Has anybody got any advice about cycling in japan, we have 4 weeks in October. Will it be too cold to cycle? Where are some good places to go? Should we take camping gear?
Cycling in Japan in October
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水, 2010-08-18 11:14#1
Cycling in Japan in October
As a touring cyclist who also lived in Japan for a couple of years, I should have some specific suggestions. However, sadly, I can only give you my impressions, not based on experience. First, I have never seen touring cyclist in Japan, even though I have traveled all over the islands. Bikes are used heavily for local errands through out Japan. But long distance touring is another story.
I think there are three factors you need to keep in mind as you plan your trip.
First, the country side is absolutely beautiful but is intersected by large, steep mountain ranges. Further, the roads in these ranges often deadend and do not reconnect with main roads or towns.
Second, with so many mountains, there are many tunnels and most do not have a space for bicycles. You will be sharing the road with some high speed car traffic. And cars will not be expecting you to be there.
Third, signs outside of major cities are in Japanese only. So it will be difficult to find you way with the ability to translate. (Maybe you read Japanese or Chinese,)
That said, I would recommend checking out these areas:
Kanazawa to Wajima along the coastal road. This area is full of ancient temples hidden forested valleys along the ocean. This is one of the closest spots to Korea and the way many early buddhist teacher arrived in Japan. I have often wanted to ride this.
The Ono valley, which ends a Fukui. If you go up that valley, be sure to stop at Hokiyoji, a 13th Century temple in the cedar forests. (Its on the road over the mountain.)
I have never seen camping in Japan, though I can't swear that it doesn't exist. There are many temples which take over-night guest for a few dollars donation.
One of the great over-looked resources in Japan is the ability to send a package between two places overnight. That is why you don't see Japanese lugging heavy suitcases. They just send them separately. The service is amazingly efficient and reliable.
Have a great trip. Please post your experience so that I might be encouraged to try it.
Hello, we cycled toured in Japan last year in Novemeber/December and it was indeed getting a bit cold, but October... perfect. You'll be there in time for the autumn colours which are lovley and it shouldn't be too cold at all, though take layers and waterproofs. Just in case you find that its raining quite a bit and you need to warm through then look out for the symbols for 'onsen' on your road map or even at the side of the road, the symbol is like a circle with steam vapours coming off the top and the onsen, natural hot spring spas, are cycle tourist heaven. Go in, scrub down and then soak in warm water for as long as you like.
We bought a road atlas while we were there, it was in Japanese but it means you can compare characters if needs be, if you ask around you will find a young japanese person who can speak english and will translate what the symbols in the key mean (we had to do this as we were already on the road).
Paul's right, you won't be able to read the road signs which is a bit of a blow if you cycle to the top of a pass only to discover that all those signs you'd been ignoring where actually saying 'road closed due to landslide' but if in doubt ask someone or just go with it (this did happen to us but we got through anway).
Don't let the traffic put you off, the drivers are really polite and respectful and in cities there are bikes everywhere. Like Paul says though there are lots of tunnels, they love a good bit of engineering, so make sure you have reflective gear/lights so people can see you in there.
Do take camping gear, we camped everywhere except in cities and it was always fine. It is hilly but very beautiful and the roads are great. Worst bit was crossing Nagoya as it was flat and industrial but we just put our heads down, went through in a day and got to the foothils of the alps an on to Mt Fuji so was worth it, had we not been at risk of ice on passes we would have headed to hills(if its flat in Japan its industrial so head for the hills).
We have blog posts about riding in Japan here if you want to read more...
Hi Folks. All that has been said above is true, and although Japan looks like you can bicyle it in a day, you can't.
When cycling in Japan, you will find more people speaking English than you ever though of, and willing to help you.
Here is probably one of the best web sites, www.kancycling.com A TON OF INFORMATION covering the nuts and bolts , maps, direction, pictures,bicycle rental. He has a few links in Japanese, but look in the right hand corner of the web page for the English button.