|Shikoku Cycling (Women Only)
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 women only 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.
This departure is for women only, please see here for the co-ed version
|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
Private tour, departs daily
Coastal bike tracks, Ancient vine
suspensions bridges, Forests,
Mountains, Shinto shrines,
Geishas, Tea ceremonies,
Ryokans, Hot springs, Tepanyaki,
Sushi, Peace memorial, Ancient
capitals, Buddhist mountain retreat
13 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 9
Some accommodation has
shared bathroom facilities
Cycling, express train, bus
Hotels (2 nts), guesthouse (11
nts), monastery (1 nt)
see trip map
download trip dossier
more information and booking