Irohazaka road near Nikko, Japan
Reading and riding on Irohazaka road. Irohazaka road
If you've ever wanted to learn written Japanese, a joy ride on this undulating uphill road offers an unexpected tutorial. These hairpin turns in our photo are just eight of the 48 curves you'll negotiate on your way up and down Irohazaka road, a scenic loop in the highlands outside the city of Nikkō. That's one switchback for each of the 48 hiragana symbols in an ancient Japanese writing system, with each marked by a sign showing one symbol. Not a bad visual aid for the still-learning visitor!