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This half-day mountain bike tour, perfect for beginners, rewards you with a soak at Hoheikyo Onsen. After a 1.5-hour ride along an easy, paved path through the ‘onsen’ (hot spring) town of Jozankei for a snack, you’ll delight in the pure waters of Hoheikyo’s outdoor baths, followed by a curry lunch that’s popular among locals. Round-trip transport is included from Sapporo. Numbers are limited to 10 on this small-group tour, ensuring a personalized experience with your expert guide.
Please note: This tour is seasonal and runs yearly between April and October. The date is subject to change.
In the morning, assemble with your small group and guide at the starting point, approximately one hour after you’re picked up by air-conditioned minivan from Sapporo. Once you’re fitted with a mountain bike, helmet and gloves, you’ll hear safety precautions and get basic instructions for riding.
Then follow your guide on an easy, 1.5-hour ride along a mostly paved road, starting from the upper Toyohira River, whose waters swell from mountain snowmelt into the Jozankei valley. Enjoy views above the river canyon and cross a suspension bridge, departing for Jozankei. It’s a steep, downhill ride to this traditional onsen town, which dates back to 1866 when an ascetic monk opened the spa upon discovering its healing waters.
Amid forested banks along the bountiful Toyohira River, watch steam rise up from every angle. Stop to enjoy snacks like onsen manju, a bun stuffed with azuki-bean paste, before departing via a steep uphill route. After a ride down to the Shirai River, bike across the Toyohira River, dipping your feet in the cold water if time allows before heading back toward the Hoheikyo Onsen.
Your 6-mile (10-km) route ends at this natural hot spring, which was ranked as one of the best hot spring day trips by TripAdvisor in 2013. Settle into mineral baths indoors or choose from three large outdoor pools, where you’ll have panoramic views of the mountains as you relax against the stones during a 1-hour soak. Hoheikyo is one of Japan’s only onsen facilities to use 100-percent pure waters; the pools are fed by continuously flowing hot springs poured directly into the baths from the ground.
Afterward, sate your appetite with a lunch of authentic naan bread and Indian curry – Jozankei’s most popular food – at the onsite restaurant.
Complete your half-day tour with the return 1-hour drive to Sapporo.