Irohazaka road near Nikkō, Japan
Reading and riding on Irohazaka road. Irohazaka road
If you've ever wanted to learn written Japanese, a joy ride on this undulating road offers an unexpected tutorial. The hairpin turns in our photo are just a few of the 48 curves you'll negotiate on your way up one part of Irohazaka road and down another—together they make 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!