- The obvious way to extend your trip would be to stay right where you are. Right next to Tanabe is one of Kansai's most famous beach areas, Shirahama, well worth an overnight stay, particularly when it's warm enough to swim. When it isn't, you're still in luck: Shirahama is also an onsen (hot springs)! Consider overnighting here to rest up from your ride.

- Apart from that, the simplest way to extend your journey would be to head back up the Kii Peninsula to Wakayama, or all the way back to Osaka. There is a short but nice coastal area (park and beach) just north of the city of Gobo, and some very pretty jagged coastline (known in Japan as a "rias coastline") farther on at Shirasaki. It would probably be pushing things to try to get all the way back to Osaka in a single day; you might consider overnighting at (or just returning from) Wakayama.

- If circling back to gradually more and more urban areas and eventually to Osaka is not to your liking, consider going the other way around the Kii Peninsula - you can circle all the way around the Kii coastline and end up at Ise, home to Japan's most famous Shinto shrine and the touristy Mikimoto Pearl Island. Ise alone is well worth a visit, but there's also lots of nice coastline along the way - including a very dramatic (but pricey) hot springs inside a cave by the beach, one of those picture-postcard, impossibly lovely spots that really exists, as well as the famous "Tachi-kui-iwa" rocks (shown here) that have graced many a travel poster. One warning: you have to REALLY like ups and downs; many cyclists have been worn out by this rugged coast.

(Needless to say, Wakayama will be featured in several routes on this site in the future.)

- An alternative route to/from Ise would be to go straight through the prefecture along mainly small roads. A few years ago, a friend and I put together a great route leading from Ise to Wakayama, and it was featured in the March 1997 issue of Cycle Sports magazine. It would probably be hard to find a copy after all these years, but the route will be on this site eventually. Briefly, it involves going from Ise up into the mountains and back down to Owase on the coast, then back up through the mountains to Yoshino (east of Hashimoto), and then straight along the river (on the southern, less trafficked side) to Wakayama. The best way to link that route with this one would be to go from Ise to Yoshino and then on to Hashimoto and up to Koya-san. The Ise - Wakayama route will be featured on this site in the future; here's a photo to whet your appetite.

- Though you wouldn't want to do any touring there, you're not far away from the Kansai International Airport, on an artificial island offshore accessed by a toll road. The toll would be prohibitive even if bicycles were allowed on the bridge (they're not)... so head here only if you're heading home.

- Lastly, travelers whose appetite for hot springs is only whetted by Ryujin can hang a left at the last junction (instead of turning right and going down to Tanabe) and transform the last part of the ride into an onsen tour. To the east of Ryujin is Totsukawa Onsen, a long (45.5 km) and hilly but pretty mountain ride away. More to the point, a bit farther on is the Hongu area, which has a collection of three small but extremely popular hot springs. In season (the colder months), the most popular may be Kawayu Onsen, located right by the roadside, with the hot water coming up directly beneath and into the river to form the huge bath shown here known as the "Sennin-buro" - which, at least according to the sign in the photo, means not "thousand person bath" (though it almost looks possible) but "mountain hermit bath." Another good onsen is Yunomine, which features the tsubo-yu, a circular stone bath inside a wooden building by the river that you wait your turn to bathe in one at a time. There are no train lines in this area, but there is bus service from Hongu, so you can return by bus - or just cycle east down to Shingu on the coast.
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