From ancient Kyoto we ride along quiet roads on the Noto Peninsula into the highlands around Shirakawa-go historic village, taking us firmly off the beaten track. Along the way we will see one of the finest Japanese gardens in Kanazawa, stay in ryokan and enjoy varied mountain scenery and coastal paths. Bullet train to Tokyo where we end our journey. Noto Peninsula - Uninterrupted scenic ride for 8 days Delicious local food - Included traditional Japanese cuisine with locally sourced ingredients Kyoto and Tokyo - Experience the ancient and modern capitals
This incredible journey begins in the old Imperial capital of Kyoto, regarded by many as the country's loveliest city. Lying at the heart of Japanese culture and influence for over 1,000 years, Kyoto sat at the centre of events that helped to shape the destiny and history of this most fascinating of cultures. One of the only major cities to survive the extensive bombing of WWII, Kyoto can boast more than 2000 temples and shrines, many set in manicured landscaped gardens, making this captivating city the cradle of all things uniquely Japanese. Our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 7pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Kyoto at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you will need to arrive into Kansai International Airport (KIX) which is approximately 2 hours away, or Osaka International Airport (ITM) which takes around an hour. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up. If your flight arrives earlier in the day, we recommend visiting one of Kyoto's many Unesco World Heritage Sites. The Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji) is perhaps the most spectacular but you will have to battle the crowds to get that perfect photo. If you prefer somewhere a bit less known and with fewer fellow travellers we would recommend Toji Temple with its towering pagoda and great gardens. For impressive buildings, Nishi-Honganji Temple is hard to beat and its convenient location puts it within easy walking distance from our hotel. Slightly further afield, but still an easy train ride away, is the Arashiyama district. Here you can enjoy beautiful mountain scenery, a punt on the river, great food, beautiful gardens and even hike up to see wild monkeys. Trains leave regularly from Kyoto train station.
This incredible city can boast no fewer than 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites including 13 temples, three Shinto shrines and a 17th century castle. We will pick up our bikes and set out cycling to the Heian Jingu Shrine, before taking in the scenic Philosopher's Path, Eikando Temple and and the 15th Century Ginkaku-ji Temple. After lunch we will cycle south along the Kamo river to Tofukuji Temple's rock gardens and the 1001 statues of Kannon Bodhisattva (the goddess of mercy) located at the Sanjusangendo temple on the eastern edge of the city. This evening is free. Please note that there is no vehicle support for today's ride and we will be using simple local style bikes. Our total cycling distance today is approximately 17 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 60 metres).
This morning we travel by train (2hrs+) to Kanazawa, a city that once rivalled Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo) in cultural importance. Once home to the powerful Maeda Clan, today it serves as the capital of the Ishikawa Prefecture and boasts the stunning setting of the Kenrokuen Gardens, considered to be one of Japan's most beautiful landscape gardens. This afternoon we will pick up our bikes and meet our guide, before heading off to visit the gardens. Taking nearly two centuries to complete and translating from their original Japanese as the 'Garden of the Six Sublimities', Kenrouken was begun by the Maedas in 1632 and covers over 11 hectares of land on the outskirts of Kanazawa Castle. Our total cycling distance today is approximately 8 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 60 metres), no support vehicle today.
Our main bags will be sent on to Wakura Onsen today as, over the next four days we make do with smaller bags as we cycle north, following the coast on to the Noto Peninsula. The smaller bags are still transported in the support van, leaving you free to enjoy the rides. Our destination today is Chirihama Beach in Hakui, lying to the north of Kahoku. The eight kilometre beach is famous for its unique tightly compacted sand which, at a quarter of the size of normal sand, makes it firm enough to actually cycle on. Tonight we stay for the first time in typical Japanese style accommodation, furnished in the traditional way with futon mattresses on tatami-mat floors. Our total cycling distance today is approximately 60 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 220 metres).
Keeping the Sea of Japan on our left we continue following the coast north today, heading for the city of Wajima in the northern half of the Noto Peninsula. One of the most scenic coastal landscapes in Japan, the Noto Peninsula extends into the Sea of Japan for some 100 kilometres, providing us with a beautifully secluded journey north. We travel by way of the Ganmon National Park and stop off to visit the Sojiji Temple and Gardens, once one of the most important Zen Buddhist temples in Japan. Founded in 1321, it was the head temple of the Soto sect, before a great fire in 1898 saw its functions transferred to a sister temple in Yokohama. Our total cycling distance today is approximately 66 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 680 metres).
This morning we pay a visit to Wajima's famous Morning Market, one of the city's most famous attractions. Believed to date back over 1,000 years, it brings together vendors selling all manner of goods, from fresh fish and produce, to handicrafts and lacquerware, Wajima's most celebrated export. Renowned throughout Japan, Wajima lacquerware is famed for its durability, with each piece requiring the skills of several craftsmen and dozens of processes. Following our visit we then continue on our journey, heading towards the northeastern tip of the peninsula and the waters of Iida Bay. Tonight we sleep in a traditional Japanese ryokan guesthouse. Our total cycling distance today is approximately 47 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 690 metres).
We complete our ride around the Noto Peninsula today as we follow its eastern edge towards the town of Noto Ushitsu. The very remoteness of this landscape has been one of its most enduring features for centuries and much of this stunning peninsula has been granted a Quasi-National Park status. Tonight we sleep in a traditional Japanese ryokan guesthouse. Our total cycling distance today is approximately 49 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 690 metres).
The waters of Nanao Bay and the famous hot springs of Wakura Onsen beckon today. One of the oldest resort towns in Japan, legend has it that these hot springs were discovered over 1,200 years ago, when a local fisherman found a white heron curing its wounds in the steaming waters. Today its healing waters are said to cure everything from muscle aches and stiff joints, to chronic skin disease and frail children! The town is also famed for its seafood, with a number of its traditional inns serving up a mouthwatering choice of oysters, crabs, deep-water shrimps and abalones. The perfect cure for body and soul after our four days of cycling. Tonight we sleep in a traditional Japanese ryokan guesthouse. Our total cycling distance today is approximately 71 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 870 metres).
This morning our journey turns inland as we leave Ishikawa Prefecture for neighbouring Toyama. As before, our large bags go on ahead and we will be using small bags for the next two nights, carried with us in our support vehicle. Our ride today includes the biggest hill of our entire trip, but also takes in a rural landscape of rice paddies and mountain peaks, finishing at the mountain village of Shogawa Onsen. 'Onsens' are dotted all across rural Japan, hot springs that were traditionally used as public bathing places, they make the most of Japan's active volcanic landscapes. There is a distinct etiquette to bathing, with cleanliness and social niceties being observed by participants, whilst rowdiness and tattoos are particularly frowned upon (tattoos in Japan have long been associated with criminal Yakuza gangs). Our total cycling distance today is approximately 71 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 860 metres).
Today we head into the remote countryside of the Shogawa River Valley, where we will find a number of beautifully preserved gassho-zukuri farmhouses. With their steep thatched roofs, constructed to resemble the praying hands of Buddhist monks, some of these houses are over 250 years old. Developed over many generations and designed to withstand the heavy falls of snow that regularly envelope the region in winter, these roofs are constructed without nails and the large attics were traditionally used to cultivate silkworms. We plan to visit one of the traditional farmhouses. Our final destination today is the historic village of Shirakawa-go which, along with neighbouring Gokayama, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Please note that we will be cycling through several tunnels today. Our total cycling distance today is approximately 57 kilometres (total accumulated ascent 820 metres).
Leaving Shirakawa-go and our bikes behind we travel first by bus (1hr30) back to Kanazawa. It is from here that we take the iconic Shinkansen bullet train (2hrs30) to Japan's capital city, Tokyo. Tokyo is the most populous metropolitan area in the world, home to more than 26 million people including the Japanese imperial family. The city holds a lot of history as well as modern shopping centres and the neon illuminated signs it's famous for. Half of the city was rebuilt after being destroyed in the war but there are still many historic temples and gardens that remain and await exploration. On arrival to Tokyo we have the chance to explore this fascinating city. No cycling today.
Today is left free for you to explore, wander and shop at leisure or take an optional guided tour of Tokyo. Your Tour Leader will be on hand to assist and give guidance today. A typical itinerary would be to visit the Asakusa Sensoji-temple followed by a river cruise to the the Hama-rikyu gardens, Meiji shrine and finally the Shinjuku Government Building for great views over Tokyo. It is also possible to rent a bike locally and explore - your Tour Leader will be able to provide details. Optional cycling today.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Tokyo. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Haneda Airport (HND) or Narita Airport (NRT). The city centre is around an hour away from Haneda Airport and an hour and a half from Narita.
12 Break Fast(s) 7 Dinner(s)
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