Where Do You Want Your One Life to Take You?
One life Japan focuses on learningful excursions and into the Japan country side. The goal of our tours and programs is to lead participants to new discoveries - discoveries about Japan, about the environment we all depend on, and about themselves.
We have trips to fit most needs and schedules, such as 2-days in the countryside, a challenging 1-week Bike & Hike, 4 and 5 day family trips, and even a 1-month Japan language & culture immersion course for students. We thrive on challenge - physical challenge as well as challenging pre-held beliefs, but strive to make sure the challenge is not too much for the individual.
The majority of our bike, hike, and walking trips focus around a small farming village in Northern Nagano. We focus on local, environmentally friendly, active, and challenging activities. We share with you our love of the Japan countryside.
- If you... have already seen your share of crowded temples and city streets, and if you are read to get off the train or bus and move our body in some potentially challenging terrain, where people are focused on their every day life, rather than making tourists happy, then OneLife Japan is most likely perfect for you.
- If you... are willing to spend a night in a local's home or a family run inn where the owner is too busy with hunting and the rice harvest to fix a rip in the beat-up paper shoji door, then OneLife Japan is most likely perfect for you.
- If you... are willing to smile through a conversation with a farmer who doesn't speak English, or to spend a dinner in what eventually turns into a game of charades with the local baker, then OneLife Japan is most likely perfect for you.
- If you... are willing to spend an afternoon striking out on your own in unknown territory, where no-one speaks English, but is eager to help none-the-less, with just a map and assurance that we will be there if you need a hand, then OneLife Japan may be perfect for you.
- If you... are willing to wake up at 5 am to see a country village come to life in the early morning light, or to spend an afternoon working in the rice field, or gathering wild vegetables, then OneLife Japan is most likely perfect for you.
- If you... are willing to savor a simple meal of in-season, locally produced foods, then OneLife Japan is most likely perfect for you.
We want to share the Japan we love. We can't promise five-star accommodation, or cell-phone coverage the entire trip. We certainly don't promise a glimpse of the fabled "lost" Japan. We do promise an opportunity to see another side of modern-day Japan that you will not see in urban areas such as Tokyo or Kyoto, or in towns that have come to depend on tourism as a main industry.
Everything is waiting for you. It is up to YOU to take it in. We are there to support and facilitate your adventure, but it is up to you to make it your adventure. We will listen to your needs and likes and dislikes, and work to create the most personalized trip we can offer.
Bikes:Our cross touring and mountain bikes are selected to make your trip the most comfortable and enjoyable possible. Our frames are sturdy, stable, and light-weight, fitted with ultra-comfortable seats, handle bars and grips. Pannier saddle bags allow you to easily carry warm clothing, water, snacks, and any souvenirs you pick-up along the way.
Meals:Dinners, breakfasts, and most lunches are included. Perhaps the most important part of any trip to Japan is the food. While the well-known sushi and sukiyaki are available, we seek out local, traditional meals that have developed in the region over the centuries defining and being defined by the local culture and history. Wherever possible we choose fresh, local, organic ingredients grown by farmers we know - you will even get to meet some of them.
Accommodation:Accommodations range from 200 year-old family run minshuku inns, mountain-top huts, and opportunities to stay in a local's home. Every night offers a hot-spring bath, comfortable traditional cotton yukata robe, and a oh-so-heavenly futon on a traditional straw tatami floor. Our main interest in choosing accommodation is the friendliness and openness of the owners. While they may not all speak English, we will be there when needed to translate and facilitate communication.
Entrance Fees:Most museums, baths, festivals, and other entrance fees are covered so you are free to go anywhere and do anything your wanderlust takes you.
Facilitators & Communicators:You have the option of riding with bilingual facilitators that have studied the area and culture and are anxious to share as much as you want to hear, and probably a lot you didn't even know you wanted to hear. (Of course, we will shut-up if you ask nicely). Alternatively, you can strike out on your own with scheduled meeting points. Either way, we will be available every step of the journey, whether you are trying to communicate with your host for the night, the old man at the vegetable stand, or trying to find a certain color of kimono for that perfect souvenir. We can also provide printed translations of important museum exhibits and explanation of various foods and interesting cultural artifacts found along the way.
Support Vehicle:Not only do we carry your luggage and having waiting for you at the inn, but we also carry people when needed. Depending on the trip, if you would rather spend more time at a museum or napping on a mountain top while the rest of the group rides on, our support vehicle will help you catch up. Want to walk instead of ride? The support vehicle will take your bike to the next meeting point. Had enough up-hills for the day? Our support vehicle will carry you to the top leaving you to enjoy the cruise down.
Maps:Reading a map in Japanese can be a daunting task. We try to make it a little easier by adding some English where it makes sense, as well as important landmarks and points of interest. We even give you a pen to keep notes on the map of the one of a kind encounters and experiences you have along the way.
Our trips focus on rural areas of Japan. Most of them are centered in Sakae Mura, in northern Nagano. While it is just 3 hours from Tokyo it feels like a lifetime away from city life. We offer some trips that start closer to Tokyo, and can organize custom trips to other areas of Japan, however, most of our local connections, that will help you to see and interact with rural Japan lifestyle, are around the farming villages where we are based.
We sometimes run custom trips in other rural areas in Japan. If you have a specific area you would like to see by bike, please contact us for a quote.
Accommodations are simple, and in keeping with the atmosphere of rural Japan, and we focus on local, traditional, seasonal foods, providing organic & home-grown, and locally raised or hunted wherever possible. Whenever possible we try to show you the face of the people who produced and prepared your foods.
There are no five-star western style hotels, family run minshuku and sleeping on the tatami floor in futons is the norm. Depending on the trip, you may have the opportunity to stay in a two century old farm houses, mountain huts, a bear-hunter's lodge, or even a local's home in a small village where there are no other accommodation options.
The majority of our planned and private country bike tours are centered around small villages where large groups are impractical . Our official limit is 8 people per trip, with a usual minimum of 2, but sometimes even 1 for custom trips.
For longer, more educational or volunteer programs we can accept more participants or school groups up to 30+ students. If you have special needs for a private group, please contact us.
Our adventures are in a mountainous area. There is no way to avoid some up-hills. That said, we do have courses that have been completed by children, including an eight-year old who learned to ride a bike only three days before joining us! The important thing is to be ready to push yourself a bit (just like that eight-year-old pushed herself). We will do our best to fit custom trips to your level and desired distances. For pre-planned trips, please be sure to read the distances and terrain listed in the itinerary.