Tour of the North Alps: Journey to Nikko, Chuzenji-ko, & Ashikaga 2019

Bike Tour Japan’s highest rated tour, and for good reason! Explore the breathtaking mountains, grasslands, lakes, shrines, and hot springs of the Japanese countryside. Reconnect with your body and bike as we discover pagodas, temples, and historic hot spring towns each day. You’ll never forget the crisp clean air as you climb to the Hangetsu Observatory, with amazing views of Nantai and Lake Chuzenji below you. Each day, we’ll savor meals skillfully prepared by the region’s best chefs while enjoying local sake from the rice that was grown in the very mountains and farms we ride through. Wrap up each day with a relaxing soak in the zen hot spring bath at our ryokan hotel.

Bike Tour Japan - Views on Tour of the North Alps

  • REGION: Tochigi and Gunma Prefectures
  • DESTINATION: The North Alps, Lake Chuzenji, Mt Akagi, Hills of Ashikaga
  • DIFFICULTY: 3/5 (options to add distance each day)
  • PRICE FROM: $4,450 USD


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8 Day Tour of the North Alps Route

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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: Nikko-Toshogu

Meet our guides in front of the Nikko train station. We’ll welcome everyone and make introductions over lunch at a local restaurant. Then, off to see the Toshogu Shrine and museum at the edge of town where you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped back in time to a land where Shoguns still reigned. Choose your own adventure with several ride options, or return to the hotel to decompress in the hotel’s onsen hot spring spa. Take a quick stroll around town if you’d like, before meeting up with the guides for a beautiful traditional Japanese dinner.

Meals: Lunch / Dinner
Destinations: Nikko Toshogu
The Day: 16km (10mi), 150m (500ft) gain and light walking at the shrine and in town
Accommodations: Nikko Onsen

Day Two: Lake Chuzenji

Today, we begin our journey into the heart of the Japanese countryside by climbing the famous Irohazaka road up to sacred Lake Chuzenji. We’ll get our first glimpses of Mt Nantai’s enthralling volcanic shape. The full expanse of the North Alps will fill in behind Lake Chuzenji as we go up. Finally, we’ll roll through the Senjugahara grasslands and into the historic Yumoto Onsen Town. End the day with a traditional onsen meal and a soothing bath in the onsen.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Destinations: Irohazaka, Lake Chuzenji, Hangestu Observatory, Senjogahara, Yumoto Onsen Town
The Day: 48km (30mi), 1,300m (4,200ft) gain
Accommodations: Yumoto Onsen

Day Three: The Steaming Rivers of Kawamata and Kinugawa

This day, we ride over our highest pass of the trip on the side of Mt Nantai. We’ll follow the steaming Kawamata river as it winds through gorges into Kawaji Onsen Town, where you will soak in the calm nature of the Japanese countryside and the majesty of the volcanic power around you. Finally, we’re off to Kinugawa Onsen Town for your first ogre encounters and outdoor baths that hang over the Kinugawa River.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Destinations: Kawamata Onsen Town, Kinugawa Onsen Town
The Day: 66km (41mi), 1,200m (4,000ft) gain
Accommodations: Kinugawa Onsen

Day Four: Mt Nantai and Mt Nyoho

Today, the Kinugawa River leads us south through the small towns of Kinugawa and past the Onsen Ogres. Then, we will point our wheels northwest, for another climb with Mt Nantai and its counterpart Mt Nyoho in our sights. Finally, travel through the Kirifurikogen High Grasslands with breathtaking views of Lake Chuzenji surrounded by epic mountains. Our hotel this night will be in the grasslands, and we’ll offer outdoor hot springs with views that inspire.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Kirifurikogen Highlands
The Day:
39km (24mi), 1,200m (4,000ft) gain
Ooedo Onsen

Day Five: Down the Watarase River to the Red Fortress Mountain

Hit the onsen early for one of the most magical sunrises over the North Alps before breakfast. Then, it’s a quick ride down from the highlands into Nikko, before we begin rolling through the beautiful road along the scenic Watarase River Valley. Small town Japan and roads that literally sing as you roll over them (see Japan’s Melody Roads)! Mountains, rivers, lakes, and nature at their finest. We’ll give a final push when we a arrive at the base of Mt Akagi to the hotel tonight, about 1/3 of the climb up the mountain.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Destinations: The Watarase River, Lake Kusagi, Mt Akagi Onsen
The Day: 77km (48mi), 1,100m (3,800ft) gain
Accommodations: Akagi Onsen

Day Six: Caldera Lakes and Inaka Countryside

Our final big climb–we will find the road’s summit on tranquil Mt Akagi. Crest the caldera, and be rewarded for all your hard work by unbelievable views of this ancient volcano, its lake, and the floating shrine within. We’ll take a lap around the lake and enjoy a delicious local lunch before flying down to our secluded Ryokan for the night.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Destinations: Mt Akagi Shrine, Lake Onuma, Lake Ume
The Day: 77km (48mi), 1,100m (3,700ft) gain
Accommodations: Umeda Ryokan

Day Seven: Shrines on Beds of Stone and The First School in Japan

Today, we visit the Nagusaitsukushima Shrine, nestled deep in the heart of the Ashikaga Hills. We will immerse ourselves fully in the Satoyama experience, rolling through small towns and rice field landscapes. A stop atop a nearby hill reveals the Saishoji Temple, the town of Ashikaga, and the Gakko, the first school built in Japan. Take in the history, gardens, gates, and more as we meander through the serene Sano Valley. We’ll take a step back in time and find peaceful rest at the Ichinokan, a well-preserved and beautiful remnant from the past.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Destinations: Nagusaitsukushima Shrine, Saishoji Temple, Ashikaga Gakko
The Day: 50km (31mi), 850m (2,800ft) gain
Accommodations: Ichinokan

Day Eight: See How Far You’ve Come

On our final day, we’ll head out one last time by bike for a flat ride through the country as it gives way to the Watarase River. Along this path, we begin to see all of the mountains reveal themselves in the distance. We’ll also get a spectacular glimpse of the vastness of the wondrous Tone Valley. A final short climb to the top of Mt Kanayama and we arrive at observation deck to soak in all that we have accomplished. The whole of the North Alps in splendid panorama! Down the mountain to the Daikoin Temple for a final exploration. Farewell–until the next adventure!

Meals: Breakfast, Light Lunch/Snacks
Destinations: Mt Kanayama Ruins, Observation Deck, Daikoin Temple
The Day: 32km (20mi), 240m (800ft) gain

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Bike Tour of the North Alps - Cyclists on Route

    • 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

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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