Maple Yaba Cycling Road Nakatsu, Oita (Kyushu)

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)


Approximately 22km stretch (from Honyabakei to Yamakuni) of the entire 35km Nakatsu Yamakuni Cycle Road 中津山国自転車道 is solely dedicated to cyclists.

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.


Rakanji Temple

There are several restaurants, cafes, shops and toilets along the way.  If you finish your cycling at Yamakuni, you may wish to rest your muscles in Yasuragi-no-sato Yamakuni Hotspring やすらぎの郷やまくに after a long day of cycling.


Bike Rental

 Yabakei Gorge Cycling Terminal 耶馬溪サイクリングターミナル
8:30 - 17:00 (October-April)
8:30 - 19:00 (May - September)
closed on Tuesday (closed on Tue&Wed in Dec to Feb)
available bikes to rent: adult and child bikes, road bikes, cross bikes, tandem bikes, electric bikes
Koa Yamaguni  コアやまぐに
10:00 - 18:00 daily
Tel. 0979-62-2140
Ao-no-domon Cycling Centre 青の洞門サイクリングセンター風水園
8:00 - 18:00 daily
Tel 0979-52-2108

Access by Public Transport (Rail)

If you have your own bike, you can cycle from Nakatsu 中津 Station or Hita 日田 Station to Maple Yaba Cycling Road.  Nakatsu is on the JR Nippo 日豊 Main Line and can be reached by express train from Kokura 小倉 Station in just over 30 minutes and from Hakata 博多 Station in 55 minutes. Both Kokura and Hakata stations have Shinkansen connections.  From Hiroshima 広島 it is about 1.5-2 hours to Nakatsu via Kokura and from Osaka 大阪, approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes.


For example, if you depart Hiroshima at 8:48, you arrive at Nakatsu at 10:18.
Departure station:Hiroshima
08:48 Shinkansen Sakura No. 545 Series N700 (For Kagoshima-Chuo)

09:38 Arrival at: Kokura(Fukuoka)
09:48 Ltd. Express Sonic No. 9 (For Oita)

10:18 Arrival at: Nakatsu(Oita)
Fare: 9,050JPY (Basic fare: 4,890JPY / Express charge: 4,160JPY)

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

If you do not have your own bike, you can go to Kakisaka by bus from Nakatsu or Hita:
(1) JR Nippo Line 日豊本線 Nakatsu Station 中津駅
then bus to Yabakei /Bingomori/Hita 耶馬溪・備後森・日田
get off at Kakisaka Bus Stop  柿坂  (5 min walk)
(2) JR 久大本線 Hita Station 日田駅
then bus to Nakatsu eki 中津駅
get off at Kakisaka Bus Stop  柿坂  (5 min walk)

Access by plane

The closest airport is Kitakyushu 北九州, just over an hour away by train and bus.

Useful information and telephone numbers

・JR Naktasu staion 中津駅 0979-22-5361
・Daiko Hokubu Bus 大交北部バス 0979-22-0071
・Nakatsu Yabakei Tourist Information 中津耶馬溪観光協会 0979-64-6565
・Yauragi-no-sato Yamakuni Hotspring やすらぎの郷やまくに温泉  0979-62-2186
open for public bathing 10:30 - 21:00
closed on 1st and 3rd Tuesday

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