On the Narita-bound side of the Keisei-sen (train tracks) going towards Okubo station there is a bike path and a sand and gravel path side by side which ends near the station, but don't stop there because there are two more paths with a little street riding in between. Keep going, past the station, Seven-Eleven, and the car intersection with no traffic light and you find another bike path the same as the one before which opens up to "marathon road"--a wide, unpave way frequented by cross-country joggers. At the end of that you arrive at an traffic-light intersection with a video game and book store (I think it's Book Off) on the opposite side of the main road and a wine and spirits shop on your right at the corner. There are three roads leading off to the right, you want to take the one which starts uphill (a two o'clock turn toward Sakuradai). After a bit of riding in traffic (not even a kilometer) you see a traffic light, four way intersection, with a convenience store on your right and a narrow road directly across; go straight across the intersection and straight along the road all the way to the end where there's another funky intersection; go straight across that intersection to find Hanami-gawa Park. Go through the park and when you reach the wooden bridge at the pond you can either cross the bridge and carry your bike down the stairway or ride down the narrow, twisty roads to the auto bridge crossing the river (Hanami-gawa, which means Flower Viewing River). Cross the river and you have your choice between the paved "Cycling Course" to the right (which runs about 10km to Makuhari Beach and Inage Beach on Tokyo Bay) or turn left and take the dirt (YEAH, baby, YEAH!!)--going right, by the way, leads to a MOS Burger by the cycling course only about 5km away, great for the post-ride munchies. If you choose dirt, and I know you will, it's fairly straight, hilly, and very scenic. There's even a Sumo mound where aspiring professional wrestlers train and an accompanying shrine along the way in case you're in the mood to pray for Japan to stop leveling and paving every little corner of the country, or want to go for a mid-ride wrestling match. If you keep going it just gets more and more beautiful as you get into the farm country of Owada, following the river all the way, but eventually you meet up with a highway bridge cutting you off from going further. That's a great place to stop because there are Herons and other crane-like birds fishing around the bridge. You can either turn back and go home or just go back a little way until you get to a bridge, cross it, and do a bit of road riding in farm country, with opportunities to get muddy along the way. You can really keep going and going, all the way to Narita, and up to Ibaraki if you like, which are popular places for cross-country, road, and tour riding--but for now, we'll just stop here.
Reviewed by: Sprocketeer
, from Narashino, Chiba, Japan
Summary: ALERT TO RIDERS!! SAVE OUR TRAIL!!! OK, the roadies need the asphalt running from Hanashima Koen to Makuhari Beach and I don't mind riding it either. It really is nice, BUT have you all noticed that Hanashima Koen has fallen to the great scorge of Japan. I'm talking pavement. I'm talking leveling. I'm talking about the cutting up of Japan's nature areas into geometric shapes and covering them with cement. As the song goes, "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot!!" I can only assume that our little stetch of dirt is next to go under the cement mixer. Let's save it. Let's get together and mountain bike to the mayor's office.
Recommended Route: As Chiba Kid says, the dirt amounts to maybe 5 kilometers. The rest I added for distance and just how to get to it because otherwise from riding there, I really have no idea other than taking the train to Owada Station on the Keisei-line. Even then, it would be a bit of a mystery unless someone showed you--which I'd be glad to do.
Other recommended trails in the same area: There are none. They're all covered with asphalt. It's getting so we'll have to drive or take trains to the south just to get a bit of tree cover over a dirt trail. With all that Japanese people go on and on about loving nature, they sure abuse the hell out of it. Historical accounts of long ago depict a Japan in which the river sides and areas by the ocean were great places of enjoyment. The epicenter of Japanese culture is not in it's temples, castles, and on the streets of Kyoto, but in it's natural forests, on it's river banks and beaches. Poetry, art, and all the seasonal celebrations are based on how Japanese people have historically enjoyed these natural areas--yet it's disappearing fast so that politicians and beaurocrats can squeeze money out of the government for public works projects--which is Japan's version of "pork money." Just to find a spot of grass or dirt in Japan these days--even in rural Japan--is a rare thing. It's about to disappear completely.
Review Date February 16, 2002
Overall Rating 5 of 5
Ridden Trail: Ridden Once
Visitors rate this review 4.00 of 5,
Reviewed by: Chiba Kid
, from Funabashi
Summary: By definition, reviews are perspectives. My perspective here will be geographical in nature. Some of this trail may not be worth reviewing, while some of it may better be left a secret for those who love it for its quiet ride. First, let me clarify that the trail "beginning" lies to the North of the KEISEI-SEN (train line); its "head" is somewhere North of the confluence of the JR KEISEI and SOBU lines, and East of the KEISEI TSUDANUMA station (not to be confused with the nearby TSUDANUMA or SHIN TSUDANUMA stations). The trail is more of a sidewalk, which we don't really have here in Japan, so it's nice to be off the street. It's got some nice tree coverage in places, and it is also quite wide on the initial unpaved stuff. However, the street runs right next to it, and there are freequent stops with street crossings, and a multitude of pedestrians. Thus, this portion of the trail is hardly worthy of a review. Here is where my perspective comes in: If you live in the area, it would certainly be the preferred trail to get to the HANAMIGAWA. If you do not live in TSUDANUMA, as I do not, I would not really go out of my way to ride this section. Value comes in where the HANASHIMA-KOEN (park) begins. This is where the temple is (though I didn't see any sumo here). Thanks to Sproketeer, here, I finally checked this area out. The temple is from the KAMAKURA period, and boasts (in English) a 750 year old statue of Buddha which you can only view every 30 years -- and no information on when the next viewing is. As Sproketeer says, the HANAMIGAWA trail is a lot of fun, and this portion is what I'll base my rating on. It stretches from MAKUHARI at the South and (carrying on to the SHINKAWA (river) trail, which is not part of Sproketeer's review, so it will not be a part of this one either (and although it is paved, it is really the best thing going out here, and I go out there as often as I can). The HANAMIGAWA trial is smooth, but still off road. I like to stop here for lunch because of it's realative solitude (there are occasional birdwatchers, walkers, and of course cyclists). Very green area, you are running along a "ravined" area with thick foliage on both sides. Sometimes you will pass by bamboo groves. My main gripe would be it's too short! And not remote enough!
Recommended Route: Skip the first leg of the trip and get on to the HANAMIGAWA river trail from the quickest access.
Other recommended trails in the same area: I want to explore as much of the BOSO peninsula (Chiba prefecture, in essence) as possible. I'm trying to get into more off road riding. I've seen some woodsy trails in the Southern region, and hope to do it all someday soon.
Review Date November 27, 2001
Overall Rating 4 of 5
Ridden Trail: Once a week
Visitors rate this review 4.00 of 5,
Reviewed by: Sprocketeer
, from Narashino, Chiba, Japan
Summary: If you're new to mountain biking, or want to take a relaxing ride, I recommend taking the bike path from Makuhari Beach, and continuing onto the dirt path after the rest stop at Hanamigawa Koen for just a taste of the rough stuff. It's all nice and not too hard even for beginners.
Recommended Route: Hey Folks! I forgot to mention, this is Chiba-ken I'm talking about! Oops. Anyway, if you're coming from somewhere by car to try out my trail, I recommend you find Hanamigawa Koen (Hanami River Park). They have parking there, as well as bathrooms and all. Even better, if it's your first time in the area, is to park at Makuhari Harbor, which is right next to Inage Beach Park--the paved cycling course starts from there and features maps and such.
Other recommended trails in the same area: I can only really mention places in Chiba I plan to ride next, as my goal is to ride the entire prefecture. So far I've ridden up to Ibaraki by way of Narita, and that was pretty good as well as physically challenging, but not genuine mountain biking. I've ridden to Tokyo, and that's really road/street riding--I don't really recommend it. My next goal is to ride to Tateyama, on the southern tip of Chiba. I went down there once for business and it features strikingly beautiful coastlines as well as many interesting sights, such as temples built into mountain sides and castles. The fall leaves down there are the best I've seen in all of eastern Japan.