A Cycling Tour Of Japan's Art and Culture

Japan is far too often only seen from the railroad track or the road, we want to give travelers a completely new perspective on the art and culture of Japan by creating the first combined Art and Cycling tour of the country.

We will be introducing you to three dynamic cycling and art ambassadors in the cities of Tokyo, Kyoto and Onomichi, here from your bicycle we’ll take you to some of the most beautiful buildings, introduce you to some of these cities most unique artists and hope to give you a completely new perspective. Cycling and Art in Japan, brought to you by Asia Art Tours.


TIME                     LOCATION           RECOMMENDED HOTEL

Day 1               TOKYO            Trunk Hotel / Tokyo Aman

Today you’ll settle into Tokyo, at night we’ll introduce you to one of our favorite settings in Tokyo, THE COMMUNE open-air food market. Here we’ll be setting up drinks for you with a local artist who can tell you more about the modern art and music scene in Tokyo.

Your hotel options are recommended due to their strong and unique commitment to design.


Day 2                        TOKYO              Trunk Hotel / Tokyo Aman

You’ll head to Studio C to meet with Brad and Chad the owners of Freewheeling Japan. There they’ll set you up on the rules of the road in Tokyo, and make sure to pair you with a bike and safety equipment. Then you’ll be heading out with Chad for an architecture tour of Tokyo on two wheels!

Tokyo has amazing architectural gems and many you can find in design books but what about looking at Tokyo from a new perspective. Let’s examine Tokyo together from the cyclists perspective and from a human-scale point of view. See how we go from residential neighborhoods that grew slowly over time without a master plan to the big city streets. Feel the looming towers that stretch as high as their business ambitions can take them. Explore the spaces between the skyscrapers, overpasses and parks that reveal the true design genius of Tokyo. All the little life-hacks people use to make this city a home.

Afterward, we’ll return to Studio C. If you have time afterward we recommend making it out to Shimo-Kitazawa, one of our favorite up and coming neighborhoods for food, art, design and a general sense of energy and experimentation.


Day 3                       TOKYO               Trunk Hotel / Tokyo Aman

Today we’ll have two options:

The first is to continue exploring Tokyo with Chad, who not only is well-versed in the cities architecture but also photography. For interested clients, he can show you some of the most unique shots, angles and perspectives to help your photographs of Tokyo truly stand out.

Or for those who want to stretch your legs, we can cycle with Brad to the very farthest neighborhood of Tokyo, Ome. Ome is famous for its indigo dying and for the hundreds of vintage movie store posters that still dot the city, preserving its history and its art deco feel. Ome is roughly 30k from Tokyo and we can either cycle here and take the train back in a single day, or extend this into a multi-day trip. As we can spend a night here at a traditional inn then the next morning cycle to a nearby pottery and woodworking studios as well as traditional sake breweries. Please let us know if you’d like a 1 day or 2-day tour for this date.


Day 4                        TOKYO-KYOTO       Sangen Ninenzaka/Arashiyama Benkei

In the morning we’ll transfer by train to Kyoto. After settling into our hotel we’ll be met by our guide Lianca. Lianca will explain the routes will be using the next three days for your time here.

If you’d like we can also introduce you to a local artist who can take you out for the evening and explain some of what makes Kyoto both traditional, and increasingly one of Japan’s most modern cities for art.

We’d have the choice of introducing you to either one of the premier experts on Japanese culture and crafts. Sachiko knows every unique artist and artisan of Kyoto and is happy to give you a deep dive into Kyoto’s culture.

Our other option is to introduce you to the “future” of Japan, Atticus is the founder of Kyoto VR.  He will be taking us to several heritage businesses that are trying to thread the needle between preserving the past while looking towards the future. In addition, we will visit some of the sites that Atticus’s company is preserving in VR, to look at what the future of tourism in Kyoto may look like

In the evening we can either book great meal for your time in Kyoto or you may dine at your Ryokan in the evening. We’ve recommended these Ryokans for their natural beauty.


Day 5                    KYOTO                 Sangen Ninenzaka/ Arashiyama                                                                  Benkei

You’ll head out to meet Lianca to pick up your bikes and then begin your day cycling. Today will be themed around some of the traditional crafts and traditional faiths of Kyoto.  One area we’ll explore will be an old textile weaving neighborhood of Kyoto, as well as a small but prestigious Geisha neighborhood.

We’ll also take you to a great example of how Buddhist masters are attempting to update for the 21st century as we head a prominent temple within the Rinzai sect of Buddhism and was once the base for Sen no Rikyu, the famous tea master. The temple has recently been making waves as they decided to replace all their traditional furisode (paper screens) with new ones featuring modern cartoons. The revamp will be completed in September.

Our day will conclude with lunch at one of our favorite Kyoto bistros. Afterward, we’ll drop our bikes off. If you need any recommendations for the evening just let us know! Bottom of For


Day 6                    KYOTO                Sangen Ninenzaka/ Arashiyama                                                                  Benkei

Today we’ll be meeting Lianca for the second day of our tour, this day will be focused on meeting the modern artists, and seeing their spaces and studios. We will hop between these various spaces across the beautiful city of Kyoto on our bikes.

One example is a tour of a Kyoto of a Kyoto Maker Space.  These spaces have been popping up all over the city in response to the demand for workspaces, equipped with advanced machinery, for the creative and technology-driven residents of Kyoto. The neighborhood space is located in is also fascinating as it used to be the old marketplace of Kyoto. Unfortunately, it is now almost defunct.

Like yesterday we’ll conclude our tour with a stop at one of our favorite lunch spots, before returning our bikes and waving goodbye to Lianca before our final day with her.


Day 7          KYOTO                Sangen Ninenzaka/ Arashiyama Benkei

Our last day with Lianca will be focused on galleries (both of contemporary and traditional) artists in Kyoto. In addition, Lianca has tried to select galleries whose architecture is unique, giving you the experience of seeing art both inside and out!

To conclude our three days cycling, we’ll be concluding our tour at a “zakkyo” or space that houses many creative industries. They have a fantastic rooftop bar overlooking the Kamo river which will be a nice end to a biking day!

Your time with us concludes today unless you’d like to continue onward to Onomichi and the legendary cycling route of the Shimanami Kaido. More information on this extension can be found below!


Day 8                   Kyoto-Onomichi            Machiya/Hotel U2

Upon your arrival in Onomichi it’s a short walk from the train station to your hotel, the hip and chick Hotel U2.

We’d recommend taking the day to explore Onomichi on foot before your big cycling trip.  From it’s famed temples to its art museum and park, to the fully restored arcade walkway there are plenty of things to see and do in town. Not to mention that you’ll be staying at one of the most unique hotels in Japan, the U2 Cycling Hotel, which is filled with modern restaurants, shopping and a beautiful ocean-side boardwalk.  For lunch, we’d recommend checking out the Yamaneko Café which offers several charming dishes focusing on locally sourced ingredients.

After lunch your guide will meet you for a 90-minute cycling trip to the Zen Complex of Shinshoji Temple, it’s home to works by some of Japan’s most prominent architecture and is a fascinating test of if Japanese Buddhism can (and should) be adapted for the modern age and audience. Here you can explore multiple Buddhist practices such as tea ceremony, as well as check out amazing examples of architecture from the likes of:  Kohei Nawa, Terunobu Fujimori and others.

Afterward, we’ll cycle back to the U2, there is no need to return our bikes as you can literally keep them in your room at the U2 (they have an indoor cycling path for guests).

For dinner, the hotel will have excellent and hip dining choices and decor, for couples looking for something more romantic we could also reserve a dinner at Belle Vista, a gorgeous new hotel overlooking the Seto Inland Sea.  The hotel is roughly 35 minutes from central Onomichi and can be reached by taxi.


Day 9                    Shimanami Kaido

From your hotel, your guide will meet you in the lobby to start your journey.  You’ll then board a 5-minute ferry (please pay locally) and transfer to the start of Japan (and on our opinion Asia’s) most beautiful cycling route, The Shinamai Kaido.  The bike trail is clearly marked, but you can also rely on your pocket-wifi to show you the route, as you follow Google maps.

It will be a full day ride either way, along with the opportunity to make several stops exploring flower gardens, isolated beaches, citrus groves, and hillside temples. Your guide will be showing you the local shops, galleries, museums, and temples of the small islands that make up this incredible cycling route.

Upon your return make your way back to your hotel before sunset to enjoy an incredible view, perhaps clinking a celebratory glass as you watch the sunset into the Seto Inland Sea.  Dinner again can be at the U2 hotel, a local restaurant or the Belle Vista

We hope we’ve given you tired legs and a heart filled with memories of Japan’s art and culture. We are of course happy to extend or amend your cycling tour in Japan with Asia Art Tours so it perfectly fits your interests.


Duration: 7 days 6 nights, or 10 days 9 nights


We wanted to build a tour that let travelers see both Japan’s amazing architecture and art from a new perspective, coupled with the fact that Japan is one of the most organized, cleanest and safest countries in the world, we realized that a cycling tour was the perfect way to introduce travelers, both new and returning to Japan.

On your tour, you will head to Tokyo for 2 days of tours with Brad and Chad behind Tokyo’s most decorated cycling tour company: Freewheeling. They know the best hidden buildings that showcase Tokyo’s architectural dynamism, as well as the best public artworks that demonstrate the city’s diverse culture.

Afterward, we’ll introduce you to Kyoto’s most fascinating “Art-lete” Lianca. Lianca is a longtime fixture of Kyoto’s creative scene and knows both the best traditional (and hidden) cultural sites in the city, but also can take you to meet some of Kyoto’s “underground” artists, looking to change and update the traditions of Japan’s cultural heart. We’ll be seeing Kyoto in a whole new way, enjoying its sparse traffic and broad roads by cycling.

Lastly, for guests looking for more art and more cycling, we can continue our tour to Onomichi. Onomichi is now home to one of Japan’s most unique artistic projects: A Buddhist temple complex that fuses modern architecture and paintings with traditional Buddhist forms.  This coupled with Onomichi’s proximity to Japan’s most famous art destination: the island of Naoshima, as well as its proximity to Japan’s most famous cycling route: The Shimanami Kaido, make it a must for any cyclist or art enthusiast. Your guide here is Yuji, one of the most fun and enthusiastic cycling guides we know in Japan!

The Art and Culture of Japan on Two Wheels, a healthy and new way to experience the art and culture of this amazing country.

Want more information? Email our travel experts matt@asiaarttours.com.

Or Contact Us Online

Start Planning Your Trip

Let Matt know you’re interested