Cycling Tour of Japan’s Valleys and Volcanoes

2019:
Nov 16-22

2020:
Apr 1-7
Apr 29-May 5*
Nov 12-18

*Cherry Blossom Season!

Tochigi and Gunma Prefectures, Watarase River Valley
Premium Traditional Ryokan Hotels

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35-70 km/day
300-1000m/day
$4,200 USD
(+$1000 USD Single Supplement)

This is Bike Tour Japan’s most accessible tour: all of the beauty with a fraction of the climbing! Our cycling route will take you on a deep journey into the small towns built in the Watarase River Valley. Uncover breathtaking mountains, tranquil rivers, beautiful valleys, and natural hot springs. Choose your favorite color palate to ride through: vivid fall colors, or light spring blooms.

All the amazing elements of cycling in Japan will be covered in this week-long adventure. Find serene moments in elegant temples rich in Japanese history. Visit hidden treasures in the hillsides of the North Alps. Enjoy crisp air and clear skies, peaceful back roads and fall colors. Savor local meals, skillfully prepared by the region’s best chefs. Taste local sake from the rice grown in the very towns and mountains we visit.

Itinerary

Day 1 – The Watarase River to Lake Ume

Meet our guides in front of the Ashikagashi train station. Our welcome begins with light snacks and introductions as we get your bikes ready on the river path. Then, we are off on our first ride along the scenic Watarase River, where you will see the stacked mountains of the North Alps across the massive Tone Valley. We turn in towards the hills and begin a long gradual climb to the secluded Lake Ume, deep in the hills of Kiryu. A few more miles takes us to our Ryokan for the night. Choose to settle in with a relaxing bath in the natural hot springs, or continue riding with our guides for a few bonus miles. We recommend a relaxing stroll by the river before sunset. When you’re ready, meet up with our guides for a beautiful Japanese dinner and a welcoming toast to a great week ahead!

Stats: 32km & 500m gain

Day 2 – Hidden Shrines of Kiryu

Today, we will begin our journey into the heart of the Japanese countryside. First, dip back towards Kiryu before riding into the mountains on quiet roads up to the hidden Nagusaitsukushima Shrine. This is a beautiful and secluded shrine in the deep forest. After exploring the shrine and enjoying a lunch of fresh regional food, we make our way back to the Ryokan for another amazing evening.

Stats: 48km & 700m gain

Day 3 – Kanahara Pass and Hilltop Temples

Take on our biggest climb of the trip, the Kanahara Pass. Follow the valley to a secluded back road that rewards us with fantastic views of the surrounding mountains. Meander down to the serene Sano Valley for a step back in time at the Ichinokan, a well preserved piece out of the past.

Stats: 45km, 550m

Day 4 – The First School in Japan

Today, we head over the hills of Ashikaga, a quaint and serene part of the region. We’ll take a stop to visit the Gakko; the first school built in Japan. History, gardens, gates, and more, as we explore the hills through the afternoon before heading back to our Ryokan for the evening.

Stats: 39km & 460m

Day 5 – The Red Fortress Mountain, Mt Akagi

Our final ride along the Watarase River Path, today is a journey closer to the source as we head up to Lake Kusagi. Our longest day at just under 40mi, we will embark on a long gradual uphill with scenic views. This ride is sure to make for a memorable day on the bike! Arriving at Lake Kusagi, we will settle in at the Ryokan and take a stroll by the lake before sunset. We recommend another wonderful evening soak in the onsen before turning in for the night.

Stats: 77km, 1,100m gain

Day 6 – Inaka Countryside Cruising

Our last full day offers a few options: choose a simple short climb to the amazing hidden Miyazawa Shrine, or extend it for a loop around the base of Mt Akagi. For those who want more miles and a challenge, the full climb to thetop of Mt Akagi awaits. Finally you can choose to enjoy a restful day off at our amazing ryokan and soak in the sights and tranquility of the massive tone valley from the mountainside. Later that evening we will all gather together for one last dinner together, a beautiful Japanese feast.

Stats: 35km & 370m gain

Day 7 – Secluded Shrines and the First School in Japan

On our final day, we head out one last time by bike for a flat/downhill ride through the country back along the Watarase River towards Kiryu. We will roll down the valley to Takatsudo Park for a final exploration, and views of all that we have accomplished. Lunch in Kiryu and farewells until the next time!

Stats: 32km, 200m gain

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Included

  • Fully-serviced, quality road bike, plus helmet and accessories
  • All accommodations: traditional Japanese Ryokan 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
  • Gratuities for BikeTourJapan guides (learn why we don't ask for tips!)

Not Included

  • Airfare
  • Transportation to and from the tour.
  • Pre- and post-tour planning (please inquire if you would like assistance in planning your travels in Japan outside of the tour)