Biking / Touring in Japan

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This is a collection of various bits of a conversation with a Noisebridger planning a biking vacation of Japan. As such, it is going to be messy. HERE is the original thread in our google group.

The majority of this info is from Rubin Starset of Noisbridge.


Books to read

Akiba wrote, On 2013-04-18 19:41: > If you're going to cycle, you might want to check out this book. It's out of > print but you can probably get a used version:

Rubin wrote: Thanks for the recommendation! I've sort of looked into that and other books and this is as good of a place as any to list my findings for Google to slurp up...

  • Cycling Japan: A Personal Guide to Exploring Japan by Bicycle Bryan

Harrell - So that particular book focuses on general cycling in Japan and the culture around it. The touring it does touch is geared more leisurely, and doesn't provide any good references or maps for routes. Also a bit dated. ISBN 0-9627458-0-4

  • 丹羽隆志の日本ベストサイクリングコース10 (CYCLING JAPAN by Takashi Niwa:

10 of the Best Rides) - I'm still waiting for this one to get to me from Japan (I think it would have been smarter if I had it just shipped to where I'm staying in Tokyo. The book contains a range of rides short and long, with maps and other useful information. Bilingual. ISBN 978-4-8085-8533-4

  • Bicycling Japan: A Touring Handbook by Suzanne Lee - This is a good

guide for folks who are about to try bike touring for the first time, and also want general advice about doing so in Japan. Sadly the book is a little dated, so many of the sections doesn't seem to be all that helpful anymore, namely communication and dealing with money. Additionally it doesn't talk at all about where to actually go biking in Japan. ISBN 4-7700-1742-1

Two other books that are mildly useful...

  • Road Atlas Japan, Shobunsha - Mostly in English atlas of Japan with

slightly useful topography, targeted for car drivers ISBN 978-4398201041

  • Touring Mapple - This is a yearly published road atlas targeted for

motorcycle tourists. It's sadly all in Japanese, but features icons, most importantly pointing out camp sites and other useful to bicycle tourist things. ISBN 978-4398655318

Advice

  • Get used to searching out manga cafes. MANY offer private cubicles with comfy chairs, TV and headphones, as well as lockers, showers and toiletries. A lot of salary men use them like cheap short stay hotels. If you miss a train or otherwise find yourself somewhere late at night with no clue where your hostel is, you can always put in 4 hours or so in a manga cafe for under 1500 yen (shower included!).
  • Be sure your bike and any trailers have clearly marked name and contact info for you IN JAPAN. Bicycles here MUST have a registration number, much like an automotive license plate. As a tourist, your bike will stand out for NOT having this. So, having some documentation ON the bike itself will (hopefully) cause the police to disregard your lack of proper registration.
  • It goes without saying, but you better have working headlights and reflectors. Even if you only ride during the day. Bike Police CAN and WILL stop you.
  • Be extra careful parking near stations (especially in Tokyo). MANY stations have bicycle free zones completely encircling the station (no bikes within 100 meters or whatever). You will find Posted maps with the zone clearly outlined, and the address/telephone number to call if your bike was collected.
  • If you must park near a station, there are usually multiple bike parking lots nearby with pay gates. Usually never more than 100 or 200 yen per day. These are a bit more secure form thieves as well, since you often need an exit ticket.


Other Bits

  • See our Android_Apps list for Translation tools (Aedict for offline), train route search software (Japan Trains) and mapping apps (Maverick).
  • Rubin's Ride on Flicker. A lot more info about the bike can be found on the Bike Friday Store.
  • RxKxBx Japan - A speed and social biking group in Tokyo, with monthly rides
  • Tokyo Cycling - reservation based tours of Tokyo by bicycle

You will still often need to take the train or bus somewhere (especially in a monsoon.. riding can be dangerous in bad weather):

  • Hyperdia - English, usually accurate results. Searches trains, planes, buses, shinkansen, overnight sleeper cars. Everything!
  • Jorudan When you just need a train route quick. Simple interface works even on legacy phones. Fast results. Occasionally timetables are out of date for some trains.
  • Yahoo Transit You will need Good Japanese skills with this one, including station name Kanji. Includes maps(?)
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