After 7 days, 8 prefectures and covering 1500km, I would finally arrived back home in Yokohama at the end of the day. But before that happens, I was still going to climb Mt. Akagi (赤城山) in Gunma prefecture – a mountain that is famous for being prominently features in the popular manga and anime “Initial D” (頭文字D).
This is the left side of the Mt. Akagi pass on a map. This half of the mountain pass is the one that is often used by Initial D because it is wider so higher speeds can be reached. The manga takes place in Gunma prefecture due to its many mountain roads, which spawned a youth sub culture of gearheads who drift up and down mountains at night. Nowadays, the popularity of drifting is probably influenced by Initial D itself, as many young drifters of today grew up reading the manga and watching the anime series.
Check out the skidmarks from all the drifting that happens on this track:
Once at the top at 1400m, one can see over the entire Maebashi valley. It was a bit foggy that day, so the view wasn’t quite as breathtaking as it could have been, but that’s ok for me. I was there just for Touge (峠 = mountain pass) action!
The peak is also the site of a historic cog railway, that was running up and down Mt. Akagi from the 1930s until the early 1970s. The old station remains as a museum, and I took some pictures. I know that my former English teacher in Germany would’ve loved these, so if you read this, Herr Eichberg, this is your section 🙂
The way down is actually even more spectacular than the way up, although I cannot imagine that a lot of Initial D action happens there. That’s because the roads are way too narrow and cars would have to break down to 5-10kph all the time. Also, the corners were so incredibly steep that I think the lowered and stanced drift cars would probably just grind around them solely on their diffusers and fenders. Not flat enough for a stanced 280x!
It was probably the steepest downhill I had ever done. The map gives you a preview of how intense it was, and of course I filmed the entire ride! You can look forward to a Downhill-Video in all its glory very soon 🙂 Until then, some impressions:
After Mt. Akagi, I just went straight to Tokyo. This was a good idea, as I had again underestimated the absolutely insane traffic in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area at 5pm on a Friday. Tokyo is an absolutely gigantic city that stretches out into suburbs almost 200km in diameter. I came from the North, so I had around 100km in city traffic ahead of me that would take me almost 4 hours to get through, thanks to the countless traffic lights.
Concluding my Touhoku-Trip, I can say that this was probably the reason why I bought a bike in Japan. I could not imagine a different way (other than a car, or being very good at riding a bike) to experience the far out countryside regions, the hard to access mountain areas, and hop on a ferry to the beautiful island of Sado. It was truly a unique experience, and even though to this day (9 days after return) my neck is still sore from carrying a 50 pound backpack on the bike for 10 hours a day, this is going to be one of the most memorable experiences of my exchange.