Kochi: Cycling Tour Along Three Mighty Rivers

Embark on a carefully curated cycling adventure along Kochi's top three rivers, take in the nature, meet the locals, enjoy the regional flavors.

4 days
Kochi

Highlights

  • Ride alongside the 3 main rivers of Kochi, several minor ones as well, while taking in mountainous hinterland views
  • Good quality road bike or multi-gear commuter bike, per your request with equipment that includes: bicycle, helmet, saddle bag (option)
  • Stay at mountain-side homes and lodges, main meals included with your choice of budget or luxury accommodation, self-guided or guided in English

Description

Kochi Prefecture is well known for its largely natural hinterland and untamed rivers. This 4-day unique Kochi cycling tour takes you along some of the ancient mountain-passing riverside trails that Shikoku natives used on foot for inter-village trade. The tour takes in thickly forested ranges, plunging gorges, whitewater torrents, and broad gentle flows of Kochi’s top three rivers: the Yoshino, the Niyodo, and the Shimanto. The course is about 284 km long and starts in Kochi, ending at Nakamura, at the mouth of the Shimanto River. From Nakamura, you will return by train to Kochi.

Details

Kochi Prefecture in Shikoku is a largely undeveloped island with a mild climate and cycling-friendly roads. Low population means less traffic, and yet almost all roads in the region are sealed and well maintained. Historically the people of Shikoku traveled around by foot for trade and family events, and naturally took the paths of least resistance, being the 3 mighty main rivers of Kochi, along with a number of their tributaries. We use these trails to good advantage in this tour, offering stunning mountain vistas but without a significant amount of climbing - just 600 m to 800 m per day of elevation gain.

The three rivers are the Yoshino, a fast-moving waterway that is famous for rafting and other thrilling water sports; the Niyodo, which is noted for its cobalt blue source and reputation as Japan’s clearest river; and the Shimanto, which is Shikoku’s longest river as well as being the country’s longest undammed river. The tour takes an East-West swing up from Kochi city and into the mountainous hinterland of the prefecture, then in a long slow arc across the foothills of the Kochi range, you turn southward again and eventually emerge at the Pacific coast.

Accommodation is available either as budget locations or in some areas more high-grade auberge-style hotels. At least one evening you will stay with locals at their rooms alongside a tributary river, enjoying local food and conversation as you wind down for the day.

As a 4-day cycling tour with some moderate climbs, you should be reasonably fit and able to handle intermediate-level courses. The climbs themselves are generally of short distance (1-2 km for main inclines) and can be walked in a reasonable time if you wish to conserve energy.
The tour is available as either a self-guided package, where the bike(s), accommodation, and transport are arranged, along with a phone-in Help Desk if things get difficult.

Tour Itinerary

Day One (Kochi to Okawa - 80 km)

10:00 Arrive at Kochi Station and pick up bicycle(s) and other gear. If you have chosen the Guided Tour option, then the guide will instruct you on how to use the bike and safety rules. If you are self-guided, please refer to the tour instructions.
10:30 Dispatch one bag to Day Three accommodation (prior to tour you should have dispatched your second bag to Day Two accommodation - allow 24 hours). Gear up, check bikes, leave Kochi station area and head out on route 31 (eventually joining route 32), following the secondary roads up to Otoyo. The main climb of the day is at around 20 km.
12:30 Stop for lunch in Otoyo town. Not much choice, so if you are vegetarian you may want to pack your own lunch.
13:00 Resume on route 439 and follow the quiet side of the Yoshino River all the way to Tosa Sameura.
15:30 You make a short detour to the south, to ride up to the famous rice terraces at Takasu.
16:30 Returning north, you arrive in Okawa village and check in to your accommodation.
17:00 Bag delivered by courier service
18:00 Dinner at accommodation.

Day Two (Okawa to Niyodogawa - 80 km)
09:00 Breakfast at accommodation, review of the course for the day, dispatch bag to wherever you will be staying on the evening Day Four.
09:00 Check bike(s) and set off for the day.
12:30 Stop at Kogawa-higashi-tsuga-sai village for lunch.
13:30 Back on the road, heading west and mostly downhill.
15:00 At around 60 km into the trip you will intersect with the famed Niyodo River, and follow it upstream to our destination of the Nanokawa area.
15:30 Bag delivered by courier service
17:30 Reach accommodation and check in.
18:00 Dinner at accommodation

Day Three (Niyodogawa to Nishitosa-Tachibana - 100 km)
08:00 Breakfast at accommodation, review of the course for the day, dispatch bag to Kochi or return address.
09:00 We’re getting an early start because today’s ride is a long one.
11:00 Around 20 km in, you will pass through a 2 km tunnel. Although disconcerting at first, there is a pedestrian way, so use this if you prefer.
12:30 Stop at Yusuhara for lunch. Take a look around, especially the Machi-no-eki Yusuhara (Yusuhara town station) designed by Kuma Kengo, and for local produce, the  Michi-no-eki Yusuhara (road station) is about 1 km east of town.
13:30 Back on the road, heading west and mostly downhill.
16:00 Around 30 km further, you will intersect with the upper reaches of the Shimanto River at Nishitosa-ekawasaki and follow the river downstream to your destination.
17:30 Arrive at accommodation and check in.
18:00 Dinner at accommodation.

Day Four (Nishitosa-Tachibana to Nakamura, then Kochi return)
08:00 Breakfast at accommodation, review of the course for the day, dispatch last bag to your return address.
09:00 Today’s course is relatively easy and downstream towards the coast. The highlights will be broad expanses of gently flowing river and the rail-less “chinkabashi” bridges crossing the Shimanto River at regular intervals.
13:00 Arrive at Nakamura, have lunch, pack bike (if self guided and not using bike collection service)
13:49 Catch the train back to Kochi, via the Tosa Kuroshio Railway to Kubokawa then a change to the JR Dosan line.
15:31 Arrive at Kochi Station. Tour ends.

Important information

Included in price

  • Road or commuter bicycle (list price is per road bike, let us know if you’d prefer a multi-gear commuter bike)
  • Pump, front/rear lights, saddle bag, spare tubes
  • Helmet and course map (digital)
  • Accommodation, evening meal, and breakfast at each accommodation point. Accommodation grade is optionally either: luxury or economy. List price is per economy grade. Let us know if you’d prefer luxury grade.
  • Delivery and pickup of bags each day (see later for further instructions).
  • Bike bag and tool to disassemble bike. Note that the bike drop-off method is that you transport it back to Kochi in a bike bag on the train. If you are not sure how to do this, let us know and we will give you a lesson before you leave on Day One. Alternatively, for an optional cost you can leave the bike at our drop-off point in Nakamura and we will take care of the logistics for you. See Options in the “Important information section” below for more information.
  • Chat and voice support in English

Not included

  • Train fare from Nakamura to Kochi Station
  • Vehicle rental, tolls, gas, parking if you decide to drive
  • Insurance for vehicle or yourself and passengers
  • Vehicle accessories such as child seat, freezer box, etc.
  • WiFi Router unless purchased separately, as recommended
  • Guides or other persons in attendance
  • Equipment for any activities you may plan to do independently (unless booked separately with us)

Know before you book

  • All bookings must be made at least 1 month in advance, to allow us to prepare equipment and transport.
  • The tour can be done as self-guided or guided. List price is for the self-guided tour. If you’d prefer a guided tour let us know in advance. 
  • This cycling experience depends on availability coinciding with your travel dates, and we may suggest a nearby date if not available.
  • The cycling route is remote, so if you have a diet preference or need snacks along the way, be prepared for limited selections at the local stores (in some places there are no stores). 
  • Our cycling tours require you to pack two bags which are delivered by courier all over Japan. One bag for Days One and Three and one for Days Two and Four. This means that each bag takes up to 36 hours to deliver to the next location (effectively pickup is morning time on the first day and delivery is evening of the second day) and you either need to plan accordingly, or if you don’t have an extra day either side of the tour to dispatch/pick up your luggage, then we advise you to pack very light for the first and last days and bring what you need in your backpack or optional giant saddle bag.
  • You will not need a working (connected to Japanese cellular network) mobile phone for this activity, but if you wish to use one, we have high-performance, reasonably priced WiFi routers available for pickup in Kochi.
  • Some parts of the activity may be modified depending on weather and seasonal conditions.
    Cancellation:
  • 2 days prior to the day of your trip – 40 %
  • 1 day prior – 50 %,
  • On the day – 100 %
  • No-show – 100 %
  • Japan is a safe country and this activity is low-risk, furthermore, the activity itself includes insurance coverage while you are with the supplier. However, considering the travel there and back, as well as perhaps wanting more extensive insurance coverage, we advise you to consider personal and third-party travel insurance out of abundant caution
  • If you are renting a car to support the rider(s), we recommend you buy the car rental company's insurance policy

Options at Extra Charge

  • Choice of guide. Our guides all speak English, with other languages available.
  • Choice of high-grade road bike or economy grade commuter bike (with at least 14 gears - 7 on rear and 2 in front).
  • Choice of high-grade accommodation where available, or economy at every stop.
  • Choice of support car if you are traveling in a group.
  • Giant saddle bag for extra clothes and other personal items.
  • Bike drop-off collection at Nakamura at the end of the ride.

What you need to bring

  • Small backpack with clothing basics, spare batteries, etc.
  • Two bags to rotate each day with couriers, 
  • If you wear contact lenses, bring a pair of good riding glasses
  • Glasses strap if you are wearing sunglasses or prescription glasses
  • Waterproof camera if you want to take your own photos and videos - it rains a lot in Japan
  • Sunglasses, water bottle, and other personal accessories.

 How to Get There (and Back Again)

  • By Bike: This course has you cycling the entire distance between Kochi, through the mountains, then ending up at Nakamura. At Nakamura Station you can either pack a bicycle into a bike bag for transport on the train, or optionally (extra charge) we will . You will pack the bicycle into a bike bag for transport on the train, or optionally we will collect it from you at Nakamura Station and handle the logistics from there.
  • Returning by Train: Take the Tosa Kuroshio Railway from Nakamura Station, then change at Kubokawa Station to the JR Dosan line and alight at Kochi Station (D45 stop). 
  • By Car: If one of your party plans to drive, let us know and we will give you coordinates to enter into the navigation system. To leave Kochi city, you get on the Kochi Expressway at the Kochi interchange and follow the route north to National Route 439, then leave 439 at the Otoyo interchange (Exit 9) and follow National Route 439 to Route 17 to Okawa.

Meeting point

Kochi Station, South Exit

View Directions

Organised by Japan Travel KK

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