Shimanami & 5 castles to Kyoto
Oceanic Shimanami Kaido and historical Sasayama Kaido. Explore five castles in western Japan. Immerse yourself in Kyoto’s best.
9 days / 8 nights
Level 2 out of 3
Traditional Ryokan with Futon bed
Western-style business hotel
about the trip
This cycling tour connects the Shimanami Kaido, a sea road, and the Sasayama Kaido, a historical mountain road, with local trains and the Shinkansen bullet train along the way. The tour takes you to five different castles in western Japan and around the ancient capital of Kyoto, where you can enjoy breathtaking scenery, nature, history, and of course delectable food in Japan. Once out of the saddle, you will walk through castles, hike to the top of mountains, and visit museums filled with cultural and artistic treasures. You’ll feast on farm-fresh produce from western Japan and try unusual local dishes.
Cycling level and suitability
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.
total cycling distance
•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.
Welcome to Onomichi! Our tour of Japan begins in Hiroshima Prefecture. The first day is all about shaking loose and getting your bearings. Throughout the course of the day, we’ll all check in to our centrally located hotel near Onomichi Station and get acquainted with one another. In the evening, join us for an optional dinner at a local restaurant. Introduce yourselves and gorge on some local eats while we brief cyclists for the coming week. We’ll also answer any burning questions you might have and sing “Kumbaya” in Japanese (maybe?). If your flight plans include a late-night arrival, no worries! Join us on the following morning.
To help you plan your arrival in Onomichi:
•Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND) to Hiroshima Airport (HIJ): Japan Airlines (JAL), All Nippon Airways (ANA) (approximately 1 hour 25 minutes)
•Narita Airport (NRT) to Hiroshima Airport (HIJ): All Nippon Airways (ANA) (approximately 1 hour 40 minutes)
•From airport to Onomichi Station: airport limousine bus (about 50 minutes)
•Tokyo station to Fukuyama Station: Nozomi shinkansen (approximately 3 hours 40 minutes)
•Fukuyama station to Onomichi station: local train (about 20 minutes)
•Umeda station or Osaka International (Itami) Airport (ITM) to Onomichi Station: Bingo Liner (approximately 4 hours 35 minutes)
Taste of Japan Bike Tours can help with pre-tour options and transportation.
The second half of our cycling tour starts with a ride from Himeji to Takeda Station, where Takeda Castle is located. In the morning, we’ll jump on our bicycles and ride about 50 km through a scenic hilly landscape to Takeda Station while enjoying the tranquil scenery of rivers and mountains on the way to Takeda Castle, a mountain castle the Japanese call “Castle in the Sky.” We’ll take a few breaks along the way to rest, relax, and eat. Our day will reach its destination in the evening at a lovely ryokan near Takeda Station. For those with spare energy, an optional one-hour roundtrip hike to the ruins of Takeda Castle will take place. Finally, we’ll relax and unwind with a leisurely soak in the hot springs at the ryokan.
•Ryokan stay with breakfast and dinner
•Optional hike to the Takeda Castle ruins
•Approximately 50 km (30 miles) | 454 m (1,489 feet)
Day 6 is the longest and busiest day of our tour. Early in the morning (weather permitting), we’ll take a touring bus from a local mountain to view the “Castle in the Sky”—Takeda Castle—rising above the morning mist. Seeing this glorious castle rising skyward at dawn is a sight to behold! After returning to the ryokan for breakfast, we’ll drive 67 kilometers along the Sasayama Highway from Takeda over the most difficult part of the trip, Tosaka Pass. Sasayama Kaido is a well-maintained route that served as a historically important major artery connecting Japan’s cities and provinces, especially during the Heian period (8th to 12th centuries). Sasayama Kaido runs through the mountains west of Kyoto City and is filled with natural beauty. During the bike ride, we’ll stop at peaceful farming villages, shrines, old bridges, and local wagashi (Japanese confectionery) shops. We’ll replenish our energy for the second half of the tour by eating a soba meal at a popular eatery among the locals. Back at the ryokan, we’ll relax with a warm onsen bath and delicious cuisine. Our stay will last two nights.
•Ryokan stay with breakfast and dinner
•Approximately 67 km (42 miles) | 780 m (2,560 feet)
In the morning of the last day, we’ll visit Nijo Castle, the fifth and final castle of our tour. Nijo Castle was built in 1603 as the residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan. Even now, more than 400 years later, you can still identify the gorgeous remnants of the Momoyama culture.
Then it’s time to say goodbye to your fellow cyclists and to Japan. After spending nine days together, cycling and traveling across some of the most beautiful landscapes in Japan, your group will have bonded like a family! Today is a great time to plan to meet your friends again someday. Whether you’re flying or returning by rail, the Taste of Japan Bike Tours staff will ensure that all your travel plans are smooth. If you would like to extend your stay or have any questions about transportation to your next stop, please do not hesitate to ask our tour staff. We will see you soon.
Hiroshima Airport (HIJ)
Transit from Narita Airport, Haneda Airport, or Kansai Airport
Itami Airport (ITM) or Kansai International Airport (KIX)
Travel domestic from ITM or international from KIX
Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture
See “Before the Tour” for guidance
Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
See “After the Tour” for guidance
Book Your Trip
For all cycling tours, accommodation includes both contemporary and traditional lodging. All our trips are priced per person, double occupancy. Those who prefer to book a single room will be charged a supplemental fee.
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.
Shimanami & 5 castles to Kyoto Tour
$5,900 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.
・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
・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
・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.
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.
Is airfare included? Will someone meet me at the airport? Are airport transfers included?
No, neither airfare nor airport transfers are included. Guests are expected to get from the airport to the meeting spot on their own. Taste of Japan Bike Tours will recommend routes to the meeting spot with detailed meeting instructions leading up to the tour start date.
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.
Thank you A1, Hisa ,and Shige-san for making me feel so welcomed and part of the group.