Cycling Osaka To Nara On Japan’s Steepest National Road

Jonny a.k.a. Backpackingman
Jonny a.k.a. Backpackingman

Jonny a.k.a. Backpackingman has had a go at Kuragari pass and writes about his exploit here.

Fearless Leader Joe, Sanborn and I took on this same mountain pass in November and lived to tell the tale with a few differences. First, we’d started from Kyoto and gone to Nara before joining Rte. 308 heading west, while Jonny started in Osaka and headed east. That means Jonny had a steeper walk/push up, but then a more navigable descent towards Nara. (The descent from Kuragari pass towards Osaka is too steep, too narrow and has too many switchbacks to work up any speed.)

Oh. And Jonny was riding a cheap city bike, a chari in the local patois, while we had a variety of mounts ranging from light-years beyond a chari all the way up to FLJ’s carbon-framed Jamis Renegade. (Of course, I was on Kuroko, but this was before I’d swapped out the crankset for better climbing ability. Not that it would have made much difference … )

Another difference is that Jonny was armed with the knowledge that Rte. 308 over Mt. Ikoma is Japan’s steepest national road. Had the three Gaijin-teers known this, we might have chosen a different route for our ride.

Always up for a challenge I said “screw it” and went for it.


Watch below as Jonny pours water over the chari’s rear brake on the descent from Kuragari pass:

We didn’t have quite the same issues, although we had a steeper descent towards Osaka. On the other hand, FLJ had so much trouble with his rear wheel skidding on the descent that he was forced to walk, and Sanborn wore halfway through his (non-disk) brake pads.

Kyoto Nara Osaka route
Kyoto Nara Osaka route

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