Cycle & Art Trails of Japan

Pedal away from the norm on our be-spoke (ahem) Cycle & Art Trails of Japan holiday, which will take you from the bright lights of Osaka across the islands of the Seto Inland Sea, where you’ll visit the incredible Naoshima ‘Art Island’.

At a glance

  • Indulge in Osaka’s streetfood scene
  • Soak up Onomichi’s bohemian vibe
  • Cycle the Shimanami Kaido across tiny islands
  • Find your zen in a Japanese garden
  • Feel inspired on Naoshima art island
Itinerary
Price & Hotels

Osaka - 2 nights

Osaka is defined by its flamboyance, its cheeky forthright people, and fantastic food and drink; this is a place to indulge yourself and allow people to entertain you, rather than potter around temples. The city's food and sake are world-renowned, thanks to plentiful supplies of high quality ingredients, and long-established merchants with preferential connections.

Day 1 - Arrive Osaka, local food tour

Includes:

On arrival in Japan, you'll be met by our representative, who will accompany you to your hotel. Excellent public transport is part of the Japan travel experience, so we'll be making the most of this throughout your trip.

Late afternoon make your way to Tenma district for this evening’s food tour. A lively, unpretentious neighbourhood steeped in history, Tenma is home to Tenjinbashi-suji shopping street which claims to be the longest covered arcade in Japan, stretching more than 2.5 kilometres. The area’s maze of narrow streets and alleys come to life at night when locals flock to dine and relax in the many tiny bars and hole-in-the-wall eateries that open up. Forget Dotonburi - this is the place to get real local soul food, and your guide will show you where to find the classics.

Day 2 - Explore Osaka at your own pace

Includes:

After you’ve slept off last night’s feast, step out to explore Osaka. It’s easy to navigate, and much of the fun stuff is concentrated in the centre. If you can't decide where to go, we suggest heading to Umeda, the district where most of the city's impressive contemporary buildings are found, such as the Hankyu Entertainment Park which features a big ferris wheel and reliable shopping. Head Kitashinchi to savour some of the city's culinary specialities, and the Umeda Sky Building for extraordinary views from its 'Floating Garden Observatory'.

Click to discover more...

Shimanami Kaido - 3 nights

The Shimanami Kaido road connects six small islands in the Seto Inland Sea, with the larger islands of Honshu and Shikoku at either end. The Kaido's bridges and islands make up a famously scenic cycle route, which is easy to follow thanks to the blue line painted all the way along it. On this trip you won't cycle the whole 60km route, but will take in two of the intriguing little islands as you pedal from the arty seaside town of Onomichi, on Honshu, to the shipbuilding harbour of Imabari on Shikoku.

Day 3 - Train to Onomichi on the coast

Includes:

Jump on the train to Onomichi, on the coast, and meet your guide to explore. The town is set apart by its historic wooden houses, which run up a steep hillside and are only accessible on foot. We recommend taking the time to get lost in the maze of pathways while you admire the houses, and the bohemian lifestyles now lived within them. Take the cable car up the hill to look down across the historic rooftops, and descend via ‘Cat Alley’, making sure you pause — or should it be paws — to greet the much revered felines who started it all. The town also has a fun retro shopping arcade, which innovative residents have revived with a range of indie coffee shops, a fantastic bakery and singular shops.

Day 4 - Cycle Shimanami Kaido to Ikuchijima

Includes:

Meeting your guide this morning, warm up those calves on the short ferry trip across Onomichi harbour to the start of the Shimanami Kaido. En route you can stop to explore small temples and rural life, and enjoy incredible views of the Seto Inland Sea. You’ll be staying overnight on the small island of Ikuchijima, at a traditional ryokan — an inn with hot spring baths, where you’ll be served a multi-course meal prepared with local seasonal ingredients.

Day 5 - Cycle to Shikoku

Includes:

Cycle via the island of Omishima, where you’ll find museums, villages and temples. Head onwards to Imabari, a harbour town on the large island of Shikoku, famous not only for its shipbuilding, but for boasting the best towels in Japan (!). Here you’ll hand over your bikes, and perhaps spend some time exploring, but nobody will blame you if you’d rather put your feet up to enjoy a well-earned beer with a view.

Click to discover more...

Takamatsu - 1 night

The former castle town of Takamatsu is now a relaxed port city with a pleasing blend of historic and modern. We recommend visiting the beautiful Ritsurin Garden, a spacious walking park which dates back to the 16th century. Its delightful scenery offers the perfect backdrop for a spot of leg-stretching, and you can pause at the Sanuki Folkcraft Museum and enjoy a refreshing break at one of the park’s historic teahouses

Day 6 - Train to Takamatsu

Includes:

Catch the local train to Takamatsu, where you’ll have time to explore the city’s famous landscaped garden before settling down for a good night’s sleep.

Click to discover more...

Naoshima - 2 nights

Formerly a struggling fishing community in Japan’s Inland Sea, Naoshima’s fortune was transformed in the early 1990s by the establishment of Benesse Art Site, which showcases the best up-and-coming Japanese artists and architects, alongside international talent such as Warhol, Monet and Hockney. Amongst the island’s museums, galleries and outdoor sculptures, you’ll find a handful of empty traditional buildings which have been restored for use as creative installations by contemporary artists. The work here changes on a regular basis, and it’s easy to stroll between the ‘houses’. This unique project also offers an insight into local life, since the buildings are scattered between the islanders’ homes.

Day 7 - Ferry to Naoshima ‘Art Island’

Includes:

Catch the ferry to Naoshima, where your day will be at leisure to begin the island’s extraordinary museums and installations. Getting around Naoshima is easy, whether by bus or electric bike, but bear in mind that there are reportedly only two taxis on the island!

Day 8 - Explore Naoshima at your own pace

Includes:

Today will be free for you to explore the island, but it is important to plan your day. We suggest giving plenty of time to the island’s interior, where sculptures and installations will occasionally surprise you as you round a corner. There are small restaurants around the island, and numerous beaches that are lovely places to take a break. If you're staying at Benesse House, you can wander around the museum whenever the mood takes you, and the amazing underground Chichu Art Museum will be a short bus ride away. On the island's eastern side you'll find the impressive Ando Museum, and it's also worth spending time at the Art House Project — abandoned local houses that have been transformed into installations.

Click to discover more...

Osaka - 1 night

Take one more look around Naoshima before catching the ferry back to the mainland, and a train to Osaka, where we suggest hitting the streets of Dotonburi for a last blast of neon and a taste of the city’s famous okonomiyaki (stuffed pancakes).

Day 9 - Ferry & train to Osaka

Includes:

Return to Osaka to enjoy a final night at leisure before leaving the country.

Day 10 - Depart Osaka

Includes:

Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

Click to discover more...

We only provide privately guided holidays - meaning that you will not be expected to share guides or transport for the duration of your visit. You can also start on any day you choose.

Please click on the hotel category buttons below to view hotel details. These are recommended properties only - we have many alternative options for you to choose from if you would prefer. You can mix hotel categories throughout your holiday.

Hotel class Price per person (based on total # travelling)
2 persons 3 - 4 5 - 6
First Class £2,433US$3,172 £2,397US$3,125 £2,229US$2,906

Cross Hotel Osaka

This modern urban property sits plum in the centre of Osaka, making it perfect for exploring Japan’s second largest city, with popular locations like Dotonbori and Osaka Castle within very easy reach... See more

Onomichi U2 Hotel

A converted maritime warehouse right on the Seto Inland Sea in southwestern Honshu, the Onomichi U2 Hotel Cycle is where cycling meets cool, minimal design…

See more

Ryokan Tsutsui

This welcoming ryokan offers traditional Japanese hospitality in a plum location on Ikuchijima, one of six islands in the Seto Inland Sea linked by the Shimanami Kaido road and cycling route...

See more

Imabari Kokusai Hotel

The Imabari Kokusai Hotel offers a comfortable overnight stay when cycling the Shimanami Kaido. Hot spring baths provide welcome relief for weary legs!

See more

Tokyu Rei Hotel

Conveniently located a short walk from Takamatsu station, the Tokyu Rei Hotel offers simple, fuss-free accommodation in the heart of Kagawa’s interesting port capital...

See more

Hotel Wright Style

Built in 2018, Hotel Wright Style was inspired by modern American architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s elegant buildings – hence the name – and staying in this small, unique hotel, close to the art museums and Honmura District brings a fittingly artistic feel to time spent on Naoshima.

Superior £2,974US$3,878 £2,940US$3,834 £2,770US$3,611

Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel

Located on the top floors of Japan’s tallest building, the Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel has a convenient central location, great facilities and absolutely jaw-dropping views over the city and beyond to Osaka Bay...

See more

Onomichi U2 Hotel

A converted maritime warehouse right on the Seto Inland Sea in southwestern Honshu, the Onomichi U2 Hotel Cycle is where cycling meets cool, minimal design…

See more

Ryokan Tsutsui

This welcoming ryokan offers traditional Japanese hospitality in a plum location on Ikuchijima, one of six islands in the Seto Inland Sea linked by the Shimanami Kaido road and cycling route...

See more

Imabari Kokusai Hotel

The Imabari Kokusai Hotel offers a comfortable overnight stay when cycling the Shimanami Kaido. Hot spring baths provide welcome relief for weary legs!

See more

JR Hotel Clement

The JR Hotel Clement ticks a lot of boxes: a great location in Takamatsu City on Shikoku Island, panoramic views of the Seto Inland Sea, and comfortable, modern rooms… 

See more

Benesse House Hotel

There’s a privileged pleasure in experiencing good art without crowds of people, and a stay at Benesse House Hotel is a private view with great big bells on...

See more
Deluxe £3,812US$4,971 £3,777US$4,925 £3,608US$4,704

Conrad Osaka

Occupying the top floors of the Nakanoshima Festival West Tower in the heart of the city, the Conrad Osaka is a sleek luxury hotel with sweeping views from all its guest rooms and public spaces…

See more

Onomichi U2 Hotel

A converted maritime warehouse right on the Seto Inland Sea in southwestern Honshu, the Onomichi U2 Hotel Cycle is where cycling meets cool, minimal design…

See more

Ryokan Tsutsui

This welcoming ryokan offers traditional Japanese hospitality in a plum location on Ikuchijima, one of six islands in the Seto Inland Sea linked by the Shimanami Kaido road and cycling route...

See more

Imabari Kokusai Hotel

The Imabari Kokusai Hotel offers a comfortable overnight stay when cycling the Shimanami Kaido. Hot spring baths provide welcome relief for weary legs!

See more

JR Hotel Clement

The JR Hotel Clement ticks a lot of boxes: a great location in Takamatsu City on Shikoku Island, panoramic views of the Seto Inland Sea, and comfortable, modern rooms… 

See more

Benesse House Hotel

There’s a privileged pleasure in experiencing good art without crowds of people, and a stay at Benesse House Hotel is a private view with great big bells on...

See more

Solo travellers are always welcome - please contact us for a tailored quote.

These prices are shown in GBPUSD.
Selective Asia is a UK-registered company, but our client-base spans the globe, so we bank in both GBP and USD and can therefore provide a fixed price in either currency.
We also have payment facilities in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the EU, and can typically offer better-than-bank exchange rates on the date of payment in these currencies (against a booking priced in GBP).

Itinerary additions

At Selective Asia we specialise in creating unique, tailor-made experiences. The holiday itineraries provided on this website are intended to help you visualise what is achievable in your destinations of choice, over a given period of time and at an intended budget.

While many clients are happy with of our recommended itineraries in the current form (and at the price quoted), there are those that wish to personalise their holiday in some way, whether it be a change of hotel, an additional destination or even start from scratch. This is when our tailor-made specialists come into their own; with many years of experience both living and working in the region they are ideally equipped to advise on alternatives and to facilitate any necessary changes.

The important stuff

Please note: Japanese hotel contracts are extremely seasonal in comparison to most of their Asian counterparts and therefore you should expect surcharges at various times of the year, including weekends, not just during peak seasons such as Christmas, New Year and Cherry Blossom. Your consultant will be happy to advise you of these.


Inclusive:

  • English speaking, local guide
  • All accommodation listed
  • All train tickets and rail passes as listed
  • Luggage forwarding service as listed
  • 4G Wi-Fi To Go Package
  • Any domestic flights listed (unless marked otherwise)
  • All admission fees at attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All meals listed
  • International flight reconfirmation.
  • Bicycle hire for 2 days

Exclusive:

  • Flights to/from Asia. We are an ATOL bonded operator and can arrange flights for all our clients, regardless of whether you are departing from the UK or from almost any other worldwide destination.
  • Entry visas
  • International airport departure taxes
  • Any meals not listed in the itinerary
  • Drinks, other than water on activity days
  • Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, drinks, tip...)
  • Travel insurance
  • All other services not listed in 'inclusive'

Please note

All prices are correct at the time of publishing. They are liable to change and can only be confirmed upon submitting an enquiry.

 

Extras

Flights

We will arrange all internal flights used within our holiday itineraries. We can also arrange discounted flights from all UK airports to Asia and we are a fully bonded ATOL operator. If you would like a quote for your international flights then please complete the required section on the enquiry form.

Visa

You will not require a visa to enter Japan. Your consultant will be happy to advise you on visa requirements.

Passport

Please ensure that you have a valid passport with at least 6 months validity remaining after your return date. You will also need at least one blank page for each of the countries you are visiting.

Insurance

You will require a comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for medical costs associated with hospitalisation, emergency travel and repatriation back to your home country. We offer our customers a specially discounted insurance policy, ideally suited to the needs that a trip such as this creates. Tick the insurance box in the enquiry form and we will send you a quote to suit your needs.

Vaccinations and Malaria Prevention

You will undoubtedly require vaccinations for your visit to Asia. Please consult your doctor or a vaccination clinic for the most up-to-date advice. They will also be able to advise you of the most suitable anti-malarial medication if required. It is important that you do this well in advance of your departure date.

Booking Procedure

Only once you are completely happy with any holiday itinerary we create for you will we ask for a payment. In order that we can secure availability for your booking we would typically require a deposit of 20%.

Travelling Responsibly

We care about the places and the communities that you will travel through. It is important to us that we travel as responsibly as possible throughout Asia and that we are giving something back to the regions and the people that make these journeys so special. Full details on our approach to responsible travel can be found on a dedicated section of this website.

Make it yours!

Call us on 01273 670 001

Get in touch

Make it yours!

Call us on 01273 670 001

Get in touch

Our tailor-made service costs you no extra

This itinerary is designed to work straight off the peg, but we'll happily tailor it until it's a perfect fit for you, to ensure we’re making the absolute best of your time and funds. All you need to do is ask...

What to expect from us in Japan

Japan's excellent public transport & exceptional safety allow us to offer a more self-guided experience than we do elsewhere. It's a famously expensive country, so we often suggest more independent exploration, with our exclusive self-guide app on hand to help you unearth our hidden gems. This helps to keep your costs down, and the data is on us.

Book With Confidence

For peace of mind when booking your future holiday to Asia, we have introduced flexible booking conditions & full financial clarity.