Current as of: April 24, 2024 - 19:30

Japan

Cycling in Japan Trip Notes

  • Ways to Travel: Guided Group
  • Destination: Japan
  • Programmes: Cycling
  • Activity Level:

    4 out of 7 - Moderate / Challenging

  • 16 Days: Flight Inclusive
  • 14 Days: Land Only
  • Ages: 16+
  • Trip Code: MOJ
  • Carbon Footprint: 15kg CO2e

Trip Overview

From Tokyo to Kyoto, enjoy a­­ road-based bike tour in the Land of the Rising Sun ­­

There is no better way to experience the ever-changing landscapes of Japan than on two wheels, as we pedal along the Fukui coast to the picturesque farmlands and remote mountainous regions of Takayama and Unesco-listed Shirakawa-go. From temples, shrines and markets to hot springs, this trip offers excellent rural cycling without compromising on the cultural elements. No trip to Japan would be complete without a visit to Kyoto, with its Zen gardens and geisha districts, and futuristic Tokyo, sprawling, inimitably busy and extraordinary.

At a Glance

  • 13 nights in hotels, traditional Japanese style hotels and ryokans
  • Nine days of cycling with partial vehicle support (limited seats)
  • 90 percent paved roads, 10 percent country lanes or gravel paths
  • Mainly undulating with a few steady climbs
  • Special cherry blossoms and autumn colours departures
  • Local bike hire included
  • E-bikes available for an additional cost (limited and subject to availability)

Highlights

  • Cycle rural roads through peaceful Japanese countryside
  • Discover temples, Zen gardens and geisha districts in Kyoto
  • Ride the tranquil Fukui coast by the Sea of Japan
  • Visit the Unesco-listed historic village of Shirakawa-go

Is This Trip for You?

This trip is classified as Road and Activity Level 4 (Moderate/Challenging). For more on our trip gradings, visit our Activity Level Guidelines page.

  • Nine days of cycling
  • Average 37mi (60km) per day
  • Partial vehicle support (with limited seats)

We cycle more than 310mi (500km) over nine days with an average of 37mi (60km) per day, so a good level of fitness is required. We cycle mostly on surfaced roads with a few sections on country lanes, cycle paths and gravel. The routes are mainly undulating but they get hillier on the inland section to Takayama and Shirakawa-go, where we face some steady climbs. A support vehicle (with limited seats) accompanies us throughout, except for the city bike tours in Kanazawa and Kyoto.

Routes follow mainly quiet backroads with low levels of traffic, but this does increase when approaching towns. We aim to cycle most of the route door-to-door, with only a few transfers and train rides organised to shorten some distances and avoid busier roads. Most rides will include some short sections through lit tunnels.

This trip is great for a first-time visit to Japan as it encompasses the varying aspects of the destination, from the serenity and history of Kyoto to modern Tokyo.

Some nights are spent in Japanese style accommodation and guesthouses with shared facilities.

Please be advised, bike hire is included and there is no option to bring your own bike on this trip.

Group

There will be a local cycling leader and an assistant leader driving the support vehicle. For groups with nine passengers or more, a second sweeper cycling support leader also accompanies groups.

Adult min age: 16

Min group size: 4

Max group size: 16

Itinerary

Cycling in Japan

Land Only

  • Start City: Tokyo
  • End City: Kyoto

Land Only Itinerary

Day 1
Start Tokyo

Our tour starts in Tokyo, the busy capital of Japan, which has a unique contrast of ultramodern and traditional, from neon-lit skyscrapers to historic temples. With so much to see and do here, we recommend arriving a day or two early to explore the array of attractions at your own pace (speak to your sales representative to arrange a pre-tour stay).

Accommodation: Shinagawa Prince Hotel (or similar)

Day 2
Morning orientation walk and free afternoon to explore Tokyo

Today we enjoy a half-day orientation tour encompassing some of the city highlights, starting from the popular Asakusa district, where we visit Senso-ji, a seventh-century Buddhist temple. We approach the temple via the Nakamise, a shopping street home to a variety of traditional snacks and souvenirs. We then continue towards the Ueno area and walk through the beautiful public park filled with temples, shrines and about half a dozen museums. The afternoon is free for individual sightseeing; your leader can recommend other local attractions, such as Shibuya, known for the busy crossing, and Meiji Shrine.

Accommodation: Shinagawa Prince Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 3
Train to Kanazawa; afternoon cycle loop and sightseeing

In the morning, we take the express train (approximately 2hr 30min) to Kanazawa, in the western Ishikawa Prefecture, an atmospheric town that once rivalled Kyoto as the historic jewel of mainland Japan. After lunch, we enjoy a short cycling loop around the city, a good opportunity to fine-tune the bikes while enjoying some of the main attractions in town. We ride through the popular Nagamachi Samurai District, an area that preserves a historic atmosphere with samurai residences, narrow lanes and canals. We also visit Kenrokuen, one of the most beautiful landscape gardens in Japan, which is particularly spectacular during cherry blossom and autumn season.

Accommodation: Dormy Inn Kanazawa (or similar)

Distance covered: 8mi (13km)

Ascent: 591ft (180m)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 4
Cycle from Kanazawa along the seaside coast; enjoy sunset at Oshima Bridge

We depart Kanazawa after breakfast and cycle to the sea on a dedicated cycling path along the rugged coastline and past fishing villages. After a leisurely and flat ride by the Sea of Japan, we arrive at Kaga, a town known for hot springs and traditional crafts. Here, we take a break from cycling to enjoy a local lunch.

Recharged and rejuvenated, we continue the journey towards the resort of Kyukamura, our final destination, and enjoy sunset at nearby Oshima Bridge.

Accommodation: Kyukamura Echizen Mikuni (or similar)

Distance covered: 45mi (72km)

Ascent: 1,558ft (475m)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5
Ride the dramatic Echizen-kaigan Coast; journey inland towards Echizen

Today, we ride south along the Echizen-kaigan coastline before turning inland towards the town of Echizen, the city of artisans. En route, we stop by a traditional pottery village to learn about the rich history of Echizen ware and enjoy a soba noodle lunch. After, we continue our cycle to to Echizen.

Accommodation: Route Inn Takefu Inter Hotel or Hotel Route-Inn Sabae (or similar)

Distance covered: 44mi (70km)

Ascent: 3,018ft (920m)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6
Experience traditional Japanese knife-making; ride along one of the first train lines in Japan to the village of Tsuruga

We start with a deep dive into the world of traditional Japanese knife-making at the Takefu knife village. During our visit, we not only learn about this centuries-old craft, but also make our own letter opener.

Afterwards, we ride back out to the coast along one of the  first train lines in Japan, now a cycling route. Along the way, we visit the splendid house of a ship owner from the Edo period and stop for a lunch with scenic views.

This evening, we enjoy a dinner at a local restaurant in the village of Tsuruga, where we spend the next two nights.

Accommodation: Hotel Route-Inn Tsuruga Ekimae (or similar)

Distance covered: 25mi (41km)

Ascent: 1,526ft (465m)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7
Final ride in the Fukui prefecture, taking in the lakes of Mikata and Wakasa Bay; visit the Takarasu rice field terraces

After breakfast, for our final ride in the Fukui prefecture, we embark on a loop around the five lakes of Mikata and Wakasa Bay, including a break for lunch at a seafood restaurant in a tranquil setting.

Today’s cycling route also passes through Wakasa Wan Quasi-National Park and offers magnificent views throughout, before finishing the day with a visit to the Takarasu rice field terraces.

Accommodation: Hotel Route-Inn Tsuruga Ekimae (or similar)

Distance covered: 54mi (87km)

Ascent: 4,701ft (1,433m)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 8
Travel to Unesco-listed Shirakawa-go village by train and bus; overnight in a traditional ‘gassho-zukuri’ farmhouse

We take a break from cycling today and experience a dramatic change of landscape as we travel inland by shinkansen (bullet train) to Kanazawa and then bus (approximately three hours) to Shirakawa-go, a secluded mountainous region cut off from the rest of Japan for a long period of time. Villages in this area are famous for their traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, which were declared a Unesco site in 1995. Their unique architectural style is characterised by steep thatched roofs, built to withstand heavy winter snowfall, and provide a large attic space for the cultivation of silkworms. We arrive in Shirakawa-go in the afternoon in time to enjoy a leisurely walk through the picture-perfect mountain village, with the opportunity to visit some of the oldest buildings. Although not always guaranteed due to limited availability, we usually spend the night at one or more gassho-zukuri, run by local farmers, allowing us to get a real feel of a Japanese family home.

Accommodation: Gassho Zukuri Houses or Toyota Shirakawa-Go Eco-Institute (when gassho-zukuri not available)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9
Challenging ride to Hida Takayama, at the foothills of the Japanese Alps

Today is the most challenging ride of the trip as we cycle inland to Hida Takayama, at the foothills of the Japanese Alps. Riding out of Shirakawa-go, from an altitude of approximately 1,640ft (500m), we gradually climb up 3,610ft (1,100m) for the first 28mi (45km) of the route. There are some wonderful views to enjoy along the way, from the picturesque shores of Miboro Lake and quaint rural villages to hillsides and forested valleys that burst into colour during autumn. On the last section of the ride, we enjoy two great descents before reaching our destination: Hida Takayama, often named Little Kyoto because of the similarity of its architecture and quaint atmosphere.

Accommodation: Takayama Ouan (or similar)

Distance covered: 50mi (80km)

Ascent: 4,265ft (1,300m)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 10
Cycle to the castle town of Gujo Hachiman, past little villages, local shrines and paddy fields

Today we cycle the Hida Seseragi Highway, a beautiful route following swift mountain streams (and one of the most popular places to experience the striking autumn colours in Japan). Riding past little villages, shrines and paddy fields, we reach the pleasant riverside town of Gujo-hachiman, known for its pristine waterways and 16th-century castle. Before dinner, we have time for a pleasant stroll through the vibrant town centre and along the atmospheric canals and waterways, which are still used daily by the local people for washing rice, vegetables and laundry. Time and energy permitting, we have the option to walk to the hilltop castle built in 1559 by the local feudal lord, where we can enjoy wonderful vistas.

Accommodation: Onoso Ryokan (or similar)

Distance covered: 44mi (70km)

Ascent: 2,625ft (800m)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 11
Cycle along the Nagara River to the town of Gifu

Today’s pleasant and more leisurely ride follows the Nagara River, famed across Japan for its clear water and quiet beauty. Some sections of the riverside are particularly picturesque during cherry blossom season when more than 400 cherry trees are in full and glorious bloom. We pedal along the river for most of the day and stop in the pleasant town of Mino, a century-old production centre of high-quality traditional Japanese paper. Our final destination today is Gifu; we should arrive in time for an optional visit to the castle atop Mount Kinka. We overnight in Gifu City.

Accommodation: Gifu Washington Hotel Plaza (or similar)

Distance covered: 44mi (70km)

Ascent: 984ft (300m)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 12
Travel to Kyoto by train; free time for sightseeing

We take a break from cycling today; instead, we travel by train (approximately two hours) to the wonderful city of Kyoto. With more than 2,000 temples, shrines and gardens, Kyoto is a treasure house of Japanese heritage and remains one of the most fascinating cities in Asia. Unlike many other Japanese towns, it escaped the ravages of both the Second World War and modern urban development thereby keeping intact much of the spirit and architecture of traditional Japan. The day is free for individual sightseeing with many highlights to explore, including Nijo castle, built in 1603 as a residence for the Tokugawa shoguns; Kiyomiduzera temple; and the scenic Fushimi Inari Shrine, featured in the movie Memoirs of a Geisha (2005). We also recommend a walk in the historic district of Gion, which is at its most atmospheric in the early evening, when the lanterns are lit and apprentice geishas flit about the backstreets as they head to their appointments.

Accommodation: Via Inn Prime Kyoto-eki Hachijoguchi (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 13
Final circular ride in Kyoto exploring the pleasant district of Arashiyama and two seasonal temples

Today’s cycling loop explores some of the best areas and attractions of Kyoto, heading first towards Arashiyama, a pleasant district in the western outskirts of the city. The area has been a popular destination since the Heian Period (794-1185) when nobles would enjoy its natural setting. After pedalling through the charming centre, via the iconic Togetsukyo Bridge and bamboo grove, we continue back into Kyoto following a different route. On the way, we stop for a visit to Ryoanji Temple, the site of the most famous rock garden in Japan, and the splendid Kinkakuji (also known as the Golden Pavilion), an icon of the nation.

Finally, we cycle via the Philosopher’s Path, a pedestrian and cycling path that follows a cherry tree-lined canal in northern Kyoto, until reaching Kyoto station where our last ride finishes.

In the evening, the leader arranges an optional celebratory farewell dinner in one of the most authentic restaurants in the city.

Accommodation: Via Inn Prime Kyoto-eki Hachijoguchi (or similar)

Distance covered: 25mi (40km)

Ascent: 1,312ft (400m)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 14
End Kyoto

The tour ends this morning after breakfast. Of course, if you’d like a bit more time to explore, speak to your sales representative about extending your stay.

Meals included: Breakfast

Ascents, descents and distances

All ascents, descents and distances listed above have been measured by our local partners or tour leaders, in many cases with satellite-based mapping software. Please note, different GPS measuring devices can give differing results, particularly on winding paths or in mountainous terrain. Measurements stated throughout these trips notes are given to help you understand the types of terrain and distances you will encounter. Timings stated will vary depending on the pace of your group.

Accommodation

Hotels, traditional Japanese style hotels and ryokans

Cycling in Japan

We use a mix of western and Japanese style hotels and ryokans (traditional Japanese inns).

Whilst ryokans (traditional Japanese Inns) are comfortable and full of local character, rooms do not generally have private facilities and bedding is normally thick futon mattresses placed on tatami mats on the floor. Some of the accommodations may have a private onsen, which means you can soak as soon as you arrive in from cycling, a superb way to recuperate after a day on the bike.

In the Unesco-listed town of Shirakawa-go, we usually spend one night in a gassho-zukuri farmhouse. In the traditional style, guest rooms come with tatami mat floors, futons, and a low table. Toilets are typically modern but shared. Due to limited availability, the group may stay in different houses near each other, and the accommodation may be dormitory style with up to six people (split according to sex) sharing a room. Staying here is a unique and memorable experience.

A single supplement can be booked only for the 10 nights’ hotel accommodation in Tokyo, Kanazawa, Echizen, Tsuruga, Takayama, Gifu and Kyoto for a supplement payable at the time of booking and subject to availability. Elsewhere a single room may be available locally on payment of a supplement but, as some of the accommodation used can be quite small, this cannot be guaranteed.

Please note, the accommodations listed in the itinerary are the standard accommodation used. However, there may be some departures where groups stay at similar establishments of a similar quality.

Onsen (Japanese public bath)

For many visitors to Japan, the onsen is unfamiliar territory. An onsen is a Japanese hot spring and the bathing facilities and inns frequently situated around them. The combination of a strict bathing etiquette, that nudity is compulsory, and that the water temperature is often hotter than most hot tubs can cause some reluctance for first timers. However, once the courage is mustered, you may discover that an onsen dip is a trip highlight. Please note, you may be refused entry if you have large, visible tattoos. The leader will explain etiquette, but it is expected that you shower before stepping into the hot spring/bath.

Single supplement from £ 430

Food & Drink

All breakfasts and five dinners are included.

Japanese cuisine is usually one of the main highlights of any trip to Japan. It is based on rice with miso soup and other dishes usually prepared with seasonal ingredients. Seafood is very common, and usually grilled or deep fried. Sushi and sashimi aside, other staple dishes include soba or udon noodles, sukiyaki (meat, fish and vegetables cooked in broth) and yakiniku (grilled meat).

Some of the included dinners are taken at Japanese style hotels or ryokans (traditional guesthouses), which may serve a kaiseki-style dinner, a multi-course meal including a dozen tiny dishes prepared with locally sourced seasonal ingredients. When food is not included, your leader can recommend the best local eateries and arrange some group meals for a full immersion in the varied and excellent cuisine of Japan.

Please note, the availability of certain specialised products for restricted diets, eg gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan, is minimal or non-existent in Japan. The group meals arranged by the tour leader will be in traditional eateries where the choices of vegan dishes may be limited to simple salads or boiled rice; however, there are several vegan restaurants in Kyoto and Tokyo.

You may also find it beneficial to bring cycling snacks with you from home if you have high-energy bars or gels you like to use during a ride. For those who wish to contribute, a kitty is normally arranged and will be used to provide snacks and drinks during the rides.

Transport

Transport during the trip is by train, metro, bus and occasionally private minibus. Most rides on this trip are point-to-point so the number of transfers on the trip is limited. When transfers by train or bus are planned, journeys are generally short (two to four hours) and comfortable.

Vehicle support

The support vehicle will accompany riders most of the time; however, there are only two seats available so you may have to take turns if you wish to skip parts of the rides. Please note, the van will not follow the group during the cycling tour in Kanazawa and Kyoto.

Weather & Seasonality

Japan has four very distinct seasons, although weather patterns vary across the island. Our aim has been to avoid the extremely cold winters and humid summers and settle for the more pleasant climates of spring and autumn, which are more comfortable for cycling. Temperatures in March, April and November will be around 14C-17C (57F-63F) during the daytime and 7C-10C (45F-50F) at night. May, June and October are usually milder with temperatures ranging from 14C (57F) at night up to 27C (81F) during the day, although the likelihood of rain is higher during these months.

It is important to be prepared by packing warm clothing and layers for cold weather (especially for the March and November departures) in the interior in the region of Shirakawa-go and Takayama.

Joining Instructions

Key information

Start hotel: Shinagawa Prince Hotel, 4 Chome-10-30 Takanawa, Minato City, Tokyo 108-8611, Japan
Phone: +81 3-3440-1111
Recommended arrival time: You can arrive at any time today, check in at the hotel is from 15:00. There will be a welcome briefing in the evening, but if you miss it the leader will update you separately
Airport: Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT) or Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND)

Upon arrival at the hotel, please advise the reception staff that you are part of the Exodus group. The leader will leave a note at reception to advise you of the time to meet.

Private transfers are not available on this trip.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start: Tokyo
Location end: Kyoto

Transfer Details

2024 departures

From 2024, group flights and transfers will no longer be available on this trip.

Japan’s public transport system is excellent, efficient and is the expected mode of transport for both locals and visitors to the country. The public transport systems have become increasingly easier to use, and everywhere you will find signage is provided in English.

What To Take

Essential Equipment

  • Warm clothes and layers (it can be cold in the mountains, especially on the March and November departures)
  • Water bottle
  • Lightweight waterproof jacket or poncho and umbrella
  • Sunscreen
  • Light cotton trousers (pants) and lightweight long-sleeve shirts
  • Casual clothing (for sightseeing and restaurants)
  • Sun hat
  • Cash in yen
  • Travel insurance
  • A first-aid kit is carried on each trip, but you should bring you own with diarrhoea treatment, painkillers, rehydration sachets, plasters (band-aids) and a blister-treatment kit

On Day 8, your bags will go ahead to Takayama, which means you are without your main luggage for the night in Shirakawa-go. This is also the case on Day 11 as your bags go ahead to Kyoto, meaning you are without your main luggage in Gifu. This is necessary to ensure you don’t have to carry heavy luggage on public transport transfers. We therefore suggest you pack a small backpack that can be used for these two nights to store your overnight necessities.

For March and November departures, please bring extra layers including full-length gloves and a scarf/cycling buff as coastal winds can be cold.

There are some train journeys on the trip and the stations are large and busy – we would advise you therefore to try to pack as lightly as possible as you will need to carry your own luggage at the beginning of the trip on the journey from Tokyo to Kanazawa. In most locations, there is a coin laundry service in the hotels, which means you can wash and dry clothes on the move easily. These are not expensive to operate and there is usually time each evening to use them.

Equipment Hire

Included standard bike
The standard bikes for this trip are Trek FX and Cannondale Quick road bikes. There is no option to bring your own bike on this trip.

We will take your height at the time of booking to reserve equipment. If you have a preferred bike size, please request when booking.

E-bike upgrade
Electric bikes are available on this trip; prices from £750/US$1125/1425 Canadian dollars. Speak to your sales representative for more information.

Accessories and clothing

Bringing equipment from home
You’re welcome to bring your own equipment, such as SPD pedals or clipless pedals, your own saddle (excluding the seat post), or gel saddle cover for the hire bikes. Your leader will help you fit these when bikes are distributed.

Helmets
Helmets are mandatory for everyone on a guided Exodus cycling trip. You must bring your own as, following best safety practice, they are not available for hire.

Cycling clothing
For all cycling trips we recommend:

  • Padded cycling shorts: For destinations with more modest cultures, we also recommend loose ‘over-shorts’ for riding or rest stops
  • Eyewear: Either sunglasses or eye protection with clear lenses to protect the eyes while riding
  • Cycling gloves: Especially for riding off-road or on rugged surfaces
  • Cycling shoes: Cycling is more efficient with stiff-soled shoes. We don’t recommend open-toed shoes or sandals
  • Small close-fitting backpack or bum bag (fanny pack): To keep spare clothing or essential items to hand during the ride

A quality local hire bike is now included in the overall price of our cycling holidays (excluding UK trips). At the time of booking we will take your height in order to reserve equipment. If you have a preferred bike size then please request this at the time of booking otherwise we will assign a bike based on your height. There may on occasions be insufficient bikes available in the correct size; we will endeavour to find suitable alternative equipment but this cannot be guaranteed. We will tell you before you book whether suitably sized bikes are available.

Conditions

1. The equipment remains the property of the supplier and you may not sell, hire out or part possession with the equipment.

2. You must not misuse the equipment and must return it in the same condition as when received (ordinary wear and tear excepted). The supplier is entitled to charge for any damage caused to the equipment during the period of hire.

3. You must ensure the equipment is adequately secured when not in use. In the event of the equipment being lost or stolen, you may be liable for the replacement value of the equipment.

4. You must not use the equipment while under the influence of drink or drugs and should immediately notify the Supplier in the event of breakdown or loss.

Practical Information

Visa

Japan

Travellers from the UK, US and EU normally do not need a visa to enter Japan. Please note, visa requirements often change and it is your responsibility to obtain any required visas for this trip. Therefore, we recommend that you check with the nearest embassy or consulate of your chosen destination(s), including any countries you may be transiting or transferring through.

Some local governments provide guidance on what visas their citizens need. To help, we’ve gathered a selection of useful links below.

Vaccinations and Health

Japan

There are no required vaccinations. However, recommended vaccinations include hepatitis B, tetanus, Japanese encephalitis, rabies (bat lyssavirus) and tick-borne encephalitis. Please confirm with your doctor or travel clinic.

Local Time

Japan's time zone: Asia/Tokyo (UTC +09:00)

Electricity

Japan's electricity: Plug types A (two flat pins) and B (three pins: two flat, one round) – 100V, 50Hz/60Hz. Most battery chargers function at this voltage, but do check their documentation.

Cycling in Japan

Money

Japan's currency: Japanese yen (JPY)

ATM Availability

We recommend obtaining some Japanese yen before arrival, although you should check the exchange rate carefully. Japan is a very safe country and the local people often carry large amounts without problems. Exchange facilities are fairly widely available, including at the airport on arrival, and it is also possible to change money in the bigger cities and towns.

ATMs are widely available at all convenience stores within Japan. This is the easiest and recommended option for international travellers wishing to withdraw cash.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

Budget for optional entrance fees and transport fares not included in the itinerary (during free time in cities). The cost of these will vary according to individual preferences but a figure of around 14,600-18,200 (US$100-US$130) is reasonable.

For meals not included in the cost of the trip, budget around 2,000 yen (US$14) for lunch and 2,000-4,000 JPY (US$14-US$28) for dinner.

Tipping

Tipping is not expected or required in Japan. However, if you feel your leader has performed well over the course of your trip, you may want to show your appreciation of their services. The sum you choose to give is entirely personal, but as a guide we recommend approximately 5,500 yen (US$40) per person per leader, and 1,820-2,750 yen (US$13-US$19.50) per person for the driver.

People, Places & Planet

We work hard to create trips that improve life for the people and places we visit and look after the planet we explore. Find out more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here, and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here.

Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:

People

How this trip helps improve life for local communities.

  • The use of a local guide means our customers are well informed about local traditions and cultural-social sensitivities.
  • This trip brings income and opportunity to the destination community through the inclusion of locally owned hotels and restaurants, the emphasis on eating locally produced food, and by supporting other local enterprises.
  • Guests can stay at a family-run Japanese guesthouses (ryokans/minshukus) during the trip, where they will eat delicious home-cooked, traditional Japanese meals prepared by local people.
  • Although not always guaranteed due to limited availability, we usually spend one night in traditional gassho-zukuri houses, some of which were built more than 200 years ago and are still run by local farmers, allowing clients to get a real feel of a Japanese family environment while supporting these communities.
  • There is also the option to see traditional performing arts in Kyoto, including kyogen classical comedy, kyomai dance, gagaku music of the imperial court, bunraku puppet theatre, a tea ceremony, and flower arrangement. This encourages local customs to continue and creates employment opportunities.

Places

How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.

  • By travelling in a small group, led by a local guide, we ‘tread lightly’ to minimise our impact on local resources and the environment.
  • Our trips adhere to ABTA’s industry-leading animal welfare guidelines to ensure the best possible practices with regard to working animals and wildlife viewing. Our animal welfare policy can be found here.
  • We work with our partners on the ground to proactively eliminate or reduce waste. For example, we encourage eliminating all single-use plastic water bottles and instead encourage clients to drink the tap water, which is safe to drink in Japan. We encourage all clients to take a refillable water bottle with them on the tour.
  • During the tour, our guides educate guests on how to appropriately separate and dispose of any waste, as well as encouraging clients to use reusable chopsticks and canvas tote bags for shopping.
  • By sightseeing and visiting cultural sites (such as Ryoanji Temple and the splendid Kinkakuji in Kyoto and the Unesco-listed gasso-zukuri) our entrance fees go towards upkeep of these important sites.

 Planet

How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.

  • Read about Exodus Travels’ Planet Promise here, including our rewilding and carbon compensation commitments for every customer who travels.
  • This itinerary makes very limited use of private motorised vehicles since most of the cycling routes are point to point. hen transport is required, we mainly use public transport such as trains, metros and public buses.
  • Accommodation and restaurants in the itinerary mostly use locally sourced food which has not been transported long distances.
  • Vegetarian and vegan options are available at most accommodation and restaurants.
  • Most accommodations used on this trip adhere to strict environmental policies to save water and energy and lower their carbon footprint.

 Tips for sustainable travel on this trip

  • Leave no trace: We do all we can to ensure we leave no rubbish behind in the wild and beautiful places we visit; we ask that you do the same. If there are no recycling facilities in-country, we’d ask you to consider bringing recyclable materials home with you.
  • Plastic waste reduction: Please bring your own reusable water bottle on this trip. Tap water in Japan is safe for drinking, hence we strongly encourage clients to bring their own reusable water bottles for this purpose and minimise our usage of single-use plastic bottles.

Cultural respect:

  • Shoes are never worn in someone’s home or on Japanese tatami flooring (mats). There will always be a place to put your shoes. In addition, you will be given slippers to wear. There are often different slippers for the bathroom.
  • It is highly inappropriate to stick chopsticks into food, especially into a bowl of rice. This practice of placing chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice is a funerary practice known as tsukitate-bashi.
  • When eating soup or rice, it is acceptable to lift the bowl closer to your mouth to avoid spilling food. Generally, miso soup (which accompanies many meals) is drunk directly from the bowl, while larger soups are usually consumed by using a soup spoon.

Important Information

Your safe participation 

When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary. 

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity. 

By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred. 

How To Book

  1. Check availability: Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.
  2. Secure your place: You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.
  3. Complete your booking and payment

When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.

After booking

You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.

Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.

Trip Note validity

These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

Licensing

Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.