Nikko Motor Bus Co. tour of Nikko, c. 1940.

1940sOutside TokyoTechnologyTransportation
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Nikko Motor Bus, Nikko, c. 1940. Two modified 1937 Japanese-manufactured Chevrolet “open buses” negotiate the sharp, hairpin turns of the Iroha-zaka, connecting Nikko with Lake Chuzenji.

“For a weekend to remember, and one lavish with gorgeous scenery, take the journey from Tokyo to Nikko and Lake Chuzenji.

“Nikko is one of the two most noted shrine and temple cities in Japan, and should be a ‘must’ on your motoring itinerary. The drive between Nikko and Chuzenji, consisting of 32 hairpin curves, adds a thrill spice that you’ll remember.

“… Take Route No. 371 out to Kiyotaki, a distance of three miles, and after passing through Kiyotaki you will come to a gravel road turning off to the right and a large sign point the way to Lake Chuzenji. Drive about one mile on this road, and you will come to the starting station of the famous Chuzenji Cable Car, which takes you via cable up, up, up to the top of the mountains and the Lake. You can park your car here, lock it, and it will be perfectly safe until your return from the cable trip [or] you can drive from this cable station all the way up the mountains to the Lake, climbing practically straight up for a distance of some six miles.

“Personally, I would not miss this drive for anything, and have made it seven or eight times during my motor trips in this area, but it is a real ‘hair-raiser’ and provides thrills a-plenty. After leaving the cable station, drive straight ahead across the bridge, over a bubbling, tumbling, raging mountain stream, which you will climb high above on your way up the mountain … Beyond this first bridge you start to climb – and I do mean climb! – straight up, and come to the first of 32 hairpin curves which you will negotiate on your drive up the mountain. The curves are of great repute, and each one is marked as ‘Curve No. 1,’ ‘Curve No. 2,’ etc.

“You can well swell with accomplishment when you gain the top, and can consider yourself a really good driver.”

Motoring in Japan, by Bob Frew, 1955

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