Bike ride: 比奈知ダム or Hinachi Dam

My journey to Hinachi Dam, Nabari

Hinachi lake at Hinachi Dam

Quite a while ago, I posted a bike ride on my journey to Shorenji-dam in Nabari and I called it “Nabari Dam” despite there being more than one…never mind. The argument for Shorenji-dam being called Nabari dam is a weak one for one simple reason- it doesn’t feed Nabari river- unlike Hinachi-dam (no more names now I swear)!

The journey to the second dam started bright and early on a cloudy day- which was great for lighting but no so great for capturing colours- but that doesn’t matter as much since it is winter.

The location is a brilliant one- at least on google Maps. If you are interested in going to the dam on foot, arrive at Kikyogaoka station and walk towards the Mega Don Quijote and continue walking- eventually you’ll find your way to the dam. Additionally, there is a bus- but busses in Nabari are a bit inconvenient.

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The journey to the dam

Do you love cycling? Do you love cycling on a bike that has seen better days? How about one that is not designed for life in Nabari going up a hill for several kilometres? Sound fun? No- but strangely it was.

The journey to the dam is entirely uphill – which makes perfect sense (it’s a dam) and most of the way there are dedicated footpaths (or cycle paths in my case) which were extremely helpful as Japanese drivers in rural areas love to speed.

As the ascent continued, houses became infrequent and forests started emerging- most signs of urban life faded away into vast open countryside- an escape that was completely needed.

Near Shimohinachi, Nabari

The journey at this point seemed a world away from Nabari- even with my slow ascent. The views were fantastic- but more importantly, it was brilliant exercise.

Upon arrival at the dam, you are greeted with the most fantastic views of the lake and of the surrounding countryside- with nay a person in sight.

The view from on top of the dam

The dam is slightly different from Shorenji-dam in construction but not use. The dam operates as a hydroelectric generation station in addition to providing water for household, industrial, and agricultural use. But the main selling point, similar to the other dam, is flood protection in times of heavy rainfall of typhoons. This is still a concern to many in Nabari which is one of the reasons for its constriction and for recent construction works happening along all rivers in Nabari- additionally a third dam is being built in the area set for completion by Reiwa.

The dam is 355 m long and 70.5 m high (or 14.2 Shinkansens long and 4.5 great Buddhas high according to the signs) and has a potential holding capacity for 20,800,000 m^3 of water but normally contains just 18,400,000 m^3 of water (or 1.84×10^7 m^3 of water- which looks so much better).

Similar to the other dam, the river it feeds goes through Iga, Nara, and eventually releases its’ load into Osaka bay- so it does help a lot of people by working.

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It has the most fantastic road surrounding the lake and bridges along the way, with a car park and a small park- AKA a brilliant track for running and cycling (there were quite a few of us). The roads are brilliant and it is a fantastic journey- with few cars (except when I went through a tunnel and 5 appeared behind me) and a flat riding surface (the start notwithstanding!).

The journey back was a lovely way to cool down- it was mostly downhill again through the countryside. The signs of urbanization slowly seeped back into my journey until Nabari was unveiled- even with going a more scenic way along the river.

Final stats were a total journey length of 22.42 km, and an elevation increase of 280 m.

Thank you for reading and happy exploring.

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