Cycling in Shizuoka

Japan is quickly becoming recognized as one of the world’s top cycling destinations – Cycling in Shizuoka has something for everyone.

With mountains that rival that of Europe, abundant quiet roads where cars are seldom seen, a labyrinth of well paved roads and narrow country lanes with surprises around every corner, it is no wonder that secret is finally starting to get out to global cycling enthusiasts.

Cycle tourism’s fast growth in recent years has seen more traditional destinations (France, Italy & Spain) quickly becoming over run by cyclists on their European holiday, especially during the peak summer.

Japan offers the cycle enthusiast a chance to explore some of the best riding in the World, to enjoy an unsurpassed level of respect on and off the road, and an ability explore roads that twist and snake though ancient villages and rice paddy fields. 

Within easy reach of Tokyo and Osaka, easily accessible by bullet train, Shizuoka Prefecture is one of best regions in Japan to ride your bike.

Not only the majestic home of Mt.Fuji, Shizuoka has an abundance of riding options for all levels of cycle tourist. The Prefecture will also be home to nearly all of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games cycling events.

With expanses of natural environments Shizuoka offers the cyclist great contrasts across short distances. The landscapes and terrain within the western region famous for its green tea plantations are very different from the plains, farms and rice fields that surround Mt Fuji, which is then in turn very different to the rugged and and steep coastal roads of Izu Peninsula.

Shizuoka also offers something for cyclists of all types from beginners right through to passionate cyclists – city cruising to mountain downhill chargers to hardcore hill climbers.

A good cycling destination is not all about the riding and it is important to have a diversity of key experiences in addition to cycling and with amazing regional food, particularly around the Izu Peninsula and lower slopes of Mt. Fuji, there is plenty on offer to refuel the weary body after a long day on the bike.

Multi-day bike touring, whether guided or self-guided, is a great way to delve deep into a region and a culture, with close proximity of towns Shizuoka is perfect for 5-7 day trips.

Let’s take a look at some of the regions more detail –

Gotemba

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE AREA

MT FUJI, SHOPPING, WHISKY, GOLF, HOT SPRINGS

Gotemba is a highland city that lies at the south-eastern side of Mount Fuji and is surrounded by a rich natural environment. It is located in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park just over the hill from the famous Hakone area and close to Fuji 5 lakes and makes a great base from which to explore both of these areas with the ever present mountain providing a stunning vista to enjoy as you cycle.

As with many of the other areas around the iconic mountain there are also numerous onsen / hot springs in the area that will help soak away the aches and pains, great food options to enjoy and locally brewed beer and distilled whisky to help you kick back and relax.

The Gotemba area has many great things to enjoy off the bike – such as outlet mall shopping, horseback riding, trekking or a round of golf with Mt Fuji as your backdrop.

HOW TO GET THERE AND AROUND

If you have a JR Rail Pass it is a 25 min Bullet Train ride from Shin-Yokohama station (55 min from Tokyo Station) to Mishima station, a 5 min trip on the local train to Numazu station and finally a 40 min local train to Gotemba station – some accommodation providers and the Outlet Mall have direct buses available from Mishima Station that take between 40 mins to 1 hour.

Alternatively, if you don’t have a rail pass or you are staying closer to Shinjuku Station, or you only have 1 day free there is a direct Odakyu Romance Car train that leaves at 06:40 am will get you there in 1 hr 40 mins and they have a return Romance Car Train that leaves Gotemba at 18:47 pm getting you back to Shinjuku station at 20:20pm – leaving enough time for a decent day trip cycle up to Gotemba New 5th station, an onsen and some good food before heading back to the big city.

Oyama

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE AREA

MT FUJI, FUJI SPEEDWAY, OLYMPIC ROAD RACE FINISH & TIME-TRIAL EVENTS

Oyama is located in the far north-eastern corner of Shizuoka Prefecture, not far from Gotemba and very close to Kawaguchiko in neighbouring Yamanashi Prefecture.

Located in between the Tanzawa Mountains and the foothills of Mt Fuji, the town has an average altitude of 800 meters, and has a cool climate with filtered Mt Fuji water making it well suited for growing wasabi and distilling great whisky.

The region is quite hilly and suited to road cycling for intermediate to advanced levels providing a variety of challenging climbs – the most famous being the ‘Azami Line’ up Mt Fuji.

Oyama is home to the iconic Mt Fuji Speedway – this legendary car racing circuit was selected as the finish line of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Road Race and to host Time-Trial events during the event.

The diabolically steep ‘Azami Line’ consists of 12 kms of road that snakes up to the 5th Station of Mt.Fuji.

With a ‘World Class’ difficulty rating, the climb is used for several cycling events throughout the year where riders come to test themselves on the 12% average gradient.

Oyama is accessible by train from Gotemba Station which is in turn easily accessible by train, bus or car from Tokyo.

Catching the early morning Romance Car from Shinjuku to Gotemba Station and then jumping on the bike and riding up to the Speedway and the Azami Line is popular with weekend Japanese cyclists looking for a challenging ride outside of Tokyo that is relatively easy to get to.

Izu Peninsula

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE AREA

STUNNING COASTLINE, BEACHES, VIEWS, ONSEN, SEAFOOD  

The Izu Peninsula is a resort area popular for its hot springs, beautiful coastlines, beaches, mild climate and scenic mountainous interior. Located about 100 kilometres southwest of Tokyo, its proximity to the city makes the peninsula a popular weekend getaway.

This convenience offers the cyclist a lot of opportunity to escape the busy streets of the megacity and enjoy some amazing coastal riding with views of Mt. Fuji.

The more developed eastern coast of the Izu Peninsula is home to larger cities such as Atami, Ito and Shimoda, which are popular for their beaches and hot springs.

The southern and western coasts, of Izu are less developed and well known for their rugged coastlines and spectaular views around Irozaki and Dogashima.

HOW TO GET THERE AND AROUND 

The easiest way to get to Izu Peninsula is on the Bullet train – getting off at Atami Station to access the East Coast and head down to the small surf town of Shimoda or stay on until Mishima station and head down the more secluded West Coast of the Peninsula.

 Bike rental options available within easy reach of the main train stations, as are lots of marked cycling roads with good signage and roads that are well suited to the riders of all levels.

Like most of Shizuoka, this region is great for multi day touring and riders can experience a range of amazing off-bike experience, especially the onsen town of Shuzenji, which also happens to be home of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic velodrome.

Check out some of the extensive cycling guides on Shizuoka Guide for more details on getting around the Peninsula and the highlight attractions on offer. 

Fujinomiya

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE AREA

MT FUJI – HISTORY – SHIRAITO FALLS – MT. FUJI WORLD HERITAGE CENTRE

Fujinomiya is a city in Shizuoka Prefecture on the southwestern slopes of Mount Fuji. The city grew up around Fujinomiya Sengen Shrine, the most prominent and important shrine in the region, which is also the traditional starting point of the approach up the mountain.

Many visitors still start the climb from Fujinomiya via the Fujinomiya 5th Station, as it is the shortest and one of the most popular routes up the mountain.

The region has several iconic landmarks and Mt. Fuji access making it a great base for cyclists.

Fujinomiya is home to the Shiraito Falls, one of Japan’s most beautiful waterfalls. The falls can be found in the outskirts of the city in the Asagiri area.

HOW TO GET THERE AND AROUND

Just a short bus or taxi from Shin Fuji Bullet Train station to Fuji Station then a local train gets you to Fujinomiya Station. Shin-Fuji Station information staff are extremely helpful and can point you in the right direction.

Alternatively, there are also daily buses (Yakisoba Express) that leave from Tokyo Station Yaesu South Exit every morning that are convenient, very affordable and get you straight to Fujinomiya station in just over 2 hours.

Many local cyclists will take late bus from Tokyo Station Friday and stay at one of the comfortable business hotels near the station to be up early the next day to get the best views of Mt Fuji.

Hamamatsu

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE AREA   

 LAKE HAMANAKA – RIDING UP THE TENRYU RIVER INTO THE ALPS – KANZANJI ONSEN – GYOZA

Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Prefecture is an industrial city west of Shizuoka city. Hamamatsu has long been known for the production of musical instruments with Yamaha and Kawai prominent in the city, and motorcycles, with Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha also having factories in the area.

Historically Hamamatsu was an important communications centre in the Edo Period as it was the meeting place of the Tokaido highway (the route largely followed by today’s Tokaido Shinkansen) and the Shinano highway, which runs north along the Tenyu River to Matsumoto and Nagano.

Riding from Hamamatsu city following the Tenryu River is a popular cyclist trail and if at anytime you get tired the local train is never far away. #ridetenryu

Hamamatsu is a sprawling city but once you get out of the urban sprawl you will are rewarded with spectacular nature as you follow the winding Tenryu River into the mountains.

HOW TO GET THERE AND AROUND    

A great area for cycling and many established cycling routes around Lake Hamanaka are a fantastic way to explore the region with the onsen in the Kanzanji area particularly appealing to weary travelers.

Cafes and good signage, as well as a convenient bike rental both at Lake Hamanaka and Hamamatsu station that cater to beginners that just want to cruise around to the more serious enthusiast – doing a full circuit of the lake is popular with cyclists of all levels and is an incredibly satisfying experience – but beware – it is a big lake and it can get very hot in peak Summer.

There is also a strong local cycling community, who are super friendly and ready to welcome and show visitors some really unique off-bike experiences and great local cuisine including fresh oysters and smoked eel.

Check out some of the extensive cycling guides on Shizuoka Guide or In Hamamatsu for more details on getting around the Greater Hamamatsu Area and highlighting some of the attractions on offer.

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