Kitano Station on the Kitano Highway

My primary hobby (other than watching movies; it's great to get paid for what you like to do!) is cycling. I'm not a "mania," spending thousands of dollars on my bikes (I can't afford that!), but I try do some long rides once or twice a week. Japan is neither a great place but nor a bad place for cycling. Many people ride bikes, but the laws tend to treat them as pests to be regulated not promoted. There are barely any bike lanes on major roads, but many of the major rivers have embankments or paved paths or roads where you can ride with relative safety. The roads in Japan tend to be narrow and it is scary as hell riding down an old major highway like the Machida Highway which has only two lanes, no shoulder, and huge trucks speeding by less than a meter from you. A lot of people ride on the sidewalk, but that is not only illegal in most cases (a special sign tells you when you can ride there), but impossible if you want to get up to 30 kph or more. I have thus developed over a dozen lengthy bike routes (from 30 to 80 kilometers in length) in the northern Yokohama, Machida, Kawasaki, and Hachioji areas, and most involve linking together various rivers.

For instance, today I went on the Tsurumi River to its source, rode up to the One Ryokudo and followed it to the Silk Road (yes, Japan has a Silk Road - Kinu no Michi - from the Meiji Era, but it is a killer path on a bike), then down to the Yudono River, which I followed until I reached the Asakawa River. That took me to the Tama River, which I followed past the Nikkatsu Studios, until I reached the Hirase River. That I followed until it ended, so I took regular roads after that until I got home. I rode about 72 kilometers.

The main reason I write about this on Tangemania, a film blog, is because along the Yudono River I ran into a familiar name: Kitano. Not only is there a Kitano Station on the Keio Line, but there is also a Kitano Highway (Kitano Kaido) going by it. The whole area is in fact called Kitanomachi. It has nothing to do with the real person Kitano Takeshi - "Kitano" is a rather common name and just means "north field" - but since I wrote a book about the man, I had to take some pictures. And here they are:



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