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Japan Heritage Cycle – Kyoto & Surrounds

Home > Japan

Japan Heritage Cycle - Kyoto & Surrounds

Scheduled Tour

Price from

3950 USD

Duration

7 Days | 6 Nights

Level

2

Tour Code

GHJT17

BOOK THIS TOUR

Bike Tour Kyoto- Japan’s Historic Homeland

Explore the intriguing city of Kyoto by bicycle, a favorite of visitors. Cycle tour beyond Kyoto to another ancient capital, Nara, before riding on to Mount Yoshino, a mountain top village full of cherry trees. Visit the spiritual highlight of Mount Koya and bike through evergreen forests to the coast on this unforgettable cycling adventure.

Quality Bikes
Cannondale Quick 1 disc or Yamaha E-bike

Your Guide
Friendly Japanese leader

Group Size
4 to 14

Accommodation
Ryokans, Shukubos and Traditional Fusion Hotels

Activities
Ride

Minimum Age
14+

Overview

Kyoto is more than just a former capital and the home of the famed Cherry Blossoms. It is the spiritual home of Japanese culture and such an aesthetically perfect one at that and a brilliant place for bike touring. Cycle quiet alleys along canals with perfectly graded falls and willows dipping in from the side, wide boulevards leading to awe-inspiring structures. Savor delicious meals at little eateries whose owners take great pride in their signature dishes and whose customers are as loyal as bees are to blossoms.

We show you Kyoto by bike, but then we venture further afield, riding through another lesser-known former capital Nara where the Buddhist clergy almost stole the show, up to Yoshino where natural beauty abounds and onto Mount Koya where we stay in a monastic center and have an opportunity to pray with monks.

Great bike riding on the best-made roads we have found in Asia, great cultural insights and amazing, authentic Japanese cuisine make this an unmissable adventure tour in a cycling-friendly country.

255 Km riding. We are cycling on generally excellent roads for the duration of the tour. For the most part, traffic is only light and drivers are courteous towards cyclists. In terms of gradient, we have a bit of everything, but the steepest parts of the climbs are not long and the longest parts of the climbs are not steep.

Pedal assist E-bikes are an available option on this tour for $275.

Peak Season: For tours commencing from March 18 (2020) to 24 April (2020) there is a peak season surcharge of 10% on the price of this tour due to hotel rate increases at this time of year.

Highlights

Explore the fascinating UNESCO World Heritage city of Kyoto with its iconic cherry blossoms, ornate temples, and modern art scene.

Stay in traditional Ryokans with tatami matting and onsen hot springs to soak your legs in.

Cycle to the thickly forested Mount Koya, the worldwide headquarters of Shingon Buddhism and stay in a traditional Shukubo.

After a vegetarian breakfast fit for a monk, descend through shaded forests to the riverside town of Wakayama.

Day to Day


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Meal:
D

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, as the UNESCO world heritage site is also a hub for Japan's dynamic modern art scene. Since this is an arrival day, nothing is planned until the late afternoon briefing with your tour guide, so you are free to explore this fascinating city on your own before then. After our briefing to run through the practicalities of the trip, we'll head out for a great welcome feast. The first of many.

Riding:
32km
Meal:
BLD

Kyoto is such a great city to explore by bike. Wide roads and shared pathways, considerate and careful drivers and little alleyways along canals abound, it is really fun urban riding. The city was the capital of Japan for so long (in two episodes) and it is very much the heritage and cultural capital still.
Our 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 flowering cherry blossom gardens. We’ll park our bikes at the Tenryuji Temple, which is typical of the ancient architecture that has endured the passage of time. We'll then ride onto Ryoanji in the east, famous for its zen-style garden, along the way stopping at Kinkakuji, where we can take in a great view out over the city.
There are lots of traditional sweets available on the route, so we can stop and graze on these before rolling back into town along the Kamo River. Following dinner the evening is free to explore on your own, but we have some wonderful suggestions if you need.

Riding:
49km
Meal:
BLD

Leaving a city the size of Kyoto by bike may sound daunting, but actually, 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 pedal 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 peaceful 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.

You will be staying in a conventional hotel this evening, but with creatively designed rooms, themed individually as Japanese, Minimalist and Hawaiian. The hosts are friendly and this is an intimate property of only 13 rooms. You are right around the corner from two Imperial tombs that are set on islands surrounded by moats. The lanes and streets through the communities surrounding them are intriguing and have likely been there a long time.

Riding:
63km
Meal:
BLD

You stayed on the northern edge of Nara last night, so this morning you get to cycle through the remnants of the ancient city. To be fair, there is not much left, 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. Your knowledgeable guide will explain the history further.
As you pass through Nara you will see that it is a city of some size. The ride route takes you on a somewhat complex, but a navigable route to avoid riding with any heavy traffic. Once you clear the city, the riding turns to very pleasant little back roads through the countryside. You will start to encounter hills, but most are not significant in length. You will find yourself 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 on which you must not wear shoes. Dinner is provided at the Inn.

Riding:
50km
Meal:
BLD

After another delicious Japanese breakfast that must be enjoyed at a slow pace, we saddle up and head down the hill. The second third of the day is on undulating terrain, but with some sharp little uphills at times. Following a quick lunch, we'll pedal on towards the big hill. 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.
The Shukubo is a style of accommodation, somewhat unique to Koyasan. These were originally accommodation for the students and novice 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.

Riding:
61km
Meal:
BLD

By rising early 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 headquarters of Shingon Buddhism.
The deserted town in 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.
Back at the Shukubo, breakfast has been prepared for you in your room. A selection of vegetarian delicacies as eaten by the monks themselves. Perhaps you may fancy an Onsen dip before starting the ride and we'll be back on the bikes by 10am 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, we leave the main route and cycle smaller backroads usually almost deserted of cars. 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, we leave the hills behind and things start to become more built up. After pedaling your way through a relatively busy little junction town, you will 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 mid-size city with all the conveniences you would expect. The hotel is centrally located to the various sites and is a comfortable, conventional hotel.

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 10am, but it is possible to request an 11 or 12noon check out, 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


With our knowledge and experience of running tours in Japan, we have carefully crafted this cycling route to showcase the cultural and scenic highlights of the country as well as bring you up close to its history. Stay in traditional Japanese accommodations, enjoy tasty local delicacies, and cycling beautiful paths beyond important cities to mountains and coast. You’ll leave this tour with a greater appreciation for Japan’s heritage and some fantastic photos of its landscapes.

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