This road utilizes abandoned Yabakei railway tracks by the mountain side. There are attractive sights nearby such as Yabakei Gorge, a rock tunnel from Edo period and old iron bridges and abandoned platforms. The gradient is not steep and the natural scenery is very attractive, especially in Autumn with red maple leaves, hence the name.
Maple Yaba Cycling Road 36.1 km Nakatsu, Oita (Kyushu)
Yabakei Railway opened in 1913 and was a popular route with tourists spots overlooking scenic landscapes, but closed in 1975 mainly due to the rise in car ownership. Along the way there are numerous railway related remains such as bridges, tunnels and stations.
The cycling road begins right at the front of Nakatsu Station and runs along the Yamakuni River． There is a cycling terminal at Yabakei Gorge where you can rent a variety of bicycles including tandems. The terminal also offers shower facilities, fitness centre and accommodation. There are two other locations for bicycle rental along the way.
The entire Cycling Road is 36.1 km long and it takes about 3-4 hours to cycle. We cycled from Yabakei Cycling Terminal to Koa Yamaguni, but you can start and stop anywhere with a variety of detour options to make the route shorter or longer.
The area is full of interesting spots, both natural and man-made, and you may want to explore surrounding area by bike and/or on foot. Located within Yaba-Hita-Hikosan Quasi National Park 耶馬日田英彦山国定公園, the area is popular with tourists and walkers to admire numerous cliffs, caves and interesting rock formations formed over 2.5 million years by the Yamakuni River cutting through volcanic lave and tuff. It is especially popular in Autumn when the area is decorated with maples and other coloured leaves.
At the northern end, known as Honyabakei 本耶馬溪, the river is spanned by the Yabakei Bridge 耶馬溪橋, the longest arched stone bridge in Japan. The 116 meter-long bridge was constructed in 1923. Just a little down river is Ao no Domon 青の洞門, a hand carved tunnel through the cliffs, which was made famous in a novel by Kan Kikuchi 菊池寛. It is said that the 185 meter tunnel was dug by hand in the 18th century by a monk named Zenkan to provide a safe route to Rakanji 羅漢寺, a temple worth a visit, further down the river.
Yabakei Gorge Cycling Terminal 耶馬溪サイクリングターミナル
Koa Yamaguni コアやまぐに
Ao-no-domon Cycling Centre 青の洞門サイクリングセンター風水園
Access by Public Transport (Rail）
08:48 Shinkansen Sakura No. 545 Series N700 (For Kagoshima-Chuo)
09:38 Arrival at: Kokura(Fukuoka)
10:18 Arrival at: Nakatsu(Oita)
The above is indication only as the timetable may change.
Please see JR Timetable Information Page for further information. JR West route finder is useful to search for train connections.
Access by Bus
Access by plane
The closest airport is Kitakyushu 北九州, just over an hour away by train and bus.