What to expect
Setting-off from the ancient capital of Kyoto, this nine night tour is full of diversity – expect everything from ancient castles and mighty volcanoes, to the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima and the world’s largest wooden structure in Todaiji. Touring along the southern coast of Japan’s main island (Honshu) and continuing south to tranquil Kyushu, you’ll experience two famous cycle routes and have the chance to explore some areas on foot.
With cool sea breezes and a backdrop of volcanic peaks, you’ll ride beside rivers, mountains and coastlines. With ascents along the way, you’ll skirt Mount Unzen and island hop through the stunning Amakusa archipelago. Throughout the week, expect delicious Japanese cuisine, relaxing onsens (hot springs) and a night in a traditional ryokan (guest house). Your tour ends in the coastal Izumi city, where Siberian cranes overwinter in the wetlands.
If you're looking for tours that are self-guided in Japan, please see our cycling tours in Hokkaido.
At a glance
- Island hop through stunning Amakusa archipelago
- Traditional ‘onsen’ steam baths, delicious cuisine and authentic ryokans
- Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima and roaming deer in Nara
- Rolling terrain that includes part of the famous Shimanami Kaido route
Day 1 (Wed):
Arrive in Kyoto
Make your way to the ancient capital of Kyoto, checking-in to your hotel from 3pm (you can store your bags at the hotel if you arrive earlier). Enjoy a free evening in this fascinating city, discovering its wooden houses, geishas and excellent restaurants.
Day 2 (Thu):
Kyoto – Nara
38 miles (61 km)
Meet your guide and the rest of the group at 9am in the hotel lobby. Test your bike with a ride to Fushimi Inari shrine. After lunch, follow a winding road through tea fields, stopping to see the Big Buddha in Todaiji. Arrive in Nara and feed the city’s roaming deer.
Day 3 (Fri):
Nara – Onomichi - Omishima Island
30 miles (48 km)
Transfer to Onomichi and the famous Shimanami Kaido cycling road. Weave your way to Omishima Island, riding across other islands in the Seto Inland Sea.
Day 4 (Sat):
Omishima Island – Hiroshima
26 miles (42 km)
Leave the Shimanami Kaido, taking a ferry to Okamura Island and following part of the Tobishima Kaido cycling route. Transfer to Hiroshima in the afternoon to discover the site of the 1945 bomb and look around the Atomic Bomb Dome and Peace Memorial Park.
Day 5 (Sun):
Hiroshima – Nagasaki
Take a morning train to Miyajima with its floating ‘Torii’ gate, one of Japan’s top 3 famous sights. Explore the island on foot to see the Itskushima Shrine and meet the semi wild deer who roam freely. After lunch, transfer to Nagasaki a former trading city with Portuguese and Dutch influences and a vibrant Chinatown.
Day 6 (Mon):
Optional Nagasaki Peninsula ride
47 miles (75 km)
Take a day off the bikes to see more of Nagasaki. Visit the Peace Park and museum, the historic buildings on Dejima, a manmade island, or relax in Glover Garden. For those who wish to cycle, there is an optional coastal ride around the Nagasaki Peninsula.
Day 7 (Tue):
Nagasaki - Obama Onsen
34 miles (55 km)
Leaving Nagasaki, pass ‘Megane bridge’ an arched stone bridge, whose reflection resembles a pair of spectacles. A climb on the old postal road crosses a ridge and continues downhill to Tachibana Bay. The road then skirts the bay, with spectacular views of Mount Unzen and the ride finishes in Obama, known for its hot springs.
Day 8 (Wed):
Obama Onsen - Amuri Onsen
50 miles (80 km)
Follow the quiet coast road to Minami Shimabara, then take a short ferry ride to Amakusa Island. Cut inland across the centre of the island on winding roads with stunning views of this picturesque archipelago. Finish the day on the west coast, to enjoy a sunset from your hotel.
Day 9 (Thu):
Amuri Onsen - Izumi
50 miles (80 km)
A beautiful and undulating ride to finish the tour. Initially riding inland to Ushibuka to catch the island-hopping ferry to Nagashima, the next island in the chain. The coast road curves and swoops with the sea on one side, and orchards on the other until you cross the Kuranoseto Bridge, taking you back on to the mainland. A break for a seafood lunch overlooking the sea, then the final stretch crosses the Izumi plain, and into Izumi itself, known for its samurai district and the finishing point of the ride.
Day 10 (Fri):
Depart from Izumi
Enjoy a final breakfast, checking-out of your hotel by 10am. From here, take a bus to Kagoshima airport for your flight home, or stay longer to experience more of Japan.
From Izumi, you could:
· Visit Kagoshima city beneath Mt Sakurajima volcano
· Go hiking or biking on UNESCO listed Yakushima island (4-hours by ferry)
· Travel around Japan by public transport, setting off from Izumi Station
Minshuku/Ryokan guesthouses & hotels
A mix of 'minshuku' guesthouses and 'ryokan' hotels & inns. Hotels are comfortable and centrally located. Guesthouses are sometimes more basic with shared ohuro bathing facilities but add a lot of local flavour to the tour.
Minshuku are Japanese-style bed & breakfast accommodation. They are usually run by a family and offer visitors a good opportunity to meet a local family and experience a traditional Japanese lifestyle. Like in a ryokan guests stay in Japanese style rooms, sleep on a futon on tatami floor and have the opportunity to take a Japanese style bath.
Ryokan are unique to Japan and are an experience not to be missed. A ryokan is a Japanese-style inn. Maintaining the special, traditional atmosphere and appearance is more important than providing the latest modern convenience for the guests. A ryokan is for travellers who wish to experience traditional Japanese culture and enjoy the comforts of old-fashion Japanese hospitality and service. If you wish to see, taste, touch, and feel traditional Japanese culture then a night at a typical ryokan provides just this.
- 9 nights in Minshuku and Ryokan guesthouses & hotels
- Full board and snacks
- Luggage transferred
- All visits and transfers
Dates & Prices
Please click on a departure date for price options at a glance - 2020 dates on sale!
- 9 nights accommodation in Minshuku and Ryokan guesthouses & hotels
- Board basis: Full Board with snacks (except arrival and departure day)
- Tour leader in support van (if group is fewer than 8); Tour leader with group and driver in support van (min 8 in group)
- Transfers and all visits during tour
- Luggage transportation
- GPS route information
- International & domestic flights
- Drinks with meals
- Personal expenses
- Bike hire
- GPS device
Bike Hire & Extras
You may want to bring your own pedals, saddle, handlebar extensions, handlebar bag, helmet and waterbottles.
How to Get There
Fly to Osaka or Nagoya airport.
Alternatively take the Shinkansen bullet train to Osaka from Tokyo or Hiroshima, then express train to Kyoto station.
Fly from Kagoshima (Via Tokyo)
News, Reviews & FAQs
Simply click on a question to reveal the answers
Is May a good time to visit Japan?
May is a good time to visit Japan, as the vegetation is lush and the weather is mild, but not yet hot and humid like the summer months.
Why are the hotels not listed in the itinerary?
We use a pool of hotels to maximise availability for you.