Hello, this is _hiroyuki.ta.
This time, we took a motorcycle tour from central Tokyo to Ogawamachi, the hometown of Japanese paper in Saitama Prefecture.
I enjoyed a 2-hour drive on my favorite Harley-Davidson FLSB Sport Glide. Ogawa-machi is full of attractive spots such as rich natural scenery, traditional crafts, and delicious local ingredients. This time, I would like to introduce some of them.
Route to Ogawamachi
The route from central Tokyo to Ogawamachi mainly used expressways.
Transfer from Shuto Expressway Route 6 to Route 5 Ikebukuro Line, enter the Tokyo Gaikan Expressway, and merge with the Kanetsu Expressway at Oizumi JCT. Drive about 50km on the Kanetsu Expressway and exit at Arashiyama Ogawa IC.
From there, take National Route 254 and Prefectural Route 11 to the center of Ogawa Town. Along the way, you can enjoy beautiful views of mountains and rivers.
Highlights of Ogawa Town
There are many places to see in Ogawamachi, but this time we focused on spots related to washi paper. Ogawa-machi has long been known as a production area for Japanese paper in Musashi Province (present-day Saitama Prefecture), and is even recorded as “Musashi Paper” in the Shosoin Documents. Even today, there are many workshops and shops that make traditional handmade washi paper.
Saitama Traditional Crafts Hall
The first place I visited was the Saitama Traditional Crafts Center attached to the roadside station Ogawamachi. Here, 30 traditional handicrafts from 20 production areas in Saitama Prefecture are displayed in one place. At the washi paper workshop inside the building, you can watch and experience paper making by craftsmen. I also tried making paper, but papermaking was more difficult than I expected, and I had a hard time making it to a uniform thickness and size. However, I felt that the Japanese paper I made myself was very valuable.
Kubo Paper Mills
Next we headed to Kubo Paper Industries. This is a long-established Japanese paper workshop that has been around since the Edo period, and has inherited the traditional techniques of Ogawa Washi, a nationally designated Important Intangible Cultural Property. The store sells various types and patterns of washi paper, and I was overwhelmed by its beauty. You can also see how Japanese paper is actually made in the workshop at the back of the store. I was impressed by the skill and politeness of the craftsmen. Click here for details
Imaya Paper Store
The last place I visited was Imaya Paper Store. This is a washi paper specialty store located in the center of Ogawa-machi, and sells domestic and international washi and Western papers, including Ogawa washi. Inside the store, there are rows of colorful washi papers lined up, and you can choose and purchase the one you like.
Motorcycle parking lot in Ogawamachi
There are not many motorcycle parking lots in Ogawamachi, but there are some spots. I used the roadside station Ogawamachi.
Since it’s a roadside station, you can park your car for free, and if it’s not for a long time, you can park your bike and take a walk around the neighborhood.
This time, I went on a motorcycle tour from central Tokyo to Ogawamachi, Saitama Prefecture.
Ogawamachi is famous as the hometown of Japanese paper, and I was able to feel its history and culture. We were also able to enjoy the rich natural scenery and delicious local ingredients.
It’s the perfect season for motorcycle touring, so please come and visit Ogawamachi. See you again on the next tour.