This July will see the launch of a new event to the ultracycling calendar – a 2,700 kilometre, unsupported ride called The Japanese Odyssey that traverses the four principal islands that make up the Land of the Rising Sun.
The event is scheduled to start in the city of Sapporo– host of the Winter Olympic Games in 1972 – on the island of Hokkaido on 18 July, and will head south to finish on Kagoshima on Kyushu by 31 July.
Similar to the Transcontinental Race, which sees its third edition this year, entrants can choose their own route, but they will be required to pass through several compulsory checkpoints.
But organisers of the event, directed by Strasbourg-based Emmanuel Bastian, are keen to stress that it isn’t a race, but rather an “adventure,” with the event’s website saying:
The Japanese Odyssey is a demanding adventure. And yet, it is not a competitive event. We definitely don't see it as a race. It is about performance for sure, about challenging yourself. But there won’t be any ranking nor official finishing times. Successful riders will be those who accomplish the course within the time limit. And that’s it.
The checkpoints have been planned to ensure that whichever route riders choose to follow takes in some of the country’s most spectacular scenery, with their locations as follows:
The capital of Hokkaido, and Japan's fifth largest city. We hope to start the event in Odori Park, that stretches over 12 city blocks and separates the downtown city into north and south.
Located on route 334 on the far east of Hokkaido. With 738 m above sea level, it connects Utoro with Rausu, and offers spectacular views of a preserved mountainous area.
Prepare to exhaust yourself. At more than 2,700 m elevation, Norikura is the highest you can go by road in Japan. Situated in Gifu in the heart of the Japanese Alps, Mount Norikura ascent is more than 38 km long. Be prepared...
Mount Aso Pass
Mount Aso is an active volcano in central Kyushu. The island offers an incredible variety of landscapes, but also epic ups-and-downs
It is the southernmost point of Kyushu, and the end of mainland Japan. This remote place will probably make you feel being at the world's end.
That's where your adventure ends. You made it. Congrats.
Registration will open on Tuesday 4 May, and in the meantime you can sign up on the Japanese Odyssey website for news of the event by email.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.