Cycling in Shizuoka

There is no doubt that Japan is quickly becoming recognized as one of the world’s top cycling destinations – Shizuoka has something for everyone.

With mountains that rival that of Europe, abundant quiet roads where cars are seldom seem and a labyrinth of exploration to be had, both on and off the bike, it is no wonder that secret is finally starting to get out to global cycling enthusiasts.

Additionally, with hectic growth of cycle tourism globally, travelling to the more traditional areas to go on a cycling holiday, typically, France, Italy, Spain are quickly becoming overrun by the droves of cyclists on their European holiday, especially during the summer.

What Japan offers the cycle tourist is a chance to explore some of the best riding in world, to enjoy an unsurpassed level of respect and basically get lost on roads that twist and snake though ancient villages. 

Within easy reach of Tokyo or Kansai (Osaka) Airports and accessible by Shinkansen as well as the numerous local trains, Shizuoka is easily one of best regions in Japan to ride your bike.

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

Additionally, with expanses of natural environments it offers the cyclist great contrasts across short distances, with the landscapes across the prefecture within the western region being very different from the east and coastal 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 also a great way to delve deep into a region and a culture, and with close proximity of towns throughout the prefecture it 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 DISTILLERY, GOLF, ONSEN

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 and contains many popular sightseeing spots and a stunning vista to enjoy as you cycling.

Gotemba is deeply connected to Mount Fuji. As the highest peak in Japan with a magnificent panorama, the mountain offers people a variety of activities to choose from, such as outdoor sports, horseback riding, trekking or a round of golf with Mt Fuji as your backdrop.

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.

HOW TO GET THERE AND AROUND

There are a couple of ways to get to Gotemba:

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 LINE & TIME-TRIAL EVENTS

Oyama is located in the far north-eastern corner of Shizuoka Prefecture, bordering on Yamanashi and Kanagawa Prefectures.

Located in between the Tanzawa Mountains and the foothills of Mount Fuji, the town has an average altitude of 800 meters, and has a cool climate with some of the purest water seeping out of the mountain well suited to wasabi and distilling.

Oyama is also home to the iconic Fuji Speedway, which will is not only one of the world’s legendary racing circuits, it will also see the finish of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Road Race and Time-Trial events.

HOW TO GET THERE AND AROUND

The region is quite hilly and suited to road cycling for intermediate to advanced levels with many perhaps already aware of the infamous Azami Line, the diabolically steep 12 km 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 (See above)

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, on the other hand, are less developed and better known for their rugged coastlines which are best exemplified by the 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 – BEER BREWERY

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.

Fujinomiya is also home to the Shiraito Falls, one of Japan’s most beautiful waterfalls. The falls can be found in the outskirts of the city along the way to the Fuji Five Lakes region on the northern side of the mountain.

The region has several iconic landmarks and Mt. Fuji access makes Fujinoymiya a great hub for developing some cycling related products. 

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 from which attractions such as the Mt. Fuji World Heritage Centre and Taisha Sengen Shrine are easily accessible.

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.

It is possible to take a late night bus and stay at one of the comfortable business hotels near the station and be up early the next day to get some of the most stunning sunrise views of Mt Fuji in all its glory.

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.

Hamamatsu is a sprawling city and can be a little difficult to navigate but it is once you get out of the urban sprawl that you will be truly rewarded with some spectacular nature especially in the North as you follow the Tenryu River.

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.

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.

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

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