YAMANASHI, Yamanashi Prefecture—City officials here have turned the "Fruit Line" road that runs through peach and grape orchards into a cycling route that boasts beautiful landscapes overlooking the Kofu Basin.
The plan is to make the prefecture, known for its fruits and wines, a hub for cyclists from Japan and abroad.
The 33-kilometer-long agricultural road cuts through Yamanashi, Fuefuki and Koshu cities.
In autumn, the city officials joined hands with members of Yamanashi’s tourism association to shoot a video using a drone. The footage shows cyclists riding along the Fruit Line as well as a view of Mount Fuji.
The officials also published pamphlets to introduce a 45.7-km course for experienced riders, a 28.6-km course for intermediate cyclists and a 13.6-km course for beginners.
In addition, the officials invited members of travel companies and media representatives from Taiwan, where cycling is popular, on three different occasions in autumn to promote the cycling routes.
The participants took rides on the Fruit Line and got a chance to pick fruit and bathe in an "onsen" hot spring.
"We want to boost the number of foreign tourists, starting with Taiwanese people as our initial target group," an official from the city’s tourism division said. "We want to make it a place where domestic enthusiasts get together, and eventually create a cycling haven."
A member of a Taiwanese travel company who joined a trial tour in November said: "The view was so good, and I enjoyed the autumn foliage. Because traffic is light, it is a course Taiwanese people will rejoice over."
Yamanashi is out of reach for most cyclists from the Tokyo metropolitan area. But lately, an increasing number of people are transporting their bikes by train or other means to enjoy cycling at their destinations.
The officials set up a booth at a bicycle-related event held at the Makuhari Messe convention center in Chiba in November to promote the Fruit Line.
In fiscal 2018, they plan to have tours set up when the peach blossoms bloom in spring, and when a hill climbing event is held for racing cyclists at Mount Fuji.