Konnichiwa! Welcome to Osaka. This adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm today. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please check with hotel reception for where and when the meeting will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel in time for the meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). After meet the group at the welcome meeting, head out on an evening orientation walk before dinner. Eat and drink on the street in warmer months and chat to boisterous locals - young and old - enjoying a beer and raw squid. If you are arriving early try and catch a baseball game, visit the exquisite Osaka castle or simply shop 'til you drop. Riding distance: None
We rise early and cycle from Osaka to Kyoto (approx. 50kms) Our first ride treats us to some amazing scenery, from the heaving industrial areas to quiet pockets of calm, while getting the hang of cycling in Japan. A highlight of today’s ride is a cycle through the renowned Osaka Castle Park. Opened in 1931 and covering over 100 hectares, Osaka Castle Park is a peaceful oasis in the middle of this bustling city, adorned with cherry trees and the beautifully colourful leaves of autumn and a beautiful place to ride a bike. We will also ride past by the magnificently restored Osaka Castle. Surrounded by wide moats and imposing stone walls (some 12kms long and 20m high), the castle is one of Japan's most famous landmarks. The ride today will be gentle, with only slight elevation on the roads as we cycle from our accommodation along dedicated bicycle paths and small paved roads besides the meandering Yodogawa and Katsuragawa rivers. Leaving Osaka behind we cycle into the heart of Kyoto itself. Riding distance: approx. 50kms / 31 miles, mostly flat with approx. 230m of elevation gain.
The ride today takes the group west from our ryokan to the Katsura River, then north along a dedicated cycling path past traditional houses and community gardens to the ancient imperial resort of Arashiyama. Stop off for a coffee break in Arashiyama, well-known for its gorgeous bamboo forests. After a caffeine hit and a chance to soak up the peaceful atmosphere, ride on to Tenryuji Temple and Ryoanji Temple, with its famous white Zen rock garden. Pause here to contemplate the sound of one hand clapping and then move on to contemplate some lunch. Afterwards, cycle east across the north end of Kyoto and then onto the Path of Philosophy and the Higashiyama area before returning to our accommodation. The ride today will be gentle, with only slight elevation on the roads as we head into Arashiyama. We start with a 5 kilometre ride on a main road, then follow dedicated bicycle paths and secondary roads for the rest of the day. On arrival back into Kyoto, take an evening orientation tour of Kyoto's Gion district. Observe Geisha and Maiko (apprentice Geisha) from key spots in the city's old back streets and be tempted by some of the area's great local restaurants, perhaps doubling back to visit for dinner after the tour has ended. Kyoto’s streets are laid out in a convenient grid pattern, which is unusual for Japanese cities. In the 8th century, imperial city planners copied the grid layout of Chang’an (now Xian), the capital of the Tang Dynasty China. That’s not the only benefit we reap from the Tang Dynasty today – two well-known Tang engineers, Ma Jun and Zhang Heng, invented the mechanical gear system used by the bikes we ride around this easy-to- navigate city. Arigato Tang Dynasty! Riding distance: approx. 45kms / 28 miles, undulating with approx. 300m of elevation gain.
Ride from Kyoto to Nara to see the Giant Buddha housed in the largest wooden structure on the planet. The cycling route takes the group on a dedicated riverside cycling path from the old capital of Kyoto to the even older capital of Nara. This city is well-known for its Todaiji Temple and its cute, free-roaming wild deer. Head south along the river for most of the day, passing more community gardens, parks, and an ancient wooden footbridge. This morning we’ll stop briefly at Nagarebashi Bridge, a 356 metre wooden bridge and one of the longest wooden bridges in Japan. This particular bridge is a popular film location for samurai dramas — the popular TV series “Hissatsu” (Assasins) was filmed here. Return by train to Kyoto where we stay tonight. Riding distance: approx. 55km / 34 miles, mostly flat with approx. 200m of elevation gain.
Enjoy some free time in historic Kyoto this morning to explore more UNESCO World-Heritage sites, such as gardens, temples and shrines. This city in central Japan is known for its well-preserved Edo Period districts, art museums and regional handicrafts. On arrival into Kanazawa, get to know the streets on a walking tour and learn more of the history of this important city. Ask your leader for some great local restaurant options. Riding distance: None
It's a fairly relaxing day today as you buckle up for a leisurely bike ride across the city seeing the best it has to offer. Ride past the famous gardens, including leafy Kenrokuen, one of Japan’s greatest gardens, and the old Geisha and Samurai districts. A beautiful place to enjoy by bike. Please note we ride to most of the sites but cover them by foot once we are there. Riding distance: Approx. 10-15 kms / 6-9 miles, mostly flat with approx. 80-150m of elevation gain
Over the next four days, discover the heart of the rustic Noto Peninsula and its rugged coastlines, rice paddies, and endless farmland. Highlights, along with the cycling, including visiting asaichi (morning markets) housing everything from lacquerware and sake to fresh fish and vegetables. Ride along the scenic coast to Myojoji Temple for an introduction to Japanese Nichiren Buddhism. Explore the quiet coastal roads and spectacular ocean views and ride back in time through sleepy fishing villages and past lush forests. Stop for a local lunch and head to the hot spring town of Wakura Onsen. Don your traditional yukata (kimono) and enjoy dinners made from fresh, local ingredients at some of the great places we stay, followed by a dip in the onsen baths. Riding distances: Day 7 – 75 kms / 47 miles Day 8 – 50 kms / 31 miles Day 9 – 70 kms / 44miles Day 10 – 65 kms / 40miles The Noto Peninsula is relatively hilly so we have frequent climbs, but none are especially long.
No trip to Japan is complete without experiencing the country's legendary train system. Swap your bike for a train and watch the scenic landscape fly by on a train journey to Tokyo. On arrival into Japan's electric capital, hit the streets for a night time orientation walk. Explore both the contemporary centre of town as well as the old streets, and feel the hum of modern life in this famous city. Riding distance: None
Get an even better feel for the different areas of the city as we cycle some of the great paths along the city’s river and coastline waterways. There's modern and old surprises waiting at each turn along the way – a real treat for those who appreciate ancient and modern architecture. This evening enjoy a skyscraper view over the city. Riding distance: approx. 40km / 25 miles, mostly flat with approx. 250m of elevation gain.
Enjoy a short but brilliant ride through the city, checking out many of the famous parks, gardens and sites using the same local paths Tokyoites use to cut through the city. Tokyo is our proverbial oyster as we sample food in Tsukiji, the famous Fish Market. Enjoy a quiet night or spend the evening eating, walking and drinking our way across with city with our knowledgeable guide. Riding distance: approx. 20km / 12 miles, mostly flat with approx. 250m of elevation gain.
Sadly it's time to say farewell to this great Japanese adventure. There are no activities planned for the day and you’re able to depart the hotel at any time. Check out time is 11am. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel. If you have time why not check out the amazing Urban Adventures on offer in this eclectic city such as ‘Japan’s Cultural Curiosities’ - www.urbanadventures.com/tokyo-tour-Japan-s-Cultural-Curiosities Riding distance: none