Guide to Cycling the Taguchi Pass 田口峠

Michelle ripping through the pine forests of the Taguchi Pass
Michelle ripping through the pine forests of the Taguchi Pass.

Introduction

The Taguchi Pass, though small, is a place of pure road cycling magic Japanese Rindo forest road riding. Connecting Usuda, Nagano 臼田村 to Shimonita, Gunma 下仁田村, the pass has two distinct sides with everything from snaking switchbacks through pine forests, to sleepy mountain towns, to beautiful river gorges. For those willing to make the journey, this route is sure to put smiles on any cyclists face!

Gain
4/5

Views
2/5

Accessibility
4/5

Pavement
4/5

Zen Factor
5/5

Climb Score Card from our full article on the 14 Best Cycling Climbs in Japan (Hint, Not Mt Fuji!).

One of the small villages along the road to the Taguchi Pass.
One of the small villages along the road to the Taguchi Pass.

Osusume Route ~ Cycling Taguchi Pass

My favorite way to ride this pass is from west to east. While this is the side of less gain, there is no arguing with the total bliss that is carving down the dozens of nicely paved switchbacks through tranquil pine forests with no cars for hours!

As you climb up from Usuda Town you leave the sprawling rice fields behind and head into the rich canopy of the mountains. Once at the pass a small tunnel separates you from Gunma Prefecture on the other side. A sign greets you and a beautiful view of the rugged Mt Myogi in the distance.

Then, a long 28km descent losing over 1,000m elevation into Shimonita Town, Gunma. Switchbacks through pines, the beautiful Cicada River Gorge 蝉の渓谷, and the sleepy mountain town of Nanmoku 南牧村, this route is really a delight for anyone with an adventurous spirit looking to get lost in the mountains.

Strava Route Cycling the Taguchi Pass  田口峠 W->E

Any cyclist who loves climbing can't help but grin a little when you see switchbacks like this.
Any cyclist who loves climbing can’t help but grin a little when you see switchbacks like this.

Reversing the Route

For those looking to climb more, the reverse is also a great ride. Steady climbing and a gentle descent into Usuda Town. Why not do an out and back and climb both sides for a full day of magical forest riding!

Strava Route Cycling the Taguchi Pass  田口峠 E->W

The beautiful carved stone of the Cicada River Gorge.
The beautiful carved stone of the Cicada River Gorge.

Scorecard Breakdown for the Taguchi Pass

Climb Score Card from our full article on the 14 Best Cycling Climbs in Japan (Hint, Not Mt Fuji!).

Gain – 4/5 | 1,000m from the east, 2/5 | 400m from the west
Views – 2/5 | A nice view from the summit on the Gunma side of the Tunnel, but the real views here are at ground level.
Accessibility | 4/5
West Side | Train from Tokyo to Sakudaira Station 1h20
East Side | Train from Tokyo to Shimonita Station 2h
Pavement – 4/5 | Mostly great except for around Nanmoku Town. Be careful on the narrow roads for debris from low traffic.
Zen Factor – 5/5 | Any cyclists would agree this is the best type of riding. While not the highest or steepest, the most smiles per miles for sure.

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