The Japanese Alps 2019



On this route, the roads will push your limits to the most breathtaking views that Japan can offer. From massive alpine lakes and iron red volcanoes of the North Alps, to the white hot volcanoes and onsen towns of Gunma, you will find nature beyond words and towns beyond time.

With over 8,000ft of gain each day, you will climb to over 9,000ft above sea. We’ll push our pedals up Mt Norikura on the highest road in Japan. Then, we will ride through heart of the Japanese countryside before traversing across the volcanoes of the North Alps. A final exploration of volcanic caldera lakes will culminate in unforgettable views from Ikaho Onsen town. You will work hard and spend long days in the saddle, all the while creating lasting memories of connecting to the nature of the Japanese countryside. Each night, as you soak your legs in the healing waters of the local onsen hot-springs, feel the mountain give you the strength to take on the next big climb.

Alps

  • REGION: North Alps, West Alps, Central Range
  • DESTINATION: The North Alps, Lake Chuzenji, Mt Akagi, Mt Haruna, Ashikaga Foothills, Taguchi Pass, Utsukushigahara Highlands, Lake Suwa, Kirigamine Highlands, Ohdarumi Pass, and Mt Norikura (Highest Road in Japan)
  • DURATION: 8 DAYS / 7 NIGHTS
  • DIFFICULTY: 5/5
  • PRICE FROM: $5,300 USD
  • SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: $1000 USD

TOUR DATES 2019

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Tour of the Alps 2018 - Route

 

Tour of the Alps 2018 Profile-EDITED2

Accomplished: 850 kilometers (530 miles), 18,000m gain (59,000ft gain)

Bike Tour Japan - Mountain Pass Climb

TOUR BY DAY

Want a more zoomed in view of a day on tour with us? Check out our in-depth view of Day 6 from our Tour of the North Alps.

Day One: Shake Down in Matsumoto

Meet our guides in front of the Matsumoto train station. We begin with introductions and a light lunch at a local restaurant. Then, we will set off on a shake-out ride through a beautiful set of flat local farm roads. Gaze up at the surrounding mountains we will climb in the coming days. Return to the hotel to feast on a beautiful Japanese meal. Fill up your tank for the challenging rides to come. We recommend relaxing in the natural hot springs before calling it a night.

Meals: Lunch / Dinner
Destinations: The Foothills of the North Alps
The Day: 55km (34mi), 400m (1,300ft) gain and light walking in town
Accommodations: Biwa Hot Springs

Day Two: Mt Norikura – The Highest Road in Japan

Kick it off with a big one this year by taking on the highest road in the country. Take off at sunrise and begin to climb for 60km (40mi) with the largest elevation gain to the top of the West Alps! Take in the sights and breath deeply as we take to the skies for unparalleled views and colors. Volcanic rock, fall leaves, floating clouds–it truly is a canvas to be remembered forever. Lunch awaits at the summit with delicious warm food. Then, we’ll ride 60km of beautiful downhill road, making for one of the most epic descents of all time. Your sore legs are welcomed back with beautiful outdoor hot springs and a delicious meal. We recommend a cool-down stroll to the famous Matsumoto Castle.

Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
Destinations: Mt Norikura – The Highest Road in Japan
The Day: 128km (80mi), 3,200m (10,500ft) gain in one climb!
Accommodations: Biwa Hot Springs

Day Three: The Central Highlands – Kirigamine & Utsukushigahara Highlands

Today, we head south 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.

Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
Destinations: The Kirigamine & Utsukushigahara Highlands
The Day: 105km (65mi), 3,100m (10,150ft) gain
Accommodations: Biwa Hot Springs

Day Four: 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. Kick back, feast up, and sleep in, because tomorrow is recovery day.

Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
Destinations: Utsukushigahara, Saku Valley, Taguchi Pass, Takasaki
The Day: 152km (95mi), 2,800m (9,200ft) gain
Accommodations: Takasaki

Day Five: 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 “climb” of the day atop Mt Kanayama (80m gain). Here, we will explore ancient ruins and take in fantastic views of the North Alps. Just 10km separate us from our hotel, hotspring bath, and delicious dinner. Rest up and get ready for the final three days!

Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
Destinations: The Tone River, Mt Kanayama, Ashikaga
The Day: 70km (44mi), 400m (1,300ft) gain
Accommodations: Toyokan Ryokan

Day Six: Lake Chuzenji and the Watarase Valley

Our longest day of the trip (170km/108mi) is a true century adventure. And like all good adventure rides, this one will challenge and reward us. A long steady road take 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). With a switchback for each letter in the Japanese Alphabet, we will climb high up to 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 Hangetsu observatory, we can see the true vastness and wilderness of the Japanese North Alps. Your hard work is rewarded, and the route returns the way we came, leading to an exciting afternoon flying down mountains and pacing long steady descents on pristine roads back.

Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
Destinations: Mt Nantai, Lake Chuzenji, Mt Hangetsu, Watarase Valley
The Day: 170km (106mi), 3,000m (9,800ft) gain
Accommodations:  Toyokan Ryokan

Day Seven: The Volcanoes of the Tone

We take on the challenge of the two most prominent Volcanoes of the Tone Valley, Mt Akagi (tr: The Red Fortress) and Mt Haruna (tr: Harvest Mountain). We will experience two unforgettable climbs on Gunma’s finest roads as we crest the mountains to find worlds of wonder within the calderas. Celebrate our accomplishments as we arrive atop Mt Haruna and dive down the north side to Ikaho Onsen Town for a celebratory evening.

Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
Destinations: Mt Akagi & Haruna
The Day: 112km (70mi), 2,800m (9,200ft) gain
Accommodations: Toyokan Ryokan

Day Eight: Satoyama Countrysides

Our last day starts off with a number of simple pleasures as we take to the foothills of the North Alps. It’s a long and steady ride through valleys to lost villages and shrines. We will take our time to soak in the nature and wonder of the area and to reminisce on our accomplishments of the week. End with a final lunch in the wonderful town of Ashikaga. A final farewell to each other at the station until the next time!

Meals: Breakfast / Lunch
Destinations: The Foothills of the North Alps
The Day: 52km (32mi), 800m (2,600ft) gain

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Bike Tour Japan - Volcanoes and Mountains

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Included:
  • Fully-serviced, quality road bike, plus helmet and accessories
  • All accommodations: traditional Japanese Ryokan Spa Hotels
  • Full meals: breakfasts, bento lunches, and dinners
  • Snacks and beverages between meals. We’ll have snacks/beverages both familiar and new!
  • Nutritional support before, during, and after each ride
  • All gratuities at hotels, onsens, and restaurants
  • Access to relaxing natural hot spring baths (onsens) each day. (Please note: private onsens are booked separately; if interested, inquire in advance)
  • Expert guides, with extensive cycling and local knowledge, who will go above and beyond to cater to your every need
  • SAG Wagon to support a variety of route options
  • Entry fees to museums, shrines, historic sites, parks, and other attractions
  • Baggage transfers and porterage from trip pick up to drop-off
  • Ability to purchase gifts, local snacks, local sake, etc along the way and put them in the van at any time
  • Pick up and drop off before and after your tour (Matsumoto Station and Ashikaga Station respectively)
  • Gratuities for BikeTourJapan guides (learn why we don’t ask for tips!)

BikeTourJapan strives for a truly immersive and unique experience. For this reason, each itinerary may be subject to slight modifications. Contact us for the most up-to-date tour inclusions.

Not Included:
  • Airfare
  • Concierge from Tokyo Station, Haneda Airport, or Narita Airport (please inquire)
  • Pre- and post-travel planning advising with optional upgrade to Full Planning  (please inquire)

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