I visited Kamioka at the start of November. The foliage of the trees had already started changing color, and red and yellow leaves scattered the ground. The town was seemingly a random assortment of colored tin roofs, nestled between mountains that rise in all directions, with the Takahara River cutting through the middle, offering its life.

For me, one of the highlights of the trip was taking to the railroad on the Gattan Go!! rail mountain bikes. The unique experience of being able to cycle along a disused railway - coupled with the fact that it gives the best views of the town and surrounding nature -makes it a "must do" activity in Kamioka.

I finished my journey in Yamamura Village. They were already preparing here for the harsh winter, harvesting the last of the crops, to preserve them for the next five months. This village was truly beautiful: an authentic Japan isolated in the mountains, where people still live in houses with thatched roofs and grow all their own food. I very much hope I get the chance to pass through this village again, and once more breathe in that fresh mountain air.

Inside Story

Director::
Atsushi Takase

Riding mountain bikes along old railway tracks is a new outdoor activity that appeals to adventure seekers of all ages. But riding the rail bikes in Kamioka offers a lot more than just a fun adventure. Here you can pedal back in time, to the heart of Japan. Are you curious now? Please watch the show and find out more.
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