Tour of the Japanese Alps

Dates
2019 Sept 22-29 ⭐ 🍁
2020 June 1-8
2020 Sept 24-Oct 1 🍁

🍁 Fall Colors
⭐ Guaranteed Trip
Difficulty
⛰⛰⛰⛰⛰
Level 5

Distance: 50-160km/day
Elevation: 500-3200m/day

See FAQ for Route Levels
Accommodations
Premium & Traditional Ryokans

Learn more about the ryokan experience
Regions
Matsumoto
North & West Alps
Central Range
Highest Road in Japan
Takasaki
Ashikaga
Mt Akagi
Mt Haruna
Price
$5,300 USD
(+ $1,000 USD Single Supplement)

The Tour of the Japanese Alps is our most challenging and ambitious cycling adventure: a week-long odyssey across the spectacular mountains of central Japan. These roads will push you to your limits and take you to the most breathtaking views that this country can offer.

Take on grueling climbs, including Japan’s highest paved road. Then, relax and delve into its ancient traditions. Along our journey, find serenity and peace in authentic ryokans, all equipped with beautiful hot-spring baths. Be prepared to work hard and spend long days in the saddle, while creating lasting memories with the nature, food, traditions, and people of the Japanese countryside.

Norikuradake

Itinerary

Day 1 – Shake Down in Matsumoto

Welcome to Japan! We begin with introductions and a light lunch at a local restaurant. Then, we’ll set off on a shake-out ride through beautiful and flat country roads. Begin to get a feel for the epicenter of Japan’s road cycling scene. Gaze up at the surrounding mountains we will climb in the coming days. After our ride, we will return to our ryokan to feast on a beautiful Japanese meal. Fill up your tank for many more inspiring rides to come.

Stats: 55km | 400m

Day 2 – Mt Norikura, The Highest Road in Japan

Kick off our first full day with a bang: by taking on the highest road Japan. We’ll begin riding at sunrise and will climb for 60km (40mi) to the summit of the West Alps! This is the largest climb in the country, so breathe deeply as we take to the skies for unparalleled views and colors. Volcanic rocks, incredible flora, floating clouds–it’s truly an unforgettable canvas. Lunch awaits at the summit with delicious food. Then, we’ll ride 60km of beautiful downhill road, making for one of the most epic descents of all time. Your tired legs will love the beautiful outdoor hot springs and freshly-prepared meal at our ryokan tonight. We recommend a cool-down stroll to the famous Matsumoto Castle after dinner.

Stats: 128km | 3,200m

Day 3 – The Central Highlands, Kirigamine and Utsukushigahara Highlands

Today, we ride south of the Japanese Alps to the Kirigamine (tr: Misty Highlands) on tranquil roads along the central mountains of Matsumoto. An initial climb takes us high up through thickets of bamboo forests, which eventually become the high grasslands of the Kirigamine. Then, we head down to the famous ski town and mountaintop lake of Tateshina. Finally, we will descend into the Saku valley before climbing the east side of the Utsukushigahara (tr: Beautiful Highlands). You will find that each corner of this wild and secluded road offers a new incredible view of Mt Norikura and the Matsumoto Valley, where we are staying for the night. To cap off the day, an onsen and a beautiful meal await atop the Utsukushigahara.

Stats: 105km | 3,100m

Day 4 – Ride Across Japan

We will set off on an epic journey across Japan today! Starting from the Utsukushigahara, wave goodbye to the western mountains, and head east towards the Saku valley. A long ride through rural Japan takes us to our second climb of the day: the hidden gem of Taguchi Pass. A long steady climb at around 3-5% grades, this pass meanders through the best of Japan’s countryside. The road will take us through a tunnel before bringing us to our home for the evening in the city of Takasaki. A night out is in order after three long days of intense cycling. This is what cycling in the Japanese Alps is all about! Relax, feast, and sleep in, because tomorrow is our recovery day.

Stats: 152km | 2,800m

Day 5 – Recovery Spin on the Tone River

Wake up slow–it’s our rest day! Take a morning dip in the hot spring before we head out on an amazing recovery spin to our final home in the North Alps in Ashikaga. Today, we will take the Tone River path, free of cars and full of views of the North Alps ahead. Relax your legs, stop for photos, and enjoy the tailwinds that the Tone Valley creates as we head to a fantastic local sushi lunch on the river. After lunch, we will head to our short climb up Mt Kanayama (80m gain). Explore ancient ruins and take in fantastic views of Japan’s North Alps. Just 10km separate us from our hotel, hot-spring bath, and delicious dinner. Rest up and get ready for the final three days!

Stats: 70km | 400m gain

Day 6 – Volcanoes of Gunma

Today, we’ll ride up two most prominent Volcanoes in the Tone Valley: Mt Akagi (tr: The Red Fortress) and Mt Haruna (tr: Harvest Mountain). These are unforgettable climbs on Gunma’s finest roads, both crowned with beautiful caldera lakes. Akagi and Haruna are famous training grounds within the Japanese cycling community, and riders from all over the country come to experience these storied volcano climbs. Enjoy a beautiful descent into Ikaho Onsen Town for a celebratory evening.

Stats: 112km | 2,800m gain

Day 7 – Lake Chuzenji and the Watarase Valley

Our last full day is a true century adventure. Like all good adventure rides, this one will both challenge and reward us. A string of secluded mountain passes grow steadily, taking us to a magical land deep in the heart of the North Alps. We’ll arrive at the base of the famous Irohazaka Road (tr: Alphabet Road). Each switchback is named for a letter in the Japanese Alphabet. If you are up for a challenge, climb and learn Japanese at the same time! We’ll take a break to enjoy the largest alpine lake in Japan, Lake Chuzenji. The challenge does not stop there, as we ascend another 300m to the top of Mt Hangetsu. From the observatory, we can see the true vastness and wilderness of the Japanese North Alps.

Your hard work is rewarded as we return to Lake Chuzenji and up our final stretch to the secluded onsen town of Yumoto Onsen. For those with more desire to climb, we’ll provide an optional out and back to the highest paved pass in this area: over 1,800m.

Stats: 156km | 3,200m gain

Day 8 – Japanese Alps: Sayonara!

Our last day starts off with a number of simple pleasures. Take your time enjoying a pre-breakfast soak in the hot springs and a walk around the wooden walkways by the lake. After breakfast, we will begin our final ride into Nikko Station with two options: an all flat/downhill 32km of amazing National Park scenery or a 70km, 1,500m ride around the backside of Mt Nantai and over the Kirifurikogen (tr: Misty hillside). Both take us into Nikko Station for our final lunch together. Say Sayonara to the Japanese Alps and to your cycling compatriots. Til next time!

Stats: 32km | 240m or 70km | 1,500m

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Alps Tour

Japanese Alps Map

Included

  • Fully-serviced road bike or hybrid bike, with helmet and accessories. Please inquire in advance if you would like an e-bike (Electric Bike Rental: $550 USD)
  • Two BTJ Expert Guides, who will be your cultural ambassadors and road navigators during your cycling experience.
  • All accommodations: traditional Japanese Ryokan Hotels.
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and all snacks/hydration throughout the tour.
  • Luggage delivery.
  • Support and gear vehicle.

Not Included

  • Airfare
  • Transportation to and from the tour
  • Meals not listed above
  • Alcoholic beverages