Great Bike Rides in Kansai

ByJustin Hanus
May 24, 2022

Great Bike Rides in Kansai

Although it may have a reputation for cars, motorbikes, and speedy trains, Japan is also a cycle-loving nation whose residents use a bicycle as their primary mode of transport. You can buy all kinds of bikes, either new or second-hand, and even rent them for short periods. Kansai is a beautiful part of the country, blessed with coastlines, mountain routes, and natural trails. It’s a great region to explore by cycle. Here are a handful of bike routes worth checking out.

Lake Biwa

Lake Biwa is Japan’s largest lake and is so popular for cycling that it forms one of the Japanese government’s three national cycling routes. The circumference of the whole lake is around 230 km, so cycling around the entire lake takes 2-3 days. Fortunately, there are plenty of rail stations and accommodation en route, making it easy to break the journey down into stages.

A few bridges across the lake also allow for shorter mini-loops. For example, one mini loop is the southern lake route, where you start in the town of Otsu (close to Kyoto) and cross Lake Biwa Bridge partway along the journey and return to the town. This route is just under 50 km. On the way, you can admire many interesting historical landmarks such as castles, temples, and the Lake Biwa Museum, situated on the Karasuma Peninsula.

Amano Hashidate

Amano Hashidate is a sandbar in Mizuno Bay, northern Kyoto, considered one of Japan’s three great views. It provides a wondrous cycling experience perfect for beginners that stretches 14 km. You start the route at Amano Hashidate station, where you can hire a bike from an outlet across from the station if you wish. The beginning part of the journey takes you across the Amano Hashidate strip, which ranges from 20 and 100 meters wide. Along the way, you’ll travel past lush pine trees, a small beach, and even a tea house.

At the end of the sandbar, you can continue uphill to Kasamatsu Park for some fantastic views and then travel down by cable car and continue with the ride that takes you past shrines, boathouses, a hot spring, and a winery.

Awaji Island

Situated within Hyogo prefecture, Awaji Island forms part of the Seto Inland Sea and sits between the Japanese islands of Honshu and Shikoku. There are bike riding opportunities to suit all levels on the island from the whole “Awaichi” 150 km trail that takes you around the entire island to smaller routes that last 3-4 hours. You can reach the island in around 45 minutes by bus from Kobe.

Osaka to Nara

This route is also known as National Route 308, a highway stretch running from Chuo-ku in Osaka and lasting for just under 33 km. It might not sound too lengthy, but it encompasses the Kurawami Pass, considered one of the steepest roads in the country. As if this wasn’t enough of a challenge, the road is stone-paved! Thankfully, there are plenty of stores offering refreshments along the way.


KANcycling – information on cycling routes around Kansai

Miyuki Meinaka, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

About the author

Justin Hanus editor

Leave a Reply