Cycling in Japan

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From$11,245
Price
From$11,245
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14 Days
Availability : Spring & Autumn, 2024
Tokyo
Kyoto
Tour Details
Cycling in Japan

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.

14 Days with prices from $11,245 CAD per person

Departure Location

Tokyo

End Location

Kyoto

Price Includes

  • 13 nights hotels and ryokans (traditional Japanese guesthouses), some with shared facilities
  • All breakfasts and 5 dinners
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Local bike hire

Price Excludes

  • Travel insurance
  • Any private expenses
  • Optional excursions
  • Visa's & vaccinations, if required
  • International flights

Tour Specialist

  • Lesli Heron
What to Expect
Discover the best of rural and modern Japan on two wheels

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.

  • Cycle rural roads through peaceful Japanese countryside
  • Discover temples, zen gardens and geisha districts in Kyoto
  • Ride along the picturesque shores of the Noto Peninsula
  • Stay in authentic guesthouses and bathe in hot springs
  • Visit the UNESCO historic village of Shirakawa-go
For more information on this tour, or help with booking, please contact your favourite Lloyds Travel Agent!
Itinerary

Day 1Start Tokyo

Our tour starts in Tokyo, the busy capital of Japan, which has a unique contrast of ultramodern and traditional, from neon-lit skyscrapers to historic temples. With so much to see and do here, we recommend arriving a day or two early to explore the array of attractions at your own pace (speak to your sales representative to arrange a pre-tour stay).

Day 2Morning orientation walk and free afternoon to explore Tokyo

Today we enjoy a half-day orientation tour encompassing some of the city highlights, starting from the popular Asakusa district, where we visit Semso-ji, a seventh-century Buddhist temple. We approach the temple via the Nakamise, a shopping street home to a variety of traditional snacks and souvenirs. We then continue towards the Ueno area and walk through the beautiful public park filled with temples, shrines and about half a dozen museums. The afternoon is free for individual sightseeing; your leader can recommend other local attractions, such as Shibuya, known for the busy crossing, and Meiji Shrine.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 3Train to Kanazawa, the gateway to the Noto Peninsula; afternoon cycle loop and sightseeing

In the morning, we take the express train (approximately 2hr 30min) to Kanazawa, in the western Ishikawa Prefecture, an atmospheric town that once rivalled Kyoto as the historic jewel of mainland Japan. After lunch, we enjoy a short cycling loop around the city, a good opportunity to fine-tune the bikes while enjoying some of the main attractions in town. We ride through the popular Nagamachi Samurai District, an area that preserves a historic atmosphere with samurai residences, narrow lanes and canals. We also visit Kenrokuen, one of the most beautiful landscape gardens in Japan, which is particularly spectacular during cherry blossom and autumn season.

Distance covered: 8mi (13km)

Ascent: 591ft (180m)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 4Cycle from Kanazawa to Togi, along rugged coastline and past fishing villages

This morning, we leave Kanazawa and cycle along the Sea of Japan to the popular Chirihama Beach driveway, where we pedal comfortably on the hard-packed sand for about 5mi (8km). This route is a unique attraction in Japan: it’s open to cars, allowing drivers to get 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 the 17th-century Myojoji Temple, which has a wonderful five-storied pagoda from the Edo period. 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, which has a public bath (onsen) and rooms with traditional futon bedding.

Distance covered: 50mi (80km)

Ascent: 2,297ft (700m)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5Rewarding coastal ride to Wajima; enjoy scenic ocean views and rock formations en route

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

Distance covered: 37mi (60km)

Ascent: 2,625ft (800m)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 6Early morning optional market visit; cycle to Suzu; enjoy coastal views and verdant rice paddies of Senmaida

This morning, we have the option of joining the leader for an early visit to the Wajima Morning Market, believed to date back more than 1,000 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 travel by bike along the remote and rural northern stretch of the Noto Peninsula coast, passing rice fields and salt farms. The most famous sight we visit today is Senmaida, a hillside of more than 1,000 terraced rice fields whose colours and shapes contrast to the background of the blue sea. We reach Suzu late afternoon and check into our seaside hotel.

Distance covered: 29mi (47km)

Ascent: 2,297ft (700m)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7Final ride along the Noto Peninsula to the popular hot spring resort of Wakura Onsen

Leaving Suzu, 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 with an ancient history. Legend says that a local fisherman found a wounded white heron curing its body in the ocean’s hot water. Today, the local waters, which are rich in natural salts and minerals, are still flowing and its supposed healing properties attract large numbers of visitors each year. We can 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.

Distance covered: 62mi (100km)

Ascent: 2,625ft (800m)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8Travel to UNESCO Shirakawa-go village by train and bus; overnight in a traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouse

We take a break from cycling today and experience a dramatic change of landscape as we travel inland by train and then bus (approximately three hours) to Shirakawa-go, a secluded mountainous region 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 is characterised by steep thatched roofs, built to withstand heavy winter snowfall and provide 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, run by local farmers, allowing us to get a real feel of a Japanese family home.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9Challenging ride to Hida Takayama, at the foothills of the 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 approximately 1,640ft (500m), we gradually climb up 3,610ft (1,100m) for the first 28mi (45km) of the route. There are some wonderful views to enjoy along the way, from the picturesque shores of Miboro Lake and quaint rural villages to hillsides and forested valleys that burst into colour during autumn. On the last section of the ride, we enjoy two great descents before reaching our destination: Hida Takayama, often named Little Kyoto because of the similarity of its architecture and quaint atmosphere.

Distance covered: 50mi (80km)

Ascent: 4,265ft (1,300m)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 10Cycle to the castle town of Gujo Hachiman, past little villages, local shrines and paddy fields

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

Distance covered: 44mi (70km)

Ascent: 2,625ft (800m)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

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 more than 400 cherry trees are in full and glorious bloom. We pedal along the river for most of the day and stop in the pleasant town of Mino, a century-old production centre of high-quality traditional Japanese paper. Our final destination today is Gifu; we should arrive in time for an optional visit to the castle atop Mount Kinka. We overnight in Gifu City.

Distance covered: 44mi (70km)

Ascent: 984ft (300m)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 12Travel to Kyoto by train; free time for sightseeing

We take a break from cycling today; instead, we travel by train (approximately two hours) to the wonderful city of Kyoto. With more than 2,000 temples, shrines and gardens, Kyoto is a treasure house of Japanese heritage and remains 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 to explore, 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 (2005). 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 flit about the backstreets as they head to their appointments.

Meals included: Breakfast

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 the charming centre, via the iconic Togetsukyo Bridge and bamboo grove, we continue back into Kyoto following a different route. On the way, we stop for a visit to Ryoanji Temple, the site of the most famous rock garden in Japan, and the splendid Kinkakuji (also known as the Golden Pavilion), an icon of the nation.

Finally, we cycle via the 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 arranges an optional celebratory farewell dinner in one of the most authentic restaurants in the city.

Distance covered: 25mi (40km)

Ascent: 1,312ft (400m)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 14End Kyoto

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

Meals Included: Breakfast

Photos


Why Book With Us?

  • Worry free planning
  • Exceptional knowledge
  • Family owned & operated
  • Superior value


Have a Question?

Don’t hesitate to give us a call. Our team of experts are happy to assist you in creating your next dream vacation.

1.800.800.7252

travel@lloydstravel.com