Take a mind-blowing cycling tour of historic, cultural, rural and modern Japan

From world-class sushi to legendary geisha, enthralling Japan is the perfect destination to discover by bicycle. Our cycling adventure gives you a slowed down, up close look of this fascinating country and allows ample opportunity to meet locals and glimpse the unique culture of the Land of the Rising Sun. From the temples, shrines and geisha of Kyoto to the frenetic but exhilarating chaos of Tokyo, and the beautiful serenity of the Noto Peninsula countryside in between, this cycling adventure has it all.

Kyoto, Japan
Tokyo, Japan
Physical rating
Min 14
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why you'll love this trip

  • Cycling allows you to get closer to the real Japan – from bicycles to Pokemon, serene temples to the organised chaos of the big cities, this classic adventure has it all.

  • Choose to end rewarding days in the saddle with amazing Japanese feasts of sushi, unagi, tempura or even fugu, all washed down with a traditional sake or Sapporo beer.

  • Ride both bikes and trains for the ultimate change of pace.

  • Cycle through peaceful landscapes that show a land far from the big city lights of Tokyo.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip covers anywhere between 10 to 80 km (6-50 miles) of cycling each day, so a reasonable level of fitness is required, although you’ll have plenty of rest breaks. Outside of the main cities a support vehicle will also be with you at all times, so if you get tired you can jump in. This trip is suitable for those seeking an active adventure and is a wonderful way to see the sights of Japan from a different perspective.

  • To complete this trip it is also important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle.

  • While riding the bikes you’ll be exposed to the elements, so please ensure you’re well prepared with waterproof clothing suitable for both warm and cold weather conditions.


This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2019 to 31 December 2019. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2018 - 31 December 2018

Konnichiwa! Welcome to Kyoto. Serving as Japan's capital and the emperor's residence from 794 until 1868, Kyoto is the spiritual centre of Zen Buddhism and one of the most historically important cities in Japan. Unlike many of its neighbours Kyoto escaped destruction during World War II and thousands of temples, shrines and other historically invaluable structures survive in the city today. This adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you'll meet your tour leader and fellow travellers. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Afterwards, head out on an evening walk before choosing whether you want to join the group for an optional dinner or hit the streets solo.

If you arrive early, Kyoto offers a myriad of options to explore. For a taste of Shogun life, head to the World Heritage-listed Nijo Castle, perhaps the best surviving example of castle palace architecture from Japan's feudal era. See how the Emperor lived at the Sento Imperial Palace within Kyoto Imperial Park, an attractive park in the centre of the city. Or for a quieter moment, you may wish to contemplate silently in one of the serene karesansui (Zen gardens) that dot the city.

Ride distance – no included riding today
Optional Activities
  • Kyoto - Cooking Class - JPY6000
  • Kyoto - Kinkakuji Temple - JPY500
  • Kyoto - Philosopher’s path - Free
  • Kyoto - Kiyomizu Temple - JPY500
  • Kyoto - Imperial Palace - Free
  • Kyoto - Nanzenji Temple - Free
  • Kyoto - Shosei Strolling Garden - JPY500
  • Kyoto - Nishiki-Koji Market - Free
  • National Museum - JPY500
  • Kyoto - Fushimi Inari 10,000 Gate Shrine - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive in time for today's welcome meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please have these on hand.
The ride today takes the group west from our ryokan to the Katsura River, then north along a dedicated cycling path past traditional houses and community gardens to the ancient imperial resort of Arashiyama. Stop off for a coffee break in Arashiyama, well-known for its gorgeous bamboo forests. After a caffeine hit and a chance to soak up the peaceful atmosphere, ride on to Tenryuji Temple and Ryoanji Temple, with its famous white Zen rock garden. Pause here to contemplate the sound of one hand clapping and then move on to contemplate some lunch.

Afterwards, cycle east across the north end of Kyoto and then onto the Path of Philosophy and the Higashiyama area before returning to our accommodation. The ride today will be gentle, with only slight elevation on the roads as we head into Arashiyama. We start with a 5 kilometre ride on a main road, then follow dedicated bicycle paths and secondary roads for the rest of the day.

On arrival back into Kyoto, take an evening orientation tour of Kyoto's Gion district. Observe Geisha and Maiko (apprentice Geisha) from key spots in the city's old back streets and be tempted by some of the area's great local restaurants, perhaps doubling back to visit for dinner after the tour has ended.

Kyoto’s streets are laid out in a convenient grid pattern, which is unusual for Japanese cities. In the 8th century, imperial city planners copied the grid layout of Chang’an (now Xian), the capital of the Tang Dynasty China. That’s not the only benefit we reap from the Tang Dynasty today – two well-known Tang engineers, Ma Jun and Zhang Heng, invented the mechanical gear system used by the bikes we ride around this easy-to- navigate city. Arigato Tang Dynasty!

Ride distance: approx. 45 km (28 miles), undulating with approx. 300 m of elevation gain.
Included Activities
  • Kyoto - Gion District walk
  • Kyoto - Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
Optional Activities
  • Kyoto - Gion Corner cultural centre - JPY2800
  • Kyoto - Ryoanji Zen Garden - JPY500
  • Kyoto - Tenryuji Temple - JPY600
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
The cycling route takes the group on a dedicated riverside cycling path from the old capital of Kyoto to the even older capital of Nara. Here, you'll see the Giant Buddha housed in the largest wooden structure on the planet. This city is well known for its Todaiji Temple and its cute, free-roaming wild deer. Head south along the river for most of the day, stopping briefly at Nagarebashi Bridge, a 356-metre wooden bridge that is a popular film location for samurai dramas. Return by train to Kyoto then on to Kanazawa where we stay tonight. On arrival, get to know the streets on a walking tour and learn more of the history of this important city. Ask your leader for some great local restaurant options.

Ride distance: approx. 55 km (34 miles), mostly flat with approx. 200 m of elevation gain.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
It's a fairly relaxing day today as we rest up before hitting the hills of the Noto Peninsula. Take it easy and enjoy a leisurely bike ride across the city seeing the best it has to offer. Ride past the famous gardens, including leafy Kenrokuen, one of Japan’s greatest gardens, and the old Geisha and Samurai districts. It's a truly beautiful place to enjoy by bike. Please note we ride to most of the sites but cover them by foot once we are there.

Ride distance: Approx. 10-15 km (6-9 miles), mostly flat with approx. 80-150 m of elevation gain
Included Activities
  • Kanazawa - Kenrokuen Garden
  • Kanazawa - Orientation Walk
Optional Activities
  • Kanazawa - Nomura Samurai House - JPY550
  • Kanazawa - Museum of Contemporary Art - JPY1000
  • Kanazawa - Omicho Market - Free
  • Kanazawa - Wagashi (sweets) cooking demonstration - Free
  • Kanazawa - Castle - JPY310
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Over the next four days, discover the heart of the rustic Noto Peninsula and its rugged coastlines, rice paddies, and endless farmland. The area is relatively hilly so we have frequent and sometimes steep climbs, but none are especially long. Highlights, along with the cycling, including visiting asaichi (morning markets) housing everything from lacquerware and sake to fresh fish and vegetables. Ride along the scenic coast to Myojoji Temple for an introduction to Japanese Nichiren Buddhism. Discover quiet coastal roads and spectacular ocean views, riding back in time through sleepy fishing villages and past lush forests. Stop for a local lunch and head to the hot-spring town of Wakura Onsen. Don your traditional yukata (kimono) and enjoy dinners made from fresh, local ingredients at some of the great places we stay, followed by a dip in the onsen baths.

Ride distances:
Day 5 – 75 km (47 miles)
Day 6 – 50 km (31 miles)
Day 7 – 70 km (44miles)
Day 8 – 65 km (40miles)

Included Activities
  • Myojoji Temple
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (4)
  • Lunch (4)
  • Dinner (4)
No trip to Japan is complete without experiencing the country's legendary train system. Swap your bike for a train and watch the scenic landscape fly by on a  journey (approx. 5 hours) to Tokyo. Hit the streets on arrivalfor a night-time orientation walk. Explore the contemporary centre of town as well as the old streets, and feel the hum of modern life in this famous city.

Riding distance: None
Included Activities
  • Tokyo - Sensoji Temple
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Hold on to your helmets because there's a real treat today – two rides in one day! Get a better feel for the different areas of the city this morning as you cycle some of the great paths along the city’s river. There are surprises, both old and modern, waiting at every turn along the way and architecture aficinados will be in heaven. In the afternoon, enjoy a short but brilliant ride through the city, checking out many of the famous parks, gardens and sights using the same local paths Tokyoites use to cut through the city. Sample food in Tsukiji, the city's famous fish market, and enjoy a free evening to spend as you see best. Enjoy a quiet night, let loose at karaoke, or walk and drink your way across the city with your local leader.

Morning ride distance: approx. 30 km (25 miles), mostly flat with approx. 250 m of elevation gain.

Afternoon ride distance: approx. 20km (12 miles), mostly flat with approx. 250 m of elevation gain.
Included Activities
  • Tokyo - Tsukiji Fish Market
Optional Activities
  • Tokyo - Shinjuku Garden - JPY200
  • Tokyo - Edo Tokyo Museum - JPY600
  • Tokyo - Samurai Sword Museum - JPY600
  • Tokyo - Meiji Shrine - Free
  • Karaoke - JPY2000
  • Tokyo - Imperial Palace - Free
  • Nippon Professional Baseball League game - JPY2000
  • Soba noodle class - JPY2000
  • Tokyo - Japanese & Calligraphy lesson - JPY2000
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Sadly it's time to say farewell to this great Japanese adventure. There are no activities planned for the day and you’re able to depart the hotel at any time. Check-out time is 11 am but if you're departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel. If you have time why not check out the amazing Urban Adventures on offer in this eclectic city such as ‘Japan’s Cultural Curiosities’. Read more at: www.urbanadventures.com/tokyo-tour-Japan-s-Cultural-Curiosities

Ride distance: none

Meals Included
  • Breakfast


10 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 4 dinners


Bicycle, Support vehicle, Train


Hotel (4 nights), ryoken (6 nights)

Included activities

  • Kyoto - Gion District walk
  • Kyoto - Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
  • Kanazawa - Kenrokuen Garden
  • Kanazawa - Orientation Walk
  • Myojoji Temple
  • Tokyo - Sensoji Temple
  • Tokyo - Tsukiji Fish Market

Dates & availability

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Important notes

Based on traveller feedback the itinerary for the Cycle Japan trip has changed for 2019, reducing from 14 days down to 11 days and no longer starts in/visits Osaka.

1. A single supplement is only available on selected nights of this tour, due to limited availability at local hotels and ryokans. A single supplement can be purchased for just 4 nights of this tour (Days 4, 6, 9 & 10). On all other nights you will be roomed with a group member of the same gender.
2. Bicycle hire is included in your trip price. Please advise your height at time of booking so as we can organise a suitable sized bike.
3. Bike helmets are compulsory on this trip. We are unable to hire bike helmets locally so please ensure you bring your own bike helmet from home.
4. Due to the expense of private transport, distances of airports from cities, and the fact that Japan has very efficient public transport airport links, transfers are not offered in Japan. Please see the Joining Point Instructions in the trip notes for more information.
5. Please note, decorative tattoos are uncommon in Japanese culture and therefore you may receive curious and sometimes disapproving looks from locals. Generally, nobody will make a comment about your tattoos but please endeavour to wear modest clothing and be aware that you may not be able to enter public onsens.
6. Accommodation in Japan can be difficult to secure at short notice. If you are travelling in Japan before or after your trip, we recommend booking accommodation at least 1 month in advance of travel, especially in high season (Mar to May, Sep to Nov).

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.


Our Cycle Japan 2019 trips score an average of 4.83 out of 5 based on 30 reviews in the last year.

Cycle Japan, July 2018

Emily Rose

Cycle Japan, July 2018

Carmen Estermann