A popular hot spring resort northwest of Tokyo is Ikaho. The most common route to get to Ikaho is to take the route 33 from Shibukawa. This route 33 continues to lake and Mount Haruna, which also featured in the popular Japanese anime Initial D. And this part after the city of Ikaho is very curvy and loved by car enthusiasts all over Japan.
Starting in Shibukawa, it takes around 30 minutes to get to the Ikaho. Before entering Ikaho, there is a car enthusiast cafe called D’z Racing Cafe Garage. Certainly worth visiting! Then, after passing Ikaho the road will start climbing up the mountain with a mix of wider two lane curves, hairpin corners, tight twisters and a straight section with good scenery in case of good weather.
It takes a good 20 minutes to reach the lake, take a rest, drive the Ura-Haruna route or continue to with the rest of the route 33 which goes down again southwest of the lake. Here the top part is very curvy while the lower part has more straights. After the curvy part, there is a small village famous for soba noodles and also home to Haruna Shrine. It is a good rest stop or place to turn around and go back to enjoy the curvy upper part of the route again from a different perspective.
The route 33 is also known Shibukawa Matsuida Line. Road quality is generally very good and the route can be driven almost year round. On cold days and especially at night, the road might be slippery or snowy. And as this area is popular for day trips, on weekends and holidays it can be very crowded. Mount Haruna is a 2.5 to 3 hour drive from Tokyo.
Google Maps location link:
Mount Haruna Shibukawa Matsuida Line
The header photo on this page is taken by Japan Touge Project. You can also buy a collection sticker of this road from them. See details here:
Japan Touge Project Mount Akina