Cycling Japan – day 20 – Lake Biwa to Echizen

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  • Day 20 – Lake Biwa to Echizen
  • Distance: 71.9km
  • Ascent / descent: 636m / 630m
  • Weather: overcast and cool 
  • Accommodation: Couchsurfing host Saskia in Echizen

It was a cold night but I managed to sleep ok. The park was noisy from around 6am with people packing up tents (and banging pegs!). It was overcast and a cold morning so I went back over to the road to the 7-Eleven for a hot coffee and to try and defrost. 

Morning view, it's overcast today

Morning view, it’s overcast today

Saskia, the couch surfing host in Echizen had got in touch to give me her address details and I replied to say I thought I would arrive around 4pm.

I continued on the cycle path beside the lake briefly before turning off and then mostly weaving in and out of rice fields and old traditional houses – the type that once would’ve had thatched roofs before it became an expensive and dying art.

Old houses that once would've had thatched roofs

Old houses that once would’ve had thatched roofs

Nature is coming for you

Nature is coming for you

Plum blossom? and an old Japanese house that once would've had a thatched roof

Plum blossom? and an old Japanese house that once would’ve had a thatched roof

I love these old comic-style signs, this one is a warning to traffic to watch out for children

I love these old comic-style signs, this one is a warning to traffic to watch out for children

Old houses

Old houses

PPF - pretty pink flower. Can anyone tell me what this is?

PPF – pretty pink flower. Can anyone tell me what this is?

A magnolia starting to bloom

A magnolia starting to bloom

I started gradually climbing but nothing too crazy and not as bad as it looked on the elevation profile on Komoot. The road was mostly quiet and as I was in a low gear going slow uphill, an animal crossed the road right in front of me. Was it a Tanuki? I’ve wanted to see a Tanuki forever. I’m not sure it knew I was there but as I tried to get closer and step on some twigs it ran away so apologies for the photos but that was as good as I could get!

I've wanted to see a Tanuki in Japan forever, and this guy walked straight across the road in front of me... it was only as I tried to get a little closer that it ran away.

I've wanted to see a Tanuki in Japan forever, and this guy walked straight across the road in front of me... it was only as I tried to get a little closer that it ran away.

I’ve wanted to see a Tanuki in Japan forever, and this guy walked straight across the road in front of me… it was only as I tried to get a little closer that it ran away.

I passed abandoned ski rental buildings nearing the top of the mountain pass and then I finally came across a vending machine on the top of the second climb at a ski resort. I entered into Fukui Prefecture then the winding descent seemed to last much longer with many more curves than the uphill and I was very grateful to be riding in this direction! . It was cold descending so I was delighted to pass a soba restaurant there I stopped for lunch and to warm up. The friendly owners said I was the third ever cyclist (cycling the length of Japan) to go there and they were very interested to hear about my trip so far. Lots of photos were taken and I was sent off with a fond farewell.

Old Japanese house

Old Japanese house

Welcome to Fukui... but I think this is supposed to say Pref. (Prefecture)

Welcome to Fukui… but I think this is supposed to say Pref. (Prefecture)

Hot soba noodles for lunch on a cold day at a wonderfully traditional mountain restaurant

Hot soba noodles for lunch on a cold day at a wonderfully traditional mountain restaurant

The menu

The menu

Inside the restaurant

Inside the restaurant

Free dessert, thank you!

Free dessert, thank you!

The lovely owners of the restaurant

The lovely owners of the restaurant

I had a tailwind for the very first time and nice roads the rest of the day to Echizen and I was having a really good day.

Magnolia, wisteria and a traditional Japanese warehouse building called a 'kura'

Magnolia, wisteria and a traditional Japanese warehouse building called a ‘kura’

I stopped via a supermarket to pick up dinner and breakfast then went to meet Saskia and had a lovely time chatting non-stop all afternoon and evening. Meeting her felt like catching up with an old friend and it was great to compare stories of teaching in Japan.

It started raining in the early evening and I was very glad to have a warm bed to fall into rather than the tent… oh how soft I’ve become 😉

My own room at Saskia's place, thanks for letting me stay!

My own room at Saskia’s place, thanks for letting me stay!

Jb20 - elevation profile from Garmin connect

Jb20 – elevation profile from Garmin connect

Jb20 - google map from Garmin Connect

Jb20 – google map from Garmin Connect

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