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Japan Bike Tour

A Cultural Journey in Temples and Tea Leaves

7 days / 6 nights Level: 3Price From: $8,595Collection: Classic

Tour Highlights

  • Ride city landscapes in Nara and Kyoto in addition to less-traveled routes in Mount Yoshino and Koyasan
  • Cycle on car-free roads through autumnal foliage in fall and blooming cherry blossoms in spring
  • Discover the complexity of Japan’s popular rice wine during a sake tasting
  • Experience the transcendent ritual of morning meditation with Buddhist monks
  • Deepen your cultural understanding with visits to temples, shrines, tea fields, and UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the famous Tōdai-ji

Eat

Sushi and sashimi are staples; udon, ramen, tempura, yakitori, and traditional kaiseki (small plates including miso soup, rice, fish, fermented vegetables, and seaweed); mochi

Drink

Sake, tea, Koshu wine, and Japanese beers like Asahi, Kirin, and Sapporo

As featured in:
Print Itinerary
  • Day 1

    Terraced Tea Fields

    Welcome to Japan! Your guides will meet you in Kyoto and bring you to the start of our ride in Uji, at the edge of urban Kyoto. After a bike fitting and safety talk, we’ll warm up on a bike path that follows a beautiful ravine, dropping down toward the mouth of the Uji River. Turn inland and climb up a cool forest road that unfurls into tea country, where Japan’s matcha is grown and harvested. Enjoy a traditional lunch in Wazuka, a town in the tea fields, then breeze down rolling hills lined with tea terraces. We’ll roll into Nara—the onetime capital of Japan where there are temples aplenty—and visit the most outstanding one among them: Tōdai-ji, a Buddhist temple, UNESCO World Heritage site, and home to a 49-foot mega-Buddha in permanent residence. Finally, settle into our ryokan accommodations located inside Nara Park, famous for its friendly deer who feed right out of your hand. This evening will be our first opportunity to experience kaiseki, a multi-course feast sure to wow with its artful presentation.

    Meals: Lunch / Dinner
    Destinations: Uji, Wazuka, Todai-Ji Temple, Nara
    Accomplished: 26 miles / 42 km
    Longer Option: 37 miles / 60 km
    Accommodations: Kotono Yado Musashino or Noborojii

  • Day 2

    Hidden Lake Loop

    After breakfast at our ryokan, we’ll find our rhythm riding into the surrounds of Nara. Exiting town, the landscape shifts quickly to rural roads as we spend five kilometers climbing with mountains to our left and a plunging valley on our right. A winding descent leads us to a hidden lake, where we’ll cycle around the reservoir and along a ridgeline. By mid-afternoon, we’ll be back in Nara for some downtime at the ryokan. Later, explore Nara’s old town center, home to local artisans and over 50 boutique sake breweries. We’re treated to an educational sake tasting before dinner at a local izakaya—a casual Japanese pub. For a nightcap, stop into a speakeasy where Nara’s resident mixologist was named the best bartender in the world in 2015.

    Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
    Destinations: Shorenji Lake, Nara
    Accomplished: 32 miles / 53 km
    Accommodations: Kotono Yado Musashino or Noborojii

  • Day 3

    Into the Outerlands via the Yoshino Pass

    Today we pedal out of Nara, leaving the urban landscape behind in favor of forest foliage and rural riding. Enjoy an easy stretch on a riverside bike path until we reach the temple in Asukha. From here, begin the densely forested climb to Taktoriama as a creek flows below—if you blink, you might miss the shrines camouflaged in moss and scattered along our route. There’s a rewarding descent before our final push up to Mount Yoshino, the place we’ll call home for the next two nights. For lunch, slurp up traditional soba noodles, then visit a mochi kitchen to sample some of these sweet snacks for dessert. Settle into our ryokan in the small village on Mount Yoshino, don your yukata, and soak in the onsen to soothe your legs. This evening, a sake-paired dinner is served in the comfort of our ryokan.

    Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
    Destinations: Asukha, Yoshino, Mount Yoshino
    Accomplished: 40 miles / 61 km
    Accommodations: Ryokan Kato

  • Day 4

    Hidden Gems of Yoshino

    We’ll play today’s loop ride of Yoshino by ear, starting with a downhill sprint out of Mount Yoshino. Perhaps we’ll follow mountain backroads towards Tengawa or ride a whimsical monorail into Tengawa’s limestone cave complex. After lunch, we’ll make our way back to Mount Yoshino via onsen-laden villages and cedar-shaded switchbacks. Tonight, meet a local who hunts for everything he serves at his game restaurant where we’ll have dinner. On our final evening in Yoshino, there will also be time to stroll beneath the cherry trees and take in the ubiquitous temples and shrines that seem to line the streets.

    Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
    Destinations: Yoshino, Mount Yoshino
    Accomplished: 42 miles / 65 km
    Accommodations: Ryokan Kato

  • Day 5

    Japan’s Holiest Mountaintop

    A traditional Japanese breakfast of miso soup, rice, and grilled fish is the protein-packed fuel for this morning’s ride. We descend from the mount and meet the Yoshino River, following an undulating route through small villages. We’ll hop off our bikes for lunch near the Hashimoto Bridge, then begin climbing into the town of Koyasan. It’s a beautiful ascent on a tiny, forested road with some fun passes through tunnels, finally arriving at the summit atop the holiest mountain in Japan and the worldwide headquarters of Shingon Buddhism. Our home for the evening is a type of monastic ryokan unique to Koyasan, called a shukubo. The monks are our hosts, and our dinner is a taste of shōjin ryōri, their vegetarian Buddhist cuisine—but first, we’ll have a chance to soak in the shukubo’s hot springs and stroll through Okunoin, Koya’s cemetery, just as a mystical layer of fog descends at dusk.

    Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
    Destinations: Koyasan, Okunoin
    Accomplished: 34 miles / 55 km
    Accommodations: Koyasan Onsen Fukuchiin

  • Day 6

    Morning Zen in Koyasan, Evening Luxury in Kyoto

    If you wish, this morning presents the unique opportunity to rise at dawn and join the monks in their daily meditation. Early morning is also the ideal time to slip into the town of Koyasan while it’s still deserted, admiring the Garan temple complex, returning to Okunoin cemetery, or wandering the small lanes before tightly packed businesses begin their daily bustle. Our ride kicks off mid-morning, descending out of Koyasan and returning to the Yoshino River Valley. Conquer the twisting roads of the Zaou Pass in total solitude and stillness, then take a breather in the van en route to Arashiyama, the Kyoto neighborhood known for its bamboo groves. Our last night is marked by luxury, from Western-style rooms that face the boat-dotted Hozu River to a final dinner that celebrates our exceptional week of new experiences.

    Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
    Destinations: Koyasan, Zaou Pass, Arashiyama
    Accomplished: 38 miles / 62 km
    Accommodations: Suiran Kyoto

  • Day 7

    Say Sayonara to Japan

    This morning, have a leisurely breakfast beside the Hozu River, enjoy a quiet moment in the hotel’s Japanese garden, or opt for a final loop ride of Kyoto. If you choose to extend your stay in Japan, you’re conveniently close to Kyoto’s city center, where your guides will see you off to your next adventure.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Destinations: Arashiyama, Kyoto
    Accomplished: 20 miles / 32 km

DuVine itineraries may be subject to slight route changes, hotel substitutions, and other modifications.



Arrival Details

Airport City: Osaka, Japan Pick-Up Location: Kyoto-area hotels
Departure Details

Airport City: Osaka, Japan Drop-Off Location: Kyoto-area hotels
Travelers Take Note

Lodging: The hotels on this tour consist mostly of ryokans, a style of lodging that emphasizes Zen simplicity. Guests should remove shoes upon entering. A yukata (Japanese-style robe) awaits within the room, and guests traditionally change into the robe upon arrival, wearing it to the onsen baths or dinner in the hotel. Room furnishings may be sparse, and a futon-like mat—folded and stored away during the day—will be turned down for you after dinner.

Bathing: While most rooms have their own bathroom, some of the ryokans don’t offer private showers. Instead, you are invited to bathe in single-gender onsen­­-style baths, a widespread traditional form of bathing.

Electric Assist: Due to national regulations, e-bikes and e-wheels are not available on this tour.

Any scheduled tour can be made private. Your group, your dates.     Go Private

2019Single Supplement From: $2,300

See our cancellation policy

Accommodations

  • Thoughtfully selected accommodations that reveal the true character of the region
  • Luggage transfers

Meals

  • Daily breakfasts, all lunches, nutritious snacks, and après velo cocktails
  • 6 gourmet dinners at our favorite local restaurants and renowned culinary establishments
  • Carefully selected local wine, beer, or spirits with every meal

Activities

  • Wine tastings and activities as outlined in the tour itinerary
  • Entrance fees to historic sites, museums, parks, and all other exclusive events
  • Gratuities for baggage, porters, and hotel service

Gear

  • Top-of-the-line bicycle selection and bike helmet
  • Complimentary DuVine gear, including a custom cycling jersey, DuVine t-shirt, water bottle, and drawstring bag
  • GPS in most destinations

Support

  • Expert bilingual guides with extensive local knowledge
  • Support vehicle that follows the day’s route, distributes refreshments, and offers lifts
  • Pick-up and drop-off before and after your tour from predetermined meeting points
  • Daily bike maintenance to ensure optimal performance
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Cooper CX

Manufacturer: Lynskey

Type: Cross

Quick 1 Disc

Manufacturer: Cannondale

Type: Hybrid