By Natsuki Nakasuji / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer MATSUE — Jogging and cycling have become popular pastimes in the Shinjiko lake hot spring district in Matsue, as services and facilities to support the activities are developing.
Many joggers enjoy a soak in the natural onsen hot springs after a run on the banks of the lake. Sports are bringing new energy to the area.
The Chidori-yu public bath in the Coco Matsue redevelopment building, using the hot spring district’s natural water, is visited by more than 5,000 customers every month. Admission is only ¥350 for adults.
The bath is particularly popular with runners, who have been able to use a special service since September last year.
Users pay the regular bath price, but can use the changing room and a locker before they run, then have a bath after their workouts.
“Now I can run without concern,” said Kei Takahashi, 19, a student at Shimane University.
Takahashi, from Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, belonged to athletics clubs until high school. She likes to run on the banks of Shinjiko lake around sunset, but used to worry about leaving her belongings in the basket of her bicycle.
“An onsen after exercising is refreshing,” she said.
“Athletes have formed connections in the rest area,” said Shukaku Sakamoto, 60, who manages the bath.
Sports bike shop Giant Store Matsue, next to Matsue Shinjiko-Onsen Station on the Ichibata Electric Railway, is frequented by many cycling enthusiasts. The shop rents high-performance road and cross bikes made in Taiwan from ¥4,000 per day, plus tax. About 50 people a month rent bikes from the store.
Tourists, people on business trips and others enjoy taking the luxury bicycles, which can cost from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of yen, out for a spin.
The national, prefectural and city governments have publicized cycling courses and other attractions in the area.
Many cycle 40 kilometers to Izumo Taisha grand shrine, or take a 50-kilometer route to circle Shinjiko lake, or take excursions to Nakaumi lake or local shrines.
Afterward, they can wash away their sweat at Chidori-yu or in an onsen at their hotel.
The number of bicycle stands around Shinjiko lake has increased to nine, following calls from the prefectural government for more stands. Stands at Matsue Castle and the Horikawa river boat dock were installed in March.
A rest area for bicyclists was built in June near where an airfield for amphibious planes is being built along Nakaumi lake.
“Ichibata Electric Railway allows passengers to carry bicycles on trains, so I recommend that to people if they get tired,” said store manager Hirofumi Kimachi, 49.
“Cycling gives you a different view than walking or being in a car. You can enjoy the smells and other seasonal features. I want people to enjoy the old Japanese scenery that remains in Shimane,” he said. Speech