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Ride from the imperial city of Kyoto, to the sandy beaches of Wakayama, discovering a land of ancient and modern, on this self-guided cycling tour of Japan.
Regarded as the cultural capital of Japan, the former Emperor’s residence of Kyoto makes for easy exploration by bike. Cycle to Kyoto’s northern bamboo forests, visiting the 14th century Tenryuji Temple. Roll alongside the Kamo River, into the heart of Kyoto, stopping for matcha tea and sweet treats at riverside cafes. Later in the evening, take in the elaborate and dramatic dance performances at Kyoto’s Kubuki theatre.
Ride south to the UNESCO listed temples and ancient sights of Nara, birthplace of Japanese civilisation. Pedal deep into rural Japan, up to the hill town of Yoshino on the slopes of Mount Yoshino. Cycle up Mount Koya, and spend the evening in traditional temple lodging where you can enjoy soaking in an Onsen (hot spring baths). A final ride east, ends at the fine sandy beaches of Wakayama, the perfect way to round off your bike tour of Japan with an afternoon of rest and relaxation.
The high speed efficient train service of Japan makes for an easy arrival to Kyoto from either Osaka Airport (75mins) or Tokyo Narita Airport (3hrs 30mins).
As the cultural heart of Japan, Kyoto’s former position as the nations capital and emperor's residence has left a rich legacy of well preserved temples, tranquil gardens and outstanding examples of Japanese architecture peppered around the city. And whilst Kyoto is at the cultural heart of Japan, Nishiki food market is Kyoto’s heart. Here Michelin starred restaurants rub shoulders with crowded noodle bars and chic cafes serve refined brews of matcha tea. The perfect introduction to Japanese food.
Spend the day exploring one of Japan’s most cycle friendly cities. Begin with a ride out to the northern edges of Kyoto and through the bamboo forest, which during spring time is famous for its rich cherry blossom. Here, visit the 14th century Tenryuji Temple (the head temple of Rinzai Zen Buddhism). Pedal eastwards, passing through Ryoanji, famous for its gardens and far reaching city views. Roll back into central Kyoto by way of a riverside cycleway, where there are plenty of opportunities to hop off the bike and sample traditional Japanese sweets in one of the many coffee shops. In the evening, discover more of Kyoto bars or take a trip to the Kubuki Theatre, where elaborately dressed performers play out dances dating back over 4 centuries.
After leaving the bustle of Kyoto, a riverside ride leads through forests, corn crops and tea plantations as you pedal south, to the city of Nara. Surrounded by rolling hills, Nara is regarded as the birthplace of Japanese civilisation and boasts magnificently preserved works of Japanese architecture dating back to the 7th century. A compact city, best explored on foot, discover the exquisite heritage of this city taking in a visit to the Buddhist temples of Yakushi-ji and Tōshōdai-ji and if you have time, visit the streets of Nara-machi, a traditional merchants quarter where tradesman have converted shops into museums and craft stores.
Dinner & Overnight: Nara
Leaving Nara, cycle through the ancient city and in contrast, depart via the modern streets of Nara, before heading onto open country roads, cycling through small villages and settlements. Heading up to the hill town of Yoshino, the route begins to climb on a manageable gradient as panoramic views open up across the slopes of Mount Yoshino when in March-April, the cherry blossom is in full bloom. This evening, you will spend the night in the warm hospitality of a Ryokan, a traditional Japanese Inn. Complete with matted floors and futons, your hosts will also prepare a seasonal dinner, typical to the region.
Cycle: 63 km
Dinner & Overnight: Yoshino
Today’s ride maybe the most challenging but most rewarding. Begin with an easy roll downhill before cycling an undulating route towards the slopes of Mount Koya. The ride up Mount Koya is a steady 8km and finishes in the town of Kyasan. Centre of Shingon Buddhism, Mount Koya is one of the best places to experience a night in a Shukubo, a traditional temple lodge. On arrival relax in the temple’s Onsen, (authentic Japanese hot springs) before being served the regional vegetarian dish of Shojin Ryori.
Cycle: 50 km
Dinner & Overnight: Koyasan
The early morning streets of Kyosan are picture perfect as you are more than likely to see processions of monks heading to their meditation sessions. The tranquillity of Konpon Daito Pagoda and its memorial grounds is a recommended pre-breakfast stroll. Alternatively you may like to observe the monks taking morning prayers at your temple lodgings.
This morning’s ride is an exhilarating descent which flattens out as you join a rolling riverside route through forests of cedar trees. On approach to the coast, join a cycleway which will lead you into the heart of Wakayama where you can head to the beach for a refreshing dip.
Cycle: 61 km
Depending on your onward travel plans, the cosmopolitan metropolis of Osaka is only a 90 min train journey from Wakayama. Here you might like to spend extra nights exploring the vast city before making your onward travel connections. Alternatively, it’s easy to extend your stay in Wakayama for a few extra days on the beach.
During this trip you will stay in 3* hotels and traditional Ryokans. Ryokans are traditional Japanese Inns (usually family run), with simple furnishings of a matted floor, low futon beds and sliding paper doors. They are very well known for their warm and friendly hospitality. You will also spend the night in a Shukubo, traditional temple lodging complete with Onsen (hot spring baths).
Depending on the time of year you are travelling, you may be accommodated in a hotel or inn of equal standard, within the surrounding area. Examples of some of the typical hotels and inns used on this tour are listed below.
If you are travelling with friends or family but prefer single rooms this is possible subject to availability and a supplementary payment. Unfortunately, this tour is not available to solo cyclists.
All breakfasts and 3 dinners are included. Typically, most hotel breakfasts offer Japanese and European style breakfasts and usually consist of fresh fruits, juices, breads, eggs, rice, tofu and miso soup. There is always a plentiful supply of tea and coffee.
Included dinners are traditional to the region and are made with local, seasonal produce. Typical dishes usually comprise of tofu, vegetables, miso soup, fish, meats and pickled vegetables. During your stay at the temple lodge, the temple only serves vegetarian food.
Lunches and 3 dinners are not included are not included, To help you choose, there are plenty of suggestions of where to dine in your navigation app, including help with translations!
Should you have any special dietary requirements please let us know. We try to accommodate all requirements where possible.
A traditional 3* Japanese Inn (also known as Ryokan), is located in the heart of Kyoto and is within easy reach of peaceful gardens, ancient temples and traditional restaurants. Complete with a rock garden, this inn makes for a peaceful retreat after a busy day exploring the city of Kyoto.
A simple, stylish 3* hotel, which his only 10-minute walk from Hokke-Ji Temple and the Minakami Pond. Spacious rooms offer a comfortable night after a day in the saddle and the hotel’s late night café serves Japanese teas and European coffees
A sublime hotel to decompress after a day cycling. In the UNESCO Yoshinoyama National Park, Ryokan Kato boasts spectacular views across the rolling hills. A 3* traditional inn, hot, outdoor public baths are available and all rooms feature a woven floor and traditional futon bedding, making for an authentic nights stay in Yoshino.
One of the highlights of this tour. Spend the night in a Shukubo. A 1000 year old temple provides a peaceful gardens and the opportunity to attend Buddhist mornings. Rooms feature paper sliding doors, tatami-matting This 1000 year old temple provides peaceful gardens and the opportunity to attend a Buddhist meditation in the morning if you so wish. Simple rooms feature paper sliding doors, tatami-mat flooring and futon beds. You can also enjoy some rest and relaxation time soaking in the temple’s hot spring baths (Onsen)
Opposite Wakayama Castle this modern hotel, provides a comfortable stay in spacious rooms. The hotel serves Japanese and European cuisine. The Dawai Roynet is also well placed for travel, being only a 10 minute taxi journey from the main train station.
You can start your cycling adventure on any day from January through to December. Private guided or group guided departures can also be arranged. If you would prefer this option please please contact the office.
The tour is self-guided. For the duration
of the tour you will receive a navigation unit and access to a comprehensive
navigation app and information pack. The unit is a simple device which clearly
shows the route to follow and is best used in conjunction with the navigation
app. The app includes route information,
directions, local tips on where to eat and where your accommodation is located.
You must download the app onto your phone before arriving. If you do not wish to
use your own device for navigation, you can also rent an ipad, pre-loaded with
the navigation app.
This route heads through cities, towns, deep into the countryside and up
to hillside and mountain towns. You should always be mindful and aware
of other route users at all times, especially when cycling through the
cities. Kyoto and Nara are very busy environments but are amongst the
most cycle friendly cities in Japan so please take you time and pay
attention to the advice on your navigation app.
Should you require assistance, local 24/7 telephone support will also be available throughout your trip.
On this tour a 21 speed Trek FX hybrid bike is included in the trip cost. You can also upgrade to a Lynskey Cooper Titanium cross road bike (with wider tyres than a standard road bike). Each bike comes with a handlebar bag for your personal possessions and a water bottle. Helmets are included, although your own is likely to be a better fit.
If you would prefer to bring your own bicycle please ensure it is thoroughly serviced and is an appropriate road bike.
If you do intend to bring your own bike, please do let us know at the time of booking as extra transfer arrangements may be required for any large bike cases/boxes.
It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care. Prior to departure you must provide us with your travel insurance details.
The distances and ascents/descents are
approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing
all necessary items, for example, sunscreen, water and personal snacks. Your information pack has a detailed
equipment list which includes standard cycling gear such as padded shorts/long tights.
For general travel planning, we recommend the helpful site http://www.rome2rio.com
The easiest way to reach Kyoto is from the nearby airport of Osaka, which has extensive, international connections across the globe. Osaka Airport connects with Kyoto by bus or train (approx. 60mins journey time).
Tokyo Airport is also within easy reach of Kyoto. The rapid and efficient bullet train connects the two cities in a little over 3 hours.
We would suggest checking flight www.skyscanner.net as a starting point for flight schedules and prices to Japan and HyperDia for local and national rail services across Japan.
Onward travel from Wakayama is very easy. The city and airport of Osaka is only a 90 minute train journey. In Osaka, you can change for services through to Tokyo. Again please check HyperDia for rail information.
This trip is graded moderate with rides between 40-70km. Well suited to regular cyclists, there are some stretches of hill and mountain roads to ascend, which are generally at steady gradient. You should be comfortable, being in the saddle covering distances of up to 70km and feel confident when cycling in busier environments. It’s always a good idea to get out on your bike in the lead up to this tour so you are used to cycling back to back days.
If you don't wish to cycle a stage, please let and our local partner know as soon as possible, we'll be happy to help you make alternative travel arrangements.
We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as this trip is extremely popular especially between March and May when the cherry blossom is in bloom and again in the summer months July and August.
Depending on your wider plans for Japan, it is tough to beat the spring months of April and May when the cherry blossom is in full bloom. November through to March can be very cool with even cooler nights! especially in the hilltop town of Yoshino. April into June, spring days are warm, sunny with cherry blossom trees dominating the countryside, towns and cities. July through to September is summer time and is perfect for heading to the beach at the end of the tour. October cools off a little with fresher evenings and a great month for seeing the colours of the countryside change.
As temperatures and humidity are at their peak in July and August, Japan can be subject to typhoons, but this very rarely has a serious impact on this region.
When you cycle your luggage will be transferred onwards to your next overnight stop. We ask you to your main baggage to a maximum of 1 piece (20kg).
We can easily arrange this for you. Just let us know anytime prior to departure.