[Touring Road] [Nagano Prefecture] Bike trip to Gonbei Kaido! A solo Harley trip that gives you a nostalgic feeling of traveling along rice roads

Hello, this is _hiroyuki.ta. This time, I toured the Gonbei Highway in Nagano Prefecture on a Harley. Gonbe Kaido is a mountain road opened by a man named Gonbe Furuhata in the Edo period, and is known as the “rice road” that carried rice from Ina Valley to Kiso Valley. Currently, National Route 361 and the Gonbe Tunnel are being maintained, but some of the old road remains, allowing you to feel the history and nature. This time, I would like to start from Tokyo and introduce the highlights of Gonbe Kaido.


What is Gonbei Kaido?

Gonbei Kaido is a mountain road of about 36 kilometers that starts from Miyanokoshi (Hiyoshi, Kiso Town), passes through Ubagami Pass (1277 meters), passes through Kawairi Valley, crosses Gonbe Pass (1523 meters), and ends at Sakashita, Ina City. . It opened in 1696, and since then it has come to be called Gonbei Kaido, named after Gonbei, who advocated the opening of this road. Rice was transported from Ina Valley to Kiso Valley, and woodwork such as lacquerware and bent objects were transported from Kiso to Ina, and it played an important role as a trunk line of trade. From the end of the Edo period to the Meiji period, it was also used as a path for worshiping Utaki.

Route to Gonbei Highway

This time, I started from central Tokyo and drove to Ina City via the Metropolitan Expressway Inner Loop Line and Chuo Expressway. We arrived at Ina Interchange in about 3 and a half hours. From there, I took Prefectural Route 476 and Prefectural Route 203 to Nishi-Minowa. From Nishi-Minowa, enter Gonbe Kaido. This section is about 2.7 kilometers long, but there are many curves and hills along the way, making it a fun road for riding a bike.

Highlights of Gonbei Road


As soon as you enter Gonbei Road, you will see the birthplace of Furuhata Gonbei. It is currently used as a residence, but it is said that the 7th or 8th generation of people living there, counting from Gonbei, live here. From here onwards, the old road is cut off and cannot be passed, but there is a promenade from the new road near Kamiya Tunnel to Ubagami Pass. Ubagami Pass is called Habuchi Pass by the people of Higi-Kamiya in Kiso Town, and Kamiya Pass by the people of Habuchi. The view from the pass is wonderful, and you can see the beautiful form of Mt. Ontake in the distance to the west. Near the pass is the Mitake Haruka Haisho, and there are many related stone monuments and stone Buddhas.

Descending from Ubagami Pass towards the Kiso side, you will reach the village of Kamiya. This is where Gonbei, who opened the highway, was born, and at the time when Gonbei Highway was a busy road, there was a Ushikata wholesaler here and it was a transit point for traffic connecting Ina and Kiso. The road leading from Kamiya to Yabuhara branches off from Gonbe Kaido. From Yabuhara, follow the Narai River to the village of Kayagahira. Kayagahira was a village that once prospered through trade using draft horses on the Gonbei Highway, but its population decreased in the Meiji era with the opening of the Chuo Main Line. There is a 2km promenade from Kayagahira to the pass, but it is currently not maintained and is not passable.

Gonbei Pass is the watershed between the Shinano River and Tenryu River systems, and offers spectacular views of Ina Valley and the panorama of the Southern Alps. From here onwards, there is Old National Route 361, but it is closed in the winter. There is a natural forest in the mountains on the south side of the pass, and there is a jumbo larch that is 34.5 meters tall, 3.9 meters in circumference at breast height, and 250 years old. Also, about 300 meters to the right of the top of the pass, there are remains of the water basin and canal of the Ina Canal (Kisosan Canal).

Motorcycle parking lot on Gonbei Road

There is no dedicated parking lot for motorcycles on Gonbe Kaido, but you can park your motorcycle at several locations. For example, you can park your bike in the plaza or on the shoulder of the road at Ubagami Pass and Gonbe Pass. However, these locations are not official parking lots, so please be careful not to disturb other vehicles or pedestrians. Also, in winter, it may be difficult to pass due to snow or ice, so please check the road conditions in advance.


This time, I toured the Gonbei Highway in Nagano Prefecture on a Harley. Gonbe Kaido was a rice road'' opened during the Edo period, and was also a path forUtaki worship.” The old roads and promenades still remain, allowing you to feel the history and nature. You can also see historical buildings and stone monuments along the way, such as Furuhata Gonbeikai’s birthplace and Mitake Haruka Haisho. Gonbe Kaido is a challenging road for motorcyclists, with many curves and hills. The view from the pass is spectacular, and you can see Mt. Ontake and the Southern Alps. I think Gonbe Kaido is a touring course where you can fully enjoy the charm of Nagano Prefecture.

Next time I would like to introduce another touring course. See you soon!