Discover the charm of Japan’s countryside through cycling
Sandwiched between the picturesque Northern Japan Alps and the UNESCO World Heritage village of Shirakawa-go, lies an old castle town named Hida. With a small population and an abundance of greenery, the area has helped foster the true spirit of satoyama (co-existing with nature) culture. SATOYAMA EXPERIENCE shares this unique and authentic lifestyle with travelers through their immersive guided cycling tours.
The Attraction of Sustainable Life
Founded in 2010, SATOYAMA EXPERIENCE connects guests with locals and provides them opportunities to experience sustainable living in Gifu’s countryside first-hand.
For hundreds of years, before the convenience of trains, this area was highly isolated and only accessible via limited mountain paths. During this period, satoyama culture was more than just a lifestyle choice, but a means for survival. Instead of using rice as just a food source, the locals learned how to make clothing items and building materials from the post-harvest straw. The area’s rich traditions and relatively closed-off way of life created a culture that the people of Hida deeply respect to this day, even as Japan and the world urbanize and sustainability falls into jeopardy.
Today, Hida is highly accessible via high-speed railways. Even so, visitors can still witness the preserved beauty of Hida’s nature, farmland, and tranquil streets thanks to the absence of large tourist magnets, shopping centers, and resorts. The scenery of traditional houses and lush rice fields makes it easy to see why Hida is often compared to times past.
The cycling tours available through SATOYAMA EXPERIENCE provide the perfect opportunity for visitors to explore the countryside, interact with friendly locals and see first-hand a sustainable way of life.
Beyond the Guidebooks
Tours are led year-round, rain or shine, by experienced multilingual guides, who are not only passionate, but also have a wealth of knowledge on Hida’s history. On your journey pedaling through the rural mountain town, the guides will introduce you to local customs, such as drinking fresh spring water straight from the source, learning the secrets of the region’s prized Hida beef, and more.
Depending on the time of year and your preferences, SATOYAMA EXPERIENCE has four cycling tour options to choose from. The most popular standard course is 3.5 hours long and showcases a balance of nature and village life over a 22km route. For those with less time in their schedule and newer cyclists, the company offers an afternoon tour, which is one hour shorter and on a flat course. If you have little ones coming along, opt for the private tour, which allows you to set your own pace and provides an attachable child seat for those too young to cycle. The private tours are also great for photographers or travel enthusiasts looking to spend their time discovering the best photo spots and flying drones across the valley.
If a leisurely ride through the countryside isn’t quite your thing, then choose the final tour for a faster paced adventure. Taking place outside of Hida, due east, the Japan Alps e-bike tour traces the famed Norikura Skyline. As you make your way up the highest paved road in Japan, enjoy the impressive views, soak in your surroundings, and get close and personal with local wildlife.
SATOYAMA EXPERIENCE journeys into the local, natural, and truly traditional countryside of Japan. No theme parks, no outlet malls, and no Starbucks, just the spirit of satoyama and the amazing people of Hida.
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