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

From world-class sushi to legendary geisha, enthralling Japan is the perfect country to see by bicycle and on our cycling adventure we see all sides of this fascinating country. Cycling means that everything is slower and up close in Japan which is the perfect way to interact with the locals as well as savour the unique culture of the land of the Rising Sun. From the frenetic chaos of Tokyo to cultural Kyoto and the beauty of the serene Noto Peninsula countryside this cycling adventure has it all.


Start
Osaka, Japan
Finish
Tokyo, Japan
Country
Japan
Style
Original
Theme
Cycling
Code
CJXC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 16
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we 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

  • 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 and Osaka

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip covers anywhere between 10 to 65 km of cycling each day, so a reasonable level of fitness is required, although you’ll have plenty of rest breaks. 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.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2018 to 31 December 2018. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Konnichiwa! Welcome to Osaka. This adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm today. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please check with hotel reception or look at the reception noticeboard for where and when the meeting will take place. 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 ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel in time for the 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).

After meet the group at the welcome meeting, head out on an evening orientation walk and the chance to sample different street food along the way. Eat and drink on the street in warmer months and chat to boisterous locals - young and old - enjoying a beer and raw squid. If you are arriving early try and catch a baseball game, visit the exquisite Osaka castle or simply shop 'til you drop.

Riding distance: None
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Osaka - Osaka Castle - JPY600
  • Bunraku Puppet performance - JPY2500
  • Osaka - Street Food Tour - Free
  • Osaka - Takoyaki meal - JPY400
  • Nippon Professional Baseball League game - Free
Meals Included
  • Dinner
We rise early and cycle from Osaka to Kyoto (approx. 45kms)

Our first ride treats us to some amazing scenery, from the heaving industrial areas to quiet pockets of calm, while getting the hang of cycling in Japan.

A highlight of today’s ride is a cycle through the renowned Osaka Castle Park. Opened in 1931 and covering over 100 hectares, Osaka Castle Park is a peaceful oasis in the middle of this bustling city, adorned with cherry trees and the beautifully colourful leaves of autumn and a beautiful place to ride a bike. We will also ride past by the magnificently restored Osaka Castle. Surrounded by wide moats and imposing stone walls (some 12kms long and 20m high), the castle is one of Japan's most famous landmarks.

The ride today will be gentle, with only slight elevation on the roads as we head from our ryokan along dedicated bicycle paths and small paved roads besides the meandering Yodogawa and Katsuragawa rivers.

Leaving Osaka behind we cycle into the heart of Kyoto itself.


Riding distance: approx. 45kms, mostly flat with approx. 230m of elevation gain.
Accommodation
  • Ryokan (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kyoto - Gion District walk
Optional Activities
  • Gion Corner cultural centre - JPY2800
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
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 turn south once we reach the Kamo River. Enjoy a gentle downhill riverside cycle back to our inn.

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!

Riding distance: approx. 50kms, undulating with approx. 300m of elevation gain.
Accommodation
  • Ryokan (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kyoto - Gion District walk
  • Kyoto - Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
Optional Activities
  • Gion Corner cultural centre - JPY2800
  • Kyoto - Ryoanji Zen Garden - JPY500
  • Kyoto - Tenryuji Temple - JPY600
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Ride from Kyoto to Nara to see the Giant Buddha housed in the largest wooden structure on the planet. 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. 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, passing more community gardens, parks, and an ancient wooden footbridge.

This morning we’ll stop for tea and snacks at Nagarebashi Bridge, a 356 metre wooden bridge that is over 100 years old and one of the longest wooden bridges in Japan. This particular bridge is a popular film location for samurai dramas — the popular TV series “Hissatsu” (Assasins) was filmed here.

Return by train to Kyoto where we stay tonight.

Riding distance: approx. 65km, mostly flat with approx. 200m of elevation gain.
Accommodation
  • Ryokan (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Nara - Todaiji Temple
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Enjoy some more UNESCO World-Heritage sites in Kyoto – such as its various gardens, temples, and shrines – or jump back on the bike for some self-guided discovery of this great old city before the train ride to Kanazawa. This city in central Japan is known for its well-preserved Edo Period districts, art museums and regional handicrafts.

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.

Riding distance: None
Accommodation
  • Ryokan (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kanazawa - Orientation Walk
Optional Activities
  • Kyoto - Shosei Strolling Garden - Free
  • Kyoto - Nanzenji Temple - Free
  • Kyoto - Nishiki-Koji Market - Free
  • Kyoto - Fushimi Inari 10,000 Gate Shrine - Free
  • Kyoto - Hikone Castle - Free
  • National Museum - JPY500
  • Philosopher’s path - Free
  • Kyoto - Nijo Castle - USD600
  • Kyoto - Kinkakuji Temple - JPY500
  • Kyoto - Cooking Class - JPY6000
  • Kyoto - Kiyomizu Temple - JPY500
  • Kyoto - Sento Imperial Palace - Free
  • Kyoto - Fushimi Inari Shrine - Free
  • Kyoto - Tea Ceremony with Maiko - JPY2000
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
It's a fairly relaxing day today as you buckle up for 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. A beautiful place to enjoy by bike.

Riding distance: Approx. 10-15 kms, mostly flat with approx. 80-150m of elevation gain
Accommodation
  • Ryokan (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kanazawa - Kenrokuen Garden
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
  • Kanazawa - Myoshinju Ninja Temple - JPY800
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Over the next three days, discover the heart of the rustic Noto Peninsula and its rugged coastlines, rice paddies, and endless farmland. 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 Zen Buddhism. Explore the quiet coastal roads and spectacular ocean views and ride 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 to indulge in a taste of Japan’s signature suki yaki with famous Noto Gyu (beef) as the highlight.

Don your traditional yukata (kimono) and enjoy dinners made from fresh, local ingredients at some of the great places we stay.

Riding distance: Each day we aim to cover an average distance of 65 kilometres. The Noto Peninsula is relatively hilly so we have frequent climbs, but none are especially long.
Accommodation
  • Ryokan (4 nights)
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 see it for yourself with a train journey to Tokyo. Watch the scenic landscape fly by and remember to keep an eye out for Mt Fuji – frequently shrouded in cloud but often still visible.

On arrival into Japan's electric capital, hit the streets for a night time orientation walk and enjoy a skyscraper view over the city. Explore both 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
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Get an even better feel for the different areas of the city as we cycle some of the great paths along the city’s river and coastline waterways. There's modern and old surprises waiting at each turn along the way – a real treat for those who appreciate ancient and modern architecture.

Riding distance: approx. 40km, mostly flat with approx. 250m of elevation gain.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tokyo - Tsukiji Fish Market
Optional Activities
  • Tokyo - Sony Showroom - Free
  • Tokyo - Tokyo After 5 Urban Adventure - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a short but brilliant ride through the city, checking out many of the famous parks, gardens and sites using the same local paths Tokyoites use to cut through the city. Tokyo is our proverbial oyster as we sample food in Ginza, eat with locals at the famous Fish Market, and check out the latest at the Sony building before an evening eating, walking and drinking our way across with city with our knowledgeable guide.

Riding distance: approx. 25km, mostly flat with approx. 250m of elevation gain.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tokyo - Sensoji Temple
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 - Free
  • Soba noodle class - JPY2000
  • Sake Brewery Visit - Free
  • Tokyo - Japanese & Calligraphy lesson - Free
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 12pm. If you are 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’ - www.urbanadventures.com/tokyo-tour-Japan-s-Cultural-Curiosities

Riding distance: none
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

13 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 5 dinners

Transport

Bicycle, Support vehicle, Train

Accommodation

Hotel (5 nights), ryoken (8 nights)

Included activities

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

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is not available on this trip.
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. It is not possible for clients to bring their own bikes on this trip.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.

Reviews

Our Cycle Japan trips score an average of 4.81 out of 5 based on 21 reviews in the last year.

Cycle Japan, October 2017

Nino Mascolo

Cycle Japan, October 2017

Claire LOUISE Lyne