Secrets of Hokkaido By Bike

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Hokkaido is one of Japan’s most idyllic cycling destinations; stunning coastlines, rolling mountain scenery, World Heritage National Parks and a rich cultural heritage that would fascinate the most discerning traveler. Team this with an exquisite cuisine, hot springs and onsens to soothe and soak in after a stunning days ride and you soon see why Japan is fast becoming one of the great cycling destinations of Asia. Our cycle adventure begins in Abashiri in Eastern Hokkaido, from where we follow cycle-friendly rural roads through a variety of landscapes; farm lands, mountains, caldera lakes, volcanoes and the wild coast. We travel and eat like the Japanese, preferring to stay at traditional inns and guesthouses where an appreciation of the culture and delightful food is most apparent. There is time to explore ancient fishing villages, temples and one of the highlights is cycling in Shiretoko National Park, a World Heritage Site, home to shika deer and brown bear.

Trip highlights

  • Tour rural Hokkaido and behold its remarkable charm
  • Experience a variety of stunning scenery – farm lands, mountains, caldera lakes, volcanoes and coast
  • Soak in spectacular onsens (natural hot springs)
  • Stay in traditional family run inns (ryokan)
  • Savour diverse and unique Japanese cuisine
  • Journey to Shiretoko National Park, one of Japan’s most beautiful and unspoiled National Parks


Day 1 Join Abashiri

We will meet at 6pm (18:00) at our hotel in Abashiri near the station. After a tour briefing and introduction we stroll the city of Abashiri and have a welcome dinner in town. Abashiri is the largest city on the east coast of Hokkaido and is famous for the winter attraction Ryuhyo, the drift ice that flows down the Amur River. The Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum, Hokkaido Museum of Northern Peoples, and Abashiri Prison Museum are other popular attractions that are worth visiting if you arrive in Abashiri earlier. Accommodation: Hotel/Ensuite bathroom

Day 2 Abashiri to Notoro Misaki loop ride

This morning we will be fitted for our bikes and receive a safety briefing. Once we are all equipped we head towards Notoro Misaki. Leaving the town we soon reach the Okhotsk Sea and ride along the coastline passing beautiful shrines and a fishing village. A short gradual hill towards the cape is good preparation for tomorrow’s ride and from the Notoro Misaki lookout you are rewarded with a wonderful ocean panorama. We then have a pleasant downhill cycle towards Lake Notoro. We cycle the lakeside road around Lake Notoro, which then links onto the cycling path to Abashiri. Tonight we visit our favourite restaurant and try out okonomiyaki (savoury pancake) prepared and cooked right in front of your eyes. Accommodation: Hotel/Ensuite bathroom Cycling distance: 45km Total ascent: 250m

Day 3 Abashiri to Lake Kussharo-Ko

From Abashiri we head south to a beautiful caldera lake, Lake Kussharo-Ko. The ride takes us over Bihoro Pass, which gives views over the lake and surrounding mountains. At the top of the pass we have lunch at a rest house, it is then a pleasant ride downhill to the shore of Lake Kussharo-Ko. Lake Kussharo-Ko is the second largest lake in Hokkaido, and one of three lakes in the Akan National Park. The area is well known for its abundant hot springs, a result of the volcanic activity in the area. We have a brief stop at Sunayu, a popular foot spa site on the shores of Lake Kussharo-Ko. Tonight’s accommodation is located on the lakeside of Kussharo-Ko. Accommodation: Ryokan/Shared bathroom Cycling distance: 88km Total ascent: 688m

Day 4 Lake Kussharo-Ko to Nakashibetsu

Today we continue cycling along Lake Kussharo-Ko to the active volcano Iozan, known as “Sulphur Mountain”. It erupted about 600 years ago, but is still steaming and smells of sulphur! After a gradual but long uphill ride, we reach the lookout of Lake Mashu-Ko. Most of the time the lake is covered with mist, but if we are lucky we will be able to view the emerald-coloured lake surface. The rest of today’s cycling is easy, downhill and flat into the farming area of Nakashibetsu. Accommodation: Ryokan/Shared bathroom Cycling distance: 84km Total ascent: 850m

Day 5 Nakashibetsu to Rausu

This morning we ride through farmlands, enjoying the changing scenery as we approach Shiretoko Peninsula, known as the last unexplored region of Japan. We cycle along the east coast of the peninsula, heading to the small fishing village of Rausu. Famous for its sea kelp production, it’s here that you can also enjoy a sumptuous meal of fresh seafood and king crabs. This afternoon, you have an option to ride (or drive) a further 24km along the coast to a secluded onsen Aidomari, offering a perfect seaside setting. Accommodation: Hotel/Ensuite bathroom Cycling distance: 65-113km Total ascent: 300-400m

Day 6 Rausu to Utoro

Shiretoko Peninsula is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, today you will be able to appreciate its beauty and wilderness. From Rausu, we cycle the ‘Shiretoko Crossroad’ a mountainous road to the other side of the peninsula. It is approximately 15km to the top, a scenic ride with a spectacular view of Mt Rausu, the highest peak in the Shiretoko Mountain Range. We then head downhill and lunch at the Shiretoko Nature Centre with an optional short walk to a waterfall. We then follow the scenic road north to the Shiretoko 5 Lakes, where there is a board walk to the lake. There is an opportunity for those with energy to ride an additonal 7km alongside the Iwaobetsu River. We cycle to Utoro for our accommodation for the night, where there may be the chance to see a beautiful sunset from the hotel. Accommodation: Ryokan/Ensuite bathroom Cycling distance: 46km Total ascent: 1200m

Day 7 Utoro to Abashiri

We continue riding along the coast and enter into farmlands again. The long straight roads travel through potato farms, which will be in full bloom in early July. We have a brief stop at Koshimizu Gensei-Kaen (Koshimizu Wild Flower Reserve), where about 40 kinds of flowers bloom in spring and summer. We finish our ride back in Abashiri, this time our overnight accommodation is near the lake. Tonight we celebrate the end of our trip with a final dinner and outdoor onsen, and a spectacular view of Lake Abashiri. Accommodation: Hotel/Ensuite bathroom Cycling distance: 85km Total ascent: 350m

Day 8 Finish in Abashiri

Our tour concludes after breakfast with transport to the airport or station in the morning, if required.

Images courtesy of World Expeditions