The designated national cycling road around Lake Kasumigaura located in Ibaraki prefecture shows us: when the Japanese put their mind to it, they make cycling roads extremely well!
We cycled around Lake Kasumigaura with our own bikes in late September and would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Japan, looking for day trips in nature or an uninterrupted cycling route. Below are a few practical tips if you’re planning to embark on this cycling trip in Ibaraki.
Starting Point: Tsuchiura Station
Accessible from Shinagawa, Tokyo or Ueno Station within 39 minutes on the Ueno Tokyo Line, or on the Hitachi and Tokiwa Line from Tokyo Station within 54 minutes. You can rent a variety of high quality bikes at the station, as well as purchase bike gear, take a shower or use the lockers and bike parking. If you bring your own bike in a rinko bag, make use of the bike assembly area inside the station! This is the only station in Japan we’ve found so far that has this space for cyclists bringing their bike on the train.
3 Different Route Options along the Tsukuba Kasumigaura Ring Ring Road
You can either just cycle around the lake (90km), or along the old railway tracks and mountains on the north side (65km), or both. Find the official route descriptions here. We only cycled around the lake and can’t wait to go back and also try out the other route, as we’ve heard good things from fellow cyclists!
Is one day enough to cycle around Lake Kasumigaura? Even experienced cyclists we’ve talked to say: No, it’s not worth cramming it into one day! It can be very windy and there are not many amenities by the lakeside. Break it up into two days and really enjoy the cycle, taking in the scenery, marshlands and relaxing by the water.
Difficulty & Direction of this Cycle
Cycling around the lake is easy as it’s flat. It’s suitable to beginner cyclists (if you break up the journey) and families. We cycled clockwise around the lake, but wish we’d done it anti-clockwise, as then you’ll get better views of Mount Tsukuba! One more tip: while this cycle can be done in any season, I would avoid summer months (July to September), as it can get extremely hot and there are not many shaded areas.
Where to stay in Ibaraki?
The best two options I found for staying in Ibaraki, near Lake Kasumigaura, are a new business hotel by Tsuchiura Station, and a Japanese guesthouse called Inashiki Nest, around halfway around the lake. We chose the latter and had an incredible time, enjoying the countryside, chatting to locals and staying in a beautifully renovated Japanese house. We actually stayed two nights and did another day trip cycling to nearby Sawara in Chiba, a historical town with Edo period architecture.
4 Hidden Gems
- Hungry? Stop at Kasumi Kitchen located inside a big bicycle friendly lakeside station! Enjoy great views from the second floor balcony or outside terrace while enjoying a delicious meal with local ingredients.
- Want to learn more about Japanese culture? Visit the stunning Osugi Shinto Shrine, featuring colourful buildings and tori gates.
- Looking for European flair? Tsuchiura City Kasumigaura Comprehensive Park features a Dutch windmill, seasonal flowers and light illuminations. It’s a huge park where you can easily spend at least 1-2 hours.
- Want to go somewhere really quiet and enjoy the sound of nature? Then Ukishima Marsh is the perfect place. We even saw someone with an audio recording device! When you live in a bustling city, it can be wonderful just to sit by a lake and listen to the plants and birds.
We’d recommend this cycle to locals and tourists coming to Japan any day! Especially for tourists who are only visiting Tokyo, this is a great activity nearby, where you can get active and enjoy the countryside. It’s suitable for any fitness level and almost any season. Also, even though this is a designated national cycling route, it’s still fairly quiet and an activity in Japan off the beaten track!
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