Happy Mountain Day from JNC

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Happy Mountain Day from JNC! If you’ve never heard of Mountain Day, a national holiday in Japan, don’t feel bad. Over a third of actual Japanese people have no idea it exists either. To be fair, it’s a new holiday — so new, in fact, that this year is its first passing. As many JNCers know, Japan is 70 percent mountainous, which creates an abundance of incredible touge roads. We’ve visited a few, and these are some of our favorites. 

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The image above, as well as the lead photo, were from Skorj’s trip to Nagano Prefecture published in 2012. The sign in the lead photo is the actual Japanese kanji for the word “mountain”. It also makes up part of the word 峠, better known to English speakers as touge.

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During his cross-country trip, David reported that the Sotaro Touge was one of the best roads he’s ever driven in Japan.

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We rode along with Ken Lee in his classic Skyline GT-B and members of the Prince Skyline Owners Club for a quick run through Okutama.

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After the 2011 tsunami and earthquake, Skorj headed into the Tohoku region and showed us a country recovering from one of its biggest natural disasters.

 

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Sometimes drivers need to beware of monkeys, as when Skorj took his Honda S800 coupe into the hills of Boso Hanto.

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Inspired by Japan’s incredible driver’s roads, in 2015 we decided to bring the experience to the US with our inaugural Touge California.

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The Manza Highway in Gunma Prefecture is a bit more barren in foliage, but no less breathtaking.

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Touge roads are of course, popular with bikers and skilled sanitora drivers, as we discovered on a tour of Yamagata Prefecture‘s onsen.

R3a-875a_Ise Peninsula_Ise-Shima Sky Line

The Ise-Shima Sky-Line offered spectacular views, seaside villages, and delicious food.

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For 2016, Touge California returned again, bigger and better than before.

GR1-056s_Izu Skyline Honda S800 Coupe

More recently, we tackled one of the three birthplaces of underground drifting, Mazda Hakone Turnpike, on a trip to the Izu Skyline.

For a full list of our travels, see the JNC Grand Touring series. That’s a lot of roads, but we still haven’t seen the half of them. Then go out and find your own touge road to celebrate Mountain Day!

Skorj is co-founder of Filmwasters and you can find more of his work at Cars on Film and here on JNC

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13 Responses to Happy Mountain Day from JNC

  1. Randy said:

    Great pix as always!

    The important question about “Mountain Day” though: DO YOU GET THE DAY OFF WORK?

  2. SHC said:

    I may have to observe this “holiday” by enjoying some back roads in the Smokey Mountains.

  3. kitsune said:

    I may have to observe this “holiday” by driving through some of the flat, straight cornfield lined roads of Indiana.

    Of course, there’s “Mount Pleasant” and “Mount Summit” nearby…but I’m really not sure where the Mount parts came from, nor is there much of a summit.

  4. Jim Daniels said:

    Live the Mountain Life, everywhere I go I have to drive uncrowded mountain roads or Touges. It was even better 30 years ago when the California Highway Patrol (CHP)would go on “on call status” at 7:00 PM. As long as there was not a accident called in there was not any Highway Patrol on the road until 7:00 AM. the next morning. Yes, the roads of Far North Eastern California were not patrolled by the CHP 12 out of every 24 hours.

    In about 1989 I was in my Z after some modifications and testing the limits of cornering adhesion in a posted 45 mph corner on a mountain pass, by my speedometer I was going 110 mph. I had just passed a car going approximately 70 mph in the other direction when the next car I came upon was a CHP chasing that car. The CHP and I both glanced at each other out our side windows as we passed each other. Then I put my foot to the floor, knowing that if the CHP was going to stop, turn around and start chasing me I would be far enough ahead of him that I could be lost. And I was. I pulled on to the first dirt road, parked the car and took a walk.

    Living in a small community the CHP knew who I was and where I lived, as my Z was usually parked on a main roadway. Nothing happened until years latter when I was working as a fireman, emergency medical technician. The same CHP and I were at a motor vehicle accident on a sharp corner that ended in a fatality.

    The CHP came over to me and said ” over the years there have been many complaints about this corner not having a true radius but having a double apex. Due to this fatality this section of road will be under investigation. I have driven this road thousands of times and sometimes it even fools me. I know you drive the hell out of these roads and have taken this corner way faster than I ever have. Do you think there is a problem with the construction of the corner.” I responded with ” There is only one apex in this corner. However, the corner west to east starts with a ever so slight banking and then it flattens out half way through the corner. If you are not paying attention and going fast, it will get you. The CHP said thanks I value your opinion, I have seen you drive and I do not have the car nor the balls to drive like you do. I am going to document what you have stated in my report.

    Honor the mountain and pay heed to her curves, they are beautiful and seductive but can be deadly.

  5. Ant said:

    Hitting a touge is still something I must tick off my bucket list. Sadly there’s no real alternative where I live right now – flat land for miles around…

  6. Randy said:

    Okay, so I just got to reading the article. Cool. If y’all haven’t read it, go do so – you have the time to, since you’re reading not-work stuff right now.

    I like the logic regarding the Kanji. We don’t think like that in the States…

    Where most people just prefer to stay home that day, it’s probably a good thing. Do you really WANT 127 million people tromping around the woods? You’d STILL not be “getting away from it all.”

  7. Yoda said:

    VT 108 – Smuggler’s Notch – closes in the winter and is choked with tourists in and out of SUVs all summer and during leaf-peeper season. But in early spring, late fall and (if you’re lucky) weekdays in September it’s amazing. Use the smallest car possible – if you have a Datsun Roadster or sporty keicar, awesome, if not a rental Chevy Spark with 44 psi front/32 rear will have to do.

  8. Justin said:

    Having never been to Japan, I suppose I have a very romantic view of the culture there. I always see these posts about Touge roads and assume they are no more than 30-40 minutes outside any given city!

    On the west coast of Canada we’ve got some great mountain roads, but unfortunately they are all hour away. The idea of a “morning touge run” doesn’t really exist. It’s a full day or even weekend affair.

  9. Gaijinrider said:

    The problem is the 60-80 dollars in highway tolls to get to those passes from the city. That adds up fast.

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