Bookend a week of cycling through Japan's glorious countryside with cultural and historic city experiences on this 15-day trip. Discover temples and bamboo groves in Kyoto, immerse yourself in traditional craft workshops in Kanazawa, and then begin your biking adventure along the scenic coast of the Noto peninsula. Cycle along beach roads, past endless rice terraces, and through quaint fishing villages, overnighting in spa towns to soak in hot springs before ending in the bright lights of Tokyo.


  • Cycle through a bamboo forest and past serene shrines near Kyoto
  • Make traditional pottery or lacquerware in the artsy town of Kanazawa
  • Ride past rice fields that flow to the ocean at the gorgeous Senmaida Rice Terraces
  • Savor the views over Notojima Island from an onsen bath in Wakura

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Osaka, Train to Kyoto Kyoto
Day 2 Temple & Castle Tour, Kimono Tea Ceremony & Samurai Museum Kyoto
Day 3 Cycle in Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Visit Kyoto Shrines Kyoto
Day 4 Historic Higashiyama Walking Tour, Train to Kanazawa Kanazawa
Day 5 Kanazawa Castle, Kenrokuen Gardens & Traditional Crafts Experience Kanazawa
Day 6 Bus to Uchinada, Begin Noto Peninsula Cycling Tour Hodatsushimizu
Day 7 Noto Peninsula Cycling Tour Day 2: North Along the West Coast Shika
Day 8 Noto Peninsula Cycling Tour Day 3: Ride Inland to Wajima Wajima
Day 9 Noto Peninsula Cycling Tour Day 4: Forest Roads & Rice Terraces Wajima
Day 10 Noto Peninsula Cycling Tour Day 5: The Road to Suzu Suzu
Day 11 Noto Peninsula Cycling Tour Day 6: Suzu to Wakura Onsen Nanao
Day 12 Noto Peninsula Cycling Tour Day 7: Notojima Island, Wakura Onsen Tour Nanao
Day 13 Finish Noto Peninsula Cycling Tour in Himi, Train to Tokyo Tokyo
Day 14 Best of Tokyo Tour Tokyo
Day 15 Depart Tokyo  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Osaka, Train to Kyoto

Kiyomizu Temple is a popular landmark in Kyoto
Welcome to beautiful Kyoto, the cultural capital of Japan

Welcome to Japan! After you arrive at Osaka's Kansai International Airport, make your way to the station for the half-hour bullet train to Kyoto. Overflowing with history and more traditional than its Tokyo counterpart, the pace of life is slower here, and the people tend to be more laid-back. This cultural powerhouse is known for its rich historical traditions, geisha entertainers, temples, gardens, and palaces.

Check into your ryokan (traditional inn), an old family-run business featuring locally made meals and Japanese-style design and furniture. Change into yukata (kimono pajamas) and enjoy the legendary omotenashi (Japanese hospitality) as you recover from your long flight.

Day 2: Temple & Castle Tour, Kimono Tea Ceremony & Samurai Museum

Kinkakuji Temple
See the gold-leaf walls of Kinkaku-ji temple in Kyoto

After breakfast, meet your guide to explore Kyoto's fantastic sights on a half-day tour. Begin at the UNESCO-listed Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion. Stroll through the gardens and marvel at the gold-leaf-covered structure reflected in the surrounding ponds. Then, continue to another UNESCO World Heritage site, Nijo Castle, home to the Edo period's first shogun (military leader). Explore the castle grounds while your guide provides insights into the architectural grandeur and lavish decor of the Ninomaru Palace.

Refresh at your hotel after your tour in preparation for this afternoon's traditional tea ceremony at Kyoto Maikoya. When you arrive, change into a kimono and learn about the ceremony, called sado or chanoyu. Sit down on a tatami mat and join in the ritual of matcha led by a knowledgeable tea master. After the ceremony, walk to the Samurai Ninja Museum to learn about these legendary warriors. Browse the collection of authentic samurai artifacts to gain insight into the lives of the samurai and ninja. 

Day 3: Cycle in Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Visit Kyoto Shrines

Cycle through the beautiful Arashiyama Bamboo Grove outside of Kyoto

Strap on your helmet and hop on your bike to explore the scenic district of Arashiyama, located on the outskirts of Kyoto. Visit Sagano Bamboo Grove, a natural bamboo forest that encompasses more than 3,800 acres (1,537 ha) and has trails that take you through the serene greenery of towering stalks. Cycle over the wooden Togetsukyo Bridge, the "moon crossing bridge," which ends at Iwatayama Monkey Park, home to a troop of more than 100 Japanese macaques. Watch these curious creatures at play, and you may even be able to feed them.

This afternoon's guided tour starts at Sanjusangendo, a temple featuring a central hall, the longest wooden structure in Japan, lined with 1,001 gold-leaf-encrusted statues of Kannon (the goddess of mercy). Continue to the famous Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine for an enchanting hike through the 10,000 red torii gates and follow the torii-lined route up the mountain for panoramic views. Walk back through the forest, discovering smaller shrines, moss-covered animal statues, and ancient stone tablets before returning to your hotel.

Day 4: Historic Higashiyama Walking Tour, Train to Kanazawa

The elegant imperial capital of Kyoto.
Walk the historic streets of Kyoto to discover temples and shrines

In the morning, check out of your hotel and meet your guide to begin a half-day walking tour of the historic Higashiyama district, one of the city's best-preserved traditional neighborhoods. Visit the must-see Kiyomizu-dera ("Pure Water Temple"), one of Japan's most celebrated temples, founded in 780 CE and constructed on the site of the Otowa Waterfall. Enjoy splendid views of the numerous cherry and maple trees, plus Kyoto below. You can also walk to the Jishu Shrine, which honors love and matchmaking. 

Then, walk through the narrow alleys of Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka, lined with shops selling souvenirs or snacks. Stop at the 17th-century Kodai-ji Zen Temple, known for its richly decorated architecture and beautiful Zen gardens. Then, end your tour at Chion-in, the head temple of the Jodo sect of Japanese Buddhism, to see the famous Sanmon, the largest wooden temple gate in the country, dating back 400 years. 

Afterward, return to your hotel for your luggage, then head to the railway station, where you'll board a 2.5-hour train to the beautiful city of Kanazawa. Home to historic Edo-era districts, museums, and a wealth of artisan handicrafts, you'll check into your hotel on arrival.

Day 5: Kanazawa Castle, Kenrokuen Gardens & Traditional Crafts Experience

Explore the sights of Kanazawa, including the picturesque Kanazawa Castle

Spend the morning exploring Kanazawa with your guide, beginning at the city's crown jewel, the Kenrokuen Gardens, which is spectacular in all seasons. Explore the quiet pathways with bridges, fountains, teahouses, and flowers of this beautifully preserved space, all designed to reflect the traditional attributes of the perfect Japanese landscape garden. Afterward, visit Kanazawa Castle, found directly across from the gardens, to roam around the complex and its imposing, traditional structures. 

In the afternoon, try your hand at some of Kanazawa's traditional crafts. Visit the 16th-century NOSAKU Lacquerware, which offers lacquerware lessons. Under the guidance of your instructor, learn how to color your own lacquer tray, choosing from a bright palette of colors and applying delicate gold dust. You can also explore your pottery skills at the Kutani Kosen Kiln. Sit down at the potter's wheel and roll up your sleeves as a vessel forms beneath your touch. Or, if you're interested in learning how to paste gold leaf or color Kaga Yuzen silk, just let your guide know.

Plan your trip to Japan
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 6: Bus to Uchinada, Begin Noto Peninsula Cycling Tour

Grab your bike and start a weeklong cycling tour of the gorgeous Noto peninsula

This morning, meet your professional cycling guide at your hotel in Kanazawa. Then, take the bus together north to Uchinada, a sporty beach town at the bottom of the Noto peninsula. Have your bike adjusted to fit you perfectly, then hop on to begin your epic weeklong cycling tour along Noto's west coast. This remote peninsula on the Sea of Japan is known for its rustic fishing villages, gorgeous coastal scenery, ancient agricultural traditions, and centuries-old crafting culture.

Cycle north along the scenic oceanside bike path for 20 miles (32 km), including the famed Chirihama Nagisa Driveway, a stretch of hard-packed sand ideal for cycling. You'll follow your guide along well-maintained roads, past hot springs, and incredible views, making this the ideal cycling experience in Japan. You can stop at one of the stalls selling fresh seafood along the way before reaching your beachside ryokan (traditional inn) in the town of Hodatsushimizu.

Day 7: Noto Peninsula Cycling Tour Day 2: North Along the West Coast

Stop to visit shrines and temples like Myojoji as you cycle along the Noto peninsula

Wake up early to see the sunrise, enjoy a traditional breakfast at your ryokan, and then hop on your bike for another day of cruising with your guide. Cycle north along the western coast of the Noto peninsula for around 31 miles (50 km), enjoying unique rock formations carved by the ocean, quaint fishing villages, lush hills, and rice fields. You'll also stop at one of the peninsula's most prominent shrines, the Keta Taisha Shrine, which appears in written records from the eighth century.

While there, write down a wish on a wooden ema (plate), and it may be answered someday. If you feel your energy lagging, you can always hop in a taxi or on public transportation for part of the way. On the bike, you'll also stop at the 17th-century Myojoji, the head temple of the Nichiren sect, renowned for its intricate, five-story-high wooden pagoda. Finally, after a full day of cycling, you'll reach your traditional ryokan in the town of Shika for the night, right on the sea. Savor a sunset over the Sea of Japan and a homemade dinner, then rest up for tomorrow.

Day 8: Noto Peninsula Cycling Tour Day 3: Ride Inland to Wajima

Traverse the peninsula today in the direction of the east coast town of Wajima

Enjoy a seaside breakfast before starting your day's cycling route, beginning along the scenic west coast before heading inland to the northwestern coast of the Noto peninsula. Ride for around 25 miles (40 km) behind your guide to the charming port town of Wajima, known for its delicate lacquerware, morning market, sea salt farms, and rice terraces.

On the way, stop at the famous Sekinohana, a rock formation created by ocean erosion, and the wooden Sojiji Temple, one of the head temples of the Soto school of Zen Buddhism. Once you arrive in Wajima, check into your traditional ryokan and rest before enjoying a delicious meal made with fresh local produce. 

Day 9: Noto Peninsula Cycling Tour Day 4: Forest Roads & Rice Terraces

Ride through the lush countryside of the Noto peninsula

After breakfast, strap your helmet tight and pedal to the millennium-old Asaichi Morning Market. There, you can push your bike along a pedestrian street, where shops and vendors sell all kinds of local produce like fresh seafood, vegetables, and lacquerware. Stop for a coffee or matcha and pick up some snacks for the day's ride. You'll have time to peruse the market before starting your ascent into the verdant mountains overlooking Wajima. Follow your guide along tranquil forest roads, riding through groves of pine trees that open to splendid views of rolling green hills.

Upon arriving at the summit, be rewarded with the sweeping vista of many tiers of terraced rice fields stretching to the ocean. Afterward, make the descent from a different direction and follow a new section of the coastline back to Wajima, feeling the cool breeze from the sea and soaking in the picturesque Japanese countryside. Admire the quaint villages with traditional residences, rice paddies, and more as you pedal along the small coastal roads. Finish your 16-mile (25 km) ride back in Wajima, where you'll have the afternoon free to explore.

Visit the beautiful collection of historical and modern lacquerware at the Wajima Lacquerware Museum. Admire the delicate craftsmanship and learn the lacquering process of each piece of Wajima-nuri, from carving the wooden base to decoration and final polishing. Known for its deep luster and durability, you might even like to take a piece home. Afterward, return to your inn to relax and rejuvenate in the onsen (hot spring) waters.

Day 10: Noto Peninsula Cycling Tour Day 5: The Road to Suzu

As you cycle along the coast, notice the spectacular rock formations like Mitsukejima Rock

This morning, take off early to beat the crowds and catch the famous seaside Senmaida Rice Terraces in the beautiful morning light. On this hillside of two thousand terraced rice fields overlooking the Sea of Japan, local farmers still plant and harvest by hand. Then, follow the waves to Enden Salt Village, home to Japan's ancient tradition of salt-making. Observe this salt farm's method of collecting seawater in fields and slowly condensing it to create some of Japan's tastiest salt. Sample some salted ice cream and pick up souvenirs for friends back home before continuing your ride. 

After some hilly ascents and descents, follow your guide along the cycle route as it transitions into peaceful mountain scenery toward Suzu, on the northeast coast of the Noto peninsula. Finish your 45-mile (72 km) ride in this delightful town, famous for its landmark Mitsukejima Rock. Once you arrive, check into your ryokan or minshuku (bed-and-breakfast) and freshen up. Soak in the onsen and watch the sunset over the beautiful Mitsukejima Island before a delicious kaiseki (traditional multicourse) dinner.

Day 11: Noto Peninsula Cycling Tour Day 6: Suzu to Wakura Onsen

Enjoy incredible ocean views during your longest bike ride of the trip 

Prepare yourself for the longest cycling day of the tour, a total trip of 56 miles (91 km) to Wakura Onsen on the coast of Nanao Bay. Wakura Onsen is a famous hot-spring resort with over 1,200 years of history. Cycle along the east coast of the Noto peninsula, with the tallest mountain range in Japan, the Japanese Alps, visible across Toyama Bay. Enjoy the contrast of snowcapped peaks and sandy beaches as you ride.

Follow your cycling guide past lush green hills, rugged cliffs, and sleepy villages before arriving in time for lunch in the small town of Anamizu, known for its sushi and lovely views of Nakai Bay. From here, continue your ride to Wakura Onsen, where you'll spend the night in a ryokan and soak in the hot springs.

Day 12: Noto Peninsula Cycling Tour Day 7: Notojima Island, Wakura Onsen Tour

Rest your tired muscles in one of the onsen baths in the thermal town of Wakura Onsen

After a morning soak and breakfast, hop back on your bike for a half-day ride across the Notojima Ohashi Bridge to Notojima Island. Enjoy exploring this picturesque island as you cycle past rolling green hills, rice fields, and quiet fishing villages with your guide. Make a round-trip of the island, then finish today's 30-mile (48 km) ride back in Wakura Onsen.

This afternoon, you can relax at your accommodation or explore more of the town. If you have a sweet tooth, head to Le Musée de H, a small museum created by a world-renowned pastry chef with a sugar artwork exhibition, a café, and a pastry shop. Alternatively, visit the Kado Isaburo Museum to appreciate modern lacquerware artworks. Afterward, savor a delicious seafood meal and unwind in the soothing hot springs for this final night of your cycling tour.

Day 13: Finish Noto Peninsula Cycling Tour in Himi, Train to Tokyo

View Across the Sensoji Temple, Tokyo
Finish your cycling tour in the beautiful nature around Himi on the Noto peninsula

On the last day of your weeklong Noto peninsula cycling trip, you'll pedal along the coast of Toyama Bay toward Himi, a small fishing town on the peninsula that's home to the delicacy himi kanburi (winter yellowtail tuna). Stroll through town to admire the collection of animé statues that dot the main street and enjoy the spectacular view of the Tateyama Mountain Range over Toyama Bay.

Finish today's 16-mile (25 km) ride at a local onsen for a quick dip to refresh. Then, treat yourself to a seafood lunch at the port to savor the freshest fish in town right off the boat. Enjoy lunch with your guide and fellow cyclists before saying farewell and catching a 2.5-hour train to Japan's capital, Tokyo, where you'll check into your hotel. 

Day 14: Best of Tokyo Tour

Sensō-ji Temple in Tokyo
Discover the temples and towers of Tokyo on a guided tour

Join your guide this morning for a full day exploring Tokyo's iconic landmarks, starting at the Tsukiji Outer Fish Market, a bustling hub with stalls offering seafood from sushi to grilled scallops. Fill up on fresh fish for breakfast or lunch, then head to the ancient Asakusa district to visit Senso-ji, one of Tokyo's most significant Buddhist temples, built in the seventh century.

Pass the giant lanterns on the Kaminarimon, the outer gate, then stroll along the buzzing, shop-lined Nakamise-dori. At the end of the road, you'll reach the second gate, Hozomon, which leads to the temple's main hall and a five-story pagoda, where you can pick up an omikuji (a Japanese fortune slip). You might also like to get a temple seal stamp near the main hall.

Next, head to one of the oldest places of worship in the city, the ancient Nezu Shrine, a Shinto shrine built in 1705 CE. Enter through the towering torii gates and follow the azalea-lined path to the main hall. Admire the intricate carvings of the shrine, then explore the koi-filled ponds, vermilion bridges, and stone lanterns. Continue a few blocks to the Yanaka District, one of the most well-preserved historic neighborhoods in the city. Wander along the narrow lanes, lined with wooden houses-turned-cafés, galleries, and shops before returning to your hotel.

Day 15: Depart Tokyo

Catch one last sunrise over Japan before departing Tokyo

Enjoy your last day in Japan with an early morning start to spot the sunrise over Tokyo. A shuttle service will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to the airport. Have a safe journey home or to your next destination!

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Map of Cultural & Cycling Tour in Japan - 15 Days
Map of Cultural & Cycling Tour in Japan - 15 Days