Murasaki River flows through Kokura-minami Ward and Kita Ward in Kita-Kyushu City. If you cycle on the road along the slow-moving river, you will be able to experience the natural beauty of Kita-Kyushu in the form of Yamada Park, Sugao Waterfall, and Hiraodai. When you get to the top of the hill up Hiraodai, the most difficult part of a cycling tour of Kita-Kyushu, you will be at Kita-Kyushu’s foremost highland area, the Karst Plateau. It will open up right in front of your eyes and you will be able to enjoy the expansive landscape. You can get up close to the source of the natural beauty of Hiraodai, tour around the limestone caves, visit delicious confectionary stores, savor locally-raised chicken, and experience the many other beautiful things only Hiraodai can offer.
This course starts at Katsuyama Park in Kokura-kita Ward and travels along the Murasaki River down to Minami Ward. It is a course filled with nature where you can cycle while looking at the small rivers and streams, waterfowl, and vibrant vegetation growing along the riverside. Hardly any cars pass by and you feel that you can pedal wherever your heart desires as you enjoy a leisurely journey.
Travelling on the road along the slow-moving Murasaki River in the direction of Hiraodai will bring you eventually to the start of a long and steep hill going up. It is a severe uphill climb that the local Kokura cycle racers use as a training course, and was added as a course for the Cycle Tour Kita-Kyushu 2013, when many competitors were forced to drop out because of the hill. But once you get to the top of the long hill, the Karst Plateau, the largest highland area in Kita-Kyushu, will unfold right in front of your eyes.
Designated as a natural monument, national park, and prefectural natural park, Hiraodai is part of the semi-exposed Karst Plateau formed 350 to 600m above sea level. It was created when approximately 300 million years ago plates under the coral reefs accumulated undersea shifted and gradually moved to the current location over a long period of time. Looking at the landscape puts you momentarily in awe at the eternity of the passage of time. Hiraodai is made up of unique terrain formed by the corrosion of limestone and corroded limestone pinnacles above ground. Riding your bike along the small paths between the gaps in the pinnacles puts you amidst majestic landscape that makes you feel you are not in Japan.
Hiraodai is not just the above-ground pinnacles and you should get yourself into the subterranean limestone caves. These will take you into Hiraodai’s underground world and the location for caving, a slightly mystical space where you may forget all worldly matters. They feature a shaft entrance (Ojikahora Cave), very uncommon in Japan, stretch over 2km, and contain the deepest cave (Mejirodo Cave) in Hiraodai. Designated by the national government as natural monuments, the caves contain the three of the most famous caves in Hiraodai (the third one being Senbutsu Limestone Cave). A portion of them are open for sightseeing.