From world-class sushi to legendary geisha, enthralling Japan is the perfect destination to discover by bicycle. Our cycling adventure gives you a slowed down, up close look of this fascinating country and allows ample opportunity to meet locals and glimpse the unique culture of the Land of the Rising Sun. From the temples, shrines and geisha of Kyoto to the frenetic but exhilarating chaos of Tokyo, and the beautiful serenity of the Noto Peninsula countryside in between, this cycling adventure has it all.
Ages: 14 - 99
Accommodation: Hotel (4 nights), ryokan (6 nights)
Konnichiwa! Welcome to Kyoto. Serving as Japan's capital and the emperor's residence from 794 until 1868, Kyoto is the spiritual centre of Zen Buddhism and one of the most historically important cities in Japan. Unlike many of its neighbours Kyoto escaped destruction during World War II and thousands of temples, shrines and other historically invaluable structures survive in the city today. This adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you'll meet your tour leader and fellow travellers. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Afterwards, head out on an evening walk before choosing whether you want to join the group for an optional dinner or hit the streets solo. If you arrive early, Kyoto offers a myriad of options to explore. For a taste of Shogun life, head to the World Heritage-listed Nijo Castle, perhaps the best surviving example of castle palace architecture from Japan's feudal era. See how the Emperor lived at the Sento Imperial Palace within Kyoto Imperial Park, an attractive park in the centre of the city. Or for a quieter moment, you may wish to contemplate silently in one of the serene karesansui (Zen gardens) that dot the city. Perhaps visit one of Kyoto's most recognisable sites, the iconic Fushimi Inari Shrine and it’s thousands of vermilion torii gates spread throughout the mountain trails. Ride distance – no included riding today
After breakfast and a safety talk by your leader, familiarise yourself with your bike and take a short test ride before cycling with 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! Ride distance: approx. 40kms/25 miles, undulating with approx. 230m/755ft of elevation gain.
The cycling route takes you through beautiful Japanese scenery on a dedicated riverside cycling path from the old capital of Kyoto to the even older capital of Nara. Here, you'll see the Giant Buddha housed in the largest wooden structure on the planet. 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, stopping briefly at Nagarebashi Bridge, a 356-metre wooden bridge that is a popular film location for samurai dramas. Return by train to Kyoto. Ride distance: approx. 50kms/31 miles, mostly flat with approx. 240m/790ft of elevation gain..
It's a fairly relaxing day today as we rest up before hitting the hills of the Noto Peninsula. Take the train from Kyoto to Kanazawa where we enjoy 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. It's a truly beautiful place to enjoy by bike. Please note we ride to most of the sites but cover them by foot once we are there. Ride distance: Approx. 10-15 kms (6-9 miles), mostly flat with approx. 80-140m (260-460ft) of elevation gain
Over the next four days, discover the heart of the rustic Noto Peninsula. This laid back part of Japan truly captures the Japanese concept of '’satoyama', society in harmony with nature, and 'satoumi', coastal areas in which the sea has a strong connection with peoples’ livelihoods. Your first ride on the Noto Peninsula is a special one as you cycle along the scenic coast to Myojoji Temple for an introduction to Japanese Nichiren Buddhism. Discover quiet coastal roads and spectacular ocean views, riding back in time through sleepy fishing villages and farmland. Highlights today including riding on Chirihama Beach Drive, an 8 km stretch of beach along the Sea of Japan that allows you to take a short ride along the sand right along the water's edge, as well as passing by the Hatagoiwa rocks, home to Japanese sacred spirits. Tonight we sleep in the small town of Togi. Ride distance: approx. 80kms/50 miles, undulating with approx. 520m/1700ft of elevation gain.
A slightly shorter ride today as we cycle northwards along more scenic coastal lanes, small villages and beautiful rice paddy terraces. Leaving the coast, the road passes through the hilly Noto mountains to the charming port-town of Wajima, known producing some of the finest lacquerware in Japan. Along the way take a short rest at Masuhogaura Beach – at 460m/1500ft long you should be able to find some space on the ‘World’s Longest Bench’ to stretch those tired legs – and also keep an eye out for the famous Totoro rock along the way. Enjoy a stop at the protected whote sand Kamonoura beach then experience some of the Noto Peninsula’s culture as we visit the Kadomi House - a traditional house owned by small cargo vessel wholesaler. Built in the 1870s it is a fascinating insight into traditional Japanese life. Ride distance: Approx. 55kms/35 miles, undulating with a longer climb at 38kms. Last 10kms is downhill. Approx. 520m/1700ft of elevation gain.
Today is our toughest riding day, but one rich in rewards as you hug the dramatic and hilly coastline of the Sea of Japan. Marvel at the famed Shiroyone Senmaida (A Thousand Rice Paddies in Shiroyone) where the 1004 small rice paddies cling impossibly to the steep slopes that plunge towards water, creating a beautiful and bright contrast to the background of the deep blue Sea of Japan. Passing by the small villages, dramatic waterfalls, and the Sosogi ‘Kissing Tunnel’ we make our way east across the peninsula to coastal Suzu, officially the smallest city in Japan. You'll also visit a unique local salt farm that uses a traditional salt-making method called “Agehama-style salt-making” has been passed down through the generations. After a long ride choose to put your feet up, visit a Suzu-yaki pottery shop, check out the sea (and lighthouse) views at Rokko Saki Point or marvel at the Mitsukejima (Found Island), a massive rock island right off the coast of Suzu. Ride distance: approx. 80kms/50 miles, undulating with several steep hills, flat towards the end, with approx. 1150m/3775ft of elevation gain.
Your final ride on the Noto Peninsula sees you heading south, passing small rural villages, towering mountains and some of the most beautiful coastline and beaches in the area, finishing in Anamizu before boarding a local train for the rest of the journey. Your final destination today is Wakura Onsen, a hot spring town with a history stretching back 1200 years. Today is again an undulating ride but a fairly relaxed one – and the chance to soak your weary legs in the therapeutic waters of the hot spring baths is usually motivation enough to keep going! Ride distance: approx. 70kms/43 miles, undulating with several steep hills, approx. 770m/2525ft of elevation gain.
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 journey (approx. 5 hours) to Tokyo. Hit the streets on arrival for a night-time orientation walk. Explore 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
Hold on to your helmets because there's a real treat today – two rides in one day! Get a better feel for the different areas of the city this morning as you cycle along the same local paths Tokyoites use to cut through the city. There are surprises, both old and modern, waiting at every turn along the way and architecture aficionados will be in heaven. Along the way we visit many of Tokyo’s most famous landmarks; the first ride passing along the cherry tree lined paths of Ueno Park, home of Tokyo’s most popular museums and temples, Akihabara gadget town, the ‘Japan Bridge’ district of Nihonbashi, and upmarket the district of Ginza with its dazzling array of high-end shops, galleries and cafes. We break between rides to enjoy lunch at the famous Tsukiji Outer Fish Market before commencing our second ride to see such luminaries as the Edo-era Imperial Palace, the 333m-high Eiffel Tower lookalike Tokyo Tower, the elegant Hachimangu Shrine, Tsukishima (Moon Island), the manmade island in Tokyo Bay, and of course the Skytree Asakusa, at 634m the tallest building in all of Japan Later enjoy a free evening to spend as you see fit - enjoy a quiet night, let loose at karaoke, or walk and drink your way across the city with your local leader. Ride distance: approx. 40kms/25 miles, mostly flat with approx. 200m/650ft 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 11 am but if you're 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’. Read more at: www.urbanadventures.com/tokyo-tour-Japan-s-Cultural-Curiosities Ride distance: none
- Tokyo - Tsukiji Fish Market
725 Nishiiru-higashishiokojicho, Shimogyo-ku 京都市下京区東塩小路町725
Phone: 81 753510650
Hotel Sunroute Asakusa
1-8-5 Kaminarimon, Taito-ku, Tokyo 東京都台東区雷門1-8-5
Phone: +81 3 3847 1511
There are regular rest breaks each day, however it is important to note that you will be riding over multiple and consecutive days in a climate and terrain that may be unfamiliar. While it can be tempting to start out riding as hard and fast as you can (we get it!) we recommend taking it easy on the first few days while your body gets used to the rides and the climate.
As a general rule, the more preparation you can do for this type of trip, the more you will enjoy it. Prepare for the trip by doing aerobic type exercises before travelling - jogging or swimming are some options, though cycling is best. If possible take some extended day rides before travelling, or spend time on exercise bikes in the gym. The more your muscles (and bottom) are prepared for the riding on this trip the more you will be able to enjoy the wonderful countryside and people you meet while riding. Note that an enthusiasm for bike riding and adventure is essential!
It is also important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle, both solo and in a group environment.
The information listed in the itinerary is a guide to the approximate distances and terrain cycled each day. However, this may vary depending on the physical capabilities of the group, and changes to local conditions. For safety reasons we only cycle during daylight hours, so there may be some early morning starts. We take regular rest breaks throughout cycling days.
1. A single supplement is only available on selected nights of this tour, due to limited availability at local hotels and ryokans. A single supplement can be purchased for just 4 nights of this tour (Days 4, 6, 9 & 10). On all other nights you will be roomed with a group member of the same gender.
2. Bicycle hire is included in your trip price. Please advise your height at time of booking so as we can organise a suitable sized bike.
3. While we always aim to ride to our next accommodation, outside of the main cities a support vehicle will also be with you at all times. Please note that the maximum number of cyclists we can fit in the support vehicle is 6.
4. An e-bike option (at additional cost) may be available on this trip. We have limited numbers of these bikes available and they are an 'on request' basis only. A request does not guarantee an e-bike, only a confirmed booking. Please ask your agent for more details at the time of booking.
5. Bike helmets are compulsory on this trip. We are unable to hire bike helmets locally so please ensure you bring your own bike helmet from home. Helmets can be purchased locally if needed.
6. On this trip we have a single leader that rides with the group, and another that drives the support vehicle (acting as a back-marker where needed). Where the vehicle cannot travel directly with the cyclists (e.g. a cyclists-only path) your leader will assign a person from the group to act as a back-marker.
7. Due to the expense of private transport, distances of airports from cities, and the fact that Japan has very efficient public transport airport links, transfers are not offered in Japan. Please see the Joining Point Instructions in the trip notes for more information.
8. Please note, decorative tattoos are uncommon in Japanese culture and therefore you may receive curious and sometimes disapproving looks from locals. Generally, nobody will make a comment about your tattoos but please endeavour to wear modest clothing and be aware that you may not be able to enter public onsens.
9. Accommodation in Japan can be difficult to secure at short notice. If you are travelling in Japan before or after your trip, we recommend booking accommodation at least 1 month in advance of travel, especially in high season (Mar to May, Sep to Nov).
10. It is essential you pack light and compact for rail travel in Japan. From May 2020 there will be size restrictions for luggage on Shinkansen trains. Luggage over 160-250cm may require an additional 1000 JPY fee per train journey. Luggage over 251cm will not be permitted on the Shinkansen trains at all. Please notify your tour leader at your Welcome Meeting if your luggage is over 160-250cm so they can make the necessary arrangements! Failure to notify your tour leader of luggage over 160-250cm will require the passenger to pay the oversize luggage fee.
All Intrepid cycling group trips are accompanied by one of our cycling leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Our cycling leaders are all passionate cyclists, as you’d expect, but they also go through some pretty rigorous cycle-trip specific training. Each one has undergone on-road training and supervision and knows how to do safety checks, basic repairs and emergency first-aid. And at the end of the day they’re still regular Intrepid leaders, which means they will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
On this trip we have a single leader that rides with the group, and another that drives the support vehicle (acting as a back marker where needed) There may be times when a client is asked to be the back marker, ensuring no one else rides behind them, if the vehicle cannot travel directly behind the group. Your leader will discuss this at the initial group meeting.
We take safety seriously on all our trips, but cycling tours deserve a few special considerations. HELMETS: Helmets are compulsory and we do not allow anyone to ride without one (including our own staff!). You can bring your own, or purchase one that meets international safety standards on the ground. Your leader can assist with this. FOOTWEAR For safety reasons we strongly recommend that you wear shoes that cover the toes while riding. SUPPORT VEHICLES We usually have a support vehicle following us if first-aid is ever necessary or people are feeling too tired to ride. Please note that the maximum number of cyclists we can fit in the support vehicle is 6. BIKES: Our bikes are serviced regularly, and we get them checked by experts before each and every trip. Should you choose to bring your own please note that while we are happy to assist where we can with repairs you are responsible for the safety and suitability of your own equipment. TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD: Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware! There are times when traffic conditions make sections of our planned riding route unsafe – in this instance we will use the support vehicle. WEATHER Due to inclement weather posing a serious health or safety issue there may be times when we use the support vehicle instead of doing the planned ride. We will endeavour to reroute if possible but at times may have to cancel the planned ride.
On this trip we have a single leader that rides with the group, and another that drives the support vehicle (acting as a back marker where needed). Where the vehicle cannot travel directly with the cyclists (e.g. a cyclists-only path) your leader will assign a person from the group to act as a back marker to help ensure that the group stays together.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
SEAT BELTS: Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.
FIRE PRECAUTIONS: Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.
Most nationalities, including Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Canada, EU countries and United States, are able to get visitor visas on arrival. The length of the visa will vary depending on your nationality, but most will be for stays of 90 days or more - check with your local consulate for exact details.
Why we love it
Cycling allows you to get closer to the real Japan – from bicycles to Pokemon, serene temples to the organised chaos of the big cities, this classic adventure has it all.
Choose to end rewarding days in the saddle with amazing Japanese feasts of sushi, unagi, tempura or even fugu, all washed down with a traditional sake or Sapporo beer.
Ride both bikes and trains for the ultimate change of pace.
Cycle through peaceful landscapes that show a land far from the big city lights of Tokyo.
Is this trip right for you
While the cycling distances on this trip are relatively short (anywhere from 10 to 80km / 6-50 miles of cycling each day) the terrain of the Noto Peninsular is naturally hilly and, being coastal, the climate can vary dramatically. Most people with a reasonable level of fitness will enjoy the trip, but remember we will always have the support vehicle on hand if you need to take a break for an hour or a day.
To complete this trip it is important that you are confident and competent in riding a bicycle, both solo and in a group environment.
This cycling route has been carefully selected to be enjoyable and safe, however keep in mind that traffic conditions will vary along the way, and driver attitudes may be different than in your home country.
While we always aim to ride to our next accommodation, outside of the main cities a support vehicle will also be with you at all times. Please note that the maximum number of cyclists we can fit in the support vehicle is 6.
On this trip we have a single leader that rides with the group, and another that drives the support vehicle (acting as a back-marker where needed) There may be times when a client is asked to be the back marker if the vehicle cannot travel directly behind the group.
While riding the bikes you’ll be exposed to the elements, so please ensure you’re well prepared with waterproof clothing suitable for both warm and cold weather conditions.
Please note that the included meals on this trip are primarily based around Japanese food, including breakfast. Western-style food can be challenging to come by, particularly on the Noto Peninsula.
If you feel like doing all the riding but with less effort we have the option of hiring an electric bike (e-bike) on this trip. Limited sizes are available so book quickly!
All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Food and dietary requirements
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
FOOD IN JAPAN
The Japanese daily diet contains gluten (ie. in flavourings such as soy sauce) and seafood (dashi, or fish stock, is the basis of most dishes, even vegetable ones), so we highly recommend that vegetarians, vegans and coeliacs do their own online research before travelling about some of the options that might be available to them. While our leaders will assist you whenever they can, there may be some included meals that are fixed in advance and not flexible, such as those included at ryokans, and cannot be modified for different diets. For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader will endeavor to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, still your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic.
Food and drink are such a high part of Japanese culture. Here are some links to get your tastebuds tingling:
All meals on this trip (included or optional) are primarily based around Japanese food, including breakfast. We endeavour to experience all styles of food but rice, fish, noodles and soy-based foods are regularly included. Western-style food can be challenging to come by, particularly on the Noto Peninsula. We make regular stops at convenience stores where you can usually purchase a limited amount of seasonal fruit (apple, banana, etc.) or bread-based foods. Please inform your booking agent at the time of booking if you have any specific dietary requirements, as adjusting the menu on an ad hoc basis is very difficult for our food providers given eth lack of Western-style food options they have available to them.
The official currency of Japan is Yen (JPY). Japan is predominantly a cash society and locals carry large amounts of cash for daily business. International credit cards can usually only be used at major department stores or large restaurants but cash from non-Japanese bank accounts can be withdrawn via the Cirrus and Maestro systems by direct debiting (as well as Mastercard and Visa cash advance). This is now available at all post office ATMs around the country, as well as 7 Eleven convenience store ATMs, making it very easy to get access to cash throughout the trip at each location 24 hours a day.
When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).
Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
BUDGET FOR MEALS NOT INCLUDED: USD 400
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved.
The recommended amounts are listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting.
If you are happy with the services provided by your group leader tipping - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Please consider this when budgeting for your extra expenses on this tour.
The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-3 per person, per day can be used.
Tipping is not customary in Japan in restaurants and for other service providers.
What to take
Packing for a cycling tour isn’t that different from any other adventure. But if you want to be comfortable and warm, here are a few bike-specific tips. • Helmet – these are compulsory, but if you don’t have your own you can sometimes purchase an approved and well-fitted one at the start of the trip (our leaders can assist you with this). There are some destinations where you are unable to purchase or hire appropriate helmets locally so you will need to bring your own - please check the 'Important Notes' section to see if this is the case. • Padded bike shorts • Quick-dry jerseys – you can definitely get away with a few cotton t-shirts but having a few light and breathable jerseys will make your cycling a lot more comfortable, especially in warmer/humid climates. • Quick-dry socks • Cycling gloves – not essential but recommended as padded cycle gloves will make your riding more comfortable and can help protect you in case of a fall. • Rain gear – pack a light poncho in case the weather turns when you’re out on the road • Light breathable waterproof/windproof – especially useful for those early mornings or downhill sections when the wind-chill becomes a factor. • Water bottle – we don't provide bottles but all our bikes have one bottle holder fitted (and a second one can be fitted if required). Please bring a cycling-specific water bottle as other types will fall out of the holders. A Camelbak will make drinking on-the-go easier. • Sunglasses – well fitted sports sunglasses help protect against dust, insects and (of course) the sun • Day pack – our support vehicle will carry your main bag, but a day pack for snacks and clothes is a good idea. • Suncream – please bring a high protection factor (e.g. SPF 50) sunscreen as long days in the saddle can really expose you to the sun • Shoes – normal sports shoes can be worn on all of our trips however you may want to consider a flat shoe with a relatively stiff sole as it makes pedalling a lot more efficient. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring their own cycling-specific shoes however we recommended 'mountain bike' style shoes that have grip on the sole rather than road bike' shoes as you will still be walking around while on the rides (cafe/photo/toilet stops, etc.). For safety reasons we require that you wear shoes that completely cover the toes while riding. • Saddles – are saddles are standard, unisex models –less experienced cyclists may choose to bring your own gel seat cover for added comfort. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring your own saddle – our leader will assist in fitting it to your bike • Pedals – all bikes come with flat pedals. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring their own pedals – our leader will assist in fitting them to your bike As space in our support vehicle/transport can be limited we request that you bring only a small luggage bag with you rather than larger bags or suitcases.
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes). Many travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are also convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips. Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:
WATER BOTTLE Cold tap water in Japan is generally safe and good to drink so you can avoid the purchase of bottled water by bringing your own bottle and refilling from the tap or public water fountains. OTHER USEFUL THINGS TO TAKE - reusable shopping bag for buying supplies for long journeys - travel mug, cutlery, plate/bowl for preparing any self catered meals - plastic lunch box for storing food & snacks - slippers or flip flops - torch/flashlight - travel wipes - small towel - ear plugs & eye mask OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER - check weather in destinations you are travelling to online a few days before you go to make sure you pack appropriate clothing - laundry facilities may not be available in all destinations, so make sure you have a few cycles of clothes to tide you over until your next chance to wash
It is essential you pack light and compact for rail travel in Japan. From May 2020 there will be size restrictions for luggage on Shinkansen trains. Luggage over 160-250cm may require an additional 1000 JPY oversize luggage fee per train journey. Luggage over 251cm will NOT be permitted on the Shinkansen trains at all. Please notify your tour leader at your Welcome Meeting if your luggage is over 160-250cm so they can make the necessary arrangements.
Climate and seasonal
PEAK TRAVEL TIMES
Please be aware that while travelling during major national holidays (late Apr to early May) and peak seasons in Japan (Apr-May/Sep–Oct) are fascinating and exciting times to travel, there are also some downsides. There will be huge crowds at most tourist attractions and on all public transport. It's common for there to be difficulties in securing train tickets at our usual preferred times, hotels become overbooked, traffic jams and changes to the itinerary without prior notice can be necessary. If you decide to travel during peak periods come with a sense of adventure and flexibility and we are sure that your experience will still be rewarding and memorable.
Typhoons and tropical storms in Japan occur the most from July to October, especially in August and September. Typhoons usually bring high winds and heavy rain, but the worst effects usually pass in 3 to 4 days, often bringing clear weather after it has passed. The most serious typhoons usually mean we will have to slightly modify our itinerary but this is looked at on a departure by departure basis.
Please note that the seasonal climate of Japan means that this trip may, for some people, feel more difficult during the hotter/more humid Summer months (July/August/September). If you are travelling in the Spring or Autumn the weather is milder, however it can sometimes be cool and wet. Please ensure that you pack and dress appropriately.
A couple of rules
Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden.
Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.
The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips.
By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund.
If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.
While we do accept children under 18 on this trip we do have a couple of rules. From a safety and enjoyment perspective they should be confident and competent cyclists capable of completing the riding part of the itinerary without additional assistance. Minors under 18 years old must always be accompanied by a parent/legal guardian. This includes when the minor rides in the support vehicle.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
GENERAL ISSUES ON YOUR TRIP
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us
In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below:
+81 50 5532 4713
Intrepid's Local Operator: +81 90 6531 9269
As part of our commitment to responsible travel a portion of your trip cost will be donated to Bicycles for Humanity – a not-for-profit, volunteer run, grass roots charity organisation focused on the alleviation of poverty through sustainable transport – in the form of a bicycle.
In the developing world a bicycle is life changing, allowing access to health care, education, economic opportunity and wider community. A bicycle means you can travel twice as far, twice as fast and carry four times the load, providing a profound and lasting positive effect for the individual as well as their community. Bicycles For Humanity collect donated (used or new) bicycles, repair them if needed and send them to Africa.
Along with donated bicycles each of the 40 ft shipping containers that Bicycles For Humanity sends becomes a bike workshop, providing employment, skills, training, business, opportunity and economic development for the community in which it's placed, helping the community to move away from aid dependence.
For more information see http://www.bicyclesforhumanity.com/
Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel.
Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting:
It's always a good idea to learn something about local customs before you travel, and visiting Japan is no exception. Your leader will be on hand to guide you through cultural differences during your trip, but here are some tips to get you started: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/etiquette-in-japan/
While Japan is known for its 'out there' fashions overall it is quite a conservative country. Please remember that we spend time at temples, working monasteries, holy shrines, recreated villages and castles, cooking schools and ancient gardens. At these places it is important to be respectful to the staff and other visitors by wearing clothing that covers your shoulders and knees.
We are big supporters of the protection of endangered species around the world. It is against our Responsible Travel policy for our leaders to take passengers to places that use cruel practices or supply or serve foods that are on the endangered species list, such as whale, turtle, tiger, bird’s nests, pangolin and shark. Although a global ban on commercial whaling came into effect in 1986, approximately 1,000 whales are still being killed every year. We do not visit places that serve whale meat on any of our trips, nor will your leader guide you to where it is offered.
As part of Intrepid’s commitment to avoiding unnecessary waste you will be given a pair of reusable chopsticks at the Welcome Meeting by your leader. While a seemingly small gesture we estimate this will avoid the use almost 10,000 sets of disposable chopsticks per year by our travellers on this trip alone! Please remember to take your chopsticks with you every time you eat a meal and help us save the environment.
Please note that during busy times the group may be split between two different accommodations for the 1 night at Wakura Onsen. When this is the case to ensure your comfort and safety the leader will stay with one group and the driver will stay with the other.
All accommodation at traditional Japanese Ryoken has shared bathroom facilities.
Japanese-style inns (ryokans) involve sleeping on futons or matresses on tatami mat floors, with bedding often packed away during the day. Attached bathrooms/toilets will usually be very small and many ryokans will only have shared bathing facilities with certain hours, or times available for booking at reception. Your leader will explain etiquette involved in using the shared facilities. As this style of accommodation will often not have furniture (ie. chairs or beds) in the rooms, please consider choosing a different trip style in Japan if you have difficulty getting up from the floor or have knee, hip or back issues. Some ryokans may have a curfew when travellers need to be back in the accommodation - this is usually around midnight. Please also be aware that you would normally be required to change to slippers when entering into your room in a ryokan. Hotels and ryokans will charge extra fees if dirty marks are left on their beddings or towels that require professional cleaning.
Read more about ryokans here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/traditional-japanese-ryokan/
OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on a different Intrepid trip than your own.
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (subject to availability), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
There are shared bathrooms at some of the accommodation on this trip.
Accommodation in Japan can be difficult to secure at short notice. If you are travelling in Japan before or after your trip, we recommend booking accommodation at least 1 month in advance of travel, especially in high season (March to May, September to November).
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.
A Single Supplement to have your own room is not available to purchase on this trip due to hotels having limited number of rooms and the high demand on availability.
Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour.
A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
MUSEUM OPENING TIMES
Please note that many sights, attractions and museums are closed on Mondays.
Hotel (4 nights),ryokan (6 nights)
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