Have you ever dreamed about cycling in Japan, exploring the beautiful countryside?
We are often asked what a typical day on tour looks like; to answer that question, we will relive a page from our daily journal during one of many days cycling in Japan. Our bikes and legs take us from river paths, to hot springs, and to the clouds. This is Day 6 on our Tour of the North Alps–come along with us as we explore the stunning Caldera Lakes and the Inaka Countryside of Mt Akagi.
7:00am – Sunrise and Shine
Wake up to the fresh smell of tatami and bamboo floors, which blend perfectly with the sweet mountain air. Slide open the shoji windows to reveal a bold red sun rising from clouds in the distance. Breath in deep, taking a moment to soak in the tranquility of the quiet nature.
7:30am – A Quick Soak
It only makes sense to wake your mind and muscles by relaxing in an onsen hot-spring. Iron-rich water surrounds you, and the stones from the bath come from the local giant, Mt Akagi itself.
8:00am – Just the Right Amount
Head down from the onsen, donning traditional yukata robe and slippers. Another incredible day of exploring Japan is in store, and so a fantastic breakfast is in order.
Reach out and slide the door open to reveal a simple, yet unique, table set. Like all things in Japan, the food is prepared with purpose, intention, and beauty in mind. Every ingredient holds regional, seasonal, and historical importance. Today’s breakfast includes: just-picked persimmon salad, fresh fruit, local fish, roasted sweet potatoes, wild mountain ferns, tamagoyaki, miso soup, and more. It’s a rainbow of colors and flavors presented in perfect portions to provide just the right amount for our adventures ahead. A truly artful presentation–eat with your eyes, then with your mouth!
9:30am – Let’s Ride
After breakfast, head back to your room to change into cycling gear and finish packing your bags. Your guides meet you out front with bikes ready, and we gather for the route meeting to discuss the journey ahead. Today, we’ll climb the famous Mt Akagi (The Red Fortress Mountain) to explore the floating shrine within its caldera lake. Our final challenge of the day will provide us with breath-taking views of the Tone Valley around every corner.
11:00am – The Summit, The Views!
No image can do this view justice, so you will just have to come see it for yourself! Continue pushing the pedal, and you’ll see the end in sight as the road relents to a flat straightaway. You’ve reached the caldera.
Through the field of knee-high bamboo and scraggly birch trees, we’ll find a break in the foliage ahead. Just a few more meters down the road you break from the canopy to reveal the magic of Mt Akagi’s caldera. Nestled deep inside the caldera’s walls is a large lake with a bold red bridge leading to the shrine to the gods of Mt Akagi. Behind, a palisade of alpine peaks dusted in snow cut through the skies like jagged teeth.
12:00pm – The Shrine and Lunch by the Lake
Dive down into the caldera to the loop road around the lake before heading over to the shrine. Hop off the bikes to take a walk across the large red bridge. Walking under the massive stone gate, enter the land of the gods to visit this sacred shrine. It’s customary to offer a prayer or a wish, as we take a moment to soak in the surrounding energy. Then, we are off to enjoy lunch. A collection of local-only shops sits on sandy shores, ready for us to visit for delicious soba, ramen, and rice bowls, while enjoying views of the lake.
1:00pm – Lake Loop and Flying down the Mountainside
As we depart, we’ll take a lap around the lake to shake out our lunch-legs and soak in the views from all possible angles. On some days, we can see the mountain and its neighbors reflected in the water. Then, exiting the caldera, we begin the amazing descent down the side of the mountain back to the flats of the Tone Valley. A fantastically smooth road with views of the surrounding mountains, the massive valley, and even Mt Fuji over 100mi away. The most breath-taking backdrop as we ride down a volcano!
2:00pm – Cycling through Inaka, Peaceful Countryside
After the descent, we find ourselves in the town of Kiryu and turn north into a picturesque Inaka, Japanese for countryside. Small backcountry roads take us gently up along the river to the hidden Lake Ume (Plum Lake). Our ryokan hotel for the night nestled in the hillside.
3:00pm – Check In and Soak In
A wonderful day on the bike comes to a close as we arrived at our ryokan for the night. Pass your bike to your guides and meet the ryokan staff to be shown around your new charming home for tonight. Enter your room to find a yukata robe, inviting you to relax and take another hot-spring soak. Head down to the onsen baths in your robe and absorb the healing waters of the mountainside.
5:00pm – A Light Stroll
When in Japan, it’s typical to see locals walking around ryokans in yukata robes. You decide to do the same, strolling around the ryokan’s beautifully-designed exterior. You think about how architecture and wilderness manage to co-exist symbiotically in this region. As you explore nearby, pause for a few moments to take in the calming aesthetic of this peaceful countryside town.
7:00pm – Dinner, A Feast For Your Eyes and Stomach
As you open the door to the dining hall, you are greeted by the smells of stewing vegetables and meat. A quick survey of the table reveals each place setting with its own small pot of boiling stew. Professionally curated dishes of sushi, salad, and roasted kabocha squash with ginkgo nuts also appear. As we share stories of the day, small plates are removed and replaced with new dishes that seem to show no end. We celebrate our climb with regional sake, made from the rice fields we biked through earlier this week. Raise a toast: “here’s to today, and here’s to all we’ll discover tomorrow!”
Join Us This Fall
Come join us this fall to experience all 8 wonderful days of this tour and so much more we cannot begin to put into words!