Bike Aways

Kyoto – Koyasan

Geisha in Gion, zen gardens, esoteric buddhist temples, mountain onsens, ramen, sushi, okonomiyaki — all in a Kyoto weekend cycle.

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Extend three days with a monastery stay at the sacred centre of Shingon Buddhism: Koyasan. Pedal on through ancient cedar forests, down the skyline road down to Ryujin Onsen and out to the beach for fresh sashimi at Tanabe.

Itinerary (3 days / 7 days)


Day 1Arrive Kansai, transfer to Kyoto – optional night ride.

Day 2 Kamo Kawa River ride to  Kibune and Kurama Onsen

Day 3 Kyoto explorer — temples, gardens and the Philosophers Pathway.

With Koyasan extension

Day 4 Transfer to Koyasan temple stay

Day 5 Skyline ride to Ryujin Onsen

Day 6 Riverside ride to the beach atTanabe.

Day 7 Transfer  directly to Kansai International airport.

12 cyclists is our maximum group size. 6 is the minimum for the trip to run at the advertised price — so please invite a friend.

Bike Aways Style

It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best,” says Hemingway.

We bike because its fun, but like Hemingway, to get under the skin of a place. To feel the landscape and immerse ourselves in the culture.

Bikes speed us far away from tourist traps, to the charming, the rustic, and less commercial places.

Designed for reasonably fit, but NON-hardcore, NON-attitude riders — we use bikes to see more, and get closer to where we are.

Bikes also fit our philosophy of low impact, local engagement and spreading our travel dollars to lesser-known places. We support home stays, boutique hotels, and heritage projects in our accommodation choice.

We also love good home-grown local food and sampling the local wine!

Kyoto and Koyasan

Former capital of Japan, Kyoto’s royal culture evolved amidst powerful and competing sects of Buddhism – now represented by more than 17 UNESCO monasteries , shrines, palaces and gardens.
Enclosed by mountains and trisected by the Kamo Kawa and Katsura (rivers) — the grid layout of the city was based upon the fengshui designs of Changan ( modern day Xian)-China’s first Buddhist aways japan-6

Small lanes of traditional wooden homes, curtained tea houses, bobbling Geishas, intimate restaurants glimpsed through sliding paper doors keep alive one of the most sophisticated traditional cultures in the world.

The pleasures of Kyoto were too much for the more serious monks in the Shingon sect, who moved into the Kii Mountains at Koyasan to escape distraction.

Unfortunately for them, a small train allows us to easily follow them and enjoy the famed vegetarian cuisine at our monastery guesthouse. Not to be missed is the dawn meditation —or tea in the Zen gardens.

The Ride

If your flight arrives at a decent hour, join us for a night ride around Kyoto’s older entertainment wards. Sunset brings out the Geishas who bobble along in wooden clogs to appointments in the nightlife ward of Gion.

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Restaurants all along the Kamo River light up to reveal a layer cake of elegant dining scenes. Tiny sushi bars, tempura bars, Okonomiyaki grills — are artisanal experiences where the art is all in the prep. Temples glimpsed through the shadowing maples shine golden, rockeries cast patterned shadows in swirling sand aways japan-4


On day 2 we get right to the point of japan — getting naked in nature in a natural mountainside onsen.

A 20 km river ride takes us up to Kibune, and nearby Kurame. It’s a modest climb at the end but easily managed by a moderately fit person.

Cool off with a shower, then plunge into a discreetly screened off open air onsen. There’s nothing quite like looking out over the forested mountains as your muscles melts into the vulcanised water.japan bike aways

Onward to Koyasan.

At 834 metres – Koyasan is a cool retreat in summer and a winter spectacle under snow. Arriving by bike is a definitive nirvana moment if you are the type who likes a long switch back climb. You are free to choose this option, but this trip is being designed to allow you the equally delicious instant gratification option of using the train and a funicular to get to the top so you can spend more of your time at the top exploring the Shingon Buddhist community and tapping into the esoterica.

We check into a monastery and then ride up to Kongbuji – where Kukai, the bringer of Shingon Buddhism from China, first passed on the teachings that he’d saved from what is now an extinct sect in China.

There are more than 17 monasteries in koyasan and the famous . 6 of them are UNESCO listed treasures. An ancient first pathway takes us through an army of Jizu – baby like buddhas — guarding the graves of Japans most holy practitioners — arrayed in a four mile long pathway to Kukai’s spectacular Okunoin Shrine.

The Skyline and the mountains of Kii down to Ryujin Onsen.

We start high and ride down to Ryujin. There are still significant ups and downs along the way — but with good roads, polite driver—s, good quality bikes , this is not an overly challenging ride. We will have a vehicle to support us along this part of the ride to carry our luggage onward — and to assist one or two riders who are not lovers of the hill.

Ryujin is another famous nature onsen, in a mountain setting. We check into our Minshuku, and hit the baths — including a mud and mineral beauty bath — said to restore years to your earthly beauty.

Ryujin to Tanabe is downward trending — a lovely forest and riverside ride that takes us out to the Kii coastline at Tanabe – a charming but refreshingly normal Japanese town — that makes a refreshing contrast to the imperial and spiritual splendours of Kyoto and Koya.

We spend the night in Tanabe for a final night dinner and a relaxed departure the next day — though it could also be possible for people to return late this day to Kansai as needed.

Getting there

Trip joining point is Kyoto.

Fly into Kansai airport, and take an express train ( 1.45 minutes) direct to Kyoto Station. Our joining point hotel is a five minute walk from Kyoto Station. WE will send you a map on how to walk there.


ShareAccommodation, some meals (Koyasan and Ryujin), bikes, helmet, support vehicle, transport from Kyoto to Koyasan and onto Tanabe.

Not Included

Train tickets to and from airport i.e. from Kansai airport to Kyoto, and from Tanabe to Kansai airport. Meals other than those stated above i.e. dinner and breakfast at Koyasan and Ryujin.

Contact bruce@bikeaways.comto reserve your place.


No.30 Ta Ho Tun Ha Wai, Saikung, New Territories, Hong Kong