Antarctica & Arctic
From ancient Kyoto, cycle alond quiet roads on the Noto Peninsula into the highlands around Shirakawa-go historic village, taking you firmly off the beaten track. This small group cycling trip takes you to Japan's highlights.
a Destinations d > Japan > Cycle Japan
*Free pre-night accommodation, airport transfer + free sushi making class
31 Aug 2019
13 Oct 2019 to 11 Oct 2020
8 nights standard hotel accommodation, 3 nights simple ryokan accommodation, 1 night premium ryokan accommodation, 12 breakfasts, 7 dinners, Explore Worldwide Tour Leader, Cycle Guide and Driver, transportation by bus, bicycle and train, bicycle hire.
Sun 13 Oct '19; Sun 10 May, Sun 11 Oct '20
Cycle on quiet country roads and cycle paths along Japan's Noto Peninsula and enjoy city bike tours of Kanazawa and Kyoto. Along the way see one of the finest Japanese gardens, stay in ryokan and enjoy varied mountain scenery and coastal paths.
Back to Japan Tours
Enjoy an uninterrupted scenic ride of Japan's Noto Peninsula
Savour delicious traditional Japanese cuisine with locally sourced ingredients
Experience the ancient and modern capitals of Kyoto and Tokyo
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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.
Today we head into the remote countryside of the Shogawa River Valley, where we 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. We plan to visit one of the traditional farmhouses. Our final destination today is the historic village of Shirakawa-go which, along with neighbouring Gokayama, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Please note that we will be cycling through several tunnels today.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 57 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 820 metres). (B)(D)
Leaving Shirakawa-go and our bikes behind we travel first by bus (1hr30) back to Kanazawa. It is from here that we 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. Half of the city was rebuilt after being destroyed in the war but there are still many historic temples and gardens that remain and await exploration. On arrival to Tokyo we have the chance to explore this fascinating city.
No cycling today. (B)
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.
Optional cycling today. (B)
The tour ends this morning after breakfast in Tokyo. (B)
This incredible city can boast no fewer than 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites including 13 temples, three Shinto shrines and a 17th century castle. We will pick up our 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 we 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. This evening is free. Please note that there is no vehicle support for today's ride and we will be using simple local style bikes.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 17 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 60 metres). (B)(D)
This morning we 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 we will pick up our bikes and meet our guide, before heading off to visit the gardens. Taking nearly two centuries to complete and translating from their original Japanese as the 'Garden of the Six Sublimities', Kenrouken was begun by the Maedas in 1632 and covers over 11 hectares of land on the outskirts of Kanazawa Castle.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 8 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 60 metres), no support vehicle today. (B)
Our main bags will be sent on to Wakura Onsen today as, over the next four days we make do with smaller bags as we 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. Our destination today is Chirihama Beach in Hakui, lying to the north of Kahoku. The eight kilometre beach is famous for its unique tightly compacted sand which, at a quarter of the size of normal sand, makes it firm enough to actually cycle on. Tonight we stay for the first time in typical Japanese style accommodation, furnished in the traditional way with futon mattresses on tatami-mat floors.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 60 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 220 metres). (B)(D)
Keeping the Sea of Japan on our left we 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. We 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.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 66 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 680 metres). (B)
This morning we 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. Following our visit we then continue on our journey, heading towards the northeastern tip of the peninsula and the waters of Iida Bay. Tonight we sleep in a traditional Japanese ryokan guesthouse.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 47 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 690 metres). (B)(D)
We complete our ride around the Noto Peninsula today as we 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 we sleep in a traditional Japanese ryokan guesthouse.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 49 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 690 metres). (B)(D)
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! The town is also famed for its seafood, with a number of its traditional inns serving up a mouthwatering choice of oysters, crabs, deep-water shrimps and abalones. The perfect cure for body and soul after our four days of cycling. Tonight we sleep in a traditional Japanese ryokan guesthouse.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 71 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 870 metres). (B)(D)
This morning our journey turns inland as we leave Ishikawa Prefecture for neighbouring Toyama. As before, our large bags go on ahead and we will be using small bags for the next two nights, carried with us in our support vehicle. Our ride today includes the biggest hill of our 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. There is a distinct etiquette to bathing, with cleanliness and social niceties being observed by participants, whilst rowdiness and tattoos are particularly frowned upon (tattoos in Japan have long been associated with criminal Yakuza gangs). Tonight we sleep in traditional ryokan accommodation with private en-suite facilities.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 71 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 860 metres). (B)(D)
View the Terms & Conditions
*Conditions apply: The offer is available for all bookings on small group adventures to Japan made between 01 August and 31 August 2019. We regret the offer cannot be applied retrospectively to existing bookings. The offer is applicable on any available departure date, and is available on the following trips: JS, QJS, JPH, JIF, CJA, WJP and CJH. Please quote “Japan Offer” when confirming your booking over the telephone to qualify for the offer. Alternatively type “Japan Offer” online when asked if you would like to enter a discount code when booking. The extra night is at the start of your trip in Tokyo or in Kyoto on a bed and breakfast single or twin room basis as required. A free transfer from the airport to your hotel is included in the offer. The sushi making will take place on your extra day, before the group trips begin. Details of the sushi making class will be sent to you by Explore approximately four weeks before your holiday begins. The offer can be used in conjunction with the Explore loyalty scheme and group discount offer (see website), but not with any other promotion. The offer is subject to availability and we reserve the right to withdraw it at any time.
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