Oita Onsen Foodie Tour
Oita Prefecture in Kyushu is a historically and culturally unique gem. Enjoy an invigorating cycling course, plenty of sightseeing, and delicious local foods.
9 days / 8 nights
Level 2 out of 3
Premium Ryokan with Futon bed
Western-style business hotel
Nakatsu | Usa | Yabakei | Beppu | Kunisaki Peninsula | Himeshima | Fukuoka
about the trip
Join us on a journey through the hidden charms of Kyushu, Japan’s westernmost prefecture.
Offering unparalleled outdoor explorations and onsen hot-spring experiences, Oita Prefecture in Kyushu is a historically and culturally unique gem. Dive into Oita’s fascinating culinary culture and revel in the fresh seafood and harvests from nearby fields and mountains. The colorful panorama of Oita’s beautiful mountains and picturesque countryside is best viewed from a bicycle.
Did you know that Oita Prefecture contains the largest number of hot-spring water sources in Japan? In Beppu, you’ll experience the charm and diversity of onsen, including its healing minerals.
The second half of the tour emphasizes cycling across the Kunisaki Peninsula. Highlights include a visit to the Rokugou-manzan, a series of temple complexes founded more than 1,300 years ago. This spiritual site is where the cultures of Shintoism and Buddhism were established and evolved to the present day. We’ll stay at a priest’s quarters near Fukidera Temple, the oldest wooden structure in Kyushu, and experience zazen (Buddhist meditation). We’ll also travel by ferry boat to Himejima, a small island with a population of 2,000. There, we’ll take in the serene outdoors, a vibrant culture, and island cuisine in the only village in Oita Prefecture. Upon concluding our cycling, we’ll take a charter bus to Fukuoka, the largest city in Kyushu. Miles apart literally and figuratively from the countryside we’ve spent our time in, we’ll now take in a more urbanized side of Japan.
You’ll experience a kaleidoscope of Japanese history and culture from ancient times to the present. We’ll venture into undisturbed scenes of striking natural beauty, pass through exquisitely red torii gates, and take relaxing baths in hot springs. Our itinerary is unforgettable, guaranteed to make the best of your time.
Beppu Onsen (hot springs) (credit: Beppu City)
Our fun video of Oita Onsen Bike Ride2022
Cycling level and suitability
•Level 2: A slightly more challenging course that many cyclists would consider the ideal cycling experience. Light to moderate cycling (four to six hours per day, or 40 to 80 km) with sightseeing, local snacks, and activities, of course.
Support vehicle (SAG van): A support vehicle will accompany all Taste of Japan Bike Tours. Each van is equipped with mechanic’s tools for fixing equipment, and will carry your suitcase, additional baggage, and hydration tanks. If any cyclists are unable to continue the tour, the van will transport them to the various stops.
For non-cycling companions: For groups with many non-cyclists, a separate vehicle can be arranged for an additional fee. A dedicated driver will accompany the non-cycling guests in a private vehicle, and we can make arrangements to satisfy the wishes of the non-cycling participants for sightseeing, shopping, and other activities.
total cycling distance
Welcome to Oita!
We’ll start our bike tour in Nakatsu, Oita Prefecture. We suggest that you arrive at least one day prior to the tour to allow for greater flexibility and time-zone adjustments. By arriving a little early, you can relax and get your bearings. You’ll check in to a hotel after 3:00 p.m. in front of Nakatsu Station and get acquainted with your fellow tour members. There is no specific meal plan arranged for this day, but Taste of Japan Bike Tours is happy to help you find great dining at a local restaurant, if you need. We’ll introduce ourselves, eat some local food, and explain the week ahead, and we’ll answer any questions you have. If your flight plans include a late-night arrival, no worries! Join us on the following morning.
・Stay at hotel near Nakatsu Station (check-in available after 3:00 p.m.)
To help you plan your arrival in Nakatsu:
･ Kita-Kyushu Airport (KKJ) to Nakatsu Station: shuttle bus and train (approximately 1 hour 45 minutes)
･ Oita Airport (OIT) to Nakatsu Station: airport bus (approximately 1 hour 45 minutes)
･ Fukuoka Airport (FUK) to Nakatsu Station: subway and train (approximately 2 hours)
･ Tokyo/Osaka Station to Kokura (Fukuoka) Station: Shinkansen (2.5 hours from Osaka, 4.5 hours from Tokyo)
･ Kokura Station to Nakatsu Station: “sonic” local express train (approximately 30 minutes)
Today is a sightseeing day. In the morning, we’ll hop aboard a city tour bus to Usa City, which is not accessible by cycling. We’ll head to Usa Jingu Shrine, one of the most important of the 4,000 Hachiman shrines in Japan. In the afternoon, we’ll return to Nakatsu City and explore the Nakatsu Castle area. You’ll have the chance to test the rental bikes before the cycling tour begins the next day. Dinner will feature a welcome party for everyone at a B&B owned by A-1’s friends.
・Dinner and welcome party
・Stay at hotel near Nakatsu Station
It’s time to start cycling! We’ll grab our bicycles (identified with a unique sticker) in the morning and head out on a leisurely uphill 50 km ride. The day’s highlight will be the Rakanji Temple, which was built embedded in a rocky hill with caves in its rock walls. Bearing varied expressions, 500 of the oldest arhats in Japan are enshrined in the murodo cave. After taking the ropeway to see the temple, we’ll walk for about an hour on a trail said to have been used by monks for ascetic practices in the olden days. For lunch, we’ll stop at the Midori home. This local couple has been farming here for many years—they’ll teach us how to harvest crops. Fill your bellies with freshly picked vegetables and rice balls!
After a short break, we’ll complete the second half of the ride in the afternoon. Spring in Japan is a season of abundant greenery. Autumn in Japan is a beautiful season, too, with the leaves turning fiery shades of orange, red, and yellow. November is a great time to enjoy the outdoors amid peak autumn foliage—right before it gets quite cold in late November. Afterward, we’ll head to the Orito Onsen in Yabakei. Once evening falls, we’ll stay at a small ryokan-style inn, the Tsuki no hotaru. Feel free to soak in the separate men’s and women’s hot-spring baths to relieve fatigue. The inn also runs a café during the day, and guests can enjoy homemade cooking using locally harvested vegetables and regional ingredients.
・Stay at hotel with dinner
・Stay at ryokan
Day 4—the second full day of cycling—covers 60 km, the first half uphill and the second half downhill. We’ll ride from Yabakei in the mountains to Beppu, a city famous for its hot springs located on the east side of Oita Prefecture just over a mountain pass. The first highlight of the day is Ajimuin, a small farming village with a population of 6,000. We’ll view trowel paintings created by plasterers during the Edo period. The second highlight of the day is a visit to the hot springs that have put Beppu on the map. Oita Prefecture’s hot springs are not simply boiling water—they contain diverse ingredients, benefits, smells, and colors, depending on the location. Guests are welcome to take a dip in most of these hot springs. We’ll also visit A-1’s secret onsen during the ride.
Tonight’s accommodation is a modern seafront hotel. We encourage you to enjoy the hotel’s large baths with a view of the ocean or visit the traditional hot springs that have been around for centuries, just outside the hotel. For dinner, we’ll enjoy Japanese dishes using the freshest ingredients from the sea and the mountains—paired with delicious drinks at a popular local izakaya. After dinner, join us for a night tour of A-1’s favorite haunts in Beppu.
・Dinner (izakaya) and optional night tour
・Stay at hotel
We’ll spend the fifth day of the tour enjoying Beppu‘s unique sightseeing opportunities. Advanced cyclists will have the option of participating in a dynamic cycling tour today, an uphill course through the magnificent plateau. The sightseeing group will visit the Takasaki Mountain Monkey Park in the morning, a monkey sanctuary located at the foot of 628-meter-high Takasaki Mountain. The sanctuary is home to more than 1,500 wild and playful Japanese monkeys. Watch them run, groom themselves, and roam freely on the steep, forest-covered slopes. In the afternoon, we’ll head to Oita‘s famous sand hot springs on the beach. The remainder of the day will provide plenty of personal time to explore the town, hike, relax, or prep for the days to come.
To prepare for heavy traffic around Beppu, we’ll start our morning with a 15-minute train ride to Kitsuki Station. When we arrive, we’ll walk around the town with a view of Kitsuki Castle. Ladies, you can even rent a kimono and take commemorative photos! Next, we’ll remount our bikes in Kitsuki and ride along the coast of the breathtaking Kunisaki Peninsula, with miles of unforgettable sea views. We’ll swing by famous temple complexes collectively known as Rokugou-manzan. The Niou statue at Futagoji Temple is said to be the most majestic statue on Kunisaki Peninsula—it is said that touching its thick legs with your own legs will keep your muscles strong for cycling. We’ll stay at the Fukidera Temple priest quarters. This temple is the oldest wooden structure in Kyushu. The facilities may sound spartan, but the accommodations are ryokan-style with guest rooms and onsen baths and are a perfect way to end the day.
・Dinner of farm-to-table Japanese cuisine
・Stay at lodging next to temple
Day 7 will be our last day of cycling! To reflect on the journey, we’ll try a session of Zen meditation in a 1,300-year-old temple. Feeling rejuvenated and relaxed, we’ll ride 40 km downhill (with some hills) toward Himeshima. En route, we’ll visit a Buddhist temple built in the river and then continue down the mountain to the coastline. Along the way, we’ll visit the Magaibutsu, a type of stone Buddah. During this leg of the journey, we’ll see, hear, and feel a gradual transition as we leave behind a traditional Japan steeped in heritage to that of a modern, contemporary nation. Finally, we’ll take a ferry to Himeshima, our last overnight stop in Oita Prefecture. We’ll spend some time relaxing in this small town, basking in an abundance of nature and history and feasting on the town’s famous tiger prawns!
Tonight, we’ll stay at the oldest ryokan on Himeshima and enjoy a scrumptious dinner of shabu shabu with locally harvested tiger prawns.
・Dinner at ryokan
・Stay at ryokan
With our cycling complete, we’ll start the morning with a sightseeing tour aboard a seven-seater eco-friendly vehicle that emits zero CO2. Roll up your sleeves as we make a stop to learn from locals how imokiri noodles are made. A local specialty dish that has been passed down from generation to generation on the islands, these noodles are unlike traditional Japanese noodles—created with minimal water and rice, which are scarce on this small island. We’ll all cook our noodles with vegetables and tofu for a meal together. Itadakimasu!
In the afternoon, we’ll leave Himeshima by ferry to the Imi Port Ferry Terminal on the Kyushu mainland. From here, we’ll board a chartered bus to Fukuoka, Kyushu’s largest city, which will take about 2.5 hours. Dinner is on your own—we suggest prowling the nearby yatai Japanese food stalls.
・Stay at Tenjin Hotel
It’s time to say goodbye to your fellow cyclists! Checkout is by 11:00 a.m. Some of us may prefer to stay an extra night in Fukuoka or head on to Tokyo or Osaka with your new friends. Whether you’re flying home today or continuing your travels, the Taste of Japan Bike Tours staff will ensure that all your travel plans are safe and smooth. Please don’t hesitate to ask the tour staff any questions you have about transportation. We hope this tour provided an experience you’ll all remember for the rest of your lives. Sayonara!
Kita Kyushu Airport (KKJ)
Transit from Tokyo Haneda Airport
Fukuoka Airport (FUK)
Transit to Tokyo Haneda Airport
Excellent hotel near Nakatsu Station, Oita Prefecture
See “Before the Tour” for guidance
See “After the Tour” for guidance
Most of the hotels we use are Western-style business hotels—clean single- or double-occupancy accommodations with full bathrooms. The rooms feature a bed, desk, television, and refrigerator and are efficiently designed to maximize a small but comfortable space. WiFi and other amenities are usually included, and many have on-site laundry facilities. Most hotels also have a daiyokujyou, or large communal bath—these are typically not hot springs because the water comes from a faucet and is not naturally sourced with high mineral content.
No trip to Japan is complete without an overnight stay at a traditional ryokan (Japanese inn). Staying at a ryokan is one of the best ways to soak up the experience of Japan’s omotenashi spirit, indulge in local dishes, and support family businesses. The ryokan aesthetic is simple yet purposeful; room designs vary greatly but have everything you need. Depending on the ryokan, you may not have a private bathroom and will bathe in the communal hot spring. You’ll almost always sleep on a futon and will need to remove your shoes when entering a room, a traditional Japanese practice.
At times, the accommodation listed may change at the discretion of the trip guides or Samurai Sports to improve the trip experience.
From the dark blue ocean dotted with frothy waves to the windy coastlines making you wish for a tailwind, or the rice fields that stretch lazily for miles, Japan showcases the bountiful culinary harvests that can be had from the island’s natural landscapes. Whether you have a hankering for fresh seafood, feel like eating clean with locally sourced vegetables, or just want to chow on less artisan frou-frou meals, we’ve got you covered.
We also understand that everyone’s palate differs and that, due to the nature of cycling tours, we also spend a lot of time together. If you’re feeling adventurous, have a specific meal you’re after, or just want something different, we regularly let you choose your meal option (usually dinner). Optional meals let you choose to eat with us or not. At optional meals, guests are expected to pay for their own orders as a typical restaurant customer. These are not fixed-price meals, you aren’t bound by a limited menu, and we’re happy to make recommendations!
Dietary restrictions can be difficult to accommodate regularly or consistently in Japan, where knowledge of the food and beverage industry about specific dietary restrictions is less common. Please let us know in advance if you have food allergies or dietary restrictions. Food preferences will be accommodated as much as possible.
Taste of Japan Bike Tours runs tours with a minimum of 6 people. For smaller groups, larger groups, or individual itineraries, please contact us.
Oita Onsen Foodie Tour
$5,700 per person (double occupancy)
*Fees do not include airfare.
*Please ask us your private charter or exclusive group tour (group rates may apply)
Everyone is invited to our cycling tours and in fact, non-riders are also welcome. Just because you don’t ride, doesn’t mean you can’t join us! Please inquire in advance regarding member(s) of your party that won’t require a bike.
Our cycling tours are not about high intensity nor endurance training. To maximize your cycling experience, you should at a minimum, know how to ride a bike and be comfortable on the saddle for at least two hours a day.For reference, all of our cycling tours are ranked on a scale of 1 to 3. These levels are meant to demonstrate the difficulty of a tour and serve to indicate the types of fitness and skill you should possess to enjoy the trip.
Level 1 ・Mostly flat roads and bike paths ・Shorter climbs and small hills – no more than 400 meters (1,300 feet) of elevation gain per day ・Between 30 to 60km (18 to 37 miles) a day ・Ride at a leisurely pace for two to three hours per day, allowing you to enjoy the views and take breaks when you want to ・Like to ride, but don’t need to ride every day
Level 2 ・Mostly flat roads and bike paths with a few technical segments ・Some rolling hills and a couple punchy climbs – up to 600 meters (2,000 feet) of elevation gain per day ・Between 30 to 80km (18 to 51 miles) a day ・Ride at a conversational pace that permits sightseeing for four to give hours per day of cycling ・Prefer to ride every day but don’t mind taking a few days off throughout the tour Level 3 ・Flat roads, bike paths, technical segments, and some challenges ・Climbs big and small paired with speedy descents sprinkled throughout the days – up to 700 meters (2,300 feet) of elevation gain a day ・Between 40 to 100km (25 to 62 miles) a day ・Ride at a moderate pace requiring physical endurance for up to six hours a day ・Prefer to ride every day but with alternating difficulties, distances, and destinations for balance Support Vehicle (SAG van) Our cycling tours are always accompanied with a support vehicle. If for any reason, you aren’t feeling up to par for the day’s ride or just need to take an extended water break, you can jump in the temperature-controlled SAG van until we reach our destination – or until you’re ready again. Uncertain about your ride level? Send us an email with your Strava link and/or a written summary of your rides in the past three months. View the bikes offered on Taste of Japan Bike Tours
To make a reservation with Taste of Japan Bike Tours, please fill out the Reservation Request Form. We will reply to you within 1 to 2 business days after your reservation is submitted.
Guests booking more than 60 days in advance of the tour are required to pay a deposit of $1,000 per person at the time of booking. The deposit will be applied to the total balance, and the balance (final payment) must be paid in full 60 days prior to the tour. If the tour starts within 60 days of the reservation, the full amount of the tour fee must be paid at the time of booking.
All prices are quoted in U.S. dollars. Your payment will appear on the credit card statement as Taste of Japan Bike Tours. We accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and JCB credit cards, but a 5% credit card fee will be added.
Personal and company checks (U.S. banks only) and wire transfers to our U.S. bank are accepted, but please contact us for details.
All prices listed for Taste of Japan Bike Tours are in U.S. dollars per person. Rates include taxes, service charges, and gratuities. Wire transfer fees are the responsibility of the customer.
Guests traveling alone or requesting a single room may be charged a single supplement fee, which varies by bike tour. The exact amount is listed on each tour page.
If you arrive late, depart early, or for any reason are unable to participate in the entire bike tour, we will not adjust, credit, or refund the fee.
Cancellation due to tour booking numbers
Taste of Japan Bike Tours reserves the right to cancel any tour prior to departure in the event that the booking number does not reach a minimum at least 60 days prior to the departure date. In this case, you will be given a full refund of all payments made to Taste of Japan Bike Tours. You will not be entitled to claim any additional amounts or seek any compensation for any inconvenience that may result from the cancellation.
If you have to cancel or reschedule your bike tour, please note that Taste of Japan Bike Tours implements the following fee schedules for group and private tour bookings.
Group tour cancellation fees
More than 60 days before tour start date
10% of tour price
31 to 60 days before tour start date
50% of tour price
0 to 30 days to before tour start date
100% of tour price
Private tour cancellation fees
More than 60 days before tour start date
50% of tour price
0 to 60 days before tour start date
100% of tour price
All refunds processed will be less transaction fees (about 4% for online transactions and bank-dependent for wire transfers). If the safety of our guests, team members, and partners appears compromised, Taste of Japan Bike Tours reserves the right to cancel any bike tour at our discretion. Taste of Japan Bike Tours is not responsible for any losses incurred for non-refundable travel costs. Guests who cancel more than 60 days prior to departure may request full travel credit instead of a partial refund. Travel credit requests must be made in writing at the same time guests announce their intention to cancel a tour. In the event of cancellation (whether by the guest or by Taste of Japan Bike Tours), all guests will receive full travel credit that can be applied to any bike tour that begins within 500 days from the last day of your canceled bike tour. Travel credit can be transferred once to another individual. Travel credit can be applied to a tour one time; once applied, no refunds will be issued. Taste of Japan Bike Tours considers the many hours spent by our team members and partners who painstakingly plan your cycling tour. We believe the cancellation policy above is a fair representation of costs incurred well before our guests’ arrivals.
What sort of bike will I ride? May I bring my own bike? The price of all Taste of Japan Bike Tours includes the use of one rental bike per person. Guests may select between a road or gravel bike with drop handles, a cross bike with flat handles, or a hybrid bike with flat bar handles for an additional charge. For images and details, please refer to Bike Options on our Resources page.
What does “double occupancy” mean? What is a “single supplement” fee? Our prices are per person based on two people sharing a room. If you’re joining as a solo traveler, you will be charged a single supplement fee. Similarly, solo travelers who want their own room will be charged a single supplement fee. The single supplement fee varies by bike tour. Solo travelers who do not mind sharing a room with another solo traveler of the same gender should inquire in advance. If there is another solo traveler willing to share a room, the single supplement fee is waived for both guests.
Is there a maximum number of guests on a single Taste of Japan bike tour? Yes, we cap our trips at 12 guests. This allows us to ensure each guest (cyclist or not) the personal attention and support they deserve throughout the journey.
Can non-cyclists join Taste of Japan Bike Tours? What will non-cyclists do? Taste of Japan Bike Tours welcomes those who do not or cannot ride. All our tours are priced per person, double occupancy, whether you ride or not. Due to limited seating, guests should inquire in advance regarding space availability for non-cyclists. During cycling portions, non-cyclists will travel from one destination to the next in the support vehicle (SAG van). With the exception of the cycling portions throughout a trip, all guests will participate in the same activities, visit the same sights, and enjoy the same meals. For groups with many non-cyclists, a separate vehicle can be arranged for an additional fee. A dedicated driver will accompany the non-cycling guests in a private vehicle, and we can make arrangements to satisfy the wishes of the participants who do not ride for sightseeing, shopping, etc. Can children join? Is there an age requirement? Group tours with Taste of Japan Bike Tours are designed for adults 18 and older. All guests must be 18 years old by the first day of all group tours. We welcome families and guests under the age of 18 on private tours. Private tours allow us to create and coordinate the best possible arrangements for a safe bike tour with our younger guests.
What about inclement weather? All Taste of Japan Bike Tours ride as scheduled, rain or shine. However, exceptions may be made in certain circumstances—in other words, heavy rains, strong winds, and other severe weather. In order to remain on schedule, our bike tour guides will guide you to your destinations using public transport for no additional cost.
Is gratuity included? Whom do I tip? Gratuity for drivers, tour guides, and hospitality staff is included. In Japan, tipping service staff (including taxi drivers, hotel staff, restaurant workers) is not customary and may not be accepted. If you believe the Taste of Japan Bike Tours team has gone above and beyond, please tip our guides at your discretion.
Should I enroll in trip protection and/or travel insurance? Yes. Please refer to Personal Insurance Coverage on our Resources page.
What about accident insurance and medical coverage? What if I get hurt? Please refer to Insurance on our Resources page.
Do I have to read and sign a release waiver? Yes. To participate in Taste of Japan Bike Tours, all participants, whether cycling or not, are required to read and sign a release waiver.
Will I have to carry my own luggage on tour? On ride days, all luggage will be transported by our team. On days without cycling, guests may pack their luggage on the support vehicle (SAG van). While we do our best to accommodate all guests’ luggage, depending on the amount of luggage, guests may need to hand-carry their own luggage. Our team members will assist guests whenever possible to ensure a smooth, stress-free trip.
How much should I put aside for incidentals? What personal expenses should I anticipate? Do I need cash or is my credit or debit card okay? Please refer to Incidentals and Daily Expenses on our Resources page.
What will the weather in Japan be like? What temperatures should I expect? Please refer to Weather in Japan on our Resources page.
What should I wear? What should I bring? Please refer to Packing List on our Resources page.
Will I be able to do laundry? Please refer to Packing List on our Resources page.