A rewarding cycle along the sea, mountains and rivers of Shikoku’s southern Kochi region

Kochi Self-Guided Cycling 6 Days

Starting from USD2115 / 6 days

Kochi Self-Guided Cycling 6 Days

Cycle the scenic Pacific coastline, the Shikoku Karst grasslands, beside the Shimanto River and through to Cape Ashizuri at the very southern edge of the island

 

Highlights

  • Cycle four scenic and diverse roads (the Yokonami Kuroshio line, the Shikoku Karst Plateau, the Shimanto River and Cape Ashizuri)
  • Indulge in the healing properties of Japan’s onsen hot springs
  • Cycle to three Buddhist Temples from the ancient Shikoku 88 Temple pilgrimage
  • Deepen your spiritual experience with a meditation session in an atmospheric Zen temple
  • See works created by renowned architect Kengo Kuma in Yusuhara
  • Experience a diversity of traditional Japanese inns and fresh regional cuisine

Experience exceptional views of Shikoku’s remote Kochi Prefecture in this challenging yet rewarding 6-day cycling tour. Starting from Kochi city, cycle beside gorgeous coastlines, over sweeping plateaus, and through distant mountain villages to Cape Ashizuri at the southernmost tip of Shikoku.

Kochi Prefecture enjoys a mild climate throughout the year and is situated within the southern curve of Shikoku – the fourth largest of Japan’s main islands. This region is home to some of Japan’s most unspoiled nature, dotted with rural villages with well-preserved local lifestyle and traditions.  Kochi is a perfect reflection of life in rural Japan: a quiet, self-sufficient cultural landscape of Shinto and Buddhist traditions, where the rhythm of life is directly tied to the movements of the seasons. Combined with its generous geography of rivers, mountains, oceans, and valleys, Kochi is a wonderful destination for those searching for a hidden side of Japan.

Throughout the tour, you’ll sample unique local cuisine and indulge in the hospitality of contemporary and traditional Japanese inns on each evening. You’ll learn about the regional culture with visits to remote villages within Susaki, Yusuhara and Shimanto, and visit a number of ancient temples on the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage along your journey. Travel in comfort with high-quality bicycles, equipped with our tailored itinerary featuring our curated stops and suggested eateries, and make your own unique discoveries and connections with local people throughout your adventure. 

Multiple options also enable you to tailor the ride using local transport to adjust the cycling distances on the day to match your level. 

BIKES

High-quality aluminum cross bike or road bike options are provided as standard with our tour. We also provide a GPS unit, compact bike bag, spare tubes, mini pump, low-wind resistant frame-mount bag and rear saddle bag with each bike for your trip.


What's Included

  • 5 nights at hotels and Japanese inns, with 5 breakfasts & 3 dinners
  • Return-trip train tickets from Shimanto to Kochi city
  • Pre-paid taxis on Days 3, 4 and 5 of the tour
  • High-quality cross or road bike rental, plus helmet, tool kit, inner tube, bicycle lock, bike frame bag and saddle bag
  • GPS device rental with detailed route information and topographical maps
  • Detailed day-by-day itinerary and the local support of our Kyoto based team
  • Our ‘Preparing For Your Trip’ and ‘Travelling in Japan’ guidebooks
  • Online bicycle orientation pre-tour with a member of the team in Japan

What's Not Included

  • Flights
  • Airport transfers
  • Pay locally for drinks with meals and for lunches
  • Pay locally for transportation for shorter options if required
  • Single room supplement(s) if required
  • Luggage Transfer

Itinerary

Itinerary Map
Day 1 - Arrive in Kochi - Explore

Welcome to Kochi. Today is an arrival day, and your first stop is central Kochi city, where you'll collect your road bike and the gear needed for your cycling journey. After settling into your accommodation, you are free to explore the area on your own or enjoy our optional circular cycling route. Take time to explore Kochi castle and the local Hirome food market, or cycle to nearby Mt. Godai and Chikurinj-ji Temple – Temple 31 along the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage circuit – and take in the grand views overlooking the surrounding area and coastline.

Kochi city is easily accessible from many domestic airports and major train stations in Japan. The closest airport is Kochi Ryōma airport, roughly 1 hour 20 minutes from Haneda airport in Tokyo or 40 minutes from Itami airport in Osaka. Alternatively, Kochi train station is about 3 hours 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka station or Hiroshima station using the JR Train Line.

Cycling details (optional cycling):

Distance: 15-20 km / 9-12 miles
Elevation gain: mostly flat, near sea level 

Accommodation: Western Hotel or Japan Inn
Dinner this evening will be at your leisure to explore the Hirome Food market or one of our recommended restaurants in the area.

Day 2 - Scenic Coastline and Temples, from Kochi to Susaki bay

After breakfast, your first ride of the trip starts from Kochi city. You'll cycle southward to the Pacific coast, passing the picturesque Katsurahama beach. Further along, is Shōryū-ji Temple - Temple 36 on the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage – tucked into the hillside with a beautifully tranquil atmosphere.

You'll next cycle the scenic Yokonami-Kuroshio line with its magnificent views of the Pacific coastline. Pass small fishing villages along the way through to the Susaki bay area, your destination for this evening. 

The seaside fishing villages dotted throughout this region have a long history where fisherman chase skipjack tuna in the open sea, which features in much of the local cuisine. The sleepy villages have a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere, and have become a designated ‘important cultural landscape’ of Japan.

Distance: 55 km / 34 miles
Elevation gain: 1,050 meters / 3,444 feet

Cycling time required: 4-5 hours

Shorter Option: For an easier day, a shorter 20km cycling option is available by using a local train transfer part way.

Accommodation: Ryokan (Travellers inn)
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3 - Shikoku Karst Plateau to Yusuhara village

Today you'll head into the mountains to begin cycling along the scenic Shikoku Karst Plateau, down to the rustic mountain village of Yusuhara. Here you can further explore Yusuhara’s cultural sights and relaxed rural community atmosphere. 

A private vehicle transport will collect you from your inn this morning and take you up to the higher elevation of the Shikoku Karst Plateau line, with its sweeping grasslands and limestone hillsides. This route extends along gentle rolling mountains with smooth lanes and expansive panoramas of the surrounding Shikoku region. You’ll ride along mostly gradual descent, and flat and pleasant mountain back road towards central Yusuhara village. Along the ride, there are numerous areas for light exploring on foot, taking in the charms of Japan’s rural mountain villages and landscapes.

In Yusuhara, take time to explore the nearby Mishima shrine, Miyuki wooden bridge, terraced rice fields and see several fascinating buildings designed by renowned modern Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.

After a day of cycling and exploring, you'll receive a warm welcome at your accommodation for this evening in Yusuhara.

Distance: 45 km / 28 miles
Elevation gain: 589 meters / 1,932 feet

Cycling time required: 3 - 4 hours

Accommodation: Japanese Onsen Hotel designed by Kengo Kuma
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4 - Cycle along Shimanto River to Nakamura town

Today's ride follows mostly flat, riverside country lanes along the pristine Shimanto River, the longest river in Shikoku at 196km. Far removed from urban areas and free of man-made dams, Shimanto River is also considered Japan’s last remaining pure river. Here you’ll be able to experience another side Kochi’s diverse landscapes, with a thriving ecosystem that nurtures a way of life where humans and nature have co-existed in harmony for centuries.

To position you for the best cycling route today, you’ll be transported this morning by private vehicle to a remote Zen Temple along the Shimanto River where the cycling route begins. 

Before cycling, you’ll experience a spiritual Zen meditation session in an atmospheric Soto Zen temple. Soto is one of the three major Zen sects in Japan, handed down by Dougen and characterized by the style of meditation, called "shikan-ta-za" or "single-minded sitting." You'll meet a friendly, English-speaking Zen priest who trained at Eihei-ji temple, the main centre of the Soto sect. He'll explain Dougen's philosophy and lead you in a meditation session, followed by a chance to enjoy Japanese green tea and seasonal wagashi sweets.

Re-energized, you'll then pedal along a flat route with scenic river and valley views, continuing for about 65km (41 miles) past hillside rice terraces, community woodlands, ‘sinking bridges’ and little country villages dotted along the way. You can stop off and make your own discoveries or visit small café’s and local eateries. The route continues through to Nakamura town and Shimanto city near the Pacific coast – your destination for this evening.

Nakamura town is situated along the river and is a former castle town where visitors can experience traces of its feudal past. The landscape and rivers around Nakamura town in Shimanto still closely resemble Kyoto’s, and the influence of Kyoto culture can be found in the town’s seasonal festivals, local dialect, and artistic sensibilities.

Distance: 65 km / 41 miles
Elevation gain: mostly flat 

Cycling time required:  4 – 5 hours

Longer option: For more cycling, you can opt to forego this morning’s pre-arranged Zen meditation session, and start the cycle from further up to the Shimanto River through to Shimanto city, bringing the overall cycling distance to 85 km / 53 miles, along mostly flat country road.

Extended option cycling time required: 6-7 hours 

Accommodation: Onsen Ryokan or Japanese Onsen Hotel (depending on availability)
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5 - Cape Ashizuri and Kongofuku-ji Temple 39 - Cycle to Nakamura

Make your way to Cape Ashizuri at Shikoku’s southernmost point, exploring its natural surroundings and cultural sights, before cycling along the scenic Tosa bay coastline back to Shimanto. A pre-arranged vehicle will transport you to Cape Ashizuri in the morning to begin today’s ride.

Your cycling route will take you along panoramic coastal bike lanes around Cape Ashizuri with time to visit one of Shikoku’s most remote Buddhist temples, Kongofuku-ji - Temple 39 of the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage. Said to have been established in 822, Kongofuku-ji sits atop a cliff overlooking the Pacific. From here it is possible to see the curvature of the earth, and pilgrims would sail south to where paradise lay over that horizon.

Next, enjoy a scenic optional 10km detour along the pristine coast to view ancient rock formations. The panoramic views around Cape Ashizuri are magnificent. As you cycle onward, you can stop for lunch at one of the nearby cafes along the coast, and even enjoy an onsen hot spring foot bath. 

Further along the route, you’ll pass through several sleepy seaside fishing villages and take in views of the remote Tosa bay coastline as you enjoy the ride back towards Nakamura town in Shimanto for your second night in the area. Dinner will be at your leisure to explore local restaurant options this evening.

Distance: 55 km / 34 miles
Elevation gain: 714 meters / 2,342 feet

Cycling time required: 4 - 5 hours

Accommodation: Onsen Ryokan or Japanese Onsen Hotel (depending on availability)
Meals: Breakfast

Day 6 - Return to Kochi city and travel onward

After breakfast, wave goodbye to your hosts and make your way by train along the coastline returning to Kochi city. 

You are free to explore more of Shimanto and the surrounding area this morning before taking the train to Kochi city, where your tour ends. In Kochi, you’ll be able to return your bike and other rental equipment, before traveling onward to your next destination.

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