I've been convinced for a long time that by bicycle is the best way to travel. It gives you enough range to visit some distant places, yet allows you to go at a pace where you can stop and take it all in as well.
Though I've been lucky enough to cycle many of Japan's mountain highways and byways, I had never taken the chance to go "off road" until recently. My original reasons for loving cycling hold true for the mountain bike as well… it allows you to reach a breadth of beautiful backcountry area you wouldn't necessarily be able to get to all in one day on foot, and still allows you to stop and admire the view when the feeling strikes you. Oh, and not to mention, the thrill of testing your skill and concentration while hurtling around rocks, tree roots and brush on the descent!
Karey from Sweetriders coached me along on my first day out. A pro rider, with a number of Japan Down Hill titles under her belt, her Instruction was top notch. A perfect mix of focusing on the fundamentals, while encouraging us to find our own comfort zone, it led to an extremely t enjoyable day out along some beautiful trails in Iwatake and Sanosaka, along the Hakuba valley.
Sweetriders lead a number of mountainbike clinics, "free rides" and events in the Hakuba and Nagano area. Feel free to ask for more details, or contact Karey directly as it is her passion to spread the love of mountain biking in Japan.