ABTA 38 Years | Mon - Fri: 9am to 5:30pm | Sat: 9am to 5pm | Sun: 10am to 4:00pm
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Home » Destinations » Asia » Explore! Cycle Japan
From ancient Kyoto ride along quiet roads on the Noto Peninsula into the highlands around Shirakawa-go historic village, taking you firmly off the beaten track. Along the way you will see one of the finest Japanese gardens in Kanazawa, stay in ryokan and enjoy varied mountain scenery and coastal paths. Bullet train to Tokyo where you end your journey
CYCLING GRADE: Moderate
GROUP SIZE: 10 – 16
DAY 1 – Join tour in historic Kyoto
This incredible journey begins in the old Imperial capital of Kyoto, regarded by many as the country’s loveliest city. Lying at the heart of Japanese culture and influence for over 1,000 years, Kyoto lay at the centre of events that helped to shape the destiny and history of this most fascinating of cultures. One of the only major cities to survive the extensive bombing of WWII, Kyoto can boast more than 2000 temples and shrines, many set in manicured landscaped gardens, making this captivating city the cradle of all things uniquely Japanese.
DAY 2 – Kyoto sightseeing by bike. Including Ginkaku-ji and along The Philosopher’s Path to the Nanzen-ji temple complex
This incredible city can boast no fewer than 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites including 13 temples, three Shinto shrines and a 17th century castle. You will pick up your bikes and set out cycling to the Heian Jingu Shrine, before taking in the scenic Philosopher’s Path, Eikando Temple and and the 15th Century Ginkaku-ji Temple. After lunch you will cycle south along the Kamo river to Tofukuji Temple’s rock gardens and the 1001 statues of Kannon Bodhisattva (the goddess of mercy) located at the Sanjusangendo temple on the eastern edge of the city.
DAY 3 – Morning train to Kanazawa. Bike tour of Kenroku-en Garden and the old teahouse district
This morning you travel by train (2hrs+) to Kanazawa, a city that once rivalled Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo) in cultural importance. Once home to the powerful Maeda Clan, today it serves as the capital of the Ishikawa Prefecture and boasts the stunning setting of the Kenrokuen Gardens, considered to be one of Japan’s most beautiful landscape gardens. This afternoon you will pick up your bikes and meet your guide, before heading off to visit the gardens.
DAY 4 – Cycling around the beautiful Noto Peninsula including the Chirihama Beach Road
Your main bags will be sent on to Wakura Onsen today as, over the next four days you make do with smaller bags as you cycle north, following the coast on to the Noto Peninsula. The smaller bags are still transported in the support van, leaving you free to enjoy the rides. Your destination today is Chirihama Beach in Hakui, lying to the north of Kahoku.
DAY 5 – Cycle the coastal road to Wajima, stopping off at the Sojijiso-in temple
Keeping the Sea of Japan on your left you continue following the coast north today, heading for the city of Wajima in the northern half of the Noto Peninsula. One of the most scenic coastal landscapes in Japan, the Noto Peninsula extends into the Sea of Japan for some 100 kilometres, providing us with a beautifully secluded journey north. You travel by way of the Ganmon National Park and stop off to visit the Sojiji Temple and Gardens, once one of the most important Zen Buddhist temples in Japan. Founded in 1321, it was the head temple of the Soto sect, before a great fire in 1898 saw its functions transferred to a sister temple in Yokohama.
DAY 6 – Explore Wajima Market. Continue along the stunning coastal road to Suzu
This morning you pay a visit to Wajima’s famous Morning Market, one of the city’s most famous attractions. Believed to date back over 1,000 years, it brings together vendors selling all manner of goods, from fresh fish and produce, to handicrafts and lacquerware, Wajima’s most celebrated export. Renowned throughout Japan, Wajima lacquerware is famed for its durability, with each piece requiring the skills of several craftsmen and dozens of processes.
DAY 7 – Cycle to Noto Ushitsu as you head down the eastern side of the peninsula
You complete your ride around the Noto Peninsula today as you follow its eastern edge towards the town of Noto Ushitsu. The very remoteness of this landscape has been one of its most enduring features for centuries and much of this stunning peninsula has been granted a Quasi-National Park status. Tonight you sleep in a traditional Japanese ryokan guesthouse.
DAY 8 – Cycle to Wakura Onsen where ancient, healing hot baths await your arrival
The waters of Nanao Bay and the famous hot springs of Wakura Onsen beckon today. One of the oldest resort towns in Japan, legend has it that these hot springs were discovered over 1,200 years ago, when a local fisherman found a white heron curing its wounds in the steaming waters. Today its healing waters are said to cure everything from muscle aches and stiff joints, to chronic skin disease and frail children!
DAY 9 – You begin your journey inland as you head up to Shokawa Onsen
This morning your journey turns inland as you leave Ishikawa Prefecture for neighbouring Toyama. As before, your large bags go on ahead and you will be using small bags for the next two nights, carried with us in your support vehicle. Your ride today includes the biggest hill of your entire trip, but also takes in a rural landscape of rice paddies and mountain peaks, finishing at the mountain village of Shogawa Onsen. ‘Onsens’ are dotted all across rural Japan, hot springs that were traditionally used as public bathing places, they make the most of Japan’s active volcanic landscapes.
DAY 10 – Cycle journey concludes at beautiful Shirakawa-go, famous for its traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses
Today you head into the remote countryside of the Shogawa River Valley, where you will find a number of beautifully preserved gassho-zukuri farmhouses. With their steep thatched roofs, constructed to resemble the praying hands of Buddhist monks, some of these houses are over 250 years old. Developed over many generations and designed to withstand the heavy falls of snow that regularly envelope the region in winter, these roofs are constructed without nails and the large attics were traditionally used to cultivate silkworms.
DAY 11 – Shinkansen bullet train to Tokyo
Leaving Shirakawa-go and your bikes behind you travel first by bus (1hr30) back to Kanazawa. It is from here that you take the iconic Shinkansen bullet train (2hrs30) to Japan’s capital city, Tokyo. Tokyo is the most populous metropolitan area in the world, home to more than 26 million people including the Japanese imperial family. The city holds a lot of history as well as modern shopping centres and the neon illuminated signs it’s famous for.
DAY 12 – Enjoy Tokyo from your base in the historic Asakusa district a stone’s throw from Sensoji temple
Today is left free for you to explore, wander and shop at leisure or take an optional guided tour of Tokyo. Your Tour Leader will be on hand to assist and give guidance today. A typical itinerary would be to visit the Asakusa Sensoji-temple followed by a river cruise to the the Hama-rikyu gardens, Meiji shrine and finally the Shinjuku Government Building for great views over Tokyo. It is also possible to rent a bike locally and explore – your Tour Leader will be able to provide details.
DAY 13 – Tour ends Tokyo
The tour ends this morning after breakfast in Tokyo.
Please note, prices listed are guide prices only and are based on 2 people sharing and don’t include any additional supplements. Holiday prices are fluid and dynamic and may be changed at a moment’s notice, prior to booking, at which point they are confirmed. Please call the team free on 0800 707 6229 for more departure dates available and a quote.
Please call us free on 0800 707 6229 for pricing and availability
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