Hello, this is _hiroyuki.ta. This time, I went on a motorcycle tour from central Tokyo to Ganzaka Pass in Saitama Prefecture. Ganzaka Pass is a mountain pass at an altitude of 1,200m on the border between Chichibu City and Aoki Village, Ogata District, Nagano Prefecture, and is a scenic spot that has been selected as one of Japan’s 100 Famous Roads. In this article, we will introduce what kind of place Gansaka Pass is, the route to get to it, highlights, and information on motorcycle parking. If you are interested in Karizaka Pass, please refer to it.
What is Karizaka Pass?
Ganzaka Pass is a mountain pass located in Otaki, Chichibu City, Saitama Prefecture, with an altitude of 1,200 m. Ganzaka Pass is part of National Route 140, which has been selected as one of Japan’s 100 Famous Roads, and is located on the border between Chichibu City and Aoki Village, Ogata District, Nagano Prefecture. At Karizaka Pass, you can enjoy the beautiful nature of each season: cherry blossoms and azaleas in the spring, fresh greenery and alpine plants in the summer, autumn leaves and pampas grass in the fall, and snowy scenery in the winter. Additionally, from Karizaka Pass, you can see mountains such as the Okuchichibu Mountain Range and Mt. Yatsugatake, as well as rivers such as the Arakawa and Watarase Rivers. Karizaka Pass is also popular with motorcycle and bicycle enthusiasts, and is a challenging road with many curves and ups and downs.
Route to Karizaka Pass
LSB Sports Glide. This bike has the solid feel and power typical of Harley, but also has nimble handling and a comfortable ride. This time’s route is as follows.
- From Kamei Bridge, head towards Ginza via Kobikicho Street and enter the Metropolitan Expressway Central Loop Line/C1.
- Proceed along Shuto Expressway No. 4 Shinjuku Line/Route 4 and the Chuo Expressway, then exit the Chuo Expressway at Katsunuma IC.
- Continue along Katsunuma Bypass/Koshu Kaido/National Route 20 and enter Old Koshu Kaido/Prefectural Route 38.
- Proceed along Fruit Line/Prefectural Route 213 and enter Karizaka Michi/National Route 140.
- Arrived at Karizaka Pass
This route covered a distance of approximately 160 km in approximately 2 and a half hours. There are service areas and parking areas along the way, but this time I ran all at once without taking a break. I was able to drive smoothly on the Shuto Expressway and Chuo Expressway, but from Katsunuma IC to Ganzaka Pass, the road was narrow and had many curves, so I had to be careful while driving. Ganzaka Michi in particular has an elevation difference of about 800m and is a road with many ups and downs. However, the scenery was spectacular, and it felt great to ride while looking at the mountains, rivers, and countryside.
Highlights of Karizaka Pass
There are many things to see at Karizaka Pass. First, from the observation deck at the top of Ganzaka Pass, you can see mountains such as the Okuchichibu Mountain Range and Mt. Yatsugatake, as well as rivers such as the Arakawa and Watarase Rivers. There are also maps and information boards at the observation deck, so you can check the names of the mountains and rivers you can see. From the observation deck, you can also see the entrance to Ganzaka Tunnel. Ganzaka Tunnel is a 2.1km long tunnel that is part of National Route 140. After passing through the Ganzaka Tunnel, you can exit to the Nagano Prefecture side.
Next, at Karizaka Pass, you can enjoy the beautiful nature of each season. In spring, flowers such as cherry blossoms and azaleas bloom in abundance. The azalea, in particular, is a symbol of Ganzaka Pass and is at its best from mid-May to early June. At Karizaka Pass, about 10,000 azaleas are in full bloom, looking like a pink carpet. In summer, the fresh greenery and alpine plants look beautiful. In particular, many alpine plants inhabit the area around Ganzaka Pass, where you can see rare flowers such as Astragalus and Daylily. In autumn, the colors of autumn leaves and pampas grass look vivid. The best time to see the autumn leaves is from late October to mid-November. At Karizaka Pass, the maple and rowan trees are dyed red and yellow, making them look like a painting. In winter, the white scenery of snowy landscapes and icicles looks beautiful. Icicles in particular are at their best from late January to mid-February. At Karizaka Pass, icicles made from frozen waterfalls and rock walls reflect light and sparkle.
Motorcycle parking lot at Karizaka Pass
There is a motorcycle parking lot at Karizaka Pass. Motorcycle parking is located near the observation deck at the top of Ganzaka Pass. Motorcycle parking is available free of charge. Approximately 20 motorcycles can be parked in the motorcycle parking lot. From the bike parking lot, you can walk to other attractions such as the observation deck and Otaki Shrine. However, the motorcycle parking lot may be closed during the winter, so we recommend checking in advance.
This time, I went on a motorcycle tour from central Tokyo to Ganzaka Pass in Saitama Prefecture. Ganzaka Pass is a scenic spot that has been selected as one of Japan’s 100 Famous Roads, where you can enjoy the beautiful nature of each season as well as historical buildings and cultural assets. The route to Karizaka Pass was also a rewarding road. There is also a motorcycle parking lot at Karizaka Pass, so it is convenient for those visiting by motorcycle. If you are interested in Ganzaka Pass, please give it a try.