Most Inspirational Moment
There were so many highlights in a trip which offered lots of contrasts between city and landscape, a rich cultural heritage and gastronomic variety.
Highlights of riding along the dramatic rugged western coastline of the Noto peninsular gave way to the delights of riding small lanes through fishing villages on the softer eastern coast. And then came the spectacular scenery of the mountains, clad in wonderful autumn colours. Entering the UNESCO village of Shirakawa-go exceeded all expectations, and the experience of total immersion in the traditional way of life when staying in a local farmhouse when the daytrippers had gone home was a real high spot.
There were so many cultural highlights that the names tended to merge, but we particularly remember being bowled over by our visit to the Myojoji temple complex. The garden at Kenroku-en in Kanazawa, and the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto were memorable.
Walks around Tokyo and Kyoto at night with the guides who knew where to go were an unexpected delight.
And finally, there were some inspirational banquet-style meals, taken in the traditional way, kimono-clad, quite wonderful.
Thoughts on Group Leader
Tea was unfailingly enthusiastic, friendly and encouraging to the group with a healthy respect for cycling safety. He was readily available at all times of day and night to deal with any issues arising and was very an efficient organiser to ensure each day ran smoothly to plan. He was keen to help us understand many aspects of Japanese history and culture, and had put thought into places to visit en route, including ones not on the usual tourist agenda, which made interesting and unexpected diversions, often with opportunities to engage directly with local people.
The co-team members, Akiko and Taichi were also fluent and engaging people who added much to the enjoyment of the holiday.
Advice for Potential Travellers
Be prepared to go with an open mind about eating in the Japanese way and expect to eat with your eyes as well as your mouth. Fish, raw and cooked is delicious, but non-pescatorians may have limited choices. You will develop a bread and cheese craving after 10 days or so but the odd bakery snack stop will crop up along the way.
Several meals are taken wearing kimonos provided by the establishment, so you don't need a large off-bike wardrobe.
You will need good rain gear 'in case' and flexibility of layered and warm !clothing to cope with variations of wind and temperature, although you won't need to carry this on the bikes as the support bus is regularly at hand to access day bag supplies.
The hired bikes were good quality, light touring machines.