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Stunning Shikoku Bike Tour of Japan

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Stunning Shikoku Bike Tour of Japan

Scheduled Tour

Price from

4390 USD

Duration

8 Days | 7 Nights

Level

3

Tour Code

GHJS21

VIEW TOUR DATES

An Immersive Cycle Tour of the Shikoku Region of Southwest Japan

Bike tour through a land of ancient castles, Shinto Shrines and Buddhist monasteries, where traditional culture and etiquette blends effortlessly with contemporary modern design. An island of unimaginable natural beauty, epic coastal rides, verdant river valleys and remote villages. Our newly revised flagship tour of Japan, the ultimate guided bike tour through the Land of the Rising Sun - Stunning Shikoku.

Quality Bikes
Cannondale Quick 1 Disc or Yamaha E-bike

Your Guide
Bilingual expert leader

Group Size
6 to 14

Accommodation
3 to 4-star hotels and traditional Ryokans

Activities
Ride/Walk

Minimum Age
14+

Overview

Shikoku, an island of quiet, winding roads, forested landscapes and dramatic seascapes - where Japanese culture and customs - past and present - coexist in a unique harmony. World-renowned for its 88 temple pilgrimage the island is fast emerging as one of Asia’s most unique and inspiring cycling destinations. 

Starting from the Shimanami Kaido, a series of bridges with incredible views over the islands of the Seto Sea, we cycle inland to the bustling town of Matsuyama, a chance to study and sample the craft of Sake making. Though a large island, Shikoku’s efficient and comfortable train system allows us to skip busy sections of road and cycle the very best bits. In the mountain village of Yusuhara, the works of internationally acclaimed architect Kengo Kuma, will inspire you as well as a morning session in the studio of Japan’s preeminent authority on the ancient craft of Washi paper.  

Cycling on towards the Pacific coast along some of the most stunning routes imaginable. We’ll traverse thickly forested valleys and over the mountains of the interior, spending two nights in an onsen retreat set on a headland, with dramatic views of the coast while kayaking on sheltered coves and bays.  And finally, Kohci, our week-long immersion on Shikoku concludes in Shikoku’s second largest city, exploring its vibrant food scene in open air-markets at the foot of the city’s dramatic hilltop Castle. 

This is a ride for those who do not feel the need to tick off boxes on their travels. While we’ll visit several of the historic Pilgrimage sites, the design of the tour offers the opportunity to enjoy some of the very best riding in all of Asia and to see places that have not been altered in any way to cater for tourists. Our Stunning Shikoku cycle tour will leave you with an indelible perspective of Japan, one we are certain you’ll never forget.

* If you are thinking of joining us in Japan make sure to ask about our optional tour extensions in Hiroshima (pre-trip) and Kyoto (post-trip) so you can enjoy even more Grasshopper time.

Pedal-assist E-bikes are an available option on this tour for $245.


371 Km riding: On this bike tour we will enjoy cycling on excellent roads for the duration of the trip. 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 climb are not long and the longest parts of the climb are not steep.

Highlights

Pedal the world-famous Shimanami Kaido route across the Seto Sea

Explore sacred temples along Shikoku’s historic 88 temple pilgrimage 

Create traditional washi paper in Yusuhara with world-renowned artist.

Experience Japanese hospitality in small, traditional inns and natural spring retreats

Enjoy the efficiency of Japan’s train system including the Shinkansen bullet train!

Savor the taste of Sake from one of Japan’s highly rated producers

INCLUSIONS

  • 7 nights in comfortable accommodation selected for high standards & local flavor
  • 7x Breakfasts, 8x Lunches, 7x Dinners
  • Healthy snacks & water during cycling
  • Knowledgable local guide
  • Quality well-serviced bikes and helmet for riding
  • Custom country jersey and water bottle that are yours to keep
  • Comfortable van for support and transfers
  • All tickets and entry costs included in the itinerary

Day to Day


Expand All
Riding:
24km
15mi
Meal:
L,D

We meet today in the small town of Onomichi - which is easily reached by train from Osaka or Kyoto using the famous Shinkansen (Bullet Train). Shortly after meeting we'll hop aboard a ferry to our start point on the iconic Shimanami Kaido route.

We start off pedaling through secluded bamboo forests to a beautiful coastal route with enough topography to enhance the scenic experience, but not so much as to exhaust us.  Our destination for the first night, a small town initially founded on salt production.

A night in a cosy, old-school Ryokan where dinner is served to us while we dress in Yukatas - a comfortable, traditional gown that will be supplied in your room.

Riding:
65km
40mi
Meal:
B,L,D

Our day starts with a coffee at a nearby bike cafe, then it’s time to hit the road. The route begins with a climb up to the hilltop in the middle of Ikuchi Island where we ride past citrus farms that the island is well known for. We continue over a number of bridges with stunning views out over the blue Seto Sea, islands dotted as far as you can see. 

As we roll into the town of Imabari, you have officially traversed the Shimanami and arrived on Shikoku. There are four prefectures here and we will be riding through Ehima and Kochi. We’ll board a train that takes us an hour to Matsuyama, the largest city in the prefecture and a place with a unique feel. Here colorful orange trams trundle along the main streets and temples and castles sit atop the surrounding hills. 

After checking into our modern hotel, we take the tram down to meet a local Sake expert for a lesson in this national beverage. The fermentation process has been passed down from generation to generation, perfected over time and this evening you will sample its different varieties.

Riding:
63km
39mi
Meal:
B,L,D

Another comfortable and punctual one-hour train journey leads to the start of our first inland ride. Following the Hijikawa River, we’ll ride quiet roads that follow the contours of the valley. As we reach its headwaters we climb out of the valley leading to the charming village of Yusuhara. 

Internationally renowned architect, Kengo Kuma took a liking to this town and designed and sponsored several buildings and public structures. What you will find here is a tidy, beautiful village with exceedingly hospitable people and a public library of the quality you might expect in a major city.  A short shuttle ride from our hotel is a natural spring-fed Onsen where you can soak your fatigued muscles before we enjoy another beautifully prepared meal.

Riding:
25km
16mi
Meal:
B,L,D

This morning we cycle up to the homestead known as Kamikoya where a man named Rogier has made it his life’s work to understand and perfect the art of Washi Paper making. His family run workshops here and today we will partake. With a mountain backdrop behind Kamikoya and the panoramic views of the valley below this is a hands-on experience to treasure. 

When finished, the family will dry out your hand made paper and send it on for collection at the end of the tour. Throughout the morning, we will also learn about the history of Washi Paper and its role in the imperial business of Japan in ancient times. 

The return ride to Yusuhara is a descent, so we will cruise into town by lunchtime. You have the afternoon to yourself to wander, relax, or even enjoy the library until we convene for dinner in a small eatery nearby the hotel.

Riding:
73km
45mi
Meal:
B,L,D

It’s time to leave our mountain village and travel through the Shimanto region to reach the Pacific Coast. The ride offers another wonderful day of lush green valleys, nearly deserted roads in excellent condition, and bubbling creeks and rivers. There is a sustained climb late-morning that is particularly beautiful in the Fall, with autumn colors at the top which are visually stunning. 

Lunch today is at a wellness retreat set by a raging river, and suitably fed we push on along a plateau. We’ll enjoy a final descent to complete our ride, and you can capture your first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean. 

Settling into our clifftop property take a dip in the excellent natural onsen to soak your muscles. The view here peers out over rocky outcrops towards the dark blue ocean landscape. A traditional meal is served tonight and you can retire to a comfortable Japanese futon-style room for a sound night’s sleep.

Riding:
55km
34mi
Meal:
B,L,D

Today some off-the-bike activity is planned, weather permitting, as we transfer from our hotel to meet some local kayaking enthusiasts. They’ve researched the nearby sheltered coves and bays and will paddle with us around to some of the best spots to view the topography from the water. Rocky outcrops, mountains in the distance, and if we are lucky, maybe some ocean life could reveal itself to us. 

After a morning of paddling and a bite to eat, we take to the bikes again and ride southwards to visit Iwamoto Temple, number 37 on the Henro Pilgrimage route. The temple, set on a wooded hillside outside the town of Kubokawa, features ornate paintings on the ceiling of its main prayer hall. We’ll continue our ride on to the Shimanto River, a significant fishery and the largest river in the area then return to our lodging via a different route.

Riding:
66km
41mi
Meal:
B,L,D

The ride today will remain etched in your memory long after the tour has concluded. We start out on a deserted road that hugs the cliffs, with the ocean crashing onto the black rocks below us. The composition of the sand here accentuates the blue of the water and you’re guaranteed to want to pause and take photos of the view. 

Passing through the town of Susaki, we enter another stunning section of the route, climbing up to a nature reserve along the ridge. A perfect riding gradient and an abundance of birdlife makes this stretch one of the best parts of an already fantastic ride. 

Our lunch stop is near another of the 88 temples, known as the Blue Dragon. It’s here we often encounter pilgrims making their way along the walking route. Our day concludes riding into Kochi, with an enjoyable descent and a cruise along the river. We pass through the central area of the city and conclude in the heart of the food & dining district. 

Tonight will be our last together, so a progressive dinner with some grazing is in order, and maybe a visit to another Sake bar (or two) as the evening moves along.

Meal:
B,L

The morning is free to relax, or explore the city’s castle. There’s enough time to get your belongings in order before we board the train to Kyoto. A pleasant four hour journey watching the country fly by and we arrive in Kyoto around 3pm, which is check-in time for most hotels.

Disembarking the Shinkansen in Kyoto is a fun way to enter the city, and from here it’s time to say farewell to your fellow adventurers.
Goodbyes over, your guide will happily help you with taking a taxi onward to your hotel of choice.

Dates & Price


Dates Availability Price * Deposit payment: $500 USD
* Single room option: $920 USD
22 - 29 May 2021 Seats available

Adult 4390USD

BOOK THIS TOUR
09 - 16 Aug 2021 Seats available

Adult 4390USD

BOOK THIS TOUR
02 - 09 Oct 2021 Seats available

Adult 4390USD

BOOK THIS TOUR
23 - 30 Oct 2021 Seats available

Adult 4390USD

BOOK THIS TOUR
02 - 09 Apr 2022 Seats available

Adult 4390USD

BOOK THIS TOUR
21 - 28 May 2022 Seats available

Adult 4390USD

BOOK THIS TOUR
24 Sep - 01 Oct 2022 Seats available

Adult 4390USD

BOOK THIS TOUR
Any tour can be made private! Request quote GO PRIVATE
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WHAT MAKES US STAND OUT

GRASSHOPPER STYLE


With our experience and knowledge of Asia, we have crafted this itinerary that gives you an immersive look at Japan as you cycle to sacred sites and beautiful islands. You’ll have the chance to appreciate Japan’s seamless blending of ancient and modern on this bicycle tour through the Shimanami Kaido, the island of Shikoku and beautiful Kochi, with visits to small towns tourists rarely go. There will b plenty of interesting accommodations along the way, including fresh, delicious meals and cultural activities. You are guaranteed to leave Japan with a greater understanding of this enigmatic and unique country.

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