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Thread: Riding In Japan

  1. #1
    Junior Member SACHA's Avatar
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    Riding In Japan

    HELLO

    I AM LOOKING FOR LIVED EXPEREIENCE WHILE BIKING IN JAPAN. I AM PLANNING A TRIP FOR ABOUT 3 WEEKS THIS SUMMER.

    THANK YOU


  2. #2
    It's in my blood Pete Clark's Avatar
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    Ask, "mike."

    :thumbup:

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    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Yup, ask me (thanks, Pete). I lived in Japan and just about "lived" on a bicycle when I was there. I have toured Japan on bicycle too.

    What would you like to know?
    Mike

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    Go Go Fassa
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    umm..yea

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    I lived in Osaka for a year and rode a bike everyday for work and errands. Yes, I had the ubiquitous "girl" bike with baskets and a generator that everybody rides in Japan. I didn't want to ship my bike over and get it beat-up in the elements. Anyways, I recommend hyper viglilance when riding in Japan. Even though millions are riding everyday, car drivers don't seem to be very aware of this. I was hit once and had dozens of close calls. Drivers seem to think they always have the right-of-way. Even if it means running you over. I recommend bringing a helmet. I got laughed at and pointed at everyday because of it, but I wasn't going to take chances with my noddle after I saw a mother toting her two very young kids (one in a front basket, one in the rear) take a hard fall with the two kids' heads hitting the pavement first. Hope this insight helps.

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    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Originally posted by gaijin
    I lived in Osaka for a year and rode a bike everyday for work and errands. Yes, I had the ubiquitous "girl" bike with baskets and a generator that everybody rides in Japan. I didn't want to ship my bike over and get it beat-up in the elements. Anyways, I recommend hyper viglilance when riding in Japan. Even though millions are riding everyday, car drivers don't seem to be very aware of this. I was hit once and had dozens of close calls. Drivers seem to think they always have the right-of-way. Even if it means running you over. I recommend bringing a helmet. I got laughed at and pointed at everyday because of it, but I wasn't going to take chances with my noddle after I saw a mother toting her two very young kids (one in a front basket, one in the rear) take a hard fall with the two kids' heads hitting the pavement first. Hope this insight helps.
    I'm with you 100% on your comments, Gaijin. Especially about wearing a helmet. Nobody wears a helmet in Japan, but that doesn't mean you don't need one.
    Mike

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    Junior Member SACHA's Avatar
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    HI MIKE, HI GAIJIN

    Thank you for your prompt respond.

    I am actually planning a trip to Japon for three weeks. I have being there few times before but never on a bike and I was not particulary looking at details about biking there!

    My idea is to ride from Tokyo to Osaka on a tandem and a trailer.

    For what I remember from roads in general is that they don't look very large and the surface not to smooth.

    Do you know if there is any bicycle path? Do you remenber of not to busy roads. Have you seing a road map adapted to bikers (1:100'000 or1: 200'000 scale).

    Would you recommend any particular site along the road worth staying or visiting except the fuji surounding?

    Do you recall about the weather in September October, is it cold already?

    Have you seing many bicycle stores? Where did you buy your spares pieces?

    Any comments about camping ?

    I know thing change fast and discovering is part of the fun of travelling, which I agree totally, but as this will be only my secong tandem trip and the first time for my girlfriend to visit Japan I thaught that I bit preparation won't hurt.

    I am looking forward to reading you. No comments, advices can be hurt.


    THANK YOU AND BEST REGARDS
    HAERRY SACHA FROM GENEVA
    Ne perdez pas votre vie la gagner !

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    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    I'm not sure about bicycling routes from Tokyo to Osaka. I can check for you.

    You will have to avoid the Tokaido highway - and that will be difficult because all the other roads will be a complicated maze of small streets. Mountain ranges, poor city planning, and rivers limit the routes in Japan.

    Your best bets are to find rivers that cover large portions of your route. Most Japanese rivers have an improved/paved bicycle/foot path that skirts the bank of the rivers for miles or even for the whole length of the river. Also, Look for major stretches of farmland. They have straight and level access roads for farmers that often go for many miles - out of traffic too. These roads link small towns and villages.

    I also wanted to ride from Tokyo to Osaka, but my Japanese friends suggested touring around Tokyo, then taking a train to the next destination and ride the area there - do this all along the way to Osaka. Actually, based on what I have experienced, this is probably a good idea.

    As for bike shops, they are all around Japan - in every town. You don't have to worry about that. HOWEVER, most bike shops are only set up for the drones of similar single-speed commuter bikes. If you have a high-end bike with special components that need work or replacement, you could lose some time looking for a specialty shop.

    Camping is very limited in Japan. I suggest that you look for "minshuku" inns or Ryokan Inns. These are usually old houses that have been converted into something like a bed-and-breakfast. The prices are about $30 to $40 per night and usually includes breakfast and sometimes dinner. I did this last year and it was a great way to go. Almost every town has a ryokan. When you roll into a town, ask the police for help. They will guide you to the best ryokan for bicycle tourists.

    Most Japanese bookstores have wonderful detailed street maps. You can buy them along the way as the availability of regional maps seems to be local. Some of the big bookstores in Tokyo have maps of every reagion of Japan, but the smaller towns only have local maps.
    Mike

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    SACHA,
    I concur with Mike on everything he stated. Follwing the rivers is great advice. Because just about every river in Japan is "concreted" over, there are roads that line the river sides everywhere. September might still include some of Japan's disgustingly hot and humid summer season. October should be great riding. The big cities will have full-service, hi-end bike shops. I found some great shops in the Osaka area with super low prices on Shimano gear. Buy it in Japan and pack it home with you! And speaking of Shimano, their bicycle museum is in Sakai City, in southern Osaka prefecture. It's a great museum with bikes of all kinds and a great art section of local youths' drawing and paintings of bicycles in action. Also, as for accomodations, some temples take-in travelers. We stayed at one for about $100 for the two of us and got dinner and breakfast and particpation in a morning ceremony (this you are obligated to attend). And try to stick to the highways for long distances. Japanese roads tend to be rather circuitous, with no logic whatsoever. They are a carryover of roads designed to slow and confuse invaders. They still manage to slow and confuse us foreign invaders. Good luck on your adventure!--Gaijin

  10. #10
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Originally posted by SACHA
    HELLO

    I AM LOOKING FOR LIVED EXPEREIENCE WHILE BIKING IN JAPAN. I AM PLANNING A TRIP FOR ABOUT 3 WEEKS THIS SUMMER.

    THANK YOU

    SACHA please stop using all caps in your posts. Here's a nice, helpful link that will explain why this is a fauz pas. click here

  11. #11
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Originally posted by gaijin
    SACHA,
    And speaking of Shimano, their bicycle museum is in Sakai City, in southern Osaka prefecture. It's a great museum with bikes of all kinds and a great art section of local youths' drawing and paintings of bicycles in action. And try to stick to the highways for long distances. Japanese roads tend to be rather circuitous, with no logic whatsoever. They are a carryover of roads designed to slow and confuse invaders. They still manage to slow and confuse us foreign invaders. Good luck on your adventure!--Gaijin
    Gaijin, did you ever figure out a way to know, from maps or otherwise, which Japanese highways are appropriate for bicycling? Many of the Japanese highways look a lot like a typical USA boulevard with a paved sidewalk - often going right down the middle of cities. Others are bone crushing absolute death to bicyclists like the Tokaido. I never could figure out which was which until I got there.

    The museum sounds cool. I have never been there. How can I find it?
    Mike

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    I never did any long distance touring while there. The only highway I was familiar with was the Shigoku (if memory serves me) in Osaka. It was a massive lifted highway with side streets that ran along side it down below. I would use the side streets when commuting. It would be suicide to think to ride up above. I could never figure out Japanese maps in terms of their bike friendliness. Experimentation served me best. Also, large surface streets (2-4 lanes) serving as arteries to-and-from large city centers like Osaka was an easy was to go relatively long distances easily.

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    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    " I lived in Osaka for a year and rode a bike everyday for work and errands. Yes, I had the ubiquitous "girl" bike with baskets and a generator that everybody rides in Japan."

    I visited Japan for 3 weeks and family members have lived there for 3 years.

    There is just something about seeing businessmen in suits with briefcases in baskets that appeal to me.
    "My two favourite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything" -Peter Golkin
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    Mister Slick Matadon's Avatar
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    This is all good to know, as I will be spending a year in Japan as an exchange student, although I plan on bringing my present commuter bike over with me.
    "The real race is not on the hot, paved road, the torturous off-road course or the smooth-surface velodrome. It is in the electrochemical pathways of your mind."
    --Alexi Grewal

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    One point to add.

    Tandems are illegal on roads in Japan outside of Nagano Prefecure. I have always wanted a tandem, but didn't want to risk spending big bucks for a bike that wasn't legal to ride. I don't know whther the police really care or not, though.

    Having said that, you should know that Nagano is a great place to ride with beautiful countryside, old post towns and the Japan Alps. It is mountainous, though; you have to love hills to ride there.

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