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Japan questions

Old 11-24-17, 05:53 PM
  #1  
MickeyKriza
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Japan questions

Hi everyone,

Iím leaving for Japan on Tuesday for two week tour. I have a couple of questions for anyone that may have done some riding there.

1) can anyone recommend an English friendly bike shop in Tokyo? I will need to have my bike botched up itís time to leave.

2) has anyone brought a bicycle onto the bullet train? I find some postings about it on various sites, but canít seem to get an answer to one basic question. That is, would I be OK if I made a bag large enough to contain mine tire bicycle with panniers without removing the wheels? Or is there some size restriction that I must adhere to?

3) has anyone written from Tokyo to Kyoto? If so what what route did you take? How long did it take you? Are there some good places to stay along the way?

I have so many questions for someone experienced in writing throughout Japan. Looking forward to hearing back from at least one of you. Thank you so much.
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Old 11-24-17, 08:46 PM
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gauvins
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We did ride Kyoto->Tokyo last Spring. Flew to Narita, biked out of the airport, took the Shinkansen to Kyoto and then rode to Tokyo.

I could give you some info if you'd like, but no real insights.

We spent two weeks. Best memories for me are certainly riding Mt. Fuji's perimeter. We'd hoped to camp but were limited to one stealth and one "normal" 9nortwest of Mt. Fuji) camping nights. AirBnb for the rest.

1) I don't know about bike shops. but there are certainly plenty. You may want to go to the Montbell store, short walking distance from the train station. they speak English and sell rinko bags (in which to carry your bikes).

2) I doubt very much that you'll be allowed to take your bike without removing the front wheel at the very least. Not only will it be difficult to pass the turnstiles, but I don't see how you'll be able to stow them in the train compartment. The best (only) place is behind the last row. One bike will fit, but wheels removed (too long otherwise). You should also try to avoid rush hours.

3) if you'd like, I could probably find a few details about our route.
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Old 11-24-17, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by MickeyKriza View Post
Hi everyone,

I’m leaving for Japan on Tuesday for two week tour. I have a couple of questions for anyone that may have done some riding there.

1) can anyone recommend an English friendly bike shop in Tokyo? I will need to have my bike botched up it’s time to leave.

2) has anyone brought a bicycle onto the bullet train? I find some postings about it on various sites, but can’t seem to get an answer to one basic question. That is, would I be OK if I made a bag large enough to contain mine tire bicycle with panniers without removing the wheels? Or is there some size restriction that I must adhere to?

3) has anyone written from Tokyo to Kyoto? If so what what route did you take? How long did it take you? Are there some good places to stay along the way?

I have so many questions for someone experienced in writing throughout Japan. Looking forward to hearing back from at least one of you. Thank you so much.
1- can't help you there, now that I think about it I always just switch over to Japanese when I'm in country.

2- You can do it pretty easily with a regular bicycle, unless it's an unusually large one. You'll need some variety of bike bag (rinko bukuro, tarp, whatever) that you can get at most bicycle shops or sporting goods stores. The shinkansen usually has a space at the rear of the car that can fit a bicycle. Reserved cars (more expensive) tend to be better for scoring one of those spots. I'd be surprised if your bicycle was small enough to get by without removing panniers and the front wheel at least. My folding MTB wouldn't be able to fit without pulling the front wheel, and panniers would be a no-go.

3- You could try doing the Tokaido or something. I've never done Tokyo-Kyoto in a direct way myself. As far as "places to stay", what exactly do you have in mind? You could just pack a change of clothes, bicycle bag, and tools and just haul ass from business hotel to business hotel.

Last edited by manapua_man; 11-24-17 at 09:37 PM.
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Old 11-24-17, 11:58 PM
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Originally Posted by MickeyKriza View Post
Hi everyone,

Iím leaving for Japan on Tuesday for two week tour. I have a couple of questions for anyone that may have done some riding there.

1) can anyone recommend an English friendly bike shop in Tokyo? I will need to have my bike botched up itís time to leave.

2) has anyone brought a bicycle onto the bullet train? I find some postings about it on various sites, but canít seem to get an answer to one basic question. That is, would I be OK if I made a bag large enough to contain mine tire bicycle with panniers without removing the wheels? Or is there some size restriction that I must adhere to?

3) has anyone written from Tokyo to Kyoto? If so what what route did you take? How long did it take you? Are there some good places to stay along the way?

I have so many questions for someone experienced in writing throughout Japan. Looking forward to hearing back from at least one of you. Thank you so much.
I have done a lot of touring and traveling in Japan, so I think I can help you out.

1) I speak a decent amount of Japanese, so I haven't had to rely on English at bike shops, but in saying that, don't worry to much about the language barrier. Most bicycle words are the same in both English and Japanese (Hub = Hubu, Spoke = Supoku, tyre = taiya, ect. But I guess you want a specific bike shop, then I recommend one of the largest Y's Road in Shinjuku, its massive, they will have what ever spares you need, from Dura Ace Di2 to TUBUS racks, they have it all.

2) Taking a bike on the Shinkansen (bullet train), the short answer is yes the do have size restrictions, and yes you bike does need to be in a bag, normally you have to remove BOTH wheels from the bike to make the bag small enough, although I have seen a couple of people get away with leaving the rear wheel on for compact road bikes. So no you are not allowed to take the bike on-board with the wheels fitted... however in Japan many people from platform attendants to policeman try to avoid speaking to foreigners, as they don't want to embarrasses themselves by trying to speak English, so you may get lucky and not be stopped, but if I was a betting man though, I would almost guarantee that you will be denied entry to the train, with a bike bag as big as a assembled bike.

3) yes I have travel by bike from Tokyo to Kyoto a couple of times, the most recent being in September. I followed route 1, although you will have to deviate from the road a lot, since there are many sections bicycles are not allowed on, they always have a foot path or side road that you can turn on to though, that goes in the same direction. The only places where you might have trouble is route 1 immediately south of Hamamatsu, I found it very difficult to find the bicycle/pedestrian path entrance, I actually had to get a policeman to show me where the entrance was (its in-between the fishing docks and the railway line, under route 1's over-pass)
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Old 11-27-17, 02:29 AM
  #5  
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First of all: I'm jealous!

regarding your questions:
1) we speak a tiny amount of Japanese, but, good will, smiles and hands do the trick most of the time.
Japanese people (like most people for that matter) try to help other people enjoy their country, so don't sweat it too much.
2) we didn't take our bikes on trains, so no help from us here, but we heard it can be difficult.
3) We cycled from Kyoto to Tokyo, you can see our trip (Kyoto to tokyo is day 15 through to day 29) here: 2017 Japan dag 15 - Jut en Jul op reis (in Dutch, but google translate should help). The route we took more or less 'Length of Japan' can be found here: Length of Japan : Japan Cycling Route Network (or in less detail on the start pages of out Japan trip).

If you have any questions: don't hesitate to ask.

Last edited by jurjan; 11-27-17 at 07:27 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 11-27-17, 06:00 AM
  #6  
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I live in Japan.

You can take your bike on ANY train but you must remove the front wheel ONLY. And you will have to carry your panniers. You can buy a bike bag in most good bike stores. The bike bag can be used as a ground sheet for relaxing or camping.

I would not ride from Tokyo to Kyoto. What a waste of precious days. Major roads here are ugly and crowded. Take the train and get off before Kyoto and ride around Lake Biwa. Then after Kyoto ride to Nara, which I think is actually nicer. I would keep going south because the Kii peninsula is very nice.

You may want to check out some of my touring videos. They may give you some good ideas for destinations.

https://www.youtube.com/user/waddo

Finally, I am absolutely not trying to drum up business; but we do Airbnb if you want to have help with bike stuff etc.
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Old 11-27-17, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by waddo View Post
I would not ride from Tokyo to Kyoto. What a waste of precious days. Major roads here are ugly and crowded. Take the train and get off before Kyoto and ride around Lake Biwa. Then after Kyoto ride to Nara, which I think is actually nicer. I would keep going south because the Kii peninsula is very nice.

You may want to check out some of my touring videos. They may give you some good ideas for destinations.

https://www.youtube.com/user/waddo
Great videos. Really liked the one around Lake Biwa. Surprised to see that you apparently were able to camp regularly.

I have mixed feelings about the idea of riding Tokyo -> Kyoto. On the one hand, you are right to say that many segments are ugly. OTOH, this is true Japan.

Life is too short.
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Old 11-27-17, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Great videos. Really liked the one around Lake Biwa. Surprised to see that you apparently were able to camp regularly.

I have mixed feelings about the idea of riding Tokyo -> Kyoto. On the one hand, you are right to say that many segments are ugly. OTOH, this is true Japan.

Life is too short.
Yes, but you are talking about days and days of riding that have very little to offer beyond giant trucks passing 10cm beside you. Those days could be used somewhere much more rewarding.

Also the places we camp are preplanned. I personally use Google Earth, not maps, for planning. You can click on photos taken in many locations for site seeing as well as camping options. If you are planning to camp, be aware that Kyoto and Nara sit in a bowl formed of surrounding mountains. They are particularly hot in summer and cold in winter. Everywhere now is close to zero at night.
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Old 11-27-17, 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by MickeyKriza View Post
1) can anyone recommend an English friendly bike shop in Tokyo? I will need to have my bike botched up it’s time to leave.
Sorry I saw that line and laughed. I am sure you don't need a bike shop to get your bike botched

Anyway I cannot contribute much though I do have a friend who is an ex-translator who lived in Japan for a while many years but he wasn't much of a cyclist so probably not a whole ton of help. I would say maybe have a few useful Japanese phrases handy just in case but it seems like a lot of bigger shops seem to be English compatible in some sense I know a lot of American companies and builders have gone over there in recent times to do rad bike stuff like Chris King and Surly... Though bet with some crappy Japanese or crude drawings and some beer you will get what you need done. Beer tends to be a good international language amongst many mechanics either that or homemade treats.

Also have a really great time and maybe make a post when you get back.
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Old 11-27-17, 10:03 PM
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Originally Posted by waddo View Post
Yes, but you are talking about days and days of riding that have very little to offer beyond giant trucks passing 10cm beside you.
That's a pretty big exaggeration there.

Having done a *lot* of riding in Japan, even in metro areas you'd have to actively *try* to follow roads with trucks in order to pull that off.

Another thing to consider is that your sense of aesthetics are not everyone else's. The "urban wasteland" portions of Japan are hardly the ugliest thing in the world IMHO, and they *are* Japan and worth experiencing for anyone who hasn't lived there.

Last edited by manapua_man; 11-28-17 at 11:38 AM.
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Old 11-28-17, 09:13 AM
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May depend on how you select the specific route. We did Kyoto->Tokyo this past May and used bRouter (LocusPro/Android add-on) to pick the route. Very good in general -- lots of backroads riding in the midst of rice paddies, tea farms etc. Quiet mountain roads, a few miles along a beach, great ride around Mt. Fuji, etc.

True, many miles of urban wasteland. But we never felt unsafe.

A few additional observations. (1) For foreigners looking to get acquainted to a new place, scenery may not be a deal-breaker. We sure liked it when the ride was scenic, but we were also fascinated by urban Japan. And I do not mean downtown Tokyo, but rather to the fact that Japan is very densely populated and we didn't mind traveling through parts that aren't easy on the eye. Certainly different if you are familiar with a region and want to enjoy the scenery. (2) I cannot over-emphasize the importance of a good routing/navigation software. We were able to ride to/through Tokyo without any problem, mostly on dedicated bike paths in Tokyo's core. It would have been impossible using a paper-based system or relying on road signs. Even locating hotels or AirBnb hosts would have been a major challenge.
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Old 11-30-17, 06:07 AM
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I couldn't agree more with Gauvins, Japan is very scenic, but fascinating in it's urban settings as well.

And in our experience the Japanese drivers are very courteous, trying to give you as much space as possible.
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