About Adventours Kyoto

Cycling in Japan

Maybe the first image of Japan that comes to mind is huge megacities such as Tokyo or Osaka. But you have to remember that three quarters of the country is covered with mountains. Most of the big cities are located in the plains along the Pacific coast, but in the central part of the main island Honshu, several mountain ranges rise up from hundreds of meters to over 3000m in altitude.

In and around Kyoto

Kyoto lies in a basin surrounded by mountains up to 1000m high. According to the ancient Geomantic believe system this location was ideal for the construction of the capital and from the 8th century onward Kyoto prospered as the cultural center of Japan for 1100 years. As a result you can marvel at an abundance of cultural assets within the city. But Kyoto is also the perfect place for outdoor activities. Within 20 minutes walking distance from the city center you are in the middle of the mountains and you can hike around the city on the 70 km Kyoto trail. With a bicycle you are spoiled for choice between many routes on various terrains inside and outside Kyoto city.
That said you should be prepared for mountains once you leave the city limits. They are not very high but the climbs can be quite steep. Adventours Kyoto provides the right hybrid bikes for this terrain with a wide range of gears. If you dont feel confident you can choose one of our power assisted E-bikes. If you are looking for a flat route stay in the city or you can cycle along rivers to Osaka or Nara, about 50 km from Kyoto.

Adventoures Kyoto cycling tours

Except for our 6 day tour in the Japanese Alps our cycling tours are conducted very similar to real cycle touring. This means, that there will be one guide but no support car. You have to carry your belongings by yourself in bike bags, which we provide. For most tours there will be a meeting on the previous day of the start where a briefing takes place, bikes are fitted and bike bags are handed over. The group size is between 4 and 10 persons. Many tours are operated in cooperation with the travel agency “Japan Travel” so please make reservations for tours through Japan Travel when indicated. We have selected our routes very carefully and cycling is a very important aspect of our tours but we would like to convey an overall experience which also include sightseeing, Japanese food and accommodation. Last but not least you should be realistic about your fitness level. There are different tour levels. For advanced and intermediate tours you don’t have to be a top athlete but you need a basic level of fitness. Otherwise consider choosing an E-bike.

Navigation

Another issue is how to find your way. Within Kyoto it is pretty easy to get around as the city has a checker board layout with vertical and horizontal thoroughfares. The street signs are written in Japanese and Alphabetic letters, so it is difficult to get lost. Things change though as soon as you get out into the surrounding environs. There aren’t many street signs and don’t expect to obtain any information in English from the locals.
Adventours Kyoto can help you navigate your tour by providing a route plan. In order to do so you need to download the free cycle navigation app Komoot to your smart phone. Once you come to our cycling base you can log in to our account and download various route plans. If you want to use your smart phone for navigation, you need a power bank to recharge your phone.

Bike on the train

Sometimes it is better to use the extensive train system to get to the start point or back from the end point of your tour. It is possible to take the bike on the train without any extra charge as long as the bike is in a bike bag, which Adventours Kyoto can provide if necessary.

Climate

The four main islands of Japan stretch over 3000km so there is a variety of different climates. The area around Kyoto has four distinct seasons. The best time for cycling is from mid-March to mid-June and mid-September to mid-December. There is a rainy season from mid June to mid July but that doesn’t mean that it is raining all the time. Winter can be cold but you can expect temperatures between 3˚C and10˚C so with the right clothing it is possible to cycle during winter as well. Summer is usually very hot and humid but even then you can cycle in the morning until noon.

Insurance

We strongly recommend that you get travel insurance that covers medical expenses and liability in case you cause damage to others during your cycling tour.

Summary

In conclusion we would like to emphasize that while cycling within Kyoto proper or joining one of our tours is very safe, if you choose to tour by yourself you will most likely end up in very remote areas where you cannot expect immediate help. This kind of self guided cycle touring is suitable for experienced cyclists who are able to do basic repairs such as changing a flat tube and can handle navigation.

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