Posts Tagged ‘cycling’

Sakura forecast 2019

February 15, 2019

Recently announced latest forecast for this year’s cherry blossoms says it will start to bloom on around March 23 (see below map) and will be full bloom the end of March. So exciting! Some of our tours are becoming booked out. So if you are considering to join our tour, please fix your schedule, the sooner, the better !

Here are our website  Cycling Tour   Kayaking Tour  and Running tour 

See you in Tokyo this spring!



Cycling in Beautiful Fukushima

July 17, 2018

Last year I went to Setouchi area for cycling with my Brompton, and this year my bike mate, Haruna with whom I had traveled last year suggests me to go to Aizu area in Fukushima. I have been to Aizu many times, mainly for skiing but it is first time for me to go for cycling. So four of TGCT guides, Haruna, Etsuko, Kazu and I had two nights three days cycling trip in early June, when just before the rainy season has started.

(Three beauties and our Bromptons 😉

The trip was brilliant, beautiful natural landscape, Onsen on top of local Sake and foods , nice bike friends and beautiful weather made our cycling trip such an unforgettable memory. We discovered a lot of hidden gems which only local people know. Unfortunately the name “Fukushima” became world famous after that hideous catastrophe happened in March 11, 2011. But Aizu in Fukushima is truly lovely place for cycling and we recommend to anyone who are planning cycling holiday in Japan. Actually Fukushima (福島) literally means lucky (福) Island (島). Fukushima prefecture is divided into three areas, Aizu, Nakadori and Hamadori. The nuclear power plant is located in Hamadori and the area we visited this time, Aizu is 130 km away from Fukushima Daiishi Nuclear Power Station. Although we reaffirmed that accident when we watched TV news at Onsen Ryokan room and news mentioned Today’s radiation level as well as tomorrow’s weather forecast. In Tokyo we hardly hear this news recently, so it was a bit shocking for us…



Anyway, here is our cycling story…

+++Day 1+++

We met at Asakusa station in Tokyo at 8 am and took Tobu Line for Aizuwakamatsu.  The best part of cycling with Brompton is easy for Rinko (輪行). In Japan, we need to fold our bikes and put them into Rinko bags.

IMG_3837(Rinko bag)

After three hours, we got off at Yunokami Onsen station. The design of the train and the station building are so cute and we were so happy to take pictures. From the station, it is 6 km uphill cycling to Ouchi-Juku . Ouchi-Juku is a small post station along the old trail (Aizu Nishi Kaido) from Edo period. It is only 6 km but the hill was quite steep… But that’s why when we finally arrived at Ouchi-Juku, we were so excited by those charming thatched roof houses, pretty sure we enjoyed the scenery more than those lazy people who went there by bus, huh!




After tasting yummy Soba noodle lunch, we enjoyed nice down hill back to the station and took the train again heading to Nishi-Aizu station. Before checking in tonight Onsen Ryokan, we enjoyed easy cycling in Aizu-Wakamatsu city, visiting Aizu castle, a few Japanese Sake brewers (shopping for tonight Sake as well!) and old downtown.




+++ Day 2 +++

It was a big day. We started Inawashiro Lake ( 500 m elevation) ended at Noji Onsen at 1,200 m for about 40 km. Good thing is that the weather is just perfect for cycling again and another thing is that I had great cycling mates.


We started at around 8:30 am and cycling in the fresh green rice paddies are just gorgeous. The morning fog coming from Lake Inawashiro covered the fields and that give us nice and mysterious scenery to enjoy. Mt. Bandai is at our back as if she is helping to push our back to pedal further.

After 20-25 km easy moderate cycling, hill climbing has started. Among us, Kazu is the most experienced hill climber, while Etsuko is the first time to do hill climb cycling and she was a bit nervous. I am just OK, it is my second one this year after the one in Nagano during Golden Week.


I say some cyclists passing me but didn’t see anyone who are riding mini-velo and they are all surprised to see us as we were all on small wheel bikes (3 Bromptons and 1 Birdy), and which I was proud of ! We all made being at 1,400 meters point with big smile.


We stay at the traditional Onsen Ryokan tonight. Sagamiya Ryokan at Shinojionsen. They are a member of small sized Onsen Ryokan group called Japan Association of Secluded Hot Spring Inns. Their Onsen has nice rustic atmosphere especially their outdoor bath was super cool!


Smells sulfur and color is creamy white, look good for beautiful skins 🙂 So we jumped into the water!


Before dinner, after dinner, just before going to bed (or Futon) and the next early morning before breakfast, I enjoyed four times at one night stay there.


+++ Day 3 +++

The last day of our trip was another beautiful weather! Today’s cycling is on the road named Bandai-Azuma Skyline with 29 km distance over the Tsuchiyu pass. This was originally toll road but it is now toll free for reconstruction after Fukushima was devastated by the earthquake in 2011. Actually the road is selected top 100 beautiful road in Japan.


After the highest point of 1622 meters, we had a rest at Jyodo-Daira. The whole area was in National park and originally created by volcanic activity. There landscape is so unique, very stark but beautiful. There are 111 volcano in Japan and 5 of them are in this area. The latest eruption was happened about 120 years ago, but we can see the clear sign that the mountains are still active here and there.



Oops! What should we do? The caution says “Poison Gas. Another sign even mention ” You have better close your window” We are cycling, there is no window to close! No wonder this area is named “Fox hell” Means that poison gas might kill small animals such as foxes or rabbits.


All of us enjoyed down hill cycling, yeah, downhill! That’s the reward of our climbing yesterday and this morning 🙂


We finally arrived at JR Fukushima station, the goal of this trip. We cannot help jumping to joy.  We love cycling, we love Fukushima!



Setouchi Great Journey – Side trip from Shimanami Kaido cycling road DAY 2

July 20, 2017

DSC_0305We had a reservation of a kayak tour in the afternoon, we left our hotel very early and head back to the Koyo port. There were a few hills along the north coast of Etajima but we could make ourselves to be in time to get the ferry to Kure. Kure is the 3rd. big city in Hiroshima prefecture and it is famous as its history of the naval dockyard which built the battle ship Yamato  before WWII.


We took a bus to the first bridge, Akinada Ohashi, on Tobishima Kaido cycling road. We could cycle there, it is only around 10 km but cycling on busy streets is not so fun so we decided skip this part, and which we believe as a right decision.


Tobishima Kaido Cycling Road is about 30 km connected 5 islands with four bridges. Other than those bridges between islands the course is relatively flat and it is only 30 km so you could of course ride through easily in one day. You could start cycling from Kure (which we did) or from Onomichi via Shimanami Kaido cycling road or even taking a ferry from Imabari to Okamura island.

We arrived at the second island, Kamikamagari island early afternoon and we cycled to Kenmin no hama beach where we tried a kayak tour.


It was a perfect day for kayaking! Actually yesterday was too hot and we thought we would like to jump in the water at any moment we were hill climbing but today it was a little cloudy so very comfortable. Our guide, Shiroki-san was young, nice guy and luckily we were only guests and when we told we’re doing a kayak tour in Tokyo, he was kindly suggested to take us to a little further than usual course. We were so relax and enjoyed paddling. We saw a small Shinto shrine on the rock which paddlers or boatmen pray for safety at the sea.


(The message at the bottom of a kayak saying  “Take care! Bye!!” They offer a paddling school for children and when they see them off, they capsize on purpose to show this message to them. Wow, what a hospitality!! Shall we do the same thing at Tokyo’s canal? No way…..)

After kayaking we head to Mitarai district on Osaki Shimo island where we will stay tonight. Mitarai is the name of historical port and the area is preserved old houses and streetscape. We book a hostel whose building was a former medical clinic. It was Sunday and the owner of the hostel said to us there were no restaurant open nearby. This is the important point for cycling on Tobishima Kaido. Not like the previous Kakishima Kaido or Shimanami Kaido, there are very few convenience stores, so you need to prepare emergency food and drink in advance.

On the way we happened to meet the owner of orange and lemon farm where they sell fresh fruits and juice. That gave us really a power back. Only 100 yen per a cup!


When we travel it is always the most interesting is meeting new people. After a while of chatting with the owner, we continued cycling heading our hostel.  And we found a small restaurant open very close from the hostel. Lucky! Although we got some foods from the shop, it is much nicer to have cooked dishes along with cold beer! That was a Okonomiyaki restaurant  and they serve Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki, so even better. (Be careful! Hirochima people never say “Hiroshima style” , those are proper Okonomiyaki.) At the restaurant we met a group of local people (who seemed already having some amount of beer, Sake ;-)), and we started chatting each other. They were surprised when we told them we were from Tokyo. It was nice and funny talk and I enjoyed food and drinking over chatting a lot. After they left, we also asked the restaurant owner for check, surprisingly she said the bill was settled by those men…! Thank you so much! They didn’t tell anything when they had left the restaurant. Actually they were a bit rude, as they called Haruna as Onesan ( a young lady) and me as Okasan (an old lady) ! But I’ll definitely forgive them 🙂



We had more drink at the hostel with Yano san, the owner. Again, meeting and talking new people is always great fun. According to Haruna I was too talkative on that night and talked the same things many times… I was totally drunken… Sorry,  Haruan and Yano san.  By the way the hostel did very good jobs to renovate an old clinic to a nice cozy place to stay. Highly recommended!

Hatagoya Kusushi  (Website

Second day – Cycling around 45 km   Kayaking around 5 km

Special ride in Nagano

May 26, 2017


We, staffs of Tokyo Great Cycling Tour traveled to Karuizawa, Nagano during Golden Week holiday in this year as has happened in the past.

This year, we have decided to head to Kirizumi Onsen which is located in the deep mountain in Gunma prefecture. karuizawa map

The first 2 hours were rather easy ride with lots of fun. With decent distance and angle of hill climbing, we enjoyed watching cherry blossoms in the mountain. Here is about 1200 meters high from the sea level, so flowers have just started blooming. We were trying to cycle in the same pace as we were afraid of meeting bears who might have just come out from their hibernation. Yes, there are many bears in this mountain! Actually the area is named Kuma no Daira and Kuma means bear in Japanese.



Two hours later we arrived at a kind of dead end but we found the sign pointing the very steep cliff and narrow road to Kirizumi Onsen.



We put our bikes on our shoulders and climbing up this mountain wall standing in front of us. There are not many pictures we could take as the road was so hard and we didn’t have enough remaining power to do so… Some parts of the road were very slippery and one side of the slope face is all the way down to the bottom of the valley…!


After another one hour of cycling (well, actually we were pushing our bike most of the parts), we finally arrived Kirizumi Onsen. It was truly a hidden gem, very quiet even in Golden Week and wonderful location Onsen in the serene hush. Onsen water contains lots of carbonic acid so when you soak in the bath you can see your hands and legs would be wrapped lots of fine bubbles. We had late lunch along a fresh stream.


The time spending in the heaven can last only a short time… We need to cycle back to Karuizawa. We cycle down from Kirizumi Onsen which locates 1200 meters elevation to 400 meters (fun and easy!)  and then hill climb again to Karuizawa which also is 1200 meters! What the hell !!!


In total, we are very much enjoying a day between the heaven and the hell. If you are interested in this route, we can tell you more details, or you can join us next year golden week 🙂

Karuizawa Great Cycling Tour in Golden Week

May 17, 2013

Hello, I am Kazu. I would like to write on 2013 Karuizawa Great Cycling Tour (KGCT). It was held at Karuizawa, Nagano, known as an old and famous resort area in Japan, on May 4, 2013, in the middle of Golden Week, national holiday week.
It was a beautiful day, just blue sky without clouds, perfect for cycling. Participants of the tour were fifteen(15) ; Yukiko, Carlos, Masa, Naoko, Akane, Yayoi, Etsuko, Haruna, Nobutaka, Takk, Linda, Jan, Yoshiko, Yoshiko’s daughter and myself.
We joined either A-Course with a hill of 250m elevation or B-Course without it. Both courses merged in a half way and all of us went on the same course after that.

IMG_0505.JPG (2)

The spring has come here in Karuizawa, which is about one month later than in Tokyo. We enjoyed seeing beautiful flowers including cherry blossoms and vivid green leaves on trees under sunshine on our way. We stopped at a park and had lunch under cherry blossoms, viewing Asama Mountain in the distance.

We also stopped at a popular sweet shop for coffee break and enjoyed chatting at open air space of the shop. All of us finished the tour after 3 p.m. with feeling of satisfaction. Nobody failed. Good job, everyone!
IMG_0515.JPG (2)

Celebrate the 3000th. Guest since 2006!

June 27, 2012

This is the picture of our first tour in November 2006.  I still remember how I was excited when I found a new booking request e-mail arrived into my e-mail account! I had one couple from USA and one Canadian guest on that tour, and three guides (Masa, Carlos and I) wanted join the tour. So three guides for three guests 🙂 We didn’t have any cycling uniforms.

In 2006, we had 50 guests in one year. I had fun time on every tour. I sometime went out for beer together with the guests or even asked the guests to come to my place to have dinner together after the tour. Our guides (all are my friends) were enjoying the tour and enjoying to make friends from all over the world. Our tour operation was maybe still very immature and inexperienced but the guests are very patient and broad-minded.

In 2007, we had 103 guests in one year. Probably our tour operation was improved a little bit, but still we were enjoying the tour very much. At that time, we had only one tour (Route A) on Saturday only.

In 2008, 2009 and 2010, the number of the guests got increased a lot. We were all very surprised but very happy. We were of course enjoying the tour. With requests from the guests, we started different route, Route B on Sunday and finally on weekdays as well. In 2010, we had the 1000th. guest from Australia!

In 2011, until March 11th., everything went very well same as the previous year. But then that disaster occurred. All the reservation we had at that moment were cancelled. In April 2011, in such a circumstances, we still had 19 guests who still came to Japan and took our tour. We were so moved and cried happily. We enjoyed the tour with those amazing guests! We released and started Route C, although nobody had asked us 🙂 Actually we must have had the 2000th. guest in 2011, but did not notice. We were so empty-headed…

In 2012, the number of the visitors to Japan is gradually going back to normal. And…. finally we had the 3000th. guest. Originally we had estimated that the 3000th. guest might come in July or August this year judging from the record of the booking status. But actually “he” joined the tour on June 27th. We are so — excited and filled with deep emotions to think back that we enjoyed the tours with 3000 cyclists!!

I and other guides are enjoying the tour. We are often asked by our guests that aren’t we got bored as the tour routes are all same, but our answer is “NO, not at all” (so far!). We’re waiting you to join our tour, and please be our the 4000th. guest 😉 And of course I’m still very happy to go out for drink with you after the tour!

Thank you, Mark from Chicago, the 3000th. guest. Photo taken in the office after the tour with Mark (with our TGCT uniform), Alex, Erica, Sam, Jac, Palle, Sam and Angela!

Visit Japan for skiing and cycling !

October 22, 2011

Although we are a bike tour company, we would love to promote ski business in Japan.  As you know, Japan is very mountainous island country, actually 70% of the land are mountains. And at the same time Japanese archipelago is long from north to south, so in northern Japan we have much snow during the winter (the middle of December to the end of March). It is said that we have more than 600 ski resorts (or villages), and maybe this is a bit too many…

In the ‘ 80 and  early 90’, when Japan enjoyed its bubble economy, a lot of small mountain villages were developed as ski resorts and there were a big ski boom among young people. But after bubble economy was over, the ski boom was also over, so the population of skiers and snowboarders decreased rapidly. Only huge amount of debts were remained at the local villages.

Thanks to Australians who discovered the quality of snow in Niseko in Hokkaido, now they became international to attract many skiers and snowboarders from all over the world. But as we mentioned above, we have more than 600 ski resorts (oh, some of them are too small to call “resorts”, though…), there are plenty of possibilities to bring in more visitors.

<<Five  advantages about skiing in Japan>>

1. Japanese food  – Food in ski lodge is sometime very poor, but still if you stay over night there you won’t be disappointed by food in the villages or Ryokans you are staying at.

2. Onsen hot spring   –  Skiing and Onsen are always best matching! Most of the ski mountains are very close from Onsen.

3. Reasonable lift ticket  –  Even high Japanese yen, the lift tickets are not so expensive compared to those in U.S.A. or Europe.

4. Not so crowded  –   As Japanese young people are not so interested in snow sports these days, so ski mountains are less crowded. You don’t normally need to wait in the long line for the lift except for some national holidays.

5. Quality of the snow –  Top season is in February.


After the eathquake, Tsunami and nuclear accident in northern Japan this year, the tourism was damaged a lot and still now they don’t have enough tourists. Ski is a big industry during the winter for them and they are afraid that they will have much less customers this winter. So they recently released a amazingly cheap ski trip package, that is ONLY 980 yen per person including the transportation (bus) from Tokyo to the mountain plus one day lift pass !!

The details are…

Available on December 23 (Fri), 24 (Sat), 25 (Sun), 26 (Mon) and 27 (Tue)

Price  980 yen per person on Dec 26 or 27 / 1,980 yen on Dec 23,24 or 25

Including a bus transportation from Shinjuku or Tokyo to Inawashiro ski resort (

Bus depart at Shinjuku 6:45 a.m. or Tokyo sta. 6:45 a.m.  or Ikebukuro 7:30 a.m. and be arrived at Inawashiro 11:15 a.m.

/  ski or snowboard one day  /

Bus depart from Inawashiro at 5:45 p.m. and be arrived at Shinjuku at 9:50 p.m.

There are some other plans to go different destination as well. Please ask us the details.

Oops! One thing, we would like to mention  ….. Don’t forget  joining our cycling tour on the next day or later when you come back to Tokyo 😉

The most beautiful cycling road in Japan ~Shimanami-Kaido

June 2, 2011

As I accomplished what I have wanted to do for a long time in my golden week holiday,  my next long-held goal is cycling at Shimanami-Kaido where all cyclists without any exception say “must do” if you are cyclists. So I asked three of my friends to go cycling together. All of us have similar folding bikes, so it is easier to pedal in the same pace. Our itinerary is as follows;


Day 1   Take the overnight sleeper train, “Sunrise Seto” (サンライズ瀬戸), departing from Tokyo station at 10:00 p.m.

Day 2  Arrive at Sakaide(坂出) station at 7:08 a.m., then change to JR Yosan line(予讃線).  Ishizuchi express No.5 (特急いしづち5号)departing  at Sakaide stn. at 7:52 a.m. and arriving  at Imabari (今治)station at 9:29 a.m.

Start cycling from Imabari station heading to the first bridge named “Kurushima Kaikyo Ohashi” bridge ( 来島海峡大橋). Cycling from one island to another then stop at Omishima (大三島)to stay overnight.

Day 3  Start cycling at around 9:00 a.m. to continue our way to Onomichi (尾道). Arrive at Onomichi station at about 4:00 p.m. Take the bullet train (Shinkansen) to back to Tokyo.


Overnight sleeper train “Sunrise Seto” /My friends got on board from Yokohama station / I already happily started my first beer in my seat.

Folding bike is very easy carry, easy set-up. Two BD-1 & two Brompton. Mine is a red Brompton/ In front of Imabari castle / Imabari is famous for shipbuilding, we saw many shipyards.


Kurushima Kaikyo Ohashi, consisting of three suspension bridges, 4,015 meters in total. The longest suspension bridge in the world/ The lane for cyclists and pedestrians is completely separated from the lane for cars/Look at this beautiful sea!

Gorgeous sea food!! /Pay a toll to put in the box/ The bridge between Hakata (伯方)island and Omishima (大三島)

The access to the bridge is gentle slope/ Easy to understand signs/ This area is major production area of citrus fruits/ Sweet perfume everywhere!

We decided to stay at a Minshuku ( guest house) near the beach/ We need Onsen hot spring after long ride! / Beautiful sunset

Oyamazumi shrine (大山祇神社)has 8 national treasures/ giant camphor trees, natural treasure and a holy tree

There are some ups and downs / We stopped over for shopping a bottle of lemonchero /Tatara (多々羅)bridge

Lunch time! Fresh sushi and also very good Kamameshi (釜めし Steamed rice with octopus) We asked a local fisherman for good restaurant and it was right decision!  Keima (桂馬) 251 Setoda, Setoda-cho, Onomichi city, Hiroshima (Tel. 08452-7-1989) / Local shopping street – Shiomachi / Desert time! Right after the lunch? Oh, yes…!

Comfortably flat path along the coast / Our trip is ending… / Noz, Meg, me and Q

Finally the last bridge to Mukai island (向島)/ From Mukai island to Onomichi, it is 1 min. by boat / Completed !


It was a really nice cycling in easy and relaxed mode with good friends. Beautiful view of Seto inland sea and bridges, we could enjoy nice food and drink, people are very friendly as well. If you have time for two days, please try to go cycling on Shimanami-Kaido. I will guarantee that you never regret.

We brought our own bikes, but rental bike is also available. For more information about Shimanami-Kaido,  you can check following websites.


Shimanami official web

We love cycling! We also love skiing!!

January 25, 2010

Photo Yukiko @ Manza Onsen Ski Area

We are operating the bike tour also in winter season. Actually as we have told many times, cycling on a sky clear, sunny and crispy day in winter is very comfortable. All of TGCT staff love cycling in winter.

However, at the same time, all of us also love skiing in winter, so sometime we are really fluctuating  between cycling and skiing, especially after hearing new snow report at the mountain side!

Last weekend, luckily (or unluckily for our business 🙂 ) we had no tour booking, so all of TGCT staff went together to Manza Onsen in Gunma prefecture as the staff trip.

Same as other ski area in Japan, the size of ski area and length of ski slope are much smaller/shorter than those in Europe or North America, but the best thing for Japanese ski place is Onsen (hot spring) after skiing.

The Onsen warter at Manza is very strong sulfur bath, we could really have a relaxing time to relieve the day’s fatigue.  While soaking the Onsen, we all have developed a new appreciation to living in Japan and this gift from the land – Onsen!!

If you are considering to visit Japan for skiing, we can probably give you some advices or tips about skiing in Japan. And we still suggest you that it is good idea to do bike tour before or after your skiing trip to mountain side! But sorry in advance, if all of us are out of Tokyo for skiing trip 🙂

   Photo  Yukiko @Manza Onsen  : Can you see the hot spring gas? It really smells sulfur!

This time we stayed at…  Prince Hotel Manza  website

Winter Sale – TGCT T-shirts

December 2, 2009

As we’ve informed already, now we have original T-shirts for sale.

Some of our tour guests have purchased them for souvenirs. Thank you!!

 It is available at 3,000 yen now!!  (orignal price is 3,500yen)

 We have 3 sizes, Men’s XL, L and M.

 The material of the shirts is fast dry 100% Polyester, and the brand of the shirts is Jack Wolfskin.

At the left side of the back, our Logo is printed vertically and on the right shoulder, our course map is printed.