Taste of Japan Bike Tours

resources

In this section, we’ve laid out the essentials and the good-to-know information before you book with Taste of Japan Bike Tours. Guests already confirmed to join us for a group guided cycling tour will also find the information here useful as we address the questions we receive most often in the days leading up to their trip. 

bike options and details

It goes without saying that no bike tour is complete without a bicycle. You’ll be pedaling towards new destinations most days, so we provide one bike per person at no additional cost for the duration of the journey. Choose the kind of bike that you’re most comfortable with, then we’ll make sure it’s dialed in to your measurements and preferences.

  • road bikes
  • hybrid bikes
  • notes

Cannondale Optimo (top) or Cannondale Synapse (bottom)
Reliable performance road bikes perfect for cyclists of all levels. Designed for a smooth ride over any distance, the Cannondale bikes offer steady handling for comfort and control. Colors may vary.

Trek FX3
A versatile and comfortable hybrid bike built for longer rides, the Trek FX 3 features a lightweight aluminium body with flat handlebars. It's the perfect bike for those who don't cycle regularly, have never ridden a road bike, or just prefer something more comfortable. Colors may vary.

・All bikes are outfitted with flat pedals. Please bring your own pedals and cycling shoes if you would prefer to clip in - our bike mechanic will swap out the pedals.
・Helmets are required for all rides and riders. For comfort, we recommend guests bring their own helmets. Please let us know if you do not plan to bring a helmet - we will have one ready for you.
・Saddles can be highly individual. If you would like to bring your own saddle, you may and our bike mechanic will help fit it on your bike. 
・You may bring your own bike. However, bikes in travel cases (both soft like a Scicon, hybrid like an EVOC, or hard like a Bike Box Alan) can be immensely challenging to travel with around Japan, particularly on public transportation where large items may not be accepted or require advance reservation. Additionally, you are responsible for the safety and maintenance of their own bike, including any spare parts that may be required during the trip. Any assembling and disassembling, as well as shipping arrangements required before and after your Taste of Japan Bike Tours experience, is the guest's responsibility. There is no discount for bringing your own bike.

the package

Each cycling journey with Taste of Japan Bike Tours has been thoughtfully and deliberately crafted to highlight the best of various regions around the country. Each tour is uniquely different, but there are some elements that don’t change across bike tours. Below, we’ve listed everything that is included and is not included on all trips with Taste of Japan Bike Tours. 

  • included
  • not included
  • Accommodation at traditional Japanese ryokans and standard Western-style business hotels 
  • All listed transportation and related fees, i.e. train, bus, ferry, during the trip
  • Two experienced bilingual (English, Japanese) cycling guides to provide local knowledge and support
  • Cultural navigation, Japanese language tips, and contextual information for an authentic learning experience
  • Daily route support on ride days with both guides and our support van
  • Meals indicated in the itinerary
  • One well-maintained rental bike (road or hybrid)
  • Samurai Sports t-shirts and personalized name tag in Japanese 
  • Entrance and admission fees for all activities and events in the itinerary
  • Shared online photo album of your trip
  • All gratuities for drivers, guides, and hospitality staff
  • Airfare (contact us if you need help arranging flights)
  • Visa fees, if any
  • Transportation to and from the tour start/finish locations
  • Lodging before and after the trip
  • Personal items, souvenir gifts, and drinks purchased during the trip
  • Alcohol and soft drinks
  • Optional activities not scheduled by Samurai Sports
  • Some meals are not included and/or are optional; Samurai Sports invites you to explore the local cuisine at your leisure - tips and recommendations available upon request

packing lists

  • on the bike
  • off the bike
  • notes
  • Bike shorts (at least 2)
  • Cycling jerseys (at least 2)
  • Socks
  • Lightweight jacket or vest
  • Water resistant rain jacket or windbreaker
  • Headband, hat, or Buff (personal preference)
  • Sunglasses
  • Chamois cream
  • Sun screen
  • Cycling gloves
  • Helmet (or use ours)
  • Saddle (if you prefer to use yours)
  • Pedals and cycling shoes (if you prefer to clip-in)
  • Water bottle (up to 2)

Brr…It's Cold (for winter season trips and those who get cold easily)

  • Insulated long-sleeve shirt and other moisture-wicking clothing
  • Sweater and/or jacket
  • Head gear that covers ears
  • Full gloves
  • Booties or shoe covers
  • Arm warmers and/or leg warmers
  • Full-length tights
  • Comfortable shoes (preferably, running shoes or sneakers)
  • Comfortable clothes (two sets should do)
  • Rain gear
  • Sweater and/or jacket

Other Essentials

  • Camera and/or cellphone
  • Charging devices
  • Power adapters and/or converters (Japan generally uses a flat two-pin)
  • Rental wifi or SIM card
  • Toiletries and personal items
  • Credit/debit cards
  • Personal identification
  • Travel booking information
  • Cash (JPY)  for incidentals (see "Incidentals & Daily Expenses" for details)
  • Passport (plus, a physical copy and photo on your cellphone)
  • Travel health and medical insurance (physical copy and photo on your cellphone)
  • First and foremost, we recommend guests to travel light with one suitcase (under 20kg or 44lb) and one carry on, such as a backpack or knapsack. The items you need during the bike tour are and should be kept to a minimum, with adjustments for seasonal temperatures and weather.
  • If your stay in Japan is longer than the duration of the bike tour, guests are encouraged to inquire about sending luggage in advance to the tour’s final destination or storing luggage at the airport. You may want to leave extra space in your luggage or have a small fold-up bag for souvenir items you collect throughout your trip.
  • For those visiting Japan from abroad, passports should have at least six months of validity from the first day of travel.
  • Weather can be fickle. Be ready for all weather with layers of moisture-wicking fabrics that allow you to regulate body temperature efficiently. Those who get cold easily should pack the additional items listed under “On the Bike”

Will I be able to do laundry? 
It depends. Laundry amenities are usually available at standard business hotels in Japan. We suggest packing a travel size amount of laundry detergent just in case the opportunity arises.

travel health and medical insurance

  • about coverage
  • options

For peace of mind, Taste of Japan Bike Tours strongly recommends guests consider travel insurance. Below are our tips and suggestions for travel insurance. 

What is travel health and medical insurance?
Travel health and medical insurance is for foreign visitors traveling abroad and staying overseas for a specified time frame. This type of insurance coverage is meant to offer medical benefits and coverage for medical expenses incurred during travel and while abroad. 

Typically, this type of insurance excludes coverage for pre-existing conditions, routine medical examinations, medical tourists, and visitors who plan to participate in extreme sports, including hang gliding, sky diving, and mountaineering requiring equipment.

Travel health and medical insurance does not typically cover things like terrorism, kidnappings, lost luggage, or trip protection.

What's the difference between travel health and medical insurance and coverage provided by my credit card? 
Most credit cards provide travel accident insurance, but do not cover emergency medical benefits nor emergency medical evacuation (medical repatriation). Some credit card travel insurance coverage is secondary, meaning insurance won't kick in if you weren't already covered by another primary insurance policy. Keep in mind too that credit card plans and terms change often.

Medical expenses can be catastrophically expensive. If you're thinking about relying on your credit card's travel insurance coverage, please read the fine print well in advance of your trip. All together, we recommend purchasing a standalone travel health and medical insurance plan.

When and how should I purchase and/or enroll in travel health and medical insurance?
Generally speaking, travel health & medical insurance can be purchased 30 days before arrival and even up to a specified number of days after arrival (depending on the provider). Enrollment procedures are typically completed online and processed by credit card.  

Does travel health & medical insurance cover lost or damaged items and souvenirs?
No, most travel insurances policies by Japanese providers cover medical and healthcare-related expenses only. Some policies provide travel protection and support to a limited extent, i.e. if your credit card or passport is stolen/lost. For broader travel protection, including coverage for trip cancellation/interruption/ delay, stolen/damaged items, and investment protection, we recommend World Nomads.

Tokio Marine Japan Travel Insurance
https://japantravelinsurance.net/index.html

Sompo Japan Insurance (click the red button for language guidance)
https://www.sompo-japan-off.jp/travelins/travelins_ja.html

World Nomads
https://www.worldnomads.com/travel-insurance

weather

Japan has four distinct seasons and Taste of Japan Bike Tours primarily ride in the spring (April to June) and fall (September to November). Compared to the winter and summer, guests can expect a comfortable cycling experience with mild temperatures and less precipitation.

Temperatures may fluctuate throughout the day and your trip, so it’s best to be prepared with all-weather gear and layers to keep you warm on the chilly mornings and cool under the afternoon sun. Depending on the time of year, guests can expect temperatures to oscillate between 13°C to 30°C (mid-50°F to mid-80°F).

While climate varies greatly by location, the rainy season begins around the middle of May in southern regions and concludes in early to mid-July. Please check the weather before you depart – we want you to have the right gear and be prepared for all weather scenarios. 

Please note that all Taste of Japan Bike Tours ride as scheduled, rain or shine. Exceptions may be made in certain circumstances, i.e. due to heavy rains, strong winds, and severe weather. In order to remain on schedule, our bike tour guides will guide you to your destination(s) using public transport for no additional cost.

incidentals & daily expenses

Most people find that ¥2,000 to ¥3,000 (about $20 to $30) per day is enough to cover incidentals. Guests typically spend money on souvenirs and snacks, as well as for optional meals when the bill is paid individually.

In Japan, cash is king. This is especially true in the less urban parts of Japan, where card or cashless payments are not universally accepted. Most credit and debit cards are accepted in Japan. However, guests sometimes find transactions abroad denied by their home banking institution. To prevent such incidents, we recommend notifying your bank about your upcoming international travels beforehand. 

We recommend having some Japanese yen (¥20,000 to ¥30,000 is usually sufficient) before your arrival – you can also exchange your currency at the airport. ATMs are ubiquitous but foreign-issued cards are not always accepted. ATM withdrawals are only in Japanese yen. Most visitors opt to withdraw money from an ATM to replenish their cash as necessary throughout a trip, as opposed to preparing or exchanging a large sum of currency upon arrival.

Finally, to avoid any potential mishaps, we recommend carrying at least ¥10,000 in cash at all times and tucking away another ¥10,000 just in case.