27 May – 3 June 2018
We meet in Kyoto a city that served as Japan’s capital and the emperor’s residence from 794 until 1868. It is one of the country’s ten largest cities with a population of 1.5 million people and a modern face. Over the centuries, Kyoto was destroyed by many wars and fires, but due to its exceptional historic value, the city was dropped from the list of target cities for the atomic bomb and escaped destruction during World War II. Countless temples, shrines and other historically priceless structures survive in the city today. The history is rich, the riding is superb. A few days to ride and explore one of the world most majestic and iconic cities before we head south to Himeji, another location steeped in history.
Our ride south takes us deep into the hills to the north of Kobe, before arriving down on the coast in Himeji, most famous for its magnificent castle, Himeji Castle. The castle is widely considered to be Japan’s most beautiful surviving feudal castle. The castle is designated both a national treasure and a UNESCO world heritage site.
The next part of our journey will be by sea, as we jump aboard the ferry that takes us to our first island of the day, Shodoshima. We spend the next few hours hours hopping across these magical islands with are main focus the art galleries of Naoshima (直島). Naoshima is an island in the Seto Inland Sea that is known for its modern art museums, architecture and sculptures. Part of Kagawa Prefecture, the island with its Mediterranean atmosphere, sandy beaches and sunny weather, combined with a laid back, rural feel is a relaxing getaway from Japan’s large urban areas such as Tokyo and Osaka.
Much of Naoshima’s art was installed by the Benesse Corporation, which oversees art museums, installations and sculptures both on Naoshima and on neighboring islands. Benesse’s museums were designed by the well known Japanese architect Ando Tadao and include the Chichu Art Museum, Lee Ufan Museum and all the buildings of the Benesse House. In addition, Naoshima’s municipal buildings and schools were designed by the modern architect Ishii Kazuhiro. The island serves as a main venue of the Setouchi Triennale art festival.
We will have plenty of time to relax and enjoy the art and relaxed island lifestyle before heading for our final leg of the journey to Onomichi, the awe-inspiring Shimanami-kaido and the fabulous OnomichU2 Bike Hotel. Onomichi (尾道) is a quaint town located along the Seto Inland Sea in eastern Hiroshima Prefecture. The town extends from the mainland across some of the neighboring islands, which are connected by the bridges of the Shimanami Kaido. Our final day is spent exploring the area, crossing the bridges and islands and enjoying our final night dinner and celebration to wrap up an incredible journey.
Average distance is about 100km per day with approximately 1000m of climbing. Our Intermediate ours aim to strike a balance between time on and off the bike, but it is still designed challenge and a reasonable level of bike handling ability is required. Contact us for more information on joining this tour.