Cycling holiday in Japan

“As well as showing you Japan’s incredible history, culture and natural beauty, this sociable group cycling tour will give you plenty of insight into the local way of life.”


Tokyo | Kanazawa | Myojoji Temple | Noto Kongo Coast | Wajima | Senmaida | Toyama Bay | Wakura Onsen | Shirakawa-go | Hida Takayama | Hida Seseragi Highway | Gujo-hachiman | Nagara River | Gifu City | Kyoto

Description of Cycling holiday in Japan

This two-week cycling holiday in Japan invites you to become part of a small group pedalling through the country’s diverse landscapes, not only exploring famous sights, but also getting into the groove of local life. You’ll head through the farmlands and mountains of Takayama and the windswept shores of the Noto Peninsula, as well as witnessing the fascinating traditions of the UNESCO listed villages of Shirakawa-go.

Throughout the holiday you’ll be cycling past quintessential Japanese scenery, from temples and shrines to hot springs and local markets, with surfaced roads, country lanes and cycle paths providing safe passage against the naturally beautiful backdrop. You’ll also get to explore the best of Japanese cities, from the neon, skyscrapers and crowds of modern mega-metropolis Tokyo, to the old-world charms of Kyoto, filled with sublime gardens, atmospheric temples, and secretive geisha districts.

There will be average daily distances of 60km, and partial vehicle support, for when the going gets tough. Nights will be spent either in standard hotels or in traditional rural accommodation and ryokans (guesthouses) to create an authentic travelling experience.

Travel Team

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09 Nov 2019
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28 Mar 2020
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11 Apr 2020
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30 May 2020
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03 Oct 2020
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17 Oct 2020
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07 Nov 2020
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Holiday type

Small group holiday

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Cycling holiday in Japan

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.


Accommodation and Meals:
We will spend 13 nights in a variety of accommodation, from comfortable hotels to traditional Japanese inns and ryokans. Outside big cities such as Kyoto and Tokyo, we rely more on family run accommodation which contributes directly to the community as staff are from the area and food is grown and sold locally. As well as providing an authentic and memorable experience for the guests, staying in traditional Japanese accommodation promotes genuine interaction between local populations and visitors who will have the opportunity to learn of Japanese rituals, from onsens (hot spring baths) to Japanese dining etiquette. Although not always guaranteed due to limited availability, we usually spend one night in traditional UNESCO gassho-zukuri houses, some of which were built more than 200 years ago and are still run by a local farmers, allowing us to get a real feel of a Japanese family home. By supporting these small businesses we contribute to support the rural communities, many of which are suffering as young people choose to live in the big cities. Meals will usually be taken in smaller restaurants, cafes and markets where there are some weird and wonderful regional specialties to try with plenty of fresh and locally grown produce. Japanese cuisine is usually one of the main highlights of any trip to Japan. It is based on rice with miso soup and other dishes which are usually prepared with seasonal ingredients. Seafood is very is common, and it usually comes grilled or deep fried. Sushi and sashimi aside, other staple dishes include Soba or Udon noodles, Sukiyaki (meat, fish and vegetables cooked in broth) and Yakiniku (grilled meat).

Few holidays have as little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as a cycling trip. This itinerary makes very limited use of private motorised vehicles since most of the cycling routes are point to point. When transport is required this will be mainly making using of public transport such as trains, metros and public buses. On this itinerary we include some of Japan’s top destinations such as Tokyo and Kyoto as well as many lesser visited areas which are outside the classic tourism routes such as the Gifu peninsula and the picturesque farmlands and remote mountainous regions of Takayama and Shirakawa-go which are even more accessible on two wheels. During the trip the tour leader will encourage guests to talk to local people, visit local cafes and markets and restaurants and to purchase traditional gifts and crafts. Also, by sightseeing and visiting cultural sites (like Ryoanji Temple and the splendid Kinkakuji in Kyoto and the UNESCO gasso-zukuri farmhouses) our entrance fees go towards upkeep of these important sites.

We actively encourage our clients and local partners to reduce the amount of plastic bottle consumption on all trips we operate. On this trip water will be provided and included during the rides and when possible, we will do our best to ensure this is available from larger dispensers and tanks rather than small plastic bottles. Clients will be encouraged to bring a refillable bottle to fill up.
In Japan, more than 20 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks are used and disposed each year. Cottonwood, birch, spruce and bamboo are the main sources of these one-use chopsticks and the impact of so many discarded chopsticks is unsustainable and cause of serious deforestation. Our to leader will be offering a pair of reusable chopsticks to each guest thus actively encouraging to reduce waste and be respectful towards the environment.

Local Craft & Culture:
We do a lot to celebrate the traditional industries and local culture on this tour, as this is not only a way to directly benefit the locals but it is also hugely fascinating and enjoyable for travellers. For example, in Wajima we visit the famous morning market and have the opportunity to purchase lacquerware, the most well-known local handicraft. We also enjoy more shopping opportunities in Mino, a century-old production centre of high quality traditional Japanese paper. There is also the option to see a show of traditional professional performing arts in Kyoto, including kyogen classical comedy, kyomai dance, gagaku music of the imperial court, bunraku puppet theatre, the tea ceremony, and flower arrangement. This encourages local customs to continue and creates employment opportunities. The tour leader will be giving information on Japanese etiquette, language, traditions and rituals throughout the tour to make sure the behaviour of the guests is always respectful towards the local communities we visit.

A Fair Deal:
We work closely with our local operator and ensure that all of our guides are local or have lived and worked in Japan for a long time and that in exchange for their expertise that they are paid and treated fairly. Our leaders and guides have been trained in responsible travel and actively encourage our suppliers and other members of our team to respect the environment, protect the culture and support the local economy.

UK office
It all starts at home so we have first worked to reduce our carbon footprint in our UK offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies in place, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

Group size
We operate small group tours that have a low impact on the communities we visit and we always ensure our operations do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. This allows us to stay in unique and characterful accommodation that would not have benefitted from tourism due to their limited size.

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