Kasumigaura 霞ヶ浦 – Tokyo’s Foggy Bay Cycling Loop

While central Tokyo can be a chore to ride in the surrounding area and countryside just beyond the city is home to some amazing cycling. While most will flock to the Mount Fuji foothills and the Tama-Chichibu Area the area north of Tokyo is home to some of the best riding in Japan.

One such great loop for any from beginners to experienced riders is the newly installed cycling path around the Kasumigaura Bay in Ibaraki Prefecture. This guide will help you plan your next trip out from Tokyo to ride the over 120km loop around the aptly named Foggy Bay of Kasumigaura!

What is the Kasumigaura

Kasumigaura (霞ヶ浦 or かすみがうら in Japanese) is brackish water bay in Ibaraki Prefecture about 50km northeast of Tokyo city center. Though not a fresh water lake, it still ranks the second largest lake in Japan just behind Lake Biwa which is adjacent to Kyoto.

The Route | 125km of Shoreline Scenery

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Hours of unobstructed views!

Being a loop you can start anywhere you like! How you choose to get there (see below for recommendations) will largely determine where you start.

Our one big recommendation is to do the loop COUNTER-CLOCKWISE.

Japan is a left-side drive country, and so by doing the loop counter-clockwise you will make only left turns. This means that most all intersections will favor you being able to roll through with minimal slow down. Also, this means you will be on the bay side of the road for maximum beauty factor!

Scenery Cycling Around Kasumigaura

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Kilometers and kilometers of beautiful bay views!

When riding around Kasumigaura there is a large variety of scenery from the classic agricultural rice fields of Japan, to large marshes, sandy beachfronts, small towns beside the lake, and the large volcano Mount Tsukuba in the background as you trace the shoreline of the bay.

Weather and When to Ride at Kasumigaura?

Kasumigaura means “Foggy Bay” in Japanese, and this is a very apt name. It is very common for this area northeast of Tokyo to have dense fog come in as the sunsets and not burn off until the following day around sometimes as late as noon!

That said this is both a blessing and a curse depending on the time of year you choose to ride.

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Dense low fog at 10am around Kasumigaura in December. Current temperature? -2 degrees Celsius. Burr!

Seasons in Kasumigaura

In short, you can ride year round at Kasumigaura thanks to the proximity to the ocean, low elevation, and strong sun of fall and winter in Japan. That said, the high humidity of the area will require a little bit of planning as temperatures vary a lot even within the day.

Here is Google’s monthly weather data on the area.

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Top Times to Ride

As with much of the Kanto region of Japan at lower elevations the best time to ride are in spring and fall. That said, winter is often the driest and clearest skies season in this part of Japan and it is not uncommon to have the odd day where it is over 15 degrees and sunny in January and February!

The one period to avoid is the summer months of July, August, and September. The humidity and high temperatures can make for an oppressive ride as there is almost no shade on the route at all.

That said, one alternative if you are looking to get in those kilometers in the summer without the blistering heat is to head out with your headlight and hit the loop at night while the temperatures are cool. If you are lucky the moon & stars might even light your way!

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The moon breaking through the clouds on a late night ride around the Kasumigaura by headlight.

Route & Route File

The route starting from the south east corner of Kasumigaura.
The route starting from the south east corner of Kasumigaura.

Strava Route File: https://www.strava.com/routes/2795121505798799696

Kasumigaura Oohashi Bridge Shortcut

If you wish to make the route shorter you can take the Kasumigaura Oohashi Bridge between kilometers 26 and 58. This removes about 30km from the route for those looking for a shorter ride just under 100km.

Places to Stop on Your Ride

Restrooms, Support Stations, Restaurants, Convenience Stores?

There is a great map provided by the government you can find here of the restrooms and support stations around the bay. That said, it’s really quite busy as there are so many pins. In short there are ample places to stop along the way, most of which are well labeled.

The easiest is to simply plan to stop when you reach the towns that border the bay, Tsuchiura City, Takahama, and Itako.

The Route

How to Get There

Cycling to Kasumigaura from Tokyo

Route 1 | Via the River Cycling Paths

From central Tokyo it is approximately 50km as the bird flies. But alas, cyclist are bound to the land. The best route by bike is to take the river cycling paths out from the Edogawa Cycling Path to the Tone River Cycling Road. This route is about 100km to the start of the Kasumigaura Loop so it will be a big day in the saddle if you choose this route.

Strava Route File: https://www.strava.com/routes/2795126039540394856

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Route 2 | Via Chiba River Cycling Paths

This route leaves from the Tokyo Bay along the Hanami River and heads up to Kasumigaura. This route is particularly convenient as it is just 30min direct from Tokyo Station to Kemigawahama Station where it begins.

From there just under 80km or river paths takes you to the start of the Kasumigaura Loop.

Strava Route File: https://www.strava.com/routes/2795126941198606184

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Trains to Kasumigaura from Tokyo

From Tokyo Station there is a direct express train on the Tokiwa Limited Express Takahagi to Tsuchiura Station on the westside of Kasumigaura.

Sample Train

Travel Time: 50min

Train Fare: 2,190 yen

Driving to Kasumigaura

From Tokyo the most direct route is to the city of Tsuchiura 土浦市. Take the E6 Highway directly to the Tsuchiura Exit. From here the easiest parking spot is at the Tsuchiura City Kasumigaura Comprehensive Park 霞ヶ浦総合公園.

Driving Time: Around 1 Hour

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