Ride & Seek puts on a global assortment of epically themed cycling tours, from the Caesar (London to Rome), the Iron Curtain (Berlin to Budapest), and the Hannibal (Barcelona to Rome), to more exotic and natural escapes like the Appalachian (Maine to North Carolina) and Maori (Auckland to Queenstown).
Now, they’ve acquired Cycle Japan and added the Samurai Tour, a two-parter that can be combined into one mega-epic. It’s offered in May and October and includes Honsho and Shikoku Islands routes, with a bonus Mt. Fuji stage.
The Honshu stage (15 days) rides north to south across the mainland through the Japanese Alps and Noto Peninsula, visiting landmarks like the Black Crow Castle in Matsumoto, Japan’s oldest original castle. The landscape hasn’t changed much in 400 years, offering a glimpse into the past while riding lightly trafficked yet modern roads.
After a rest day in Kyoto, the Shikoku tour (11 days) picks up by riding across many of small islands nestled between Shikoku and the mainland. You’ll ride across the Shimanami Kaido suspension bridges, through gorges, and climb Western Japan’s highest peak, Mt. Ishizuchi while passing ancient mountainside villages. Throughout, you’ll follow parts of the pilgrimage of Buddhist priest Kuka’s (aka Kobo-Daishi) 88 temples.
The bonus stage lets you cycle around Mt. Fuji for incredible views of the iconic Japanese mountain from the Fuji 5 Lakes, with the option of riding up the volcano. Explore the Izu Peninsula, pass through fishing villages, and ride past the site where the famous American Black Ships landed, a catalyst for ending feudalism and starting Japan’s rapid modernization during the samurai era.
Accomodations include a mix of traditional Ryokan and western-style hotels. Those and all meals (Ramen!!! Sashimi!!!) are included in the tour, focusing on traditional regional and local foods and preparation, plus natural hot springs baths at many of the stops. Sake and beer are on you, though, so bring some cash.
Word is the October tours sell out quickly, and May spots move a little more slowly but also fill up. Group sizes are limited to ensure good rider to guide ratios. More details and pricing on their website.