Written by Vern Begg
About the Author:
Spending time in the outdoors and being active has always been a passion of mine. When I still lived in Canada, my options for outdoor activities usually depended on the season and weather. Since moving to Japan in 2015, I have appreciated the opportunity to enjoy my favorite activities year-round. Being able to hike, cycle and golf in all seasons is something I’ll never get tired of.
Mie Prefecture is one of the most beautiful areas in Japan. For cyclists, runners and hikers, it is definitely a must-see destination. When I was deciding on activities to participate in during my trip to Ise-Shima, I definitely wanted to include some cycling on my itinerary. The Bicycle Journey tours offered by the Shima Sports Commission looked like the perfect option for me.
I would be riding a really nice Bianchi road bike and have an experienced guide to lead me on a scenic route with stops at various points of interest along the way. Living in Osaka, I don’t get to the seaside often enough and I was really looking forward to seeing some white sand beaches.
Caption: Ready to start our ride with my guide.
My bicycle for the day was a Bianchi Camaleonte 1 Shimano 8 speed and I was pumped to get riding. I strapped on my helmet, adjusted my saddle height and Jun give me a quick overview of the route we would be taking. Nobuko said she would meet us at the Anori Saki Lighthouse after the first leg of our journey. We jumped on our bikes and started our tour alongside the water on a lovely day in Mie.
Caption: We started the tour on a bicycle path next to the water.
The bike was a dream to ride and Jun and I quickly found a comfortable speed to cruise along at. We rode for over an hour and it was fantastic. Cycling near the ocean on a sunny day in one of the most picturesque parts of Japan is a special experience. After riding along next to the water for a while, we turned into a fishing village and rode through the winding streets. I don’t think there’s a better way to explore Japan than on a bicycle, especially when you get out of the big cities and into the countryside.
Our first stop was Anori Shrine. The kanji (Japanese characters) for “Anori” mean safety and ride, so it was a perfect place to stop and pray for good fortune on our tour. The Anori Shrine also hosts an annual puffer fish (“fugu” in Japanese) festival, as the area is a prime spot for catching the famous delicacy.
Caption: We stopped at Anori Shrine to start our ride on a positive vibe.
Caption:The place at Anori Shrine to pray for a safe ride.
After a quick prayer, we returned to the seaside on our bikes. The fresh sea air was invigorating and we soon reached our next point of interest, the Anori Saki Lighthouse. We parked our bikes in a tree-covered space and Nobuko was there with water, green tea and snacks. She also took over the guide duties for this stop and we walked across a grass field toward the lighthouse.
Caption:Jun showing me where we are at this point in the tour.
Caption:The Anori Saki Lighthouse is still in use.
The first thing that struck me about the lighthouse was that it was square, not round as most lighthouses are. The entrance fee to the lighthouse was included in the tour price and we entered through the gate to go up and see the view.
Caption:The views from the top of the lighthouse were beautiful.
Caption:The Pacific Ocean is an awesome sight.
Back on the bikes, we rode back the way we had come, eventually veering off to the left as we stayed next to the ocean. We had a ride of about 30 minutes to Shirahama, which is well known for its beautiful white sand beach and chill surf culture. There wasn’t much traffic, but I appreciate how Japanese drivers share the road with cyclists. I always feel safe when cycling in Japan because everyone is accustomed to bicycles being part of the flow of traffic.
When we reached the beach, it was even more beautiful than I had expected it to be. The white sand stretched into the distance and the water was full of surfers trying to catch a wave. We left the road and continued on a path that ran parallel to the beach. It looked so nice that I knew I would have to come back in the near future and spend some time playing in the surf.
Caption: We took the cycle path next to the beach.