Enjoy seeing and experiencing sights that are unique to Japan
Bike the charming back streets of Kyoto

Japan Heritage

Duration
7 days
Site savings
$117
From
$3,783 USD

Get ready to experience authentic and historic Japan on this 7-day cycling tour of the Kansai region. Visit Kyoto's must-sees, while exploring hidden gems in the surrounding countryside. Enjoy meals of traditional Japanese cuisine, including its world-famous green tea. At night, rest your body in the hot springs at an authentic ryokan. Escape to the tranquil countryside for fantastic cycling and hiking. This guided cycle tour of Japan is perfect for first-time visitors and Japan-frequent travelers alike!

  • Category
    Cultural & Historical
  • Type
    Fully Guided
  • Duration
    7 days
  • Culture Level
    Out There
  • Skill Level
    2 - Novice
  • Activity Level
    2 - Moderate
  • Elevation
    2 - Moderate
  • Terrain
    Flat
  • Distance
    128 miles
  • Avg. Daily Distance
    21.1 miles
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SpiceRoads Cycling
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Quick Stats

  • Duration
    7 days
  • Main Destination
    Japan
  • Distance
    128 miles
  • Avg. Daily Distance
    21.1 miles
  • Elevation
    2 - Moderate
  • Terrain
    Flat

Route Map (click to view larger image)

Itinerary Details

  1. Day 1Kyoto Loop

    From tucked-away temples to towering bamboo groves, today is all about seeing what Kyoto and its surrounding area has to offer. Traveling by bike allows you access to these areas too narrow for cars and too far to travel by foot.

    Start your cycling holiday in Japan with a leisurely ride to Kinakuji, or the Golden Pavilion. After exploring this must-see site, cycle west and off the beaten track. Arriving at Ryoanji temple, experiment with perspective at its unique zen garden. The garden is designed so you can always see 14 of the 15 stones at any angle. Afterwards, pedal toward Arashiyama to visit Otagi and Adashino Nenbitsuji, Kyoto’s hidden gems featuring thousands of hand-carved Buddhist statues. Make sure to bring your camera! Keep pedaling through the highlight of Arashiyama, the picturesque green bamboo groves and on to lunch. After filling your belly with local treats, cycle riverside toward Kyoto’s back streets. You can visit the often overlooked Miyagawacho district, one of the five geisha districts. If you're extremely lucky, you might spot geishas and maikos on the way to one of Kyoto's premier heritage sites: Nijo Castle.

    Finally, make your last stop of the day at the Heian Shrine, a replica of the Heian first Imperial Palace and a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. Tonight's meal is a Japanese comfort food staple- ramen! You'll dine on freshly prepared traditional ramen noodles, worlds away from the freeze-dried noodles in college.

    • 26.1 miles
    • 1,017.1 ft
      1,017.1 ft
    • Rinn Heian, Kyoto
    • Lunch and Dinner
  2. Day 2Kyoto - Ogoto Onsen

    Today you cycle away from the city lights and along the Takano River, pedaling through rural and forested mountain roads. The ride today is one of the hilliest of the trip, but there's an onsen - a traditional Japanese hot spring - waiting at the end of the day to reward you for your hard work!

    Ride along the riverside village of Kibune and arrive at Kifune Shrine, a Shinto religious sanctuary, for a look around. With the choice to travel by foot or by bike, you will then follow a mountain trail to Kurama temple with beautiful scenery. Keep going toward Ohara, famous for its many temples with exceptionally beautiful gardens. Along the way, you will cycle through rural towns, rice paddies, local farms, and produce markets selling the season’s fresh fruit and vegetables. From there, make your way to majestic Lake Biwa, Japan's largest, and onto the ride's end in the hot spring town of Ogoto Onsen.

    Your accommodation tonight is a very traditional onsen ryokan, with an impressive selection of natural mineral baths. Ogoto's hot spring waters are said to have healing properties, so be sure to avail yourself of these amenities before or after dinner (or both!). For dinner, enjoy an authentic hot pot meal at the ryokan.

    • 29.8 miles
    • 1,968.5 ft
      1,968.5 ft
    • Komorebi Ryokan, Otsu
    • Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
  3. Day 3Ogoto Onsen - Shigaraki

    After a traditional breakfast, say goodbye to your wonderful Ryokan and get into the saddle for a great day of riding. The route takes you straight across Lake Biwa, along the kilometre-and-a-half-long Biwako Ohashi Bridge! It's a climb up and over the bridge, but the route today is mostly flat.

    Once across, you'll visit the quaint castle town of Omihachiman and take some time to rest your legs and explore the historic canal area. Some of the best riding is up ahead, along a dedicated cycle path through simply stunning scenery of the lake and deciduous forest.

    Take a break for lunch on the shores of the lake, in a picturesque restaurant with sweeping views of Biwa from its terrace. From there, ride on to your destination for the day, the town of Shigaraki, famous for its clay works and pottery, especially ceramic statues of tanuki - the Japanese raccoon dog.

    • 37.3 miles
    • 492.1 ft
      492.1 ft
    • Yumesakikan, Shigaraki
    • Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
  4. Day 4Shigaraki - Nara

    Rise early to get ahead of the hilliest day of your cycling tour of Japan. This time, pedal to a cornerstone of Japanese culture: tea. Ride out of Shigaraki, spotting many tanuki statues along the way, towards Wazuka, one of Japan's premier tea growing regions. Small, winding back roads take you through perfectly shaped and manicured tea fields. Depending on the season, you might get a chance to spot tea pluckers, delicately harvesting their leafy crop. The route is hilly, but there are plenty of opportunities to stop to rest and take photos.

    Make a stop at one of the many plantations to dine and learn more about the growing, harvesting, and preparation of Japanese green tea. Lunch is a traditional meal, paired well with Ujicha, the local variety of tea. Full and perhaps well-caffeinated, continue the ride to Nara, one of Japan's former capitals. After checking into a traditional ryokan accommodation, go and hit the town for dinner. Tonight's menu: okonomiyaki, sometimes referred to as "Japanese pizza," but unlike any pizza you've ever tasted!

    • 31.1 miles
    • 2,296.6 ft
      2,296.6 ft
    • Matsumae Ryokan, Nara
    • Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
  5. Day 5Nara

    After a few days of Japanese food, mix things up with a Western breakfast at a cafe in town. Then head out to the old city for a guided tour of Nara's impressive temple complex, including one of the largest bronze Buddhas in the world. You'll have some free time to explore on your own, spot deer in Nara park or shop for souvenirs before meeting in the late afternoon for a sushi-making class. Dinner is on your own, but your guide and crew will be happy to make some recommendations.

    • Matsumae Ryokan, Nara
    • Breakfast and Lunch
  6. Day 6Nara - Uji - Kyoto

    After another delicious Western breakfast, you will leave Nara and make your way back to Kyoto by bike. The ride is mostly flat, taking you along the river and some quiet back roads to help savor these last kilometres of your Japan cycling trip. There's still plenty to see on your final cycling day though! The first stop is in Uji, a small city famous for its tea and the impressive Byodoin temple. You can stop here to admire the incredible work of architecture followed by a tea tasting and ceremony. Approaching outer Kyoto, you'll arrive in the city's Fushimi Momoyama district, known for its connection to another of Japan's famous beverages: sake.

    Lunch is at the Gekkeikan Sake brewery, where you'll also tour the brewery and see the sake-making process in action, followed by a tasting if you're up for it! After arriving back in Kyoto, check in to the hotel before meeting up for a final farewell dinner together and a must-do Japan dining experience - a traditional izakaya!

    • 28 miles
    • Rinn Heian, Kyoto
    • Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
  7. Day 7Departure

    Enjoy a lazy breakfast at the hotel before making your way to the airport or train station for onward travel. You are also welcome to extend your stay in Kyoto!

    • Breakfast