There are as many ways to get to the Japan Alps as there are mountains to climb once you get there. I chose to show this particular route because it starts at Kiso-Fukushima, one of the express stops on the main JR line. If you're coming from the other direction, you can get off at Shiojiri station to the west (further up from Narai); route 19 runs between both stations.

Once you get off route 19 onto the tiny prefectural road (route 26), there is very little traffic. That will change after the pass (1486m) when you join up with the major highway, Route 158, that goes between Matsumoto and Takayama. The middle part of this road is one long succession of tunnels, but thankfully, you only have to go for five kilometers or so before turning left onto route 84. From there, this road leads all the way to the summit.

(See our special report on cycling in tunnels in the Japan Alps . Also see our October 2018 report on cycling on Route 158 between Takayama and Matsumoto .)

Since the Kamikochi-Norikura "Rindo" (forest road) that leads westward a few kilometers before the turnoff onto route 158 is reportedly now fully paved, this is another route option. There are reports that it's a more gradual climb than the last part of the climb on this route (not hard to believe). We hope to have a more definitive review of this option in the near future.

Up until relatively recently, the road leading down from the 2700m summit to Hirayu was not available to cyclists - so you had to go back the way you came or bag the bicycle and ride the bus down that stretch (about 45 minutes). Luckily this is no longer a problem as the road is completely open to cyclists (and very popular). There are also accommodations at the 2700m summit (see Nuts & Bolts).

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