Cycling in Japan

Cycling in Japan
Cycling in Japan
Cycling in Japan
Cycling in Japan
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  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • What's Included
  • FAQ
  • Reviews
  • Dates
  • Exodus

There is no better way of experiencing the ever-changing landscapes of Japan than on two wheels, as we 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 we are able to get a close feel for the timeless rhythms and customs of the Japanese countryside. From temples, shrines and market visits, to hot springs and overnights in ryokans – traditional Japanese guesthouses – this trip offers excellent rural cycling without compromising on the cultural elements. No trip to Japan would be complete without a visit to Kyoto, Japan's age-old capital, with its peaceful Zen gardens and geisha districts and futuristic Tokyo: sprawling, inimitably busy and extraordinary.

Highlights
  • Ride along the picturesque shores of the Noto Peninsula
  • Visit the UNESCO historic village of Shirakawa-go
  • Discover temples, zen gardens and geisha districts in Kyoto
  • Cycle rural roads through peaceful Japanese countryside
  • Stay in authentic guesthouses and bathe in hot springs
Food

All breakfasts and 5 dinners are included. Japanese cuisine is usually one of the main highlights of any trip to Japan. It is based on rice with miso soup and other dishes which are usually prepared with seasonal ingredients. Seafood is very common, and it usually comes grilled or deep fried. Sushi and sashimi aside, other staple dishes include Soba or Udon noodles, Sukiyaki (meat, fish and vegetables cooked in broth) and Yakiniku (grilled meat). The included dinners are usually taken at ryokans (traditional guesthouses) which will serve a /kaiseki/ style dinner, a multi-course meal including a dozen of tiny dishes prepared with locally-sourced seasonal ingredients. When food is not included, your leader will be able to recommend the best local eateries and arrange some group meals for a full immersion in Japan's varied and excellent cuisine.  Please note that in Japan the availability of certain specialised products for restricted diets, e.g. gluten-free, strict vegetarian (no fish/seafood) or vegan is minimal or non-existent. The group meals arranged by the tour leader will be in traditional eateries where the choices of vegan dishes may be limited to simple salads or boiled rice, however in In Kyoto and Tokyo a number of vegan restaurants are available.  You may also find it beneficial to bring some 'cycling snacks' with you from home if you have high energy bars or gels that you like to use during a ride. For those who wish to contribute a kitty is normally arranged and will be used to provide snacks and drinks during the rides.

Destinations
  • Far East
  • Tokyo
  • Kanazawa
  • Japan
  • Kyoto
  • Sakura
Tour Types
  • Singles
  • Cycling
  • Sightseeing
  • Cultural
  • History
  • Photography
  • Active
  • Adventure
  • Small Group

Location: Tokyo

Our 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, we recommend arriving a day or two early to explore the array of attractions at your own pace. Exodus can book additional accommodation for you prior departure; please contact our Operations or Sales teams for details and prices.

Accommodation: ,

Meals: ,No Meals,

Location: Tokyo

Today we enjoy a half day orientation tour of some Tokyo's highlights, starting from the popular district of Asakusa, where we visit Semso-ji, a Buddhist temple dating back to the 7th Century. We approach the temple via the Nakamise, a shopping street where we can find a variety of traditional, local snacks and souvenirs. We 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.

Accommodation: ,

Meals: ,Breakfast,

Location: Kanazawa, Noto Peninsula

In the morning we 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 we 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. We will ride through the popular Nagamachi Samurai District, an area which preserves a historic atmosphere featuring samurai residences, narrow lanes and water canals. We also visit Kenrokuen, one of Japan's most beautiful landscape gardens, which is particularly spectacular during cherry blossom and autumn season. 

Accommodation: ,

Meals: ,Breakfast,

Location: Kanazawa, Togi River

This morning we leave Kanazawa and cycle along the Sea of Japan until reaching the popular Chirihama Beach driveway, where we pedal comfortably on the hard packed sand beach for about 8km. 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 we also visit Myojoji Temple dating back to the 17th Century and boasting a wonderful early five storied Edo Period pagoda. We 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 we check in at a traditional Japanese Inn, offering rooms with traditional futon bedding as well as a public bath (onsen)

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Meals: ,Breakfast,Dinner,

Location: Wajima

Today we follow the beautiful coastline north of the Noto Peninsula, as we 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 rugged coastline and interesting rock formations along the way. In the afternoon we settle in our accommodation in Wajima, a city centered around a protected harbor on the Sea of Japan coast and famous for its lively morning market.

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Location: Suzu

This morning we 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. We then set off on our bikes 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 we visit today is Senmaida, a hillside of over 1000 terraced rice fields whose colours and shapes contrast to the background of the blue sea. We reach Suzu late afternoon and check in at our hotel by the sea.

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Meals: ,Breakfast,Dinner,

Location: Noto Peninsula, Wakura Onsen

Leaving Suzu, today we cycle the last stretch of the Noto Peninsula as we follow the undulating coastal route around Toyama Bay. Along the way we 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. We will have the opportunity to soak in the hot springs at our traditional accommodation or in one of the public baths in town - a regenerating treat after days of cycling.

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Meals: ,Breakfast,Dinner,

Location: Gassho-zukuri Minkaen

Today we take a break from cycling and experience a dramatic change of landscape as we 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 the 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. We 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, we usually spend the night at one or more gassho-zukuri houses, run by a local farmers, allowing us to get a real feel of a Japanese family home.

Accommodation: ,

Meals: ,Breakfast,Dinner,

Location: Takayama, Japanese Alps

Today is the most challenging ride of the trip as we cycle inland to Hida Takayama, at the foothills of the Japanese Alps. Riding out of Shirakawa-go, from an altitude of approx. 500m above sea level, we gradually climb up 1100m for the first 45km 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 colour during the autumn season. On the last section of the ride we will enjoy two great descents before reaching our destination Hida Takayama, often named Little Kyoto because of the similarity of its architecture and quaint atmosphere. 

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Location: Gujo Hachiman Castle

Today we 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, we 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.

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Meals: ,Breakfast,Dinner,

Location: Nagara River, 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. We pedal along the river for most of the day and make a stop in the pleasant town of Mino, a century-old production centre of high quality traditional Japanese paper. Our final destination today is Gifu where we should arrive in time for an optional visit to the castle located atop Mount Kinka. Overnight in Gifu City.

Accommodation: ,

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Location: Kyoto

Today we have another day off the bikes. After breakfast we 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 awaiting 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. We also recommend 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.

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Location: Kyoto, Arashiyama

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, we continue back into Kyoto following a different route. En route we 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, we 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 our 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.

Accommodation: ,

Meals: ,Breakfast,

The tour ends this morning after breakfast for land only clients.

Meals: breakfast,

Included
  • Group transfers (for group flights)
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Local bike hire
  • All breakfasts and 5 dinners
  • All accommodation 

Not Included
  • Visas or vaccinations
    -
  • Single accommodation (available on request for 7 nights only in Tokyo, Kanazawa, Wajima, Gifu and Kyoto)
    -
  • Travel insurance
    -
5* Cycling through cherry blossoms
Japan- an incredibly fascinating country with a culture like no other. The 2 week bike trip was a wonderful way to start to get to know Japan. Of course cycling is the best way to travel anywhere but having guides that explain their beloved country, teach you some of its culture, try to teach you the social skills that the Japanese excel at, getting you to test all the interesting food, giving history lessons and nature lessons, explaining the Shinto or Buddhist religion all the while giving you a great cycling experience makes the entire experience beyond memorable. The choice of the route gave us a good variety places to see. Staying in the Japanese inns ( ryokans) was amazing and definitely a must on any Japan trip. The food is an experience all on its own and if you are a fish lover than you will be in paradise. I really felt that the trip was complete and didn't just focus on one element of Japan so I never felt that I had too much of any one thing which was great. The description of the tour corresponded to what the trip really was and that is always appreciated. In the end, I didn't have too many preconceived notions of what I would be seeing and I can tell you that I was constantly amazed and ended up having enormous respect for the Japanese and their way of life. I thought my own country of Switzerland was well run but Japan wins on that respect. Kudos to the people of Japan and their being so courteous towards us tourists. Weeks later I am still feeling the effects of this trip and it is wonderful. Oh and thanks to Mother Nature for blessing us with the cherry blossoms.
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5* Incredible Trip!
This trip was an excellent intro to Japan! It covered a huge variety from highlights of sprawling Tokyo to rural seaside and mountain villages as well as offering insight into Japanese culture through the eyes of our wonderful local guides, “Tea” and “TaiChi”. Despite the weather being colder and wetter than expected ( trust me, bring full waterproofs especially hands and feet as temps were also near zero in places), the sheer adventure of cycling along a beach, up some challenging climbs to our local ryokan and wonderfully exquisite prepared dinners, the photos relect is all smiling through the weather! The rides were punctuated with well thought out cultural stops and a wonderful selection of lunch spots. I would highly recommend this trip!
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5* Put this on your to-do list. Every day a winner.
This was an amazingly rich first experience of travelling in Japan. The trip offers an excellent balance with cycling in varied and impressive scenery, countless included visits along the way allowing insight into the history and heritage of the country, and full immersion into the culinary and lifestyle culture.
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5* Coastal cycling in Japan
Wow what an amazing trip ! Cycling in Japan is a truly fantastic and interesting cycling trip.
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5* An excellent introduction to Japan.
We have always wanted to visit Japan and this trip gave us a wonderful opportunity to visit the cities, rural areas, travel by train, experience Japanese cuisine and, best of all, explore by bike.The itinerary was varied and interesting. Onsens (hot baths) have to be experienced and helped relieve tired and aching muscles at the end of the day.We stayed in a mixture of modern hotels and the more traditional ryokans with tatami mats and futons.The Japanese people we met were always polite, pleasant and helpful.This was a travel experience like no other. Just do it.
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5* Wonderful Experience
A wonderful insight to this facinating country. Seeing the country by bike is certainly the best way to do it, giving the opportunity to get an insight into the real Japan and it's people. We travelled in late November, spot on for autumn colours but obviously run the risk of colder, wet and windy weather. That said a bit of rain and strong headwind are a price worth paying. Accommodation was a mixture local Ryokans and modern hotels. The standard of the hotels was mixed, but generally very good. The food was one of the highlights, lots of real japanese food in all its guises from formal set meals (dressed in traditional kimonos) to simple noodles or curry/rice for lunch. Another highlight was definitely the guide Tatsuya 'Tea' along with his driver Tiachi and assistant Akiko. Organisation was calm and slick with clearly a lot of effort going on behind the scenes. The last couple of days are in Kyoto, this is good, but the hords of fellow tourists at the big attractions make you realise how special the time cycling away from the crowds was. If you are thinking of visiting Japan and are modestly cycle fit I would wholeheartedly recommend this trip (and in our case it attracted a very pleasant, like-minded group of people to share our experience).
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5* Cycling in Japan
This is a great holiday for those who enjoy cycling in great scenery and want to learn a bit about Japanese culture and the Japanese way of life en route. It offers a bit of everything and includes great cycling, lovely countryside, traditional inns with traditional food, rooms, sleeping arrangements and hot springs. The guides make sure that all venues that offer education and enjoyment are visited during the cycling, so that overall one is left with a feeling that one has achieved some insight into Japan which is a very different society from ours. It was an inspirational trip with wonderful guides who made sure that we experienced all that there was to experience.
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5* Truly a magical tour. It will make you want to return .....soon !
If ever you wanted proof that cycling is a great way to get to know a country then this is it. And what a country. So different in every respect to the UK. The upside of travelling in November is the glorious colours to be seen all around you, enhanced if you're lucky by blue skies. The downside, and this was outside anyone's control even our meticulous leader 'Tea', is that the weather can be changeable and quite cold at times.We had some challenging days cycling against a very determined headwind. If you're a hardy northerner this will be no problem, but if you're a southern softie bring plenty of layers. Having said that most of the rain fell at night and we were only caught out once and that was at the end of a ride, so you could say that luck was on our side.For the most part the cycling was on quiet back roads with plenty of interesting stop-offs along the way, where our knowledgeable guides shared their knowledge and passion for their country. Hotels were a mix of western and traditional japanese inns which were generally of a higher standard than you might experience on many Exodus holidays. The traditional inns were very special and allowed you to immerse yourself, sometimes literally, into this unique culture. The food was excellent, but you do have to be prepared to experiment with a cuisine that is distinctly different from ours. The phrase 'holiday of a lifetime' is probably overused, but if you're prepared to soak up the culture, be experimental and are relatively fit then this holiday will probably come very close to matching that description.And of course the toilets - you're going to be very disappointed when you return to the UK or anywhere else for that matter!!
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You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.

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Touring with Exodus

With over 45 years’ experience of taking people on amazing adventure holidays, Exodus can help you reach some of the most incredible destinations on 500 itineraries across more than 90 countries around the world. All staff at Exodus have a passion for travel and adventure, and some team members have been professional archaeologists, wildlife guides, overland drivers, mountain leaders, diving and ski specialists and mountain bike gurus. But that’s not all. This reputable company is a Which? recommended escorted tour provider and has won many prestigious awards, including Best Activity and Sports Holiday Company at the 2018 British Travel Awards.

Exodus is all about adventure and helping others to achieve their travel dreams by offering a fantastic range of guided group holidays, self-guided trips, tailor-made getaways and escorted tours. So, if you’re looking to discover different countries, cultures, environments, cities, mountain ranges, deserts, coasts or even jungles, the expert team at Exodus can help you plan an unforgettable solo, group or family adventure.

Each tour and adventure has been created to give you maximum value for money, often including authentic activities, as well as flights, accommodation and a tour guide. And as the team has developed one of the very best and most exciting collections of guided-group tours and self-guided holidays, you’re guaranteed the adventure holiday of a lifetime, no matter which one you pick. Trips include everything from family adventure holidays and walking and cycling tours to mixed-activity tours and seasonal getaways. You can also ask Exodus to plan a tailored itinerary from scratch or tweak an existing one, which means you can book a bespoke holiday that is designed just for you.

Need some inspiration? You can enjoy varied walks in the stunning Spanish mountains, experience the magic of Italy in Tuscany or explore the rich Sri Lankan history and culture by bike. Try a host of different activities in glorious Turkish surroundings, ski through the magnificent Norwegian wilderness or embark on a journey through India’s tropical south. Visit Iceland and East Greenland, see the spectacular marine wildlife in the Maldives or cruise along the mighty Amazon River in Peru – the options are endless!

When it comes to travelling together as a family with Exodus, all family holidays are specifically designed to offer a mix of education and exploration, with plenty of downtime. Each adventure and tour has been created with one of three age ranges in mind, but children outside of the 5-8, 9-12 and 13-16 age bracket are welcome to travel too. Plus, the price for children up to the age of 16 is 25% lower than the adult cost for Exodus guided holidays to help make your trip more affordable. From canoeing and cycling in the Dordogne to safari tours in Africa and dolphin watching in Costa Rica, Exodus offer family adventures all over the world.

Something that makes this adventure holiday and escorted tour operator unique is the loyalty scheme, the Exodus Collective. When you book your second trip, you’ll join the Collective and be given access to exclusive discounts, sales previews and special travel benefits. The more you travel with Exodus the more you’ll be entitled to, and your membership also grants you special access to exclusive travel content.

At Exodus, they make sure that everyone travels respectfully and courteously in a small group to minimise their impact and to ensure each holiday is a beneficial experience for all those involved. Where possible, they believe in putting money directly into the communities they visit by eating locally produced food and using locally owned and run accommodation. They also strive to provide as much flexibility and choice as possible to make it simple for you to experience a memorable holiday, your way.

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tour details

This tour is operated by Exodus

13 nights from pp exc.flights; per Night
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Start:Tokyo
Finish:Kyoto
Group size:6 - 16
Suitable for: 16 to 99
Physical rating:Moderate / Challenging
Meals:13 breakfasts, 0 lunches, 5 dinners.
Diets:Please inform Exodus of specific dietary requirements
Tour operated in: English
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