Nagashima Dam area

This post is a little time-shifted. Just before Xmas 2022, I got a day off work, and I headed out to Shizuoka prefecture and take in the area around Nagashima Dam, and very nice it was too. It was also one of those trips where I went to see one thing, didn’t quite get to see that, but ended up seeing some other really interesting things I wasn’t counting on, so all in all – a pretty good day out.

Also, my track record in Shizuoka has been a bit hit and miss – quite often it rains all day, but this time, it was not only dry, but a brisk sunny day, which was even better!

Nagashima Damn sign
Nagashima Damn sign

My initial plan was to visit Okuōikojō Station, which is only really accessible via a hiking trail, and the train/tram line which runs through the area. My mistake was not thoroughly checking the off-season timetable, which I discovered said the station was only scheduled a couple of times a day by the tram/train. Unfortunately these times didn’t work with the times I wanted to be there, and hiking the trail wasn’t much of an option in my gear – I don’t mind hiking a bit in my bike boots, but this would take up far too much time.

That turned out not to be too much of an issue though since the area has good riding, and quite a few little places to stop. The dam itself is quite small compared to some of Japan’s larger dams, but has a nice sluice area, with viewing and a bridge.

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Behind the dam is a nice small lake and its tributaries, and as seems to be the way in Shizuoka prefecture, that means a plethora of footbridges of varying sizes, ages and designs, and I certainly checked a few out.

Off down the 388, and the first was a nice steel and concrete one (Minami Alps Sessootsuri Bridge), and led over from a fair sized car park (empty) to some hills which were clearly for hikers. I followed the riverside trail for a ways, and there were some quite nice more traditional red bridges.

A little further up the road, I decided to go down a smaller road to the Seki no Sawa observatory. Despite the name, it’s really a view point for bridges and other scenic views. The road there became increasingly strewn with forest debris, and indeed the road had been closed just after the observatory, so I suspect this one doesn’t get much usage, and the bridge to view is a fair distance, so you’re going to want a 200mm+ telephoto for this one!

Back on the road I actually went all over in all directions, stopping at many of the tram/train stations, reminding me this is very much a seasonal tourist system – I suspect very few people rely on it for their daily transportation. It’s a very beautiful part of Shizuoka, and even off season, there’s a few cafes open, and people to meet and talk to.

There also another damn further down the Oi river, and you can drive over this one, and I do like driving over dam tops – it’s a bit like putting the bike on a ferry, it just seems fun to do!

Back to bridges, there’s a footbridge called the Yume no Tsuri bridge which is a walking only wire strung suspension bridge, and whilst it does sway, it also gives you a great view down to the Igawa lake. The day I went though, the water was very low, so it wasn’t much of a river unfortunately.

I rode home mainly via back roads too – stopping for a bit of famichiki of course, but enjoying the lack of rain and the winding suburban roads through the valleys, watching the sunset in the mirrors. That’s not a bad way to end any day out. Even when you don’t quite do what you set out to do, just riding, seeing things, chatting to people and taking it all in is usually worthwhile.