Cycling the Japan Alps and World Heritage, Gokayama

Cycling the Japan Alps and World Heritage, Gokayama

This cycling tour begins at Matsumoto Castle. We set out on a comfortable cycling path with the soaring heights of the Japan Alps visible in the distance. On the following day, we head toward the Winter Olympic grounds at Hakuba, and then downhill to the Japan Sea. On the third day of cycling, you will have an opportunity to experience some of the more deeply spiritual Japanese traditions of tracing Buddha images or the ascetic practice of standing under waterfalls. But the real highlight of the trip is the cycling trip to Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, a World Heritage site featuring village landscapes with distinctive historic thatched roof homes.

Tour Date
Oct. 25th ~ 31st, (7 days/6 nights)
Tour Price
JPY 324,000 (inc. tax)
Gathering/conclusion
Tokyo/Kanazawa
Level
Intermediate

 


Tour highlights

  • A largely flat cycling route acceptable for beginners, with some climbing at Hakuba. The option of switching to the train for the uphill portion is always available.
  • Cycle the Azumino Basin, with breathtaking views of the Japan Alps.
  • Relaxed Ride at Gokayama, a World Heritage site featuring village landscapes with distinctive historic thatched roof homes.
  • Visit the historic farming villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, best known for their farmhouses in the distinctive thatched gassho-zukuri style.
  • Visit Hakuba Village and the Hakuba Jump used in Winter Olympic ski jumping events.
  • Overnight in Kamiichi, the village providing the setting for popular animation feature “Wolf Children Ame and Yuki.” Optional experiences during this part of the tour include a guided meditative exercise of tracing Buddha images, as well as the ascetic meditation practice of sitting under a waterfall.
  • Easy access to Tokyo (3 hours) and Kyoto (2 hours and 20 minutes) from Kanazawa where the tour ends.

Tour map

Itinerary

Day Week
day
Ride
Day
Route Distance Elevation Gain
10/25 Sun Tokyo - Matsumoto
10/26 Mon -1 Azumino Ride 57km/36ml 294m/965ft
10/27 Tues -2 Japan Alps cycling 83km/52ml 511m/1677ft
10/28 Wed -3 Kamiichi Fun Ride Fun Ride
10/29 Thurs -4 Gokayama Fun Ride Fun Ride
10/30 Fri -5 Gokayama - Kanazawa 58km/36ml 890m/2920ft
10/31 Sat Tours end after breakfast.
Excluding Fun Ride 198km/124ml 1,695m/5,562ft
Day 1 Tokyo – Matsumoto, Nagano Pref.

Matsumoto castleMeet at Shinjuku Station at 11:30 and take a train for Matsumoto, Nagano pref.

After check-in at a hotel in Matsumoto, we’ll visit the Matsumoto Castle, the oldest castle donjon remaining in Japan. After strolling the city, we have a riders meeting at the hotel to explain traffic rules in Japan, schedule, and route of the tour followed by welcome dinner.

Hotel in Matsumoto/ Meals: Dinner

Day 2 Azumino cycling (Matsumoto – Ohmachi, Nagano pref.)

nakatsunako

We start cycling with a scenic cycling road, called Alps Yamabiko (Yamabiko means echo). You’ll enjoy a panoramic view of Japan Alps. The first place to visit is a Japanese Horseradish farm, then we visit old restaurant, which has a museum. After lunch, we climb up little to the point where we can enjoy marvelous view. While cycling, we’ll have a chance to see lovely Dosojin, a guardian for tourists. After checking-in at a ryokan, we have an optional tour. That is to visit a Japanese sake museum where we’ll learn about sake and can taste it.

Stay at a hotel in ryokan / Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Yamabiko cycling road yamabiko2 azumino-denen wababi wachigai2 Furoshiki wrapping Sake shop Entrance of Wachigai

Day 3 Japan Alps cycling (Ohmachi ~ Kamiichi, Toyama)

Train and rape blossoms

Today, we head toward the Winter Olympic grounds at Hakuba, and then downhill to the Japan Sea. Along the road, we pass over three lakes, namely Kizaki lake, Nakatsuna lake, and Aoki lake. All of them are nice small lakes we can go round on the narrow trail. Then, we visit the Hakuba Jumping Stadium. I promise you a incredible view there!

Stay at a hotel/ Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Hakuba Jump site shimenawa garden chozu

Day 4 Kamiichi town, Fun-ride

takigyo

You will have an opportunity to experience some of the more deeply spiritual Japanese traditions of tracing Buddha images or the ascetic practice of standing under waterfalls. Or you may want to go for hiking. There are so many options to do. It is up to you how you spend the day. In the evening, we take a train to Takaoka.

Stay at a hotel/ Meals: Breakfast

approach keidai shabutsu  ryokan

Day 5 Shirakawa-go and Gokayama

sirakawa

Visiting Shirakawa-go and Gokayama is the highlight of the trip. Both sites are one of the World Heritage site featuring village landscapes with distinctive historic thatched roof homes.

We first visit Shirakawa-go and take a walk in the lovely village, then we take a bus for Gokayama. After having lunch, we start cycling around the area.

Stay at a ryokan / Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Shirakawago 1 shirakawa3 Bridge at Shirakawago omiyage

Day 6 Gokayama ~ Kanazawa

Today is the last day of cycling. Start cycling from the ryokan we stayed, we go up to Gokayama Pass. (If you are not in such a frame of mind, you can take a bus instead.) After Gokayama tunnel, it is a gorgeous downhill. On the way down, you‘ll see the Toyama plain being spread in front. In about 65 km, we arrive at a samurai town in Kanazawa, where we enjoy some stroll. We have a party tonight!

Stay at a Buddhist temple compound / Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

 

Day 7 Kanazawa (no ride)

The tour ends after breakfast.<br>If you would like to extend your stay after the cycling tour, arrange railway, air or other post-cycling travel, please feel free to ask.  We’ll be more than happy to help arrange it.

Tour Outline

Tour date Oct. 25th ~ 31st, (7 days/6 nights)
Tour price JPY 324,000 (Inc. tax)
Gathering/conclusion Tokyo/Kanazawa
Distance 272.2 km/168.97 mile
Elevation gain 2,241 m/7,351 ft
Level Intermediate
Group size 4~15 (Minimum Number of Participants: 4)
Support Cycling leader, Tour Conductor, and Support van.

Items Included in Tour Prices

Rental Road bicycle (or cyclo cross bicycle/cross bicycle, if you prefer)

Lodging

Van Support on Route

Water and snacks during the ride

Daily Luggage Transport

Experienced Ride Leaders

Meals: 6 breakfasts and 5 dinners

Transportation: Fares for trains, ferries and other modes of travel will be noted in your itinerary.

Sightseeing and Excursions: Admission to temples and shrines, special events and culinary experiences will be noted in your itinerary.

Not Included in Tour Prices

Airfare, alcoholic beverages and other personnel expenses

Traveling Alone

A limited number of single-occupancy rooms are available for an additional charge on most tours. If you are a single traveler, please ask about room availability. A single-occupancy supplemental charge will be applied.

About Ryokan

To make your experience of Japan more authentic and memorable, we schedule some tour accommodations in traditional ryokan inns. Rather than single rooms, ryokan accommodate two to five people per room, with traditional tatami mat flooring and futon bedding. Please note that at Planet Adventure, we arrange for our guests to be accommodated in rooms divided by gender.

Photographs used in this site