Dates: Several departures (join a small group or build your own departure)
Host: Local guides
Group size: Minimum 4/Maximum 14 participants
Cost: From US$5,490 per person
Introducing our most comprehensive bike tour in Japan! Discover how this bike-friendly country beautifully blends its ancient cultures and traditions with its vibrant modern world. Visit Japan's former feudal capital, Kyoto: one of the most enchanting cities in Asia and a beautiful location to tour by bike.
Cycle among Japan's iconic swaying Sakura trees and zen out in the famous rock gardens. Explore the intriguing island of Shikoku, where only a short trip away from industrial Japan lies a natural wonderland full to the brim of culture. This island is famous for its stunning scenery, great cycling on beautiful, well made back roads and white coated Buddhist pilgrims following the holy 88 Temple Shikoku Pilgrimage.
Pedal down narrow, almost deserted roads through evergreen forests, over wild rivers and through tiny towns, then enjoy panoramic views as you ride huge span bridges over the scattered archipelago in the Seto Inland Sea on your way to Hiroshima. The cycling is incredible and Japan well accommodated for bike touring!
This cycle tour explores everything you know as Japan, while at the same time, introducing you to hidden wonders that fuel intrigue.
- Visit some of the sacred temples of the 88 temple pilgrimage as you glimpse pilgrims in white
- Take a day in Kochi to rest your legs and explore the Kochi Castle or Ryuga Cave
- Spend the morning making traditional washi paper in the small town of Yusuhara for a cultural experience
- Pedal along the Shimanami Kaido, a famous cycling route that takes you to Shikoku over a few small islands
Questions? Please contact one of the Civilized Adventures' Adventure Travel Specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org
Day 1 - Welcome to Kyoto
Japan’s cultural capital and an excellent place to explore by bike. This city encompasses more than just history, temples and tradition, which it has plenty of. Check out the Imperial Palace and the Golden Pavilion shimmering against the lake on which they sit. In addition to its 17 UNESCO world heritage sites, Kyoto is also known to be the hub for Japan’s dynamic modern art scene.
We’ll start with a morning bike fitting to get ourselves ready for our first ride out to the mystical bamboo forest. From there we will switch gears and pedal to Tenryuji temple to soak up its picturesque tranquility and then to 11th-century Ryoanji (also known as The Temple of the Dragon at Peace) for a look at its zen garden. If we’re lucky, we’ll catch some spectacular cherry blossoms there. We return to the city for the first of many delicious dinners after this introduction to both ancient and modern Japan.
25km ride (L,D)
Day 2 - Naoshima Art Island
All aboard the train (a classic example of sophisticated Japanese infrastructure) for a ride to the ferry that will take us to Naoshima Art Island. We’ll discover some of the highlights of Naoshima on a walking tour of the island, including the droplet-shaped Teshima Art Museum, a pop art pumpkin sculpture by Yayoi Kusama, and the dynamic architecture of Tadao Ando. In the late afternoon, we will board another ferry for the port city of Takamatsu where we spend the night.
Day 3 - Cycle to Shishikui
Hop on the train again this morning for a short ride to the city of Tokushima, where we’ll transfer outside of the center of town and begin our scenic ride to Shishikui. Enjoy the striking stretch of coastline as we pedal along an undulating river road to an elevated road with nice views down towards the water. As we brake for a lunch stop, we’ll see Yakuo-ji: the 23rd of 88 temples of the 88 Temple Pilgrimage. We often glimpse a number of ‘ohenro’ pilgrims in their distinctive white clothing making the trek- an interesting cultural experience! The rest of the day is quite flat, manageable cycling.
70km ride (B,L,D)
Day 4 - Kochi
Today we will transfer to the starting point of our ride, and anyone wishing to rest their tired legs is welcome to take the train for part of the way rather than cycle. Today’s cycling route hugs the beautiful shorelines. Along the way, we encounter Shinshoji: the 25th temple of the Shikoku 88. We also see the old townscapes of Kiragawa, which retain a number of heritage architectural features including stone walls and tiled roofs. Thanks to the typhoon-proof architecture, these heritage buildings have survived well and been kept in good condition.
On the last 15km to Kochi, we will enjoy riding on the designated cycling path that used to be a railway. Situated in the inner city, the 400-year-old Kochi Castle rises gloriously above the city skyline, symbolizing the spirit and heritage of the place.
60km ride (B,L,D)
Day 5 - Free Day Kochi
Today is a day to recharge and rest your tired legs in the beautiful coastal city of Kochi. Explore Kochi Castle or the preserved residence of Yamauchi Samurai, or make your way through the depths of the Ryuga Cave. Take a leisurely stroll around one of Kochi’s many walking paths through parks and beaches, or make your way to the famous Sunday Market. You may also choose to relax and take a soak in the onsen to prepare to hit the road again tomorrow.
Day 6 - Yusuhara
On fresher legs, we are prepared for a challenging ride. After leaving the city by car to a nice park where the bikes are set up, we rejoin the river landscapes that Kochi is renowned for. Today we cycle along the Niyodo River, popular among the local people for fishing, camping, and canoeing.
When we steer our bikes from the river, the road begins to gain height and we get into more and more remote territory. This road was likely one of those built around 300 years ago to connect the pilgrimage sites. The climb is in three stages. We ease into the first and then after climbing around 8km, descend a little before taking on the next 8km rise. The last climb is only 6km and takes us through some of the most beautiful forests so far.
A fun descent then awaits as we dip into the tiny and tidy town of Yusuhara where we stay in a contemporary hotel with an interesting modern design. Check out Kengo Kuma’s architecture in this mountainous town, such as the intriguing wooden town office and wooden bridge shaped art gallery. You’ll sleep well tonight, feeling proud of the day’s accomplishments.
65km ride (B,L,D)
Day 7 - Craft Day in Yusuhara
Test your creativity this morning with a traditional washi paper making activity. Washi is commonly made from the fibers of tree bark and plants and often seen used for shoji screens and origami papers. Dutch national Rogier and his Japanese wife have been at this for 25 years, and their paper art has been exhibited numerous times in Tokyo and beyond. You may get to take away a lampshade or some such item if your efforts permit. Spend the afternoon exploring the produce market built into our thatch-covered hotel or exploring this charming town. For those itching to get back on the bikes, there is a 35 km loop ride available as an option today.
35km ride (B,L,D)
Day 8 - Imabari
Today we will pedal past impressively clean rivers through small riverside communities before a short uphill climb. As we draw nearer to the coast, we’ll pass some stretches of rice paddies and other agricultural areas. We arrive at the coast just in time for a delicious lunch of fresh sashimi and tempura. Once we’ve refueled, we have a short ride to the train station for a quick commute through the countryside along the coast to the city of Imabari where we’ll rest for the night.
58km ride (B,L,D)
Day 9 - Shimanami Kaido & Onomichi
Today the Shimanami Kaido awaits! After a short ride through town, we arrive at the visitor’s center that marks the start of this epic cycling route. The visitor’s center looks out over the first bridge we will encounter, spanning a strait filled with clear blue water and islands dotting the distant horizon.
Today’s ride is a cyclist’s heaven, with a mixture of dedicated cycleway and roads with bike lanes. There are a series of bridges to cross that provide spectacular views out over this archipelago and there are spiral-shaped paths leading up to and down from each one of these bridges. We conclude the ride on a special ferry for cyclists that helps to keep the distance achievable.
We pass around the last couple of islands and into the seaside town of Onomichi, home to a special variety of Udon and the endpoint of our journey. We’ll arrive mid-afternoon, and you’ll have the remainder of the afternoon free to seek out a tasty Udon or just explore a little, before meeting for our farewell dinner.
45km ride (B,L,D)
Day 10 - Depart
Our tour concludes today in Onomichi. Your guide can assist you with your further travel arrangements. Many destinations in Japan are just a few hours away by Bullet Train.
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323 Km riding On this bike tour we will enjoy cycling on excellent roads for the duration of the trip. For the most part, traffic is only light and drivers are courteous towards cyclists. In terms of gradient, we have a bit of everything, but the steepest parts of the climb are not long and the longest parts of the climb are not steep.
Dates & Cost
- April 02 - 11, 2021 - US$5,490 per person
- May 22 - 31, 2021 - US$5,490 per person
- September 30 - October 09, 2021 - US$5,490 per person
- October 20 - 29, 2021 - US$5,490 per person
There is no surcharge for single travelers - we will match you with another same-sex single traveler. If you want a single room there is an optional upgrade that you can book, at an additional cost.
Accommodation and tour are subject to availability. Please contact us for more information and pricing based on your dates and customizations.