2019 Takayama, Gero, Magome Bike Tour (Intermediate)

Activate your senses on this joyful and scenic bike trip in Central Japan and relax in an onsen

3 days
Gifu

Highlights

  • Discover Gifu on bike with a friendly, experienced guide
  • Cycle along picturesque Seseragi Kaido mountain pass
  • Relax in famous onsens of Gero, one of the top Japan hot spring destinations

Description

Set on an cycling adventure across Gifu Prefecture: discover the charms of Takayama, marvel the nature along Seseragi Kaido road, soak in the Gero onsen, visit Magome - a former hillside post town along Nakasendo Trail.

Details

The 3-day Takayama, Gero and Magome bike tour has it all: beautiful landscapes with winding rivers and rolling hills, steaming "onsen" hot springs, and delicious local foods. Takayama, a scenic town, offering a lot of history, tradition as well as some delightful local flavors, is one of the most popular destinations for foreigners traveling to Japan. As such, Takayama makes the perfect starting point for this cycling tour, designed with an intermediate-level cyclist in mind. Daily distances are approximately 70 km, or 4 hours of riding. The days are typically broken into 1-hour riding portions with rests or lunch four times a day. 

Cycling is more than a mere physical transfer from point A to B - it allows you to engage all of your senses, and take in the surroundings during your trip. The onsen experience is a great add on: as you wind up a day full of activities, it relaxes the mind and the body and opens up your appetite. Each evening of the tour, after the onsen, a wonderful Japanese meal follows along with drinks and a chat with your fellow tour participants. 

Tour Itinerary

October 28: Day prior to cycling tour start
Arrive in Takayama, check into your accommodation and get a good night's rest for the following day when the bike tour kicks off. Depending on the time of your arrival, have a look around the town. 
Accommodation: Takayama Green Hotel or similar class
Meals: Dinner

October 29 (Day 1): Takayama to Gero (72 km)

The day starts with briefing of the tour guide with tour participants at the Takayama accommodation, after the check out. Following the meeting, the tour group sets out to explore the city of Takayama. 
Takayama has lovely, quaint streets with old wooden houses built in traditional Japanese style, and also a vibrant, colorful morning market on the riverbank. As it is crowded, we avoid cycling in the city and walk along the streets for an hour. After the walking tour in downtown area, we start to cycle up to Nishi Ure Pass, along the Seseragi Kaido road, which is named after the sounds of clear river you can hear yourself as you traverse this route.
The hardest cycling portion of the route on Day 1 is from 26 km to 27 km, which is an average 7% climb. The pass divides mountain rivers north-bounds (to Japan Sea) or south-bounds (to Pacific Ocean) and stands at about 1,100 m above sea level. After conquering this pass, we can enjoy a mostly downhill ride. There is less traffic, and the road continues through forests, which turn beautiful hues of red in autumn. We will have lunch at a roadside station, and then head to Gero, one of the three most loved onsen spots in all of Japan. In the Takayama area, there are quite a few traditional 'ryokan' style accommodations, however in Gero the town itself is one onsen complex. Wrap up your day and enjoy a relaxing evening in this onsen town.  
Total climb: 800 m
Descent: 1000 m
Highest point: Nishi Ure Pass at 1,113 m
Accommodation: Gero Onsen Bosenkan or similar class
Meals: Breakfast, dinner

October  30 (Day 2): Gero to Magome (66 km)
The route today is hilly. There are no more high altitudes like the day before, however the total climb is higher. We are visiting small towns and villages, and first up, in the village of Kashimo, you can see a wooden structure of a kabuki theater which was built more than 100 years ago. The local people love art, and even today, many artists as well as music and architecture students spend their summers in this village. Next, we visit a little town called Tsukechi, well known for its crystal clear river waters and fish. Both in Kashimo and Tsukechi there were many successful timber businesses in the past. Afterwards, we will be heading towards Magome, today's final destination, which is widely known as a historical hillside post town. The trail between Magome and Tsumago is famous among travelers. We will be staying at an accommodation located at the bottom of Magome town, and enjoy a local onsen. 
Takayama and Gero are located in the Hida area, while Nakatsugawa, where we are heading next, is in the Mino area. Although they are both part of the same Gifu Prefecture, Hida is more mountainous while Mino has a flatter, basin-like terrain. The geography of these areas has affected not only their respective populations, but also the food production and culture, and as we visit both, you get to enjoy distinctive local flavors of Hida and Mino, respectively. 
Total climb: 1,100 m
Descent: 1,000 m
Highest point: 694 m
Accommodation: Hotel Hanasarasa or similar class
Meals: Breakfast, dinner

Oct 31 (Day 3): Magome to Ena (73 km)
Today we are cycling in east Mino. The area is still hilly, but the view is more widely open compared to the previous days. After departure, we start climbing through Magome. Magome is a unique post town, as it is located on a slope. Since it is crowded, we get off our bikes and explore the town on foot. On the way, you can try some delicious foods like "goheimochi" - a rice cake on a skewer coated in a sweet sauce and cooked over a flame. As we descend the hill a wide view to the west opens. Crossing several bridges, we further descend to Naegi Castle Park, where yet another fabulous view awaits. Afterwards, we return to Nakasendo Trail, making our way to Ena, known as Ooi post town in the past. Before reaching Ena City central, we change our course and head to Iwamura Town, famous for its mountaintop castle which stands at 717 meters above sea level. Passing through the hilly roads surrounded by rice paddies, and fields, we reach Ena City. There is a renowned woodblock print museum in Ena, where you can try out the wood printing work yourself. At this point there are 5 more kilometers to the tour ending point, which is located near the very first electric power plant dam in Japan. Optionally, you can join a cruise boat tour and enjoy stunning views of granite towers along the way. Once again, our accommodation has a nice onsen, and if  you give it a little taste, you will realize it is salty, even though we are surrounded by mountains and not anywhere near the sea. 
Total climb: 1,110 m
Descent: 1 250 m
Highest point: 580 m
Accommodation: Enakyo Grand Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, dinner

Important information

The tour dates are October 28 - 31, 2019.
Minimum  number of participants required for the tour to run is 6.

Maximum number of participants in tour is 10.

The tour includes:

  • Bilingual guide
  • Accommodation and meals (4 overnights, 3 breakfasts, 3 dinners)
  • Supplementary foods and drinks (biscuits, rice crackers, chilled isotonic drinks, hot water)
  • Support van with back-up bike

The tour does NOT include:

  • Transportation to/from starting/ending points of the tour
  • Lunch on any day
  • Personal costs incurred during the tour (souvenirs, etc.)
  • Any unscheduled travel
  • Personal travel insurance

Other important information:

  • Rental bikes (cross bikes, 3 x 9 gear), helmets, minimal insurance are available at 10,000 yen per person for the duration of the tour as follows:
     Canondale (Quick 4 2014) sizes available: S,  M, L
     Giant (Escape RX 2 2016,2017) sizes available:  XS, S, M, XL
    *Note: Please inquire if you would like to arrange a rental bike
  • Optional cruise boat tour on Day 3: 1,150 yen per person; Approx. cruise time: 30 min
    *Note: As reservations are required, if you would like to join the tour, please notify us by ....
  • If you are bringing your own bike, please note following:
    - prepare suitable tubes to fit your tire size
    - you can use mechanic tools, air pump, repair kit for flat tires etc., however, staff will not be responsible for repairing or maintaining your bike
    - take care of your bike by yourself during the tour

Meeting point

The meeting point is at Takayama Ouan, ryokan-style accommodation, 5 minutes on foot from JR Takayama Station. Details regarding the meeting spot and tour itself will be sent to all participants several days prior to the tour start. 

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