Countryside Cycling in Azumino
Visitors heading to the rural enclave of Azumino should consider renting bicycles once they arrive – a great way to enjoy the atmosphere and beauty of the region. Located between Matsumoto and the Hakuba Valley, and in the shadow of the North Japan Alps, Azumino is known for its abundant farmlands and mountain vistas. Fed by the pristine rivers running out of the Alps, the farms of Azumino produce some of Japan’s best vegetables and fruit – most famously, apples, ‘soba’ (buckwheat noodles), and ‘wasabi’ – all of which can be enjoyed at local restaurants while visiting the region’s many museum and galleries by bicycle.
Starting from Hotaka Station, bicycles are available for rent and are the ideal way to ride to nearby farms, restaurants, museums and galleries. Three rental shops are located directly in front of the station, with rates ranging from around JPY200 to JPY500 per hour, depending on the type of bike you wish to rent.Operating hours vary but are typically between 08:00 to 18:00 (with slightly shorter hours during winter). For details, see our ‘Getting Around Azumino – Rental Bicycle, Bus & Taxi’ page.
Many visitors start by visiting Daio Wasabi Farm – one of the largest producers of wasabi in the country. While many international visitors will be familiar with wasabi before arriving in Japan, what many people don’t realise that it’s likely they’ve never tried the real stuff, with most wasabi sold around the world being horseradish or mustard dyed green. Real wasabi is a slow growing crop that requires an ideal climate including abundant, mineral-rich and clean water to grow in well-tended river beds. Depending on the season, you can also try fruit-picking at local farms or enjoy the museums and galleries of the ‘Azumino Art Line’ including Rokuzan Art Museum, Takahashi Setsuro Art Museum, and Chihiro Art Museum just to name a few.
The choice is yours and depends somewhat on the time of year that you visit. Rental stores will provide you with maps and directions to your destinations of choice – a relaxing, family-friendly option just outside of Matsumoto City.