|Islands, Mountains and Monasteries
Japan 15 days ex Kyoto
Japan is such an eclectic mix of sights and sounds, landscapes, history and culture that it is a joy to experience. This cycling tour takes in
the cultural centres of Kyoto and Nara, as well as the monastic Koya-san mountain where Buddhism still thrives today. Most of the cycling
will be on Shikoku Island; through the central mountains, rivers and gorges of the Iya valley and alongside cliff top roads with views down
upon Japan's southern coast. Our final day's riding is sure to be a highlight as we island hop across several 100 metre-high bridges to the
main island of Honshu. A day to soak up Hiroshima's historical ambiance. A fantastic cycling trip with unforgettable cultural experiences, we
believe this trip has something for everyone.
There is also a women only version of this tour. See here for details or here for more trips in our women only range.
|Days 1-2 Kyoto
Explore the best of what the ancient imperial capital has to offer with and optional bike tour to get your legs warmed up.
Spot geisha in Gion, sample some of Kyoto's tasty cuisine or explore Kyoto's many temples, shrines and palaces
including Nijo Castle, Ryoanji Zen garden, Kinkakuji 12th century temple and the Philosophers' Walk.
Day 3 Nara
We leave Kyoto to cycle one of Japan's few cycle paths to Nara (50km). This is a flat ride with great views all the way.
Nara city predates Kyoto as a political centre and, like Kyoto, has many interesting temples and gardens to explore. We
will have time to check out Nara's important sights such as Todaiji temple, the largest wooden building in the world,
and its 7th century 250 ton bronze Buddha. Tonight we stay in a local ryokan.
Day 4 Koya San
Today is a big day's cycling (65km) to the base of Buddhist mountain retreat at Koya san. We'll take a break in Asuka on
the way where we have a chance to see the remnants of Japan's first capital dating back to the 7th century and the huge
burial mounds for which the area is famous. The first half of the day is flat until we begin our climbing on quiet mountain
roads to the base of Koya where we transfer to the summit of the mountain. We'll be staying in a working monastery and
will have a chance to meet and talk to the resident monks. The vegetarian food prepared by the monks is a real treat.
Day 5 Tokushima
We rise early today so that we can take part in morning prayer, zazen, with the monks if we wish. We'll have time to do a
bit of hiking around the mountain to visit the many temples of Koya san and its famous 1200 year-old cemetery, before
heading to Wakayama for our afternoon ferry crossing to Tokushima and the start of our Shikoku Island ride.
Day 6 Koyadaira
From Tokushima we head inland. It's a tough start as we hit a couple of really steep hills. We are treated to beautiful
views of an isolated area of Japan on little travelled paved roads before stopping for the night in a local ryokan
(guesthouse). Throughout this area we will come across many onsens, or hot springs, and this night will be our first – a
famous onsen used by the locals in the area.
Days 7-8 Kazurabashi
Cycling almost to the peak of Tsurugi san is a steep day of cycling (85km) but the afternoon is all downhill cycling
through gorges and villages to our ryokan in the Iya Valley. Ryokans offer an insight into Japanese life as our hosts will
be a local family and we will have lots of time to meet them and enjoy their particular brand of hospitality. We have some
free time to relax and do some sightseeing in the area. One of the options is to visit to a 350 year-old farmhouse,
Chiiori, for some locally produced tea and traditional home made noodles. This farmhouse was restored by Alex Kerr,
the only foreigner to win a Japanese literary award for a book he wrote in Japanese. Also, on offer are visits to the
ancient vine bridge, a swim in the nearby beautiful Iya River or a soak in one of the most beautifully located onsens in all
of Japan (at our ryokan!).
Day 9 Kotohira
Our last day in the Iya valley takes us downhill for the first 30 kms and then a big climb before winding down into
Kotohira (80km). For those with energy left in the legs, a walk up to Kompirasan, formally known as Kotohiragu (a highly
popular shrine in the wooded hills of Kotohira), will show off some of Japan's finest temple architecture. Great views are
to be had of the surrounding country-side.
Day 10 Kanonji
An awesome day's cycling (70km) through flat rice farming communities until we hit the coast at Marugame. Here we
break to visit Marugame castle, one of only a few remaining intact castles in Japan. From here it is another spectacular
ride with lots of ups and downs on coastal roads which will allow us to absorb Japanese life in seaside and farming
communities. This section has great views of the inland sea and its numerous islands and beaches and we'll have lots
of time to swim and meet the characters who live along this beautiful coastline.
Day 11 Inland Sea track
We start today with a morning transfer to Imabari. Stunning views of small uninhabited islands provide the backdrop as
we fly across the inland sea that lies between Shikoku and Honshu. We cross this inland sea track via a series of 7
impressive bridges linking one island to another on a dedicated cycle path. We'll stay on one of the islands to take in
this unique crossing and be treated to some wonderful home-cooked traditional Japanese food.
Days 12-13 Hiroshima
We finish the last of our “hops” in Onomichi (40km), pack up the bikes and board a train for an hour to Hiroshima.
Metropolitan Hiroshima is imbued with history but is firmly entrenched in the future. With a great atmosphere and much
to see we have plenty of time here to take in all that Hiroshima has to offer and celebrate the end of our ride! A visit to
Miyajima Island is highly recommended.
Days 14-15 Kyoto
Transfer by shinkansen (bullet train) back to Kyoto for our final dinner and sayonnaras. Day 15 is departure day and you
are free to leave at any time.
15 days ex Kyoto
4th Apr 2009
18th Apr 2009
12th Sept 2009
10th Oct 2009
min 4, max 12
13 breakfasts, 10
lunches, 9 dinners
hotels (2 nts),
nts), monastery (1
see trip map