Noto Peninsula, situated in the middle of mainland Honshu, is our newest cycle touring destination in Japan. The region offers a perfect opportunity for rural cycling and experiencing all the cultural attractions you expect of Japan, from heritage sites to kimono weaving! Almost the entire peninsula has been recently registered as agricultural heritage by UNESCO for the long-established methods of fishing and cultivation activities. The landscapes formed by the rich history tracing back to the feudal times still remain today, and that’s what makes the region a culturally interesting ground for overseas visitors. The itinerary allows plenty of time to fit in non cycling activities, and the more physical challenge.
To determine the grade of a particular adventure we consider a number of factors. These include the condition of the terrain, the altitude, the number of pass crossings and the length of the trip. The Noto Peninsular and Gifu is graded moderate. You will need a reasonable level of fitness and we suggest 60 minutes of aerobic type exercise, (either cycling or jogging) three times a week for the three months leading up to your trip. The tour is fully supported and if at any stage you feel like having a rest from cycling you will be able to ride in the support vehicle.
We meet at 17:00 at our hotel in Kanazawa, the gateway to Noto Peninsula. After an introductory meeting and bike fitting, we take a leisurely walk through the city and enjoy a welcome dinner together.
Kanazawa is home to traditional high cultures and activities, such as handicrafts, tea ceremonies, Noh theatre and Kaga cooking, offering you plenty of options for cultural experiences. We recommend you arrive a day or so earlier to explore the city and surrounding areas. Kanazawa Castle, once home to the famous feudal lord Toshiie Maeda and the Kenrokuen Garden, a beautiful Japanese garden are not to be missed if you have time. Kanazawa can be reached in approximately 3.5 hours by express train from Osaka Kansai International Airport.
Cycling distance: 0km
This morning we cycle out to join a cycling path near the coast, which leads us onto the popular Chirihama Beach driveway. Here we can cycle comfortably on the hard-packed sand beach for about 8km. After lunch at a restaurant near the beach, we continue on the cycling path to Togi. The scenery is constantly changing as we ride between rice fields towards the rugged coastline, passing small fishing villages along the way. The sunset view at Hatagoiwa rocks will be a real treat at the end of the day.
Cycling distance: 87km Total ascent: 360m
In the morning we check out the world's longest bench, 460.9m long at Masuhogaura Beach. Today we follow beautiful coastlines on quiet back roads, lined by traditional wooden houses with black tiled roofs, as if we were cycling through a movie set! Terraced rice fields are another noticeable feature of this region, and we will see them from the road. The Kadomi heritage house is worth taking a look, where you can see the interior of a wooden house similar to those you have cycled past. Although the coastal journey to Wajima is challenging, the oceanic views from the roads are rewarding.
Cycling distance: 60-76km Total ascent: 700-1270m
This morning you have an option to visit the Wajima Morning Market or try your decorative skills on a set of lacquer chopsticks. For 1,500 yen (subject to change), you can paint your own chopsticks with gold powder and take them home as souvenirs. The market is filled with stalls selling local produce, from the land as well as the sea, and is a good shopping opportunity if you wish to purchase any lacquer ware. Our cycling route today follows the coast, taking in Senmaida (with 1,000 rice paddies on one slope) and many traditional salt works. Some of these salt works are still carrying out the solar evaporation method that was used 400 years ago. These are free to observe and you can also try spraying seawater which sounds easy but takes years to master. As we approach the tip of the peninsula, we cycle in peaceful country surrounds.
Cycling distance: 66-90km Total ascent: 740-900m
Leaving Suzu, we continue cycling along the coast around Toyama Bay. There are many small fishing villages along the road, which gently climbs and descends the Noto Peninsula. We arrive at Noto-jima Island after crossing the Twin Bridge, from where we can enjoy views of the bay and floating islands off the coast. We will complete the ride at our accommodation in Wakura Onsen, one of the best high-class hot spring resorts in Japan. If you would like more cycling today, there is an option to ride around the Noto-jima Island, which will make the day’s total distance 130km.
Cycling distance: 97-130km Total ascent: 745-1000m
Today we head inland by van away from the Noto Peninsula and will experience a change of scenery from a coastal landscape to a mountainous backdrop.We will transfer to Shirakawa-go, a secluded mountain village like those you might have read about in old Japanese tales. Shirakawa-go is situated at the foot of Mt. Haku-san in the northwestern part of Gifu. Surrounded by mountains, there are about 110 houses with A-shaped thatched roofs, designed to prevent heavy snow accumulation. The building style is called Gassho Zukuri, originally started in the Edo period to allow silk cultivation in the attics. UNESCO registered the whole of Shirakawa-go as a World Heritage Site in 1995. Tonight we will stay at one of the Gassho Zukuri houses.
Accommodation: Guest House/Shared bathroom
Cycling distance: 0km
This morning we travel further inland to Hida Takayama, the foothills of the Japan Alps! After cycling out of the village, we soon start climbing on a quiet mountain road where you will see local farmers working in the rice fields. In Spring, we take a route to Amou mountain pass. In the autumn, we take a route around the lakes. Both routes climb through broadleaf forests with a great view.
After a pleasant downhill, we meet the Miya River where you will see local fishermen at work. The river flows all the way to our destination Hida Takayama, often described as the little Kyoto because of the similarity of construction and atmosphere. Make sure you have some Hida beef here, the local specialty known as one of the best beef in Japan!
Accommodation: Hotel/Ensuite bathroom
Cycling distance: 64-82km Total ascent: 1318m
Today we cycle the Hida Seseragi Highway, following the swift mountain streams. Riding past a few little villages, local shrines and more paddy fields, we arrive at Gujo-hachiman, a castle town that prospered in the 16th century. If you still feel energetic at the end of ride, we recommend you walk up to Gujo-Hachiman Castle. Otherwise just enjoy strolling down the atmospheric streets lined with old houses and waterways. The local specialty is 'Unagi' or eels fished from local rivers, or if you aren’t a fan of eels, hida beef can be still enjoyed here.
Accommodation: Hotel/Ensuite bathroom
Cycling distance: 73km Total ascent: 712m
Collecting water from melting snow and rain in the central mountain ranges, Nagara River is famed for its clear water and quiet beauty. Today we ride along the riverside and pass by Mino, home for Mino Washi, the best quality Japanese paper. We will have a long break here so you can have lunch and explore this ancient town at leisure. The Mino Washi art museum and Imai historic house are places not to be missed. Our final destination Gifu awaits us with a celebratory dinner on the Nagara River (in season), where you can observe Ukai, the traditional cormorant fishing while having dinner onboard a boat. (Ukai on the Nagara River occurs during summer - generally mid May until mid-October). Outside of this time, we will enjoy a traditional meal at our accommodation rather than on the river.
Accommodation: Ryokan/Ensuite bathroom
Cycling distance: 65km Total ascent: 300m
The tour finishes after breakfast today, with a transfer to the Gifu train station.
From Gifu to Osaka Kansai Airport is 2.5 hours by train
From Gifu to Nagoya Chubu Airport is 70 min by train
You can choose from a hybrid bike or a road bike for this tour. The hybrid bicycles supplied are 21 speed, aluminium frame, carbon forks with v-brakes. They come fitted with a water bottle holder and a front handlebar bag for any items you might need in the day. The road bikes are aluminium with a carbon fork, sora group set and compact crank. They will be fitted with an under saddle seat bag. Please let us know in advance which type of bike you would like.
A bike-fit will be carried out at the start of the tour to make minor adjustments to the seat height and position of your handlebars. You are welcome to bring your own saddle and pedals which your guide can fit for you. A gel seat cover is also highly recommended and well worth the additional cost (available in cycling shops).
Basic tools will be carried aboard your support vehicle and your trip leader will assist in the event of any mechanical difficulties.
We regret that there are only a few smaller women's bicycles and these can be reserved for shorter group members, so long as we are advised of your height well in advance of your tour departure.
Per Person, Twin Share