Uenomura Village used to be a collection of smaller settlements scattered along the Kanna River, connected by a small local road. These days, however, most village traffic runs along the larger national highway, which means the old main street is usually completely empty. This scenic paved road winds through clusters of old Japanese homes where residents have lived for generations, and down forested corridors that turn bright red and yellow during the fall. It’s the perfect place for a leisurely bike ride.
We went for a ride this past fall along a route planned out by a guide at the visitors center. The out and back course included several possible places to stop for lunch and lots of gorgeous photo opportunities. Here’s the full report.
|Time||2 – 3 hours at casual pace|
|Distance||26 km roundtrip|
|Start Point||Kawa No Eki Riverside Visitors Center|
Electric-assist bicycles are available for rent at the visitors cnter’s general information and activity building
|Hours||9:00 AM -5:00 PM (last rental 3:00 PM)|
Open every day except for new year holiday and occasional irregular closures
Price (includes tax)
|2 days (overnight)||￥3,000|
|Extra time/late return||￥500 per hour|
*Helmet and gloves included free
- Prior reservation by phone is recommended, but day-of rentals are possible as long as bikes are available.
- Fill in a rental form and pay at the front desk.
- Listen to an explanation of how to use the bikes, then receive your rental bike, helmet, and gloves.
- At the end of your ride, return bikes and accessories to the visitors center information building.
1. Kawa No Eki Riverside Visitors Center
We started at the Kawa No Eki Riverside Visitors Center. Public transit to the visitor’s center is available from Shimonita Station via local bus, but we drove so we could bring our bikes with us. There is lots of free parking, so no need to worry about that. This is where the e-bike rentals are, for those who are renting.
Kawa No Eki Riverside Visitors Center
|Address||316-1 Narahara, Ueno, Tano District, Gunma 370-1617|
|Hours||Mar – Oct|
Wed – Mon: 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Nov – Feb
Wed – Mon: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Once we had our bikes set up, we turned right out of the visitors center onto the main road.
The very first landmark along the route is a small restaurant more or less across the street from the visitors center, called Tanima. We started in the morning, so we weren’t hungry yet, but this can be a good option for lunch at the beginning or end of your ride. They serve suiton (soo-ee-tohn), old-fashioned pork and dumpling soup, a real treat if you’re looking for an authentic taste of small town Japan.
After crossing a bright red bridge with beautiful views, we turned right onto the old main road, which is where the real adventure begins. We passed the Former Kurosawa Residence, and although we didn’t stop there this time, I’ve heard it’s a historic attraction in its own right—see details here.
2. Chushoji Temple
We DID stop at Chushoji Temple, a small temple on a hill with picturesque red Japanese maple foliage in the fall. (And weeping cherry blossoms in the spring.)
We rode down the scenic old lane, past ginko and katsura trees turned bright yellow.
We turned left onto the country highway for a moment before turning left again, back onto the old road, and continued under green and orange boughs until we reached one of the recommended highlights of the route: a little pavilion jutting out over the river for viewing a stretch of bright red maples. The leaves were more of a rainbow when we were there—a little early, but I thought the color variation was just as beautiful.
Otchi Fall Colors Rest Hut
|Address||Otchi, Ueno, Tano District, Gunma 370-1616|
After taking a quick break among the leaves, we headed on to our next destination: lunch!
3. Imaiya Inn
This cozy little family-run ryokan inn has a few guest rooms, but it’s also open for lunch for general visitors. It’s reservation only, so make sure you call ahead. The steaming hotpot with fresh local meat and veggies was perfect for this brisk fall day. It came with plenty of inobuta, Uenomura’s specialty pork that comes from pigs that have been crossbred with wild boars. The meat is rich and flavorful, a great way to reenergize.
|Address||140-1 Otomo, Ueno, Tano District, Gunma 370-1615|
4. Roadside Station Ueno
Back on our bikes, we got back on the larger highway for a bit, stopping at the village’s other visitor center and auto-rest stop: Roadside Station Ueno. There was lots of local produce, plus local area specially foods prepackaged for transport and some handmade artisanal accessories. They also serve miso-flavored ice cream! This would be a great place to grab a souvenir or snack, either when you first pass it, or on the way back.
Roadside Station Ueno
|Address||131 Katsuyama, Ueno, Tano District, Gunma 370-1613|
9:00 AM to 6:30 PM every day
11:00 AM to 3:00 PM (closed on Thursdays)
Takeout (ice cream etc.):
10:00 AM – 4:00 PM (closed on Thursdays)
※Hours may change during winter months, so be sure to call ahead.
We then passed the last recommended option for lunch, Yamazato noodle shop. We were way too full to go in, but I’ve heard they serve delicious hand-cut udon noodles and tempura made with fresh veggies straight from the restaurant’s own garden.
Whether or not you sample the shop’s cuisine, make sure to turn right when you see it, onto the old road. Remember to cross with caution when making right turns in Japan.
5. Nippa Shrine
A little ways down we stopped to check out Nippa Shrine, another tiny affair up on a small hill. This shrine was built in 1909 to enshrine 5 different Shinto gods. According to a local legend, the whole thing was constructed from just one tree.
|Address||540 Nippa, Ueno, Tano District, Gunma 370-1611|
6. Ryujin Falls
Next up was out final stop: Ryujin Falls. We walked our bikes through Noguri Campground to get there. Legend has it a great serpent once lived in the waterfall, and it’s easy to imagine why: The winding path of the water as it falls down several cliff faces indeed looks like a mythical snake. Super clear water reflecting sunlight and surrounded by changing leaves, the waterfall was quite a pleasant sight.
Ryujin Falls/Noguri Camping Ground
|Address||831 Nippa, Ueno, Tano District, Gunma 370-1611|
This cycling course is not a loop, so once we’d snapped a couple of pictures of the waterfall it was time to head back the way we came. Retracing your steps along the old road is undoubtedly the most scenic way to return to the Kawa No Eki visitors center where we started, but it’s also possible to return via the main road, and a little faster that way for anyone who’s crunched for time.
Overall, exploring Uenomura Village by bicycle was really fun and a great way to sort of peer into the local life and history of this small town. I can’t wait to come back in the spring!
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More Fall Itineraries
This past fall we joined a hiking tour on an intermediate trail up Mt. Kasamaru. Vibrant fall colors and great views.
Activities and sightseeing the whole family can enjoy amid the village’s beautiful fall colors.