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    • Spring
      • video

        Finding the Flow from Kansai to Kochi

        Shikoku’s many mountains, valleys and proximity to the ocean has made it a hidden gem for rafting, kayaking and canyoning enthusiasts willing to take a step or two further from the Golden Route of Kyoto and Osaka.

        Solace and Giant Salamanders in Akiota

        Just beyond Hiroshima City is a tranquil outdoor destination home to some of Japan's last remaining oosanshouo, the elusive giant salamander.
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        The Oni Trail: Hiking Coastal Kyoto

        The mystical oni is prevalent in Japanese children’s stories, usually as a way to scare kids straight. Adventure Travel Kyoto is shedding a new light on this folklore and developing a new hiking route in the countryside of Kyoto.
    • Summer
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        The World is Our Playground

        The Pasche family has been cycling and living out of a tent in remote corners of the planet for the past 13 years on four continents spanning 50 countries.
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        Adventure Travel World Summit in Hokkaido

        The ATTA will host their first Adventure Travel World Summit in Asia in Hokkaido, Japan. We caught up with ATTA Director Shannon Stowell to find out more about the adventure travel industry and how it continues to grow and evolve.
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        The Sweet Secrets of Brewing Mead

        Wander into the world of mead brewing and find yourself immersed in a fascinating journey spanning centuries and continents.
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        The Knights in White Lycra

        Each year a group of cyclists head to the deep north towards Tohoku’s vast rice fields and coastal trails to help transform the lives of neglected children.
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        Sea to Table in Yamagata

        An unforgettable way to intimately explore the Shonai Region in Yamagata is a culinary experience bringing bounty of the sea straight to your table.
    • Autumn
    • Winter
      • camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
        sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
        ainu tour daniel moore outdoor japan hokkaido

        Heritage Hunting in Hokkaido

        Travelers venturing beyond Hokkaido's popular winter resorts will discover a land with a rich cultural and natural history, a proud indigenous people and a community striving to preserve their heritage.
        shizukuishi skiing snowboarding outdoor japan

        Shizukuishi

        Northern Honshu’s Iwate Prefecture, known for heavy snowfall, features Shizukuishi—a powder-rich resort area with views of Mt. Iwate. Snow enthusiasts seeking lesser-known gems can enjoy exceptional snow quality and uncrowded resorts, including Shizukuishi Ski Resort, Amihari Onsen Ski Resort, and Iwate Kogen Snow Park, offering affordability and traditional hospitality.
    • Near Tokyo
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        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Near Kyoto
      • Kumano’s Path Less Traveled

        A forgotten pilgrimage trail, ancient power spots and authentic rural communities are waiting to be explored this hiking season on the Iseji Trail. Stretch your legs and tickle your spirit to welcome the green season on one of the Kumano Kodo’s finest routes, minus the crowds.

        Protecting the Sacred Trees of Koya-san

        Within the misty mountains of Japan's Kii Peninsula, Koya-san (Mt. Koya), stands as a sacred realm of tranquility, history, and spiritual significance. This awe-inspiring mountain has been revered for centuries and is home to a unique collection of trees known as the rokuboku, or The Six Trees of Koya-san.
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • River and Lake
      • ainu tour daniel moore outdoor japan hokkaido

        Heritage Hunting in Hokka...

        Travelers venturing beyond Hokkaido's popular winter resorts will discover a land with a rich cultural and natural history, a proud indigenous people and a community striving to preserve their heritage.
        getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Snow and Ice
      • camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
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        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
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        Shizukuishi

        Northern Honshu’s Iwate Prefecture, known for heavy snowfall, features Shizukuishi—a powder-rich resort area with views of Mt. Iwate. Snow enthusiasts seeking lesser-known gems can enjoy exceptional snow quality and uncrowded resorts, including Shizukuishi Ski Resort, Amihari Onsen Ski Resort, and Iwate Kogen Snow Park, offering affordability and traditional hospitality.
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        Northern Shinshu’s Secret Stash

        A weak yen, revenge travel, and excellent ski conditions have led to high demand, booking out popular resorts like Hakuba and Nozawa Onsen this year. Fortunately, lesser-known gems like Togari Onsen, near Nozawa Onsen and Madarao, offer charming alternatives for powder seekers.
    • Travel
      • Okinawa’s Blue Zone —A Lifestyle for Longevity...

        Dan Buettner’s bestseller, “Blue Zones,” which was also adapted into a hit series on Netflix, identifies five regions with a high number of centenarians. One of these zones is Yambaru, in the north of Okinawa Island. A rich cultural and natural heritage remain in this region, holding the secret to the longevity of the communities living there.

        Kumano’s Path Less Traveled

        A forgotten pilgrimage trail, ancient power spots and authentic rural communities are waiting to be explored this hiking season on the Iseji Trail. Stretch your legs and tickle your spirit to welcome the green season on one of the Kumano Kodo’s finest routes, minus the crowds.

        Okinawa Forest Adventure

        Holiday-goers lounging on Onna’s white sand beaches are no doubt unaware of what’s going on high in the jungle as creatures climb above the forest canopy and zip or swing from tower to tower. Curious travelers will discover a new side of Okinawa’s tropical paradise if they take the leap into a Forest Adventure.

        Ryukyu’s Mountain Turtles – Interview wi...

        Okinawa attracts hordes of travelers to its sandy beaches and warm, clear water with divers and snorkelers often posting images of the majestic local sea turtles. The interior forest and rivers, however, are home to another Okinawa turtle also in need of protection—the small, reclusive, but equally beautiful, yamagame.

        Protecting the Sacred Trees of Koya-san

        Within the misty mountains of Japan's Kii Peninsula, Koya-san (Mt. Koya), stands as a sacred realm of tranquility, history, and spiritual significance. This awe-inspiring mountain has been revered for centuries and is home to a unique collection of trees known as the rokuboku, or The Six Trees of Koya-san.
    • Food and Drinks
      • Okinawa’s Blue Zone —A Lifestyle for Longevity...

        Dan Buettner’s bestseller, “Blue Zones,” which was also adapted into a hit series on Netflix, identifies five regions with a high number of centenarians. One of these zones is Yambaru, in the north of Okinawa Island. A rich cultural and natural heritage remain in this region, holding the secret to the longevity of the communities living there.

        Kumano’s Path Less Traveled

        A forgotten pilgrimage trail, ancient power spots and authentic rural communities are waiting to be explored this hiking season on the Iseji Trail. Stretch your legs and tickle your spirit to welcome the green season on one of the Kumano Kodo’s finest routes, minus the crowds.

        Okinawa Forest Adventure

        Holiday-goers lounging on Onna’s white sand beaches are no doubt unaware of what’s going on high in the jungle as creatures climb above the forest canopy and zip or swing from tower to tower. Curious travelers will discover a new side of Okinawa’s tropical paradise if they take the leap into a Forest Adventure.

        Ryukyu’s Mountain Turtles – Interview wi...

        Okinawa attracts hordes of travelers to its sandy beaches and warm, clear water with divers and snorkelers often posting images of the majestic local sea turtles. The interior forest and rivers, however, are home to another Okinawa turtle also in need of protection—the small, reclusive, but equally beautiful, yamagame.

        Protecting the Sacred Trees of Koya-san

        Within the misty mountains of Japan's Kii Peninsula, Koya-san (Mt. Koya), stands as a sacred realm of tranquility, history, and spiritual significance. This awe-inspiring mountain has been revered for centuries and is home to a unique collection of trees known as the rokuboku, or The Six Trees of Koya-san.
    • Races and Events
      • sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.

        Winter News and Notes

        Check out the latest news and winter events held at ski resorts all over Japan in 2024!
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Upcycling Okinawa

From used k-trucks to discarded e-bikes, optimist and opportunist Hiroaki Inubuse is motion personified. His latest project aims to help travelers discover Okinawa’s backstreets and ancient roads on “upcycled” e-bikes with Discovery Cycling Tours Okinawa.

“U pcyling” can be defined as the act of taking something no longer wanted or in use and giving it a second life. Hiroaki Inubuse has built a career on giving new life to things seemingly unwanted in Japan. Nearly twenty years ago he recognized there was a demand for Japan’s beloved “k-trucks” overseas and so he began exporting used k-trucks, primarily to the Philippines. Business was cruising along until the “Lehman Shock” financial crisis sent ripples across the globe in the late 2000’s sparing none—including Japan.

Needing to change directions, he started looking at trends in the marketplace. He was working on used bicycles in his spare time and discovered he had a knack and interest for bikes. During this time he also noticed e-bikes were starting to gain some momentum in Japan. These rechargeable, power assisted bikes were marketed as an eco-friendly alternative to gas powered bikes or mopeds, as well as a good option for people who need a a boost up hills or over long distances. Up until then personal electronic vehicles were mainly used by the elderly or those with disabilities to get around.

Cars and regular bicycles have a robust secondhand market in Japan, but he realized there wasn’t a secondary marketed for e-bikes. Equipped with kid seats, these electric bikes were great for families who needed to bike kids to pre-school, kindergarten and elementary school in urban areas, yet once the kids outgrew the bikes they often were no longer needed and disposed.

Enter Inubuse the opportunist. He jumped in and began purchasing used e-bikes and fixing them (with no prior e-bike maintenance experience) to resell them to people wanting more affordable e-bikes.

“When buying a car or motorcycle, it’s common to think, ‘Should I get a new car or a used one?’” Says Inubuse. “So, if you were to buy an electric bike, why shouldn’t you have similar options?” He asks.

He wasn’t totally sure there would be a demand for used e-bikes, but once he started selling them in his hometown of Kobe, his view changed quickly.

The word “chari” (チャリ) in Japanese means “bicycle,” such as in the oft-used term mamachari (ママチャリ), bikes used by moms to cart kids around—usually with a basket on the front and/or a child seat on the back. He chose to call his new company “E-Charity” (イーチャリティ) a play on words combining “E” for e-bikes, “chari” for bicycles, and “charity” for the spirit of giving new life to used or discarded bikes. He founded his company with the goal of bringing the pleasure of e-bikes to everyone.

E-Charity grew its fleet and sales, eventually expanding to open it’s Eastern Japan office in Yokohama. He also found that while many people wanted e-bikes they often got into trouble when something went wrong—especially after their warranty expired—so E-Charity also began offering after-care service for e-bike owners so they could feel comfortable after their purchase.

As business grew so did Inubuse’s appreciation for e-bikes and his desire to get more people on them to explore Japan. The pandemic still had its grip on Japan, but, after traveling around Japan on sales trips, the forward-minded Inubuse wanted to break into tourism. During a visit down south, he was lured by the charms of Okinawa and decided this is where he’d start. Around that time Maki Paterson had also been looking for a new challenge. She had recently transitioned from a job a marketing manager at a hotel to working to promote cycling tours and travel in Okinawa.

Once their paths crossed, it seemed like the perfect fit. In April 2023 E-Charity opened their shop on the most popular tourist street in Okinawa, Naha’s Kokusai-dori, a perfect base for getting travelers on e-bikes to tour the city and surrounding areas.

Although Paterson had spent a number of years living overseas in Australia, she was born in Naha, not far from the E-Charity shop, and still has family living nearby.

To help distinguish the tour side of the business from their retail biz (and make it easier for travelers to find them online) they rebranded the tours as Discovery Bicycle Tours Okinawa (DCTO) offering guided and unguided tours. While most of the tours are half days (4 hours) they also organize multi-day tours in northern Okinawa as well as some island-hopping adventures.

“Two of my favorite places to cycle are up north in Ogimi Village in Yambaru and the Shuri area here in Naha. There is so much culture in the backstreets of Naha,” Paterson shares. “I love giving travelers an introduction to the city by bicycle so they can explore the small streets, meet locals and get a lay of the land.” She adds .

She finds it especially valuable for travelers who want to explore more on their own later as they can learn how to get around and what areas to avoid, while getting a general introduction and understanding of cultural norms in Okinawa.

“We encourage people to forgo the rental car. It’s so much more interesting to explore Okinawa by bicycle—especially Naha—and I’d I highly recommend jumping on one of the many ferries with a bike to get around the island,” says Paterson. “It’s much cheaper, easier and way more fun.”

Ferries leave daily from Tomari Port in Naha up to Motobu and Nago as well as to the Keramas (Zamami Islands) and other smaller islands nearby. The shop can help customers with reservations if they have trouble booking on their own. All rentals come with normal helmets (for free) or you can rent one of their wireless blue-tooth helmets, which they use to communicate during tours. They are also handy for listening to music and answering the phone while riding.

With tourism now back to—or exceeding—pre-pandemic levels, finding experiences away from crowds, as well as learning about authentic Okinawa culture and history from locals, is even more valuable. Patterson notes that while the Ryukyu culture and history is unique and interesting for travelers, she also finds people want to understand locals’ perspective on the complicated war history—past and present. It’s important, she says, to hear how people really think and how they cherish peace and living in harmony with each other.

Discovery Cycling Tours Okinawa offer tours and rentals year round. Summer can be hot, so sunscreen and drinking a lot of water is important. There are special tours featuring indigenous night blooming flowers from July to September and Autumn is generally considered the best season for touring with dry, hot weather that cools off in the morning and evening. Just keep an eye on the forecast for the rogue typhoon. Winter can be very pleasant, albeit sometimes windy, and a great side trip to a ski holiday in Japan. The rainy season in Okinawa is a bit earlier than the main island (between mid-May and mid-June), but can be beautiful and the hotaru (fire flies) our out in May.

One of the most popular Naha tours is a four-hour sunset ride from the pottery area of Tsuboya-dori through Asato, which used to be a red light district, but is now a shopping street with izakaya and other restaurants that will lure you back after your ride. It continues to Shuri Castle, the ancient capital of the Ryukyu Kingdom. The area is adorned with cobblestone roads, temples and sacred shrines. The highlight is watching the sunset from a lookout point before continuing back to Shuri Castle Park and Shureimon Gate, which are illuminated at night.
E-bike tours can be catered to any fitness level and, for those wishing to ride regular bikes, it is possible based on availability—just be aware the Shuri Castle area is hilly. To book tours visit the Discovery Cycling Tours Okinawa website or find them on Trip Advisor or Get Your Guide.
What’s next for Inubuse? “I’d love to expand our recycled e-bike tours to Tokyo, Kyoto and other areas, then maybe even overseas,” he says with knowing smile.

DISCOVERY BICYCLE TOURS OKINAWA

E-Charity

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Latest posts

Okinawa’s Blue Zone —A Li...

Dan Buettner’s bestseller, “Blue Zones,” which was also adapted into a hit series on Netflix, identifies five regions with a high number of centenarians. One of these zones is Yambaru, in the north of Okinawa Island. A rich cultural and natural heritage remain in this region, holding the secret to the longevity of the communities living there.

Kumano’s Path Less ...

A forgotten pilgrimage trail, ancient power spots and authentic rural communities are waiting to be explored this hiking season on the Iseji Trail. Stretch your legs and tickle your spirit to welcome the green season on one of the Kumano Kodo’s finest routes, minus the crowds.

Okinawa Forest Adventure

Holiday-goers lounging on Onna’s white sand beaches are no doubt unaware of what’s going on high in the jungle as creatures climb above the forest canopy and zip or swing from tower to tower. Curious travelers will discover a new side of Okinawa’s tropical paradise if they take the leap into a Forest Adventure.

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