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Thread: Touring Japan?

  1. #1
    Doesn't ride enough Lamabb's Avatar
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    Touring Japan?

    I was wondering if anyone had any experience or knowledge about how bicycle touring in Japan would be. I am looking at places for a summer 2012 tour, and Japan just seems amazing. The people, culture, architecture, landscape and overall vibe of the place seems cool.

    - How expensive would a plane ticket with bike cost?
    - could one stealth camp without a problem in the rural areas?
    - How expensive would the city's be to sleep?
    - I hear that the Japanese don't like American tourists a lot, is that true?

    Any and all info is appreciated.

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    Senior Member zeppinger's Avatar
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    I have never toured Japan but it is very similar to Korea. If you do go to Japan you should also hop a boat to Korea and explore there too. Much less expensive and more outgoing people.

    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...c_id=7614&v=Hf

  3. #3
    Bike touring webrarian
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    Here are 5 links to information about bike touring in Japan. They are general tour planning links and don't directly deal with the questions you asked, but should give you places to find the answers.
    Visit the on-line Bike Touring Archive at www.biketouringtips.com

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    - How expensive would a plane ticket with bike cost?

    Honestly, you should be determining this yourself by looking at what flights from your area cost.

    - could one stealth camp without a problem in the rural areas?

    Yes, you could. But I would advise you not to sleep in someone's garden or something.

    - How expensive would the city's be to sleep?

    You can get away with sleeping in the corner of a park in some places. A business hotel will run you around $50 depending on the exchange rate.

    - I hear that the Japanese don't like American tourists a lot, is that true?

    Only if you act like a jerk (nobody likes irritating tourists of any nationality). It really helps if you have a decent command of the language though, most people will appreciate that you're making an effort. (And in the countryside, pretty much nobody is going to be speaking any English.)


    If your reading ability isn't too bad, try picking up some of these (http://goo.gl/aXwPi) I noticed that Lawsons seems to have them a lot, they've got campground locations marked out, amongst other things like mcdonalds, convenience store locations and hotels. They run about 3500yen per book and they're by region. Kinda bulky and heavy, but they're pretty nice, and I like having em around.

    Otherwise, I'm probably going to be doing another run around Japan this summer myself, and I'd say go for it if you've got the chance.
    Last edited by manapua_man; 12-03-11 at 01:29 AM.

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    I lived in Japan throughout most of the 90's. Circumnavigating Hokkaido is your best bet.

    Minishiku's can be booked at information centers at railway stations. These are private homes where you'll be given a room and allowed to share a bath as long as you conform to their bathing customs. Sometimes breakfast is included. Public baths are really fun, but they are less and less available. These accommodations, along with the "business hotels" will be well north of $100 at today's ridiculous exchange rates.

    Stealth camping would be possible only in the mountains, but as you are a foreigner, you would be arrested and soon deported if you are caught.

    The quickest way to piss off a Korean is to say that his/her culture resembles Japan's. And vice versa, but the Japanese won't reflexively disembowel you.

    I always found the Japanese very willing to help me, often pushing their reluctant children forward so they can practice their English. Actually, this gets annoying. Most people speak at least a little English so they can likely understand you if you speak slowly and let them chew on your words awhile before you expect them to answer. Usually, the result is for them to take you by the hand and show you where you want to go. This goes for rural areas too.

    Bring LOTS of money.
    Last edited by Cyclesafe; 12-03-11 at 03:05 PM. Reason: spelling

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lamabb View Post
    I was wondering if anyone had any experience or knowledge about how bicycle touring in Japan would be. I am looking at places for a summer 2012 tour, and Japan just seems amazing. The people, culture, architecture, landscape and overall vibe of the place seems cool.

    - How expensive would a plane ticket with bike cost?
    - could one stealth camp without a problem in the rural areas?
    - How expensive would the city's be to sleep?
    - I hear that the Japanese don't like American tourists a lot, is that true?

    Any and all info is appreciated.
    I am Japanese and I live in Japan. If you want, I could help you if you come to Japan (if you come near where I live). I only have one short touring experience, so I may not be much help, but I'll tell you what I know.


    -Plane tickets costs vary depending on season, but I am guessing around $1000 to $5000 (New York - Tokyo). It usually costs more around summer vacation or new year. It costs much less around March and October. Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but that's how it is.
    -stealth camping is not preferred in Japan in rural area such as park BUT if you go to police first and tell them the situation, it is very VERY unlikely that they will say no. Especially as a foreigner, I highly suggest no stealth camping.
    -I am not sure how expensive it is, but very cheap ones are from $40 to $80. I highly suggest "Rider House". It is like a super cheap motel but they usually give little/no food, usually no mattress and a lot of tourists use this place for one night and the reason for its name. Costs ranges from $0 to $15. (see below).
    -IT IS ABSOLUTELY FALSE THAT JAPANESE DON'T LIKE AMERICAN TOURISTS. Whoever spread that rumor is absolutely stupid and hates Japanese. Unless you act like a jerk, Japanese will likely help you if you ask for it.


    I live in Japan, Hokkaido. More specifically Sapporo City. I am a college student and I am also willing to tour next summer around Hokkaido. I very much recommend touring in Hokkaido than the Honshuu area. There are several reasons to this:
    -There are many Rider Houses in Hokkaido, much more than in any other area of Japan.
    -It isn't overly hot in summer.
    -Roads are wider than rest of the Japan roads.
    -Overall is considered one of the best places to tour in Japan.
    -I could help you.


    Reply if you have more questions. Also, like other people says, bring enough money.

  7. #7
    Doesn't ride enough Lamabb's Avatar
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    Even with all the negatives such as the airfare, I'm still interested in touring there. The thing is, I wouldn't want to fly all the way to japan and not visit the Honshuu area. I really would love to see some of the large cities such as Tokyo and Osaka since I've never been there before (even if it's only for a day or two while passing through).

    How hard would you say it is to find a place to pitch a tent? I understand it's not preferred, but I don't think I could afford the trip if I were to pay for housing every night. When I say "stealth camping" - I'm talking about finding a place when I'm in rural areas that's empty and I won't be noticed, like a large field or in the woods somewhere far from people.

    Maybe spending a week in the Honshuu cities before beginning the tour of Hokkaido would be a better idea, but I do like the idea of a cape to cape tour that traverses the length of the country. Any thoughts on this?

    @IFLUX23: I'm also a college student and I would love to talk more about the possibility of a tour. If you are interested in doing a tour this summer too, maybe we can plan one together. You can reply here or just email. Bryanberes@gmail.com

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    Senior Member zeppinger's Avatar
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    I have not toured there but have travled there a few times. It doesnt look like a big deal to stealth camp and even if "caught" in the act I dont think anyone would care and there really is not a lot of crime or violence there. There are a lot of national parks with very cheap camping fees so if you plan carefully you might not even have to stealth. In Korea you can sleep in the bath houses but I hear you can only do that in some of the Japanese ones. If you can find out which ones let you sleep there you would have a low cost hotel. If your on a tight budget though.... just come to Korea

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lamabb View Post
    Even with all the negatives such as the airfare, I'm still interested in touring there. The thing is, I wouldn't want to fly all the way to japan and not visit the Honshuu area. I really would love to see some of the large cities such as Tokyo and Osaka since I've never been there before (even if it's only for a day or two while passing through).

    How hard would you say it is to find a place to pitch a tent? I understand it's not preferred, but I don't think I could afford the trip if I were to pay for housing every night. When I say "stealth camping" - I'm talking about finding a place when I'm in rural areas that's empty and I won't be noticed, like a large field or in the woods somewhere far from people.

    Maybe spending a week in the Honshuu cities before beginning the tour of Hokkaido would be a better idea, but I do like the idea of a cape to cape tour that traverses the length of the country. Any thoughts on this?

    @IFLUX23: I'm also a college student and I would love to talk more about the possibility of a tour. If you are interested in doing a tour this summer too, maybe we can plan one together. You can reply here or just email. Bryanberes@gmail.com
    True. It is kinda waste not to tour the Honshu area with such pricey airfare. I lived in Tokyo before I went to Hokkaido (for college), I say it is extremely hard to find a place to "steal camp" in Tokyo unless you are far away from rural areas. Rural area in Tokyo is extremely crowded even at night, parks and such are very small, and police may tell you to leave in a place like that. Also, depending on areas of Tokyo, gangs hang around park at night. If you must stay in rural areas of Tokyo, then I suggest stepping into motel. If you really really need to stealth camp, then your best bet is to camp in non-rural area of Tokyo.
    Warning about motel. Do not confuse yourself with "love hotel" just because they are amazingly cheap. "Love Hotel" is a hotel for couple who wants to have sex.

    Rider Houses are usually in country side. And the numbers are limited in Honshu area. So most likely, you will have to camp, which I assume is fine with you.



    One suggestion I could make for you is to go to Osaka first then tour through Tokyo. Then you have two options here: 1) go to Yokohama in Kanagawa prefecture (next to Tokyo) and use ferry heading to Hokkaido. 2) tour north and go to the northern tip of Honshu area which there will also be Ferry (or Tunnel, but the Tunnel is extremely long and I heard it's not safe for tourists because of the speed in which car passes in a narrow road) and go to Hokkaido.

    Ferry is cheap...I think (I am not sure). The most realistic option is 1) I think. But it doesn't have to be Yokohama. You could use ferry from other area (if you want more Honshu touring).

    After you reach Hokkaido, you could come to Sapporo and I'll meet you there. There are relatively a lot of tourists in Hokkaido so people could understand your situation (especially since you are a foreigner).


    The problem I see here is the difference of summer vacation in Japan and USA. I think in USA summer vacation is from July to mid August (?). In Japan, my summer break begins in mid August to late September. Which means there are less chance of us meeting in sense of timing. That's why I suggested you that if you want to come to Hokkaido then it should be the last area you would tour, which would increase the chance of us meeting, but I don't like ordering people around just for my own convenience.

    If it may be difficult, it may be just better to forget about meeting. It's not like I have good experience in touring. I may just become a hindrance to you.

  10. #10
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    In the urban areas, just get a business hotel or something (its just a whole lot easier than searching for a place to hide). Otherwise, in the rural areas you should be able to make it from campsite to campsite without much trouble, last time I was there I went from Fukuyama (I've got a lot of relatives there, stayed for about a week) down to Shimonoseki, and then up north along the Japan sea side. Once past Shimonoseki, it was pretty easy to make it from campsite to campsite. (most expensive one I was at was 1000yen, most were cheap, around 300-500 yen, or even free)

    And regarding narrower roads compared to Hokkaido, I honestly felt a lot safer on even the really narrow roads than I ever did riding in some parts of the US, so your opinion of the roads in Japan might be a little different from other people's once you experience them. (Nobody threatening me, nobody throwing things at me, nobody trying to door me etc.) Just watch out for the gutters, I'd hate to fall into one of those things.

    What if you try doing something similar to what I did? South to north, or otherwise? You could tour through Hokkaido, and then go south on the less populated Japan sea side, and loop up and maybe stay in Tokyo for a few days before leaving?


    Oh, what kind of bike are you planning on using? I did it with a folder, rear rack and a backpack. Nice thing about the folder is I was able to keep the bike after, and I was able to jump on the train a couple times when it started storming. (Also got it on the shinkansen back to Tokyo.)
    Last edited by manapua_man; 12-09-11 at 10:44 AM.

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    Make sure you look at some of the travel agencies for deals from your area. If you can live with certain airlines and slight restrictions on departure/arrival/return you can get significant discounts on flights, especially now since a ton of families are forgoing trips post-earthquake. I've used IACE Travel and gotten good discounts vs what Kayak can pull up, parents have used Sankei Travel as well. I'm sure there's other agencies with discounts that you could look around for. I used the insane bike tariffs as an excuse to get a Bikefriday. I'm eyeing either spring or fall '12, visiting friends and family whilst both riding and occasionally cheating w/ public transit.

  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    For anyone living in Japan or who has visited Japan ... if you had a choice between cycling around the following two places, which would you choose:

    1) Nagoya/Osaka

    2) Sapporo

    We'll likely have about a week.

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