Spend the last few days of the tour in magical Kyoto
Spend the first few days exploring vibrant Tokyo
Cycle along the glorious coastline and see the artistic rice paddies of the area
Visit the historic district of Gion on day 12 and see apprentice geishas moving around town
Visit and perhaps stay in one of these uniquely steep thatched abodes on day 8
Visit this beautiful region on day 8 with its unusual architecture and stunning mountainside setting

Cycling in Japan

Duration
14 days
Site savings
$152
From
$7,418 USD

Discover the best of rural and modern Japan on two wheels over an unforgettable fortnight as you cycle tour from Tokyo to Kyoto. There is no better way of experiencing the ever-changing landscapes of Japan than on two wheels, as you pedal from the rugged seascapes and wild beaches of the Noto Peninsula to picturesque farmlands and remote mountainous regions of Takayama and UNESCO Shirakawa-go, where you are able to get a close feel for the timeless rhythms and customs of the Japanese countryside.

  • Category
    Cultural & Historical
  • Type
    Fully Guided
  • Duration
    14 days
  • Culture Level
    Out There
  • Skill Level
    2 - Novice
  • Activity Level
    3 - Active
  • Elevation
    3 - Intermediate
  • Terrain
    Mixed
  • Distance
    310.7 miles
  • Avg. Daily Distance
    37.3 miles
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Quick Stats

  • Duration
    14 days
  • Main Destination
    Japan
  • Distance
    310.7 miles
  • Avg. Daily Distance
    37.3 miles
  • Elevation
    3 - Intermediate
  • Terrain
    Mixed

Route Map (click to view larger image)

Itinerary Details

  1. Day 1Start Tokyo

    The tour starts in Tokyo, Japan’s busy capital boasting a unique contrast of ultramodern and traditional, from neon-lit skyscrapers to historic temples. With so much to see and do in Tokyo, the tour operator recommends arriving a day or two early to explore the array of attractions at your own pace. The tour operator can book additional accommodation for you prior to departure; please let us know if you'd like further information on this.

    • Sunroute Asakusa Hotel or similar
  2. Day 2Morning orientation walk and free afternoon to explore Tokyo

    Today you will enjoy a half day orientation tour of some Tokyo's highlights, starting from the popular district of Asakusa, where you will visit Semso-ji, a Buddhist temple dating back to the 7th Century. You can approach the temple via the Nakamise, a shopping street where you can find a variety of traditional, local snacks and souvenirs. You will then continue towards the area of Ueno and walk through the beautiful public park filled with temples, shrines and about half a dozen museums. The afternoon is free for individual sightseeing and your leader will be giving recommendations on other must-see attractions in the city such as Shibuya, known for the busy crossing, and Meiji Shrine.

    • Sunroute Asakusa Hotel or similar
    • Breakfast
  3. Day 3Train to Kanazawa, the gateway to the Noto Peninsula; afternoon cycle loop and sightseeing

    In the morning you will take the express train (approx. 2.5 hours) to Kanazawa, in the western Ishikawa Prefecture, an atmospheric town that once rivalled Kyoto as the historical jewel of mainland Japan. After lunch, you will enjoy a short cycling loop around the city, a good opportunity to fine-tune the bikes whilst enjoying some of the main attractions in town. You will ride through the popular Nagamachi Samurai District, an area which preserves a historic atmosphere featuring samurai residences, narrow lanes and water canals. You will also visit Kenrokuen, one of Japan's most beautiful landscaped gardens, which is particularly spectacular during cherry blossom and autumn season.

    • 6.2 miles
    • 164 ft
    • Garden Hotel in Kanazawa or similar
    • Breakfast
  4. Day 4Cycle from Kanazawa to Togi, along rugged coastline and past fishing villages

    This morning you will leave Kanazawa and cycle along the Sea of Japan until reaching the popular Chirihama Beach driveway, where you will pedal comfortably on the hard packed sand beach for about 8km (4.9mi). This route is a unique attraction in Japan as it is open not only to bikes but also to cars, allowing drivers to get really close to the water's edge. Small stalls selling hamayaki (grilled shellfish and fish) are set up along the coast from spring to summer and offer a good opportunity for a refreshment stop. En route, you will also visit Myojoji Temple dating back to the 17th Century and boasting a wonderfully early five-storied Edo Period pagoda. You will continue on the coastal cycling path and then along the dramatic Noto Kongo Coast, often considered the most dramatic section of the Noto Peninsula, until reaching Togi. Here you will check in at a traditional Japanese Inn, offering rooms with traditional futon bedding as well as a public bath (onsen).

    • 49.7 miles
    • 1,312.3 ft
    • Kogetsukan Ryokan in Togi
    • Breakfast and Dinner
  5. Day 5Rewarding coastal ride to Wajima; enjoy scenic ocean views and rock formations en route

    Today you will follow the beautiful coastline north of the Noto Peninsula, as you cycle on quiet back roads lined by traditional wooden houses and rice fields. The coastal journey to Wajima is undulating with some occasional steep climbs but the effort will be rewarded by spectacular views of the rugged coastline and interesting rock formations along the way. In the afternoon you will settle in your accommodation in Wajima, a city centered around a protected harbor on the Sea of Japan coast and famous for its lively morning market.

    • 37.3 miles
    • 2,296.6 ft
    • Route Inn Hotel in Wajima or similar
    • Breakfast
  6. Day 6Early morning optional market visit; cycle to Suzu; enjoy coastal views and verdant rice paddies of Senmaida

    This morning you will have the option of joining the leader for an early visit to the Wajima Morning Market, believed to date back over a thousand years. Every day vendors and elderly women gather here to sell various goods, including fresh seafood and lacquerware, the most well known local handicraft. You will then set off on your bike and pedal along the remote and rural coastal northern stretch of the Noto Peninsula throughout the day, passing famous picturesque rice fields and salt farms en route. The most famous sight you will visit today is Senmaida, a hillside of over 1000 terraced rice fields whose colours and shapes contrast to the background of the blue sea. You will reach Suzu late afternoon and check in at your hotel by the sea.

    • 43.5 miles
    • 2,296.6 ft
    • Noto Jiso Ryokan in Suzu
    • Breakfast and Dinner
  7. Day 7Final ride along the Noto Peninsula to the popular hot spring resort of Wakura Onsen

    Leaving Suzu, today you will cycle the last stretch of the Noto Peninsula as you follow the undulating coastal route around Toyama Bay. Along the way, you can enjoy coastal views and a scenic landscape dotted by fishing villages until reaching the Wakura Onsen, a popular hot spring resort which history goes back thousands of years. According to a legend, a local fisherman found a wounded white heron curing its body in the ocean’s hot water. Today the local waters rich in natural salts and minerals are still flowing and their healing properties attract large numbers of visitors each year. You will have the opportunity to soak in the hot springs at the traditional accommodation or in one of the public baths in town - a regenerating treat after days of cycling.

    • 55.9 miles
    • 2,624.7 ft
    • Kinpaso in Wakura Onsen
    • Breakfast and Dinner
  8. Day 8Travel to UNESCO Shirakawa-go village by train and bus; overnight in a traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouse

    Today you will take a break from cycling and experience a dramatic change of landscape as you travel inland by train and then bus (approx. 3 hours) to Shirakawa-go, a spectacular secluded mountainous region which was cut off from the rest of Japan for a long period of time. Villages in this area are famous for their traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses which were declared a UNESCO site in 1995. Their unique architectural style characterised by steep thatched roofs developed over many generations with the aim of withstanding heavy snowfalls during winter whilst providing a large attic space for the cultivation of silkworms. You will arrive in Shirakawa-go in the afternoon in time to enjoy a leisurely walk through the picture-perfect mountain village, with the opportunity to visit some of the oldest buildings. Although not always guaranteed due to limited availability, the group will usually spend the night at one or more gassho-zukuri houses, run by local farmers, allowing you to get a real feel of a Japanese family home.

    • Gassho Zukuri Houses in Shirakawago or similar
    • Breakfast and Dinner
  9. Day 9Challenging ride to Hida Takayama, at the foothills of the Japanese Alps

    Today is the most challenging ride of the trip as you will cycle inland to Hida Takayama, at the foothills of the Japanese Alps. Riding out of Shirakawa-go, from an altitude of approx. 500m (1640ft) above sea level, you will gradually climb up 1100m (3608ft) for the first 45km (28mi) of the route. There are some wonderful views to be enjoyed along the way, from the picturesque shores of Miboro Lake and quaint rural villages to hillsides and forested valleys which burst in color during the autumn season. On the last section of the ride, you will enjoy two great descents before reaching your destination Hida Takayama, often named Little Kyoto because of the similarity of its architecture and quaint atmosphere.

    • 49.7 miles
    • 4,265.1 ft
    • Wat Hotel in Takayama or similar
    • Breakfast
  10. Day 10Cycle to the castle town of Gujo Hachiman, past little villages, local shrines and paddy fields

    Today you will cycle the Hida Seseragi Highway, a beautiful route which follows the swift mountain streams and one of the most popular places to experience the striking autumn colours in Japan in season. Riding past little villages, shrines and paddy fields, you will reach the pleasant riverside town of Gujo-Hachiman, known for its pristine waterways and its 16th-century castle. Before dinner, there is time for a pleasant stroll through the vibrant town's centre and along the atmospheric canals and waterways which are still used daily by locals for washing rice, vegetables and laundry. Time and energy permitting there is also the option to walk to the hilltop castle built in 1559 by the local feudal lord from where one can enjoy wonderful vistas.

    • 43.5 miles
    • 2,624.7 ft
    • Onoso Ryokan in Gujo Hachiman
    • Breakfast and Dinner
  11. Day 11Cycle along the Nagara River to the town of Gifu

    Today's pleasant and more leisurely ride follows the Nagara River, famed across Japan for its clear water and quiet beauty. Some sections of the riverside are particularly picturesque during cherry blossom season when over 400 cherry trees in full and glorious bloom. You will pedal along the river for most of the day and make a stop in the pleasant town of Mino, a century-old production center of high quality traditional Japanese paper. Your final destination today is Gifu where you should arrive in time for an optional visit to the castle located atop Mount Kinka. Overnight in Gifu City.

    • 40.4 miles
    • 984.3 ft
    • Hotel Resol in Gifu or similar
    • Breakfast
  12. Day 12Travel to Kyoto by train; free time for sightseeing

    Today you will have another day off the bikes. After breakfast, you will travel by train (approx. 2 hours) to the wonderful city of Kyoto. With over 2000 temples, shrines and gardens, Kyoto is a treasure house of Japan's cultural heritage and remains undoubtedly one of the most fascinating cities in Asia. Unlike many other Japanese towns, it escaped the ravages of both the Second World War and modern urban development thereby keeping intact much of the spirit and architecture of traditional Japan. The day is free for individual sightseeing with many highlights waiting to be explored including Nijo castle, built in 1603 as a residence for the Tokugawa shoguns, Kiyomiduzera temple and the scenic Fushimi Inari Shrine, featured in the movie Memoirs of a Geisha. The tour operator also recommends a walk in the historic district of Gion, which is at its most atmospheric in the early evening, when the lanterns are lit and apprentice geishas will flit about the back streets on their way to their appointments.

    • Hotel Palace Side in Kyoto
    • Breakfast
  13. Day 13Final circular ride in Kyoto exploring the pleasant district of Arashiyama and two seasonal temples

    Today's cycling loop explores some of the best areas and attractions of Kyoto, heading first towards Arashiyama, a pleasant district in the western outskirts of the city. The area has been a popular destination since the Heian Period (794-1185) when nobles would enjoy its natural setting. After pedalling through its charming centre, via the iconic Togetsukyo Bridge and bamboo grove, you will continue back into Kyoto following a different route. En route you will stop for a visit to Ryoanji Temple, the site of Japan's most famous rock garden, and the splendid Kinkakuji (also known as the Golden Pavilion), one of Japan's most iconic landmarks. Finally, you will cycle via the famous Philosopher's Path, a pedestrian and cycling path that follows a cherry-tree-lined canal in northern Kyoto, until reaching Kyoto station where your last ride finishes. In the evening the leader will be arranging an optional celebratory farewell dinner in one of the most authentic restaurants in the city.

    • 24.9 miles
    • 656.2 ft
    • Hotel Palace Side in Kyoto or similar
    • Breakfast
  14. Day 14End Kyoto

    The tour ends this morning after breakfast.

    • Breakfast