With Japan set to host the Rugby World Cup in 2019, the spotlight will turn on the nation. What better way to see the country – and get in shape for the finals – than by bicycle. Here are three ways you can cycle Japan in 2019.

Explore traditional villages with the Hida Satoyama cycling tour – Gifu Prefecture, Japan

The Hida Satoyama Cycling Tour is a fantastic way to get off the tourist trail and experience the atmosphere of real rural Japan. In the Hida region of Gifu prefecture, rural life has remained relatively unchanged through the years, protected by the surrounding mountains. The 22km tour leads cyclists through rice paddies and traditional villages, with the knowledge of a local guide who introduces visitors to the customs, folk stories and traditions of rural Satoyama. For more information, visit: seejapan.co.uk.seejapan.co.uk.

Island hopping – Setouchi, Japan

Japan by train
The Shiminami Kaido route, c. JNTO

The Shimanami Kaido is a spectacular 60km road and bridge network which runs across the Seto Inland Sea and connects Japan’s mainland to its smallest island, Shikoku. The route begins in Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture and ends in Imabari in Ehime Prefecture, crossing six smaller islands on the way. The route offers plenty of scenic photo opportunities and traditional Japanese experiences, such as an overnight stay in a traditional ryokan guest house.

Cycle up Mt. Zao – Miyagi Prefecture, Japan

Experience the seasons change in one day participating in The Zao Hill Climbing event, an 18.7 km annual bike race which starts in the verdant greenery at the base of Mt. Zao and runs up to the snowy summit passing through high snow walls. The race starts at the Miyagi Zao Royal Hotel and finishes at the summit’s rest house, an elevation gain of 1,224m. Once at the top, riders are rewarded with some breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and Asahi Ridge Mountains.