An Immersive Cycle Tour of the Shikoku Region of Southwest Japan

 

 

Bike tour through a land of ancient castles, Shinto Shrines and Buddhist monasteries, where traditional culture and etiquette blends effortlessly with contemporary modern design. An island of unimaginable natural beauty, epic coastal rides, verdant river valleys and remote villages. Our newly revised flagship tour of Japan, the ultimate guided bike tour through the Land of the Rising Sun – Stunning Shikoku.

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Highlights

6

Itinerary idea in detail

Includes international flights from a choice of UK airports, including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

  • 1

    Today, we gather in the charming town of Onomichi, easily accessible by train from Osaka or Kyoto via the famous Shinkansen (Bullet Train). Soon after our meeting, we’ll board a ferry to kickstart our journey along the renowned Shimanami Kaido route.

    Our adventure begins with a leisurely ride through peaceful bamboo forests, transitioning to a picturesque coastal path. The terrain offers enough elevation to amplify the scenic views without leaving us overly tired.

    For our first night, we’ll rest in a quaint Ryokan in a town historically linked to salt production. Dinner awaits at a nearby local eatery, conveniently close for us to don our Yukatas—comfortable, traditional gowns provided in our rooms.

  • 2

    We kick off our day with a coffee stop at a nearby bike café, gearing up for the road ahead. Our journey starts with a climb to the hilltop of Ikuchi Island, passing by its renowned citrus farms. Crossing several bridges, we’re treated to breathtaking vistas of the Seto Sea, with islands dotting the horizon.

    Arriving in Imabari marks the completion of the Shimanami route and our entry into Shikoku. Riding through Ehima and Kochi prefectures, we’ll hop on a train bound for Matsuyama, the largest city in the area. Here, vibrant orange trams traverse the streets while temples and castles grace the hillsides.

    After settling into our modern hotel, you can opt to explore Matsuyama Castle before we head to tonight’s dinner venue for a taste of traditional Japanese cuisine. While the food is a highlight, the real treat awaits with sake tastings. From dry to sweet, you’ll sample a variety of Japan’s famed drink, learning about its rich history. By the end of the evening, you’ll be well-equipped to select the perfect sake to accompany your meals.

     

     

  • 3

    We kick off early to avoid traffic, embarking on another smooth one-hour train ride to the delightful starting point of our first inland journey. Following the serene Hijikawa River, we’ll pedal along tranquil roads tracing the curves of the valley. As we ascend towards its source, we’ll emerge from the valley and arrive at the picturesque village of Yusuhara.

    This charming village has gained international acclaim thanks to architect Kengo Kuma, who designed and supported several of its buildings and public structures. Expect to find a meticulously kept village with warm-hearted locals and a public library rivaling those in major cities. Dinner tonight awaits at a cozy neighborhood eatery.

  • 4

    This morning, we pedal up to Kamikoya, a homestead where Rogier has dedicated his life to mastering the art of Washi Paper making. At his family-run workshops, we’ll have the chance to join in. With a backdrop of mountains and sweeping valley views, this hands-on experience is truly special.

    After crafting our paper, the family will dry it for us to collect later. Alongside, we’ll delve into the history of Washi Paper and its significance in ancient Japan.

    The ride back to Yusuhara is downhill, offering a leisurely journey back in time for lunch. The afternoon is yours to explore, unwind, or perhaps visit the library until we reconvene for dinner at a nearby small eatery by the hotel.

  • 5

    It’s time to bid farewell to our mountain village and journey through the scenic Shimanto region to reach the Pacific Coast. Today’s ride promises lush green valleys, quiet roads in great condition, and picturesque creeks and rivers. A notable highlight is a gradual climb in the late morning, especially breathtaking in the fall with vibrant autumn hues at the summit.

    For lunch, we’ll stop at a wellness retreat nestled beside a lively river, refueling before continuing along a plateau. A thrilling descent awaits, offering your first glimpse of the vast Pacific Ocean.

    Upon arrival at our clifftop property, indulge in a rejuvenating soak in the natural onsen to soothe tired muscles. From this vantage point, admire the rugged coastline against the deep blue ocean backdrop. A traditional dinner awaits, followed by a restful night’s sleep in comfortable Japanese futon-style rooms.

  • 6

    Today, weather permitting, we have some off-the-bike activities planned as we move from our hotel to join local kayaking enthusiasts. They’ve scoped out sheltered coves and bays nearby, guiding us to the best spots to admire the landscape from the water. Expect rocky formations, distant mountains, and with luck, glimpses of ocean life.

    After a morning of paddling and a quick bite, we hop back on our bikes and head south to visit Iwamoto Temple, the 37th stop on the Henro Pilgrimage route. Nestled on a wooded hillside near Kubokawa, the temple boasts intricate paintings on its main prayer hall ceiling. Our journey continues to the Shimanto River, a vital fishery and the largest river in the region, before we return to our accommodation via a new route.

  • 7

    Today’s ride will leave a lasting impression, lingering in your memory even after our tour ends. We begin on a secluded road that clings to the cliffs, offering breathtaking views of the ocean crashing against black rocks below. The sand’s composition intensifies the water’s blue hue, prompting photo stops aplenty.

    As we pass through Susaki, we enter another awe-inspiring stretch, ascending to a nature reserve along the ridge. With a perfect riding gradient and an abundance of birdlife, this section adds to the already remarkable journey.

    Our lunch spot near the Blue Dragon Temple, one of the 88 temples, often brings encounters with pilgrims on their walking route. Riding into Kochi, we enjoy a pleasant descent and a riverside cruise through the city’s central area, culminating in the vibrant food and dining district.

    As tonight marks our last together, a progressive dinner with grazing is on the agenda, perhaps accompanied by visits to one (or two) more Sake bars as the evening unfolds.

     

     

  • 8

    Today, take a leisurely morning stroll exploring the old town, perhaps visiting one of the twelve Japanese castles that have withstood fires, wars, and other challenges of the post-feudal era. Dating back to the early 17th century, this castle was once the seat of the Yamauchi lords, rulers of the region. Now designated as “important cultural properties,” the castle houses local treasures and historical artifacts, representing an era of peace.

    Return to the hotel to freshen up and pack before heading to the train station by taxi. Here, bid farewell to your fellow adventurers and guide. Once goodbyes are exchanged, your guide will help you board the train for a pleasant four-hour journey to Kyoto, where you’ll continue your adventure independently.

Accommodation options

While the itinerary price reflects the suggested accommodation, Audley trips are 100% tailor-made, and a specialist can help you select the option best suited to your tastes and budget.

Booking Policy

  • 7 nights in comfortable accommodation selected for high standards & local flavor
  • 7x Breakfasts, 8x Lunches, 7x Dinners
  • Healthy snacks & water during cycling
  • Knowledgable local guide
  • Quality well-serviced bikes and helmet for riding
  • Grasshopper souvenir jersey and water bottle that are yours to keep
  • Comfortable van for support and transfers
  • All tickets and entry costs included in the itinerary

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We'll help plan your trip based on you like and want to do. We know a lot about the place you're gomg. so we can give you good advice. WIIether you're into history, food, or culture, ue'll make sure your trip is just right for you. With us. your travel will be easy and fun!

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We carefully choose our expert guides and travel concierges to make sure you have an authentic experience. They're passionate about their work and will bring your destination to life with care and enthusiasm.

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17 January 2024 ★★★★★

Absolute Asia tours gave us a wonderful tour of Southeast Asia (working with sister-agency My Way Travel based in Vietnam). For our Siem Reap/Angkor Wat journey, our party of two had a private driver and guide named Jak, who was a cheerful and knowledgeable companion, explaining the history, culture, architecture and religious significance of the sites while keeping it always fun. We moved efficiently from site to site, and finished with a boat tour of the fishing village on stilts at Kampong Pluk on the Tonle Sap Lake. During most of our trip we stayed at top-notch locally-owned hotels, but in Siem Reap we were at the excellent local Hyatt hotel. Absolute Asia and My Way Travel our outstanding local providers, less expensive than name-brand group tours, and customized to our interests and schedule.

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2 January 2024 ★★★★★

We had an awesome time on cycling tour with AAT! It was incredible, filled with good vibes, laughs & a fantastic way to explore Vietnam & Cambodia. Tony our guide made it special by introducing us to locals and showing us the real charm of these countries. The whole tour was well-organized & the way they took care of us awesome. It's an unforgettable trip and I'll definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to experience the beauty of Southeast Asia.

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1 January 2024 ★★★★★

My group of six completed a 30 day cycling tour in Asia with AAT. We traveled form Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket & Saigon to Siem Reap. Every day we pedaled through stunning countryside views, passing villages, fields & limestone karsts. Our guide Tony was fantastic-interesting, friendly & personable. This experience stood out as the highlight of our Asia trip.

Discover Asia with our multi-day cycling adventures, suitable for riders of any skill level. Count on our quality bikes, knowledgeable guides, and excellent support for an incredible experience.

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    • James
    • Asia Specialist
    • Linh
    • Thailand and Asia Specialist
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