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Cycle Kyoto to the Coast – Self-guided

Home > Japan

Cycle Kyoto to the Coast - Self-guided

Self-Guided Tour

Price from

2850 USD

Duration

7 Days | 6 Nights

Level

3

Tour Code

SGJA17

BOOK THIS TOUR

Self-Guided Cycle Tour of Kyoto to the Coast

Bike the heritage-rich sights of Kyoto, Nara, Yoshino and Mount Koya on this self-guided cycle tour of Japan. Balance the independence of self-guided bicycle touring with the seamless planning of a Grasshopper experience. Comfortable, achievable distances, great food, hotels with comfort and style, all topped off with quality bikes.

E-bikes and carbon frame bikes available on this tour as an optional upgrade.


Quality Bikes
Cannondale Quick 1 Disc | E-Bike & Carbon Bike Upgrades Available

Your Guide
Self-guided

Group Size
1 to 14

Accommodation
Ryokans, Shukubos and Traditional Fusion Hotels

Activities
Ride

Minimum Age
-

Overview

Grasshopper's first self-guided cycle tour of Japan! Kyoto is the historic home of Japanese culture and one of our favorite cities in which to tour by bicycle. Explore by bike the ancient capital, then ride through another heritage city Nara, a beautiful hilltop village Yoshino and the spiritual Mount Koya, before descending to the coast at Wakayama.

Enjoy the freedom of setting your own pace, but with the seamless logistical support that Grasshopper is famous for. Luggage transfers, hotels booked in advance, navigational aids, audio commentary and lots of information on food to help you make the most of Japanese cuisine on your ride. Great bikes, maintained to a Japanese level of precision are the icing on the self-guided Japan tour cake.

256 Km riding. This self-guided bike tour is ridden on smooth sealed roads. You mostly ride rural lanes, backroads and dedicated cycleways. Once or twice for short distances you will cycle A-roads, but traffic is light.  There are some hill climbs to challenge you along the way, but these are all achievable if you take your time. We recommend some pre-tour preparation to make sure you’re comfortable with the distances and climbs. There are multiple options to cut rides short or cut out hill climbs with some interesting public transport solutions to adapt your ride.

Pedal-assist E-bikes are an available option on this tour from $150.

Find out more about our e-fleet in Japan.

Single room option: $1,150 USD
Deposit: $700 USD
Solo rider option: $2,150 USD

Due to festivities surrounding the Golden Week in 2021, which runs from April 29 to May 5, no bookings can be made for departures between April 24th, 2021 and May 10th, 2021. The high volume of traffic, along with major changes to traffic organization, make it impossible to organize the tour in this period.

Highlights

Explore the many UNESCO World Heritage sites of Kyoto as you cycle this cultural capital.

Along the journey, stay in traditional Ryokan accommodations for a flavor of Japanese culture.

Pedal through the ancient city of Nara before riding to Yoshino in the forested Kii Mountains.

Climb the sacred Mount Koya, the home of Shingon Buddhism, and stay in a traditional monks accommodation.

Day to Day


Expand All

Japan's cultural epicenter encompasses more than just history, temples and tradition, which it has plenty of with the mighty Imperial Palace and the Golden Pavilion shimmering against the lake on which it sits. The UNESCO world heritage site is also a hub for Japan's dynamic modern art scene. On this arrival day, nothing is planned until the late afternoon briefing, so you are free to explore this fascinating city on your own. Our briefing is arranged at your convenience, designed to run through the practicalities of the trip and introduce you to your bikes and equipment.

Riding:
32km
20mi
Meal:
B

Kyoto is such a great city to explore by bike. Wide roads and shared pathways everywhere, considerate and careful drivers and little alleyways along canals, this is typically fun riding in this cycling-friendly country. The city was the capital of Japan for so long (at two separate times), that it is very much the heritage and cultural capital still.

The ride starts out along the river and takes you up to the north of the city where you can visit the Bamboo Forest and at certain times of the year the iconic cherry blossom gardens. There is a stop at the Tenryuji Temple which is typical of the ancient architecture that has endured the passage of time.
You then ride onto Ryoanji in the east, famous for its UNESCO favorite zen-style garden. On the way, you can stop at Kinkakuji and take in a great view out over the city.
There are lots of traditional sweets available on the route, so you can stop and graze on these before rolling back into town along the Kamo River. The stops you make are up to you, so take the route and our audio guide and decide for yourself. This evening is free for you to explore the incredible dining options, but we have plenty of suggestions for the best local eateries.

Riding:
49km
30mi
Meal:
B

Leaving a city the size of Kyoto by bike may sound daunting, but in reality it is not. The roads are well planned and the drivers are courteous. After only a few kilometers on the roads, you will connect to the bike path and then it is smooth sailing as you ride a levy by the river. There are some junctions and some road intersections that you need to negotiate, but for the most part, you are on an uninterrupted path past Bamboo forests, corn crops and green tea plantations. A small cafe that is welcoming to cyclists can be found for morning tea and there is a viewing tower with a spotless bathroom about halfway through the ride. These recommendations and more will be on the Grasshopper Self-Guided app.

You will now be staying in a cross between a hotel and a Ryokan. It features beds rather than futons, but from reception throughout the property you’ll find Tatami matting. You will be staying right in Nara, just next to the main train station. The Nara Park and the key temple sites of Todai-ji and Kofuku-ji are just a short ride away (3km), but there is also a shuttle bus that runs a circular route through the area.

Riding:
63km
39mi
Meal:
BD

You stayed on the northern edge of Nara last night, so this morning you get to ride through the remnants of the ancient city. To be fair, there is not much left of it but there is an impressive replica of the palace that you will ride past.
The Nara period was from AD 710-794, during that time the city was modeled after Chang'an, the Tang Capital of China. The upper class at the time adopted the Chinese system of writing and also adopted Buddhism as their religion.

As you pass through Nara you will see that it is a city of some size. The cycling route takes you on a somewhat complex, but navigable route to avoid riding with any heavy traffic. Once you clear the city, the riding turns to very pleasant little backroads through the countryside. You will start to encounter hills, but most are not significant in length. You will find yourself pedaling among more agriculture and smaller villages.

As the day wears on, the hills start to increase until you reach the foot of the climb up to Yoshino. This is only about 6km, though, and the gradient is not severe. Yoshino is a picturesque location set on a ridge with a collection of temples atop. Tonight you will stay in a Ryokan, a traditional Japanese Inn. This means a room with tatami matting that you can sit on and which you must be careful not to wear shoes, there is also a thermal onsen on site so you can soak your sore legs and your dinner will be served in traditional style. This is a fantastic opportunity for cultural immersion.

Riding:
50km
31mi
Meal:
BD

After another delicious Japanese breakfast that must be enjoyed at a slow pace, it's time to saddle up and glide down the hill. The second third of the day will have you cycling undulating terrain with some sharp little uphills at times. Lunch is available at a great location at a red iron bridge or the ubiquitous convenience stores. You can then push on towards the big hill of Japan’s holiest mountain. The climb is in two parts, the first is around 4km long, then there is a 3km descent and some undulations before you get into the main climb of 8km. The road is very narrow, but there are few vehicles, if any, and the views are spectacular. As you reach the top, there is a section that undulates all the way into your accommodation.

If you feel like taking it easy on this day then there is a picturesque alternative to the climb. After the initial 35km of cycling, just before the foot of the hill, you can jump on the Nankai Koya train line to the top of Mount Koya where your Shukubo awaits.

The Shukubo is a style of accommodation, somewhat unique to Koyasan. These were originally accommodation for the novice and traveling monks who were studying nearby at the monastery, but these days they accept paying guests. On arrival, a staff member will take you around to explain the workings of the property, including the Onsen. Your room is a traditional Japanese one with Tatami matting and futons, with a special style of dinner included.

Riding:
61km
38mi
Meal:
B

By rising early and getting out on your bikes, you will be able to see Koyosan almost deserted of people.
Koyasan is actually a modification of the original name of the mountain Kong-Obb Ji, but the town that has developed around this site is called Koya. The mountaintop is the worldwide center of Shingon Buddhism and considered an extremely sacred place.
The deserted town of the early morning is postcard perfect. Depending on the time of year, you will see moss and lush greenery spilling out from behind rock walls. Small lanes and winding streets are lined by small houses and businesses and you will probably see processions of monks walking to their meditation session. There are a couple of main sites to visit including the 45-meter tall orange colored, Konpon Daito Pagoda and the memorial grounds. You can choose which sites you explore today based on what strikes your fancy.
Back at the Shukubo, breakfast has been prepared for you in your room. This meal consists of a selection of vegetarian delicacies as eaten by the monks themselves. Perhaps you fancy an Onsen dip before starting your ride, but a ride start of 10 am is recommended at the latest.
Descending off the mountain is exhilarating. The road surface is superb the road is a lot wider than the one on which we climbed the day before. You do need to watch the oncoming vehicles of which there will be a few, but the traffic in your direction is insignificant as most people are making the trip up rather than down.
About halfway down the hill, you leave the main route and cycle smaller backroads usually almost deserted by cars. You’ll encounter a climb of around 3km to get the blood moving, then an undulating ride with a downwards trend, through shady Cedar forests and then along a fast moving river. Around the 30km mark, you leave the hills behind and things start to become more built up. After pedaling your way through a relatively busy little junction town, you'll find the trailhead of the bike path that takes you all the way into Wakayama along the river. This is flat, open riding and because there are no vehicles, you can slip into that meditative state that one gets when pedaling away. Wakayama is a surprisingly interesting port city with a deep history for you to explore this evening with our recommendations.

Meal:
B

Wakayama could actually keep you busy for a morning. There is the castle, an Art Museum and a Train Museum, all within walking distance of the hotel.
Checkout time at the hotel is 10 am, but it is possible to request an 11 or 12 pm checkout, depending on how busy the hotel is. Once you are ready to leave, it is just a short taxi ride to the train station. From here you can easily take a train to Osaka Airport (KIX), Osaka City, or Kyoto.

WHAT MAKES US STAND OUT

GRASSHOPPER STYLE


The beauty of a self-guided tour is that, though the exploration is on your own, we’ve taken care of all the details for you. This means that the route is planned out and programmed into a GPS system and app and your luggage will be waiting for you at one of our chosen accommodations. This bike exploration of Japan combines all the fun of an independent adventure with our expertise and knowledge of the area, the must-see sights and best places to eat in order to make your experience more directed and enjoyable.

LEARN MORE

Grasshopper Self-guided Adventures - How it Works?

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