Frequently Asked Questions

These are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding our bicycle tours. Please be sure to read the Tour Basics. If you have questions regarding our volunteer events, environmental education programs, or any of our other activities, or if your question is not answered here or, if you are a past customer who, based on your experience, would like to add your own comment to some of these questions, please contact us.

General, Packing, and Payment

What if I need a special diet?

We are happy to accommodate special diets. People with food allergies, vegetarian diets, and other needs often have difficulty in Japan. We sympathise as we ourselves are, what we call, "strategic eaters" (mostly vegetarian/vegan). If we are aware of your dietary needs, we will make sure that even if you don't eat what everyone else it eating, you wont miss a thing.

What should we do with our luggage?

Unless otherwise noted, we will make sure that your luggage gets from one place to the next, and the only thing you will have to carry is a camera, a fleece, water and snacks.

Some of the more difficult or low-budget trips do not include the support van. In this case, we can help you make sure that the majority of your luggage is waiting for you at the end, but you will have to carry everything you need for the duration of the bike adventure. We provide pannier saddle bags, hip packs, and small backpacks as needed.

Can I get a single room?

There are no five star, western style hotels in the majority of our playgrounds. Mostly we use several family run minshuku and ryokans. These are usually smaller with fewer rooms, and traditionally, groups share rooms (according to gender). It is possible to request a single room, and often is possible, but it can not be garaunteed.

It is usually easier to arrange private rooms for families, groups, and couples who are traveling together. Please just let us know in advance.

How long is a typical day's ride?

We do our best to fit the needs of our customers, providing trips for families with 8 year-old children, people in their 70s, and those looking for extreme climbs and descents.

For a better description, please see How hard is it?.

Can I bring small children?

We love family trips. While not as challenging as some of our rides, the family trip offers something for everyone. Easy rides for the kids, optional, more challenging rides for mom, dad, or teenagers, as well as plenty of cultural activities. That said, the youngest children we have had ride with us have been eight years old. They did fantastically (and one had only even learned to ride a bike two days before joining us!). If you would like to bring a younger child who does not ride at all, please consult with us.

Most family trips are private, but if you are flexible, and book far enough in advance, we can do our best to put you together with another family if you would prefer.

Can I bring my own bike?

You can bring your own bike, and we will adjust the price accordingly, but in our experience it is best just to rent from us unless you will be using it for the rest of your stay in Japan as well, or you live in Japan already. While we certainly can't guarantee the same bike as you are used to, unless you are spending all day on the bike, you probably wont notice the difference.

If you have clip peddles and shoes, bring them along with your shoes and we will swap our pedals out for yours.

What kids of things are there to do in our free time?

We want to give you plenty of free time. It is important to note that the area we host most of our adventures is not a developed tourist spot, but we provide maps and suggested activities to help you get the most out of the time on your own. You also have the option of private dining, or having your guide join you for your meals to share a cold beer or hot sake, and explain what you are eating as well as answer your questions about Japan as best we can.

If by "free time", you mean "not riding", we have plenty of activities depending on the time of the year. Please see our menu of optional cultural and active activities for families or individuals. Availability is based on season and the local guides and craftsmen who we work with, so please let us know what you are interested in, and we will do our best to arrange the perfect itinerary for you.

Can you recommend someplace to stay the night before/after?

We will help you to find a hotel or hostel that fits your budget and needs for the night before and after your trip, as well as any train/bus connections that are required to reach them.

How far is Sakae Mura from Tokyo?

Sakae Mura is a small farming community in the northern most area of Nagano. This map illustrates roughly where Sakae Mura is, or you can view Sakae Mura on Google maps.

Sakae Mura is just under 2 hours from Tokyo. You can find transportation details here.

What will the weather be like?

One of the greatest aspects of Japan, and especially Sakae Mura, where we are based, are the four seasons. The weather will depend on when you visit and where you ride or hike. The majority of our pre-planned adventures are around our base, where weather ranges from below freezing in winter, to hot and humid in the summer. Due to a wide range of terrain and altitudes, it is meaningless to give an "average" temperature. For specifics of your particular trip, please be sure to consult the itinerary, or contact us for more information.

What should I pack?

We will send you a "What to Bring" list specific for your trip when you sign up.

How can I pay you?

We prefer cash, either at the start or end of your time with us. We also accept bank transfers. We will send you the bank info when you register for a trip. Unfortunately, we are not able to accept credit card at this time.

Will there be ATMs along the way?

There are ATMs, however they are not always as conveniently located as in large cities and tourist locations. We suggest having enough cash on hand for meals and purchases at small shops that do not handle credit card.

How far in advance should I book?

For our non-custom trips, you should book as soon as you know that you can fit the dates. For custom trips, book as soon as possible, but don't hesitate to contact us even up to a week before your desired tour dates - especially in the case of shorter two or three day trips. While we can not guarantee our availability in this case, we will do our best to work something out.

I'm still not sure if your trips are right for me...

We have ridden with children, parents, seniors, college students, English speakers, Japanese (and soon to be) speakers, business travelers, men, and women.

Our active trips are frequented by active people who like a little challenge, and like to take control of their adventure. Our more relaxed trips are enjoyed by people who enjoy taking it slow, exploring every small road in a 2 km radius, or just sitting under a tree with a book or a set of watercolors.

Please read this description of people who get the most out of our trips, and if you are still not sure, feel free to contact us.

OLJ Programs & Tours

OLJ Tour Basics

We believe in A Better Way

One Life Japan's goal is to promote the recognition and exploration of possibility - the possibility within ourselves and within society to create a better life.

Possibility is born with an awareness and understanding of the whole process of life - its vast expanse with all its subtleties, with its extraordinary beauty, its sorrows, its joys, and its challenges. This understanding is the first step to cultivating the capacity to think freely without culturally learned fears and formulas, to begin to answer for oneself what is real, and what is true.

We make use of the uniqueness, contrasts, and beauty of Japan's culture, nature, and history to introduce a holistic view, promoting an awareness of complexity, ecology, culture, and self.