Being such a mountainous country, Japan is a fantastic place to go mountain biking. Right across the land, there are excellent spots at which you can hop on a bike and fly down a trail. Whether you are into downhill, dirt jumps, freeride or cross country; a beginner (like me) or a seasoned pro, you can find somewhere to meet your thrill.
Of course, there are loads of trails around the place, but here are a few ideas to not only get you started but also where you can meet people who share your passion – and who will perhaps share with you their favorite, lesser-known spots.
Fujimi Panorama is first on our list as it is Japan’s largest bike field. The gondola goes right up to the summit (1,780m), from where you can see the Yatsugatake Mountains and Mt. Fuji. The Fujimi Panorama MTB Park has a variety of downhill courses for beginners as well as advanced riders.
There are a wide array of bikes and accessories for rental, and the park is open from April 27 to November 4.
This was where I learned to mountain bike, and it is great for first-timers. However, as it was once home to two of the biggest MTB events in Japan, it is also perfect for more advanced riders, with various courses, such as the Downhill Course from the summit area and the Cross Country Course through which you cruise through the forest. The latter is one of the longest park trails in Japan.
Full rental gear is available, and the park opens around April 28.
Just 90 minutes from the capital, Fujiten is the go-to park for riders based in Tokyo. It has runs that provide beautiful views of Mt Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi, and the course producers have the lofty aim of making the park the ‘Whistler of Japan’.
I’ve not been myself, but friends who go there commend it for the speed of the declines, though they say it’s not necessarily a place for first-timers. Rental available.
I love Fukui Izumi, which is great as it’s pretty close to where I live in Nagoya. It’s very much a rough and ready MTB park – there is no gondola, so you are ferried up to the top in the back of a truck, so expect a bumpy ride.
It is great for beginners, like myself, but we were also joined by professional riders, so that illustrates pretty well how good the course is. Rental gear is pretty limited, so if you don’t have your own bike/accessories, it’s a good idea to let them know in advance.
Yamabushi trail tours are guided rides through the stunning forests of the Izu Peninsula. There are a number of courses – from the child-friendly ‘easy ride’ up to the terrifying (for me) epic ride.
Starting at the top, where you can look out over the devastating coastline, Yamabushi was founded by avid biker Junichiro Matsumoto in 2013 and is one of the most unique and active ways to explore the Izu Peninsula. Places on the tours are limited, and it pays to book up well in advance.
If you are interested in mountain biking in Japan and want to meet like-minded people, check out the Mountain Bike Gaijin Facebook group. They are a good bunch, and hopefully, I’ll see you (probably flying past me) on the trails!
Image: Mark Guthrie (Own Work)