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    • Spring
      • Eating Wild in Japan

        Eating Wild in Japan

        Winifred Bird's latest book is an introduction to the world of sansai (mountain vegetables) and foraging in Japan.
        Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkaido

        Get a bird's eye view of Hokkaido with Ben Kerr, a Niseko-based pilot.

        Northern Tohoku’s Top 5 Spring Hikes

        Chase the cherry blossoms north and enjoy five of Tohoku’s best hikes this spring.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor Activities in Japan

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.

        Haga Farm Spring Glamping in Tochigi

        Haga Farm and Glamping in Tochigi opened in August 2020, and it has quickly become a popular escape for Tokyoites.
    • Summer
      • Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
        Climbing Mt. Fuji Outdoor Japan

        Peaking in 2021: Climbing Mt. Fuji

        Thinking of climbing Mt. Fuji this summer? We talk to Mt. Fuji guides on best practices for scaling Japan's highest mountain.

        Japan Camping Guide

        Check out our picks all the way from Hokkaido to the Okinawa Islands and then plot your perfect Japan camping adventure.
        Japan's Digital Nomads Van Life in Japan

        Japan’s Digital Nomads

        Adventure couple Ruth Aisling and Bappa Shota explores Japan by van.
        Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endangered Wildcats

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
    • Autumn
      • Pow Bar Founder Megumi Scott

        Beyond the Brand: Pow Bar

        An interview with Megumi Scott, the founder of Niseko brand Pow Bar.
        Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
        Mountain Biking in Japan

        Guide Lines: Autumn Mountain Biking in Japan

        Check out these mountain biking parks throughout Japan.
    • Winter
      • Early Bird 2021-22 Japan Ski

        Early Bird Ski Deals for 2021-2022

        Don't miss out on these early bird season pass and lift package deals for Japan's ski resorts.

        Pacific Solo

        Preacher-tu...
    • Near Tokyo
    • Near Kyoto
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
        Outdoor Japan Shimoda

        Blue Waves and Black Ships in Shimoda

        Shimoda may be famous for its white sandy beaches and surfing, but it also played a major role in shaping the Japan we know today.
    • River and Lake
      • Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endanger...

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
        Iriomote Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote Activity Guide

        A guide to Iriomote's outdoors, hiking, diving, cultural experiences and accommodation.
        Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkai...

        Get a bird's eye view of Hokkaido with Ben Kerr, a Niseko-based pilot.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor A...

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.
        video

        Shikoku Road Trip: Kochi ...

        Mountainous forests and coastal towns dominate most of the prefecture, where visitors will find enterprising locals and nature guides working to revitalize their communities. Shikoku’s winding roads are best explored by car.
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
    • Snow and Ice
      • Matagi Akita Tohoku Sustainable Living

        Tracking Akita’s Matagi Hunters

        Akita in the northern Tohoku region is home to the Matagi, hunters who follow an ancient and sustainable way of hunting, foraging and life.
        Early Bird 2021-22 Japan Ski

        Early Bird Ski Deals for 2021-2022

        Don't miss out on these early bird season pass and lift package deals for Japan's ski resorts.
    • Travel
      • Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
        Matagi Akita Tohoku Sustainable Living

        Tracking Akita’s Matagi Hunters

        Akita in the northern Tohoku region is home to the Matagi, hunters who follow an ancient and sustainable way of hunting, foraging and life.
        Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
    • Food and Drinks
      • Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
        Matagi Akita Tohoku Sustainable Living

        Tracking Akita’s Matagi Hunters

        Akita in the northern Tohoku region is home to the Matagi, hunters who follow an ancient and sustainable way of hunting, foraging and life.
        Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
    • Races and Events
      • Yuji Hirayama Urban Base Camp

        Yuji Hirayama’s Urban Base Camp Opens in Shinj...

        One of Japan's top rock climbers Yuji Hirayama has opened Urban Base Camp, a new bouldering gym in the heart of Tokyo.
        Photo by Noriteru Ino

        2021 Summer Music Festivals in Japan

        Camp and listen to great music in the outdoors at these summer music festivals across Japan.
        Summer Events Fireworks Festivals in Japan

        2021 Fireworks Festivals in Japan

        Enjoy these fireworks festivals held throughout Japan this summer and autumn.
        Summer Festivals in Japan

        2021 Summer Festivals in Japan

        Enjoy these traditional matsuri festivals throughout Japan this summer.

Tips for Cycling in Japan

A Cycling Journey to Experience the Local Life in Japan

Why cycle Japan? What most cyclists, Japanese and foreigners alike, find alluring about cycling this country, even more so than the safety, cleanliness and hospitality, is  the constant change. I agree. I often bike overseas, especially in mountainous regions in the Himalayans and the Andes. What amazes me most upon my return from such trips is that the scenery always keeps changing while cycling in Japan. In a matter of minutes, it alternates between a village, a field, sea, mountains and so on. What awaits me after the next turn? I find myself pedaling harder with anticipation.

The key in stitching together a good cycling route in Japan is road selection. Main national routes across the country are lined with chain restaurants and electronics stores and others of the kind. They are also heavily trafficked and dangerous to bike on. Naturally, you see very few people on the roadside. This changes dramatically once you veer off onto less traveled roads.

In cycle touring, I believe the roads on which you ride matter much more than areas you travel or points you visit. Popular tourist destinations such as temples and museums have their attractions but I would rather be closer to local people and their life while pedaling—and stopping from time to time.

This is exactly why I have published many cycling guides and most recently, “CYCLING JAPAN: 10 of the Best Rides, Volume 1.”
Faceless roads do not interest me. I like roads to be part of communities, which we cyclists can share with people walking and talking just the way they have been for many years.

Transporting your bike and luggage

Japanese public transportation does not allow cyclists to carry on bicycles with both wheels attached. You need to remove at least one wheel and place it, with the frame, in a rinko, or bicycle carrying bag. These are available at specialty bike shops in major cities.

A rinko bag also comes in handy when you need or want to quit the ride or take shortcut. Other pieces of luggage can be sent by takyubin (parcel delivery) to/from a hotel or a depot station. Takyubin is available all post offices and most convenience stores.

Takashi Niwa
Takashi Niwa founded and runs Yamamichi Adventure (Web: www.yamamichi.jp). He actively organizes cycling tours and guides people to many places in Japan and around world, from back alleys of Tokyo to remote villages in Tibet. Takashi has also authored many cycling books and guides. He is a Specialized Rider.

Hokkaido: Northbound to Cape Soya
Cape Soya is one of Japan’s most sacred cyclo-pilgrimage destinations. It is the northernmost spot in the country—that alone is what lures many cyclists. But that is only a part of the story.

The stereotypical image of Japan being jam-packed does not apply to Hokkaido, the northernmost of the four main islands that make up the Japanese archipelago. Riding out of Asahikawa, Hokkaido’s second largest city and regional hub, head directly north to “land’s end.”

After Asahikawa there are no major cities as the route detours to avoid bustling Route 40. Traffic is light and there is not even a single convenience store for nearly 100 kilometers. You can hardly believe this is Japan! The biker’s imagination turns these vast stretches of land, forest and water into a cycling heaven.

Enjoy the brief summer of Hokkaido, when fields, pastures and forests are all covered with a brilliant verdure, before the first snow hits the ground sometimes as early as October. Red foxes and ezo shika (shika means deer and ezo is the ancient name for Hokkaido) may greet you along the way.

As the land narrows between the sea to the east and west, you will be entering the Sarobetsu Mire. There are no more mountains that hinder your view and the land meets the sky at the horizon. Mount Rishiri (aka Rishiri Fuji), the conical shape resembling Mt. Fuji, gradually stands out from the sea as you pedal north.

You pass the small city of Wakkanai and cruise along the coast of Soya Bay. On a fine day, you will see Karafuto (Sakhalin Islands) on the other side of the channel. The coastline winds its way several times past “fake” capes before reaching Cape Soya. Voila! You have reached the northernmost land in Japan.

[Route information]
Total distance: 330.6 km. (from Asahikawa to Cape Soya)
Best in: June to September

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