Travel offers countless opportunities for adventure and excitement, and cycling is increasingly becoming a popular choice. This is particularly true in Japan, where the blend of scenic landscapes and well-maintained infrastructure makes for an ideal biking environment.
On this particular journey, we’re putting a unique spin on traditional cycling by choosing foldable bicycles, also known as “Foldys.” These bikes are not only a marvel of convenience and eco-friendliness but also a perfect companion for explorers.
Why opt for Foldys, you ask? The answer lies in their inherent compactness. These bikes are designed for effortless transportation and storage. Their smaller stature proves to be a significant advantage in navigating Japan’s diverse terrain, from bustling city streets to serene country trails. The ease of maneuverability with a Foldy is unmatched, allowing riders to seamlessly integrate cycling into their travel experience, whether it’s stopping for a quick photo or enjoying a scenic vista.
One might consider a full-size bicycle, often transported in a RINKO bag on Japanese public transport, but Foldys offer an unmatched level of convenience. Their ultra-compact design means they’re not only easier to handle but also less of a presence in crowded public spaces. Imagine the flexibility of fitting one or two Foldys in a car trunk, or the ability to hail a cab and easily store them in the trunk during an unexpected downpour – a feat not easily achieved with a regular bike.
Apart from their portability, Foldys stand out for their simplicity and ease of maintenance. Their design, focused on travel, means fewer complex parts to worry about. Their indoor-friendly nature – imagine tucking one under a restaurant table – significantly reduces concerns about theft or damage. These bikes are not just convenient; they’re secure companions on your travels.
Additionally, Foldys are surprisingly versatile, often adjustable to suit riders of different heights. This “one size fits all” approach adds to their appeal. They may be small, but they pack a punch in performance and style. Riding a Foldy isn’t just about practicality; it’s about making a statement of efficiency and elegance.
In conclusion, foldable bicycles offer a unique and stylish way to explore the landscapes of Nagasaki, blending convenience with performance. They are not just a mode of transport; they are an integral part of the travel experience, enhancing the joy of discovery on two wheels.
Our route caters to the casual cyclist, balancing breathtaking scenery with manageable challenges, allowing full appreciation of the local landscapes.
Our three-day, three-night escapade intertwines cycling with public transport, beginning at Hakata Port. From there, we board the ‘Taiko’ ferry, a daily connection between Fukuoka and the Goto Islands. Departing Hakata Port in Bayside Hakata at 11:45 PM, the ferry makes stops at four islands before docking at Fukue Island, the largest in the Goto Islands, at 8:15 AM.
Our first stop is Ojika Island, a quaint setting with a population of 2,200, comprising 17 islands both large and small. The five-hour ferry ride culminates at the Ojika Port Terminal, equipped with rest lounges for a quick recharge upon arrival.
Greeting the sunrise, we venture to Chinokojima Shrine, an eastern gem of Ojika Island, believed to have been erected for the safety of envoys on maritime voyages to Tang China. It faces the Okinokojima Shrine across Nozaki Island.
Of the three torii gates, one intriguingly stands at the coast, accessible by stairs. With the island still asleep, a pre-prepared coffee and bread breakfast hits the spot!
Our first encounter on Ojika was with a Belgian native, who chose this serene island for a peaceful family life. We just happened to be on his morning walk route with his child and cute dog.
Next, we discovered the tranquil beauty of Kakinohama Beach, a perfect pause in our journey.
A must-see is the Goryo Cliff, offering stunning vistas.
Here, the island’s volcanic history is etched into the landscape, with around 20 craters shaped over time by the sea. ‘Daki,’ as in Goryo Daki, translates to ‘cliff’ in the local dialect.
A short 25-minute ride from the terminal lies Akahama Beach, where the iron-rich red sand and gravel paint a unique picture of the volcanic island.
The sunset at Ojika is not to be missed. Positioned at Kyushu’s westernmost point, the view from the bridge to Madarajima is a mesmerizing scene of the sun dipping into the East China Sea.
Ojika Island Tourism offers comprehensive services for island exploration and natural encounters. Their office in the port terminal doubles as an information hub, staffed by knowledgeable ‘island travel concierges.
For those without their own bicycle, the ferry terminal’s rental service makes it easy to explore Ojika’s gentle slopes, perfectly manageable in a four-hour leisurely cycle.
Ojika Island Tourism offers bicycle rentals from 6:30 AM to 6:00 PM, ensuring you have ample time to explore the island’s charming landscape. Detailed information and routes can be found on their website, a super-helpful resource for hitting all the hot spots.
Victoria, our island travel concierge hailing from Lithuania, is the epitome of the warm hospitality Ojika is renowned for. Her fluency in both Japanese and English, coupled with her unique perspective that marries local insights with a global viewpoint, makes her an invaluable guide.
Our tour through the Fuefuki District, the island’s vibrant heart, was both enlightening and engaging. With Victoria, it felt like every 50 meters brought us into delightful encounters with chatty locals and her acquaintances, weaving a tapestry of community and friendship. Her tours are not just informative but a doorway to the island’s soul. Booking a tour with her is highly recommended – it’s an experience you won’t regret!
Kyushu Live’s feature, ‘LIVE: Ojika Island in Goto, Nagasaki,’ takes viewers on a virtual walking tour of this picturesque island, showcasing its hidden gems and vibrant culture.
Key attractions include the fresh Bonito at Marujin Suisan, expertly prepared by Jinpei Hashimoto, a master of his craft. The 100-year-old Letterpress Printing Office ‘Shinkosha‘ offers a glimpse into Ojika’s rich history, while the Ojika Island History and Ethnographic Museum, once the residence of the affluent Oda merchant family, tells the story of the island’s past.
An unforgettable stay awaits at ‘Ojika no Oto,’ a sea-facing private rental house. A mere two-minute walk through the narrow alleys from Fuefuki Shopping Street leads to this beautifully renovated abode.
With its earthen-floor dining kitchen, lush outdoor terrace, upstairs living room offering panoramic sea views, and traditional tatami beds, it’s an idyllic retreat for those seeking tranquility and connection with nature.
The farewell from Ojika Island is as memorable as the welcome. The simple joys of greeting locals, meandering through alleys on a bicycle, and rushing to nearby islands for sunset views create lasting impressions. The experience of drifting off to sleep to the sound of the sea, bathed in moonlight, is magical, leaving a longing for just one more night.
A delightful discovery shared by local women led us to a bakery, a hidden gem where the scent of freshly baked bread lured us in.
The next phase of our journey took us from Ojika to Nakadori Island, a segment we anticipated to be the most challenging for cycling. Spanning approximately 35 kilometers with its fair share of ascents and descents, it proved to be a full-day endeavor that truly tested our stamina. Every pedal stroke brought us closer to our destination: Wakamatsu Port, the gateway to Fukue Island. This segment of the journey, encompassing the Upper Goto Islands, Nakadori, and Wakamatsu, presented us with remote and unspoiled landscapes. These islands, only accessible by boat from Fukuoka or Nagasaki, offered a serene escape from the bustling city life. As we cycled, the blend of physical exertion and scenic beauty made every moment memorable, culminating in our arrival at Wakamatsu Port, where new adventures awaited.
The stunning Hamaguri Beach, a jewel of the Upper Goto Islands, is renowned for its crystal-clear, shallow waters and pristine white sands. Conveniently located near the port and just off the main road, it’s a serene escape from the busy road that brought us near.
The rugged terrain of Nakadori and Wakamatsu Islands, characterized by steep mountains and limited flat coastal land, offers a challenging yet rewarding cycling experience.
The Goto Islands, a sanctuary for Christians during the Edo period’s ban on Christianity, are dotted with historic churches, each telling a story of resilience and faith.
The area is part of Saikai National Park and includes the stunning Wakamatsu Seto, a mesmerizing chain of 30 islands spread across 15 km. Crossing the 522-meter-long Wakamatsu Bridge that connects these islands feels like a magical journey through nature’s wonders. It’s a place where history and natural beauty live in perfect harmony, offering breathtaking views at every turn.
After a few exhilarating hours of cycling, we rolled up to our cozy homestay, part of the ‘Goto Islands B&B‘ network. These homestays, lovingly started by local women over 60, really make you feel like you’re visiting a favorite aunt in the countryside. The moment we arrived, we were greeted with such warmth and homemade treats that all our tiredness from the day’s journey just melted away.
For ¥7,500 a night, which includes dinner and breakfast, the Goto Islands B&B offers way more than just a place to sleep. The meals, whipped up with fresh, local ingredients, are a treat for the taste buds and a hug for the heart. And as a sweet farewell gesture, our host gifted us ‘Mame Yokan’ and Goto Udon, local specialties that added an extra sprinkle of warmth to our already heartwarming stay.
The next morning, we were greeted by the island’s calm atmosphere as we started our descent to Wakamatsu Port. Gliding downhill felt like a gentle goodbye to the island’s peaceful charm.
From Wakamatsu, we hopped on a high-speed boat to Fukue Island, the final stop in our island-hopping escapade. The boat ride was a visual feast, with stunning views of the open sea that you just can’t miss.
Once we docked at Fukue Port, we had a 2.5-hour window before our boat to Nagasaki City. This break was perfect for a quick exploration. We cycled to nearby attractions like the Fukue Castle ruins and Samurai Residence Street, conveniently close to the terminal. With handy coin lockers at the terminal, we could roam freely without our luggage.
A bike ride about an hour from the port took us to Onidake, the iconic peak of Fukue Island and a gem of Saikai National Park. The climb was tough but absolutely rewarding, offering stunning views at the top that made every bit of the effort worth it. And the best part? The ride back to the terminal was an easy, breezy downhill journey.
Our spontaneous side trip to Onidake turned out to be a thrilling highlight of our Goto Islands adventure. The ferry ride to Nagasaki City afterward was a chance to relax and reflect on the incredible experiences we had.
Rolling into Nagasaki, just a quick 10-minute bike ride from the port to Nagasaki Station, we found ourselves in a city steeped in history and buzzing with redevelopment. Famous spots like Dejima and Megane Bridge only added to the city’s charm.
The last leg of our trip was a comfy Shinkansen ride back to Hakata. We hopped on the new West Kyushu Shinkansen, bento boxes in hand, ready for the journey. It was super convenient that our bikes, neatly packed in rinko bags, could come along for the ride at no extra charge.
This three-day cycling tour across Kyushu might have been brief, but it packed in as much excitement and satisfaction as a long overseas vacation. Kyushu’s safe, relaxed vibe makes it a top-notch spot for cycling. Whether you’re just biking or mixing it up with trains, ferries, and the Shinkansen, Kyushu is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered by any keen traveler. And remember, exploring with Foldys makes it even more fun!
Departure from Fukuoka
23:45 Departure (Hakata Port to Ojika)
Taiko Ferry (Timetable)
Adult one-way ¥4,000 + ¥1,090 (bicycle fee)
Option ¥5,200 (twin room)
* Bikes, including folding bikes, require a reservation as special luggage
* Bicycles in rinko bags are not allowed inside the cabin
• Special luggage must be checked in earlier than boarding time (Hakata Port 21:00~23:00)
04:40 Arrival (Ojika Port)
04:45~08:00 Visit Chinokojima Shrine at sunrise
09:00 Cycling sightseeing
Live streaming with Victoria
12:00 Lunch in town
13:30 Cycling sightseeing
14:00 Check-in (Ojika no Oto)
From Ojika Island to Nakadori & Wakamatsu Islands
09:00 Cycling sightseeing to Akahama beach (1.5 hours)
10:55 High-speed boat to Nakadori Island (*pre-Dec. 2023)
12:05 Arrival at Arikawa Port
12:15~17:00 Cycling from Arikawa Port to Wakatamatsugo)
17:00 Check-in Suzume no Oyado (homestay)
18:30 Dinner at accommodation
Kyushu Shosen Ferry
Ojika Port to Arikawa Port (High-speed boat): Adult one-way ¥2,670
* Folding bicycles in rinko bags are free if within the size limit
* Carry-on luggage must be within total 3 dimensions of 1.58m and weigh less than 10kg
From Wakamatsu Island to Fukue Island, Nagasaki City, then to Fukuoka
07:00 Breakfast & check-out
07:20~07:40 2.6km, 20-minute ride to Doi-no-Ura Port
08:10 Ferry to Fukue Island (via Naru Port)
09:15 Arrival at Fukue Port
11:45 Departure from Fukue Port
16:05 Arrival at Nagasaki Port
16:05~18:13 Free time in Nagasaki City. Ride to JR station is 10 minutes (1.4km)
18:45 Departure on West Kyushu Shinkansen: Nagasaki Station to Hakata Station
20:09 Arrival at Hakata Station
Goto Passenger Ship
Doi-no-Ura to Fukue (High-speed boat New Taiyo): Adult one-way ¥1,390 + ¥530 (bicycle fee)
Fukue Port to Nagasaki Port (Ferry): Adult one-way ¥4,080 (2nd class) + ¥840 (bicycle fee)
*Jetfoils also operate between Fukue and Nagasaki, but bicycles, including folding bikes, cannot be brought on board.
Nagasaki to Hakata (West Kyushu Shinkansen) Adult one-way reserved seat ¥6,250
* Folding bicycles can be brought on for free if packed in a rinko bag.”