I'm planning a trip next year. I'm just starting my research. Reading books, websites, forums etc, looking you tube.
Have you been? Do you have a blog? or could recommend one? or a you tube video. (I saw a nice one the other night by three guys) Got any ideas to share. Places you loved? Difficulties i might come across too and how to handle them?
I will be on a low budget and will try to camp a lot in addition to some warm showers. I want to save my cash for food and museums and fab cultural experiences as much as possible.
I'm an experienced solo cycling tourist - been India several times, France, outback australia.
My interests - visiting a monastery and maybe doing some meditation in a zendo. checking out some great pottery, looking at temples, nature, food, sake, cherry blossoms. Japanese gardens.
Hi, I've been to Japan last fall and spring, it's great. I don't know how long you'll be there and what dates, but it could be very nice to follow the cherry blossom from south to north. There is tons of options to do.
You can easily camp anywhere in Japan, even bigger towns in the parks. Just stay off people's property.
In spring, it could be quite cold in the north (hokkaido) or even in the mountains west and north of Tokyo. I was south of Tokyo last spring mostly, and really enjoyed the Kyushu and Shikoku. Very nice scenery and great sights.
During the cherry blossoms, it's an awesome time to meet the people in the parks and socialize. The bad thing is that the Kansai region (Kyoto and around) is completely jam-pack and it can be very hard to find accommodation there.
It's great to cycle there in spring too, as there is a lot of fruit and veggies to buy from the farmers in the countryside, and cheaper then usual.
I really recommend learning some japanese, as people don't speak much english. It's actually not that hard to get some basics, and pronunciation is easy enough. I really recommend the app 'Human Japanese' on phone and tablets. You can try it for free. It helped me a lot.
Ferries in Japan are the easiest way to travel with your bike. They run between islands but also along the coasts. Train is somehow possible but not that easy with a touring bike.
Expect quite a bit of traffic in Japan, but friendly.
I've got a blog here:
but I don't write in a lot of details so I don't think it's so helpful.
Anyway, if you have any questions, just let mw know.
Hi jean .many thanks for your all recommended epically about Japanese language.
Thanks for your insights. About the ferries. Do you know if it would be possible to take a ferry from the south of shikoku to takamatsu. I want to get from a to b quickly here but didn't think the ferries connected coastal spots except for very long distances. All my research has shown me its only island hopping and big coastal routes. But if you can tell me otherwise that would be good. Perhaps its something i should look into further when i'm there before being to quick to jump on a train.
Anyway i do plan to take the odd train.
As for learning japanese, i've been studying from a couple of books. A great one has been Japanese made easy published by Tuttle and also using the memrise website where i hve turned it inot a course for touring cyclists. But there are other courses too. Its just that the course i put up has more targeted vocabulary. Not so much on pronounciation because people can pick that up on the other courses etc. And other reasons.
I know you don't need all this info but it might be useful to someone else reading this.
I don't carry a phone or tablet.
In the end i decided against camping in city parks and booked my accommodation. I figured i could use a break from camping when i'm in town.
Thanks so much. I especially value the tip about the ferries because i've heard about the trains and i will probably need to use some form of other transport to get back to the airport at sometime.
I also found a wonderful japan cycling blog.
But always happy to hear more tips and ideas from anyone.
I don't as yet have a phone so apps are out and i don't think i can afford to get one either so will have to do some language learning. Actually i like doing it when i'm on the road with a book course. But will have to give this more thought anyway.
I can't believe the things i'm learning about how wonderful japan is for cycling. I really had no idea.
Hi, I am also planning a trip to Japan next spring. Does anyone know if it is possible to cycle out Chubu (Nagoya) airport? I know it is impossible at Osaka airport because there is only a highway but possible out of Narita (Tokyo).
Hi Celine, I don't know about Nagoya airport. Are you planning to land there because you can't ride out of Kansai?
I've been looking at the Kansai situation today. And i've just about decided to take a ferry to Kobe which would lead me straight on to Shikoku (via another ferry probably). I haven't yet found out if i can take the bike on the ferry but i hope so. I got the information off the cycling navigation website and using googleearth and google. I can see the ferry lines. The ferry prices seem reasonable.
Where are you from? And have you figured out any extent of your route yet?
I'mi thinking of doing shikoku, a number of places along the inland sea, kyoto, and a few on that eastern side of kyoto, then heading up to central honshu area and hopefully over to the alpsm kanazawa and i think i'd like to get up to nikko as well. Hakone and Nagoya. I haven't yet figured out what i will be able to fit in in the two months i'll have. I've just figured out what seems interesting in a rough area.
Thank you for your answer. Yes one of the reason I planned to land at Nagoya is because
it's not possible to cycle out of Kansai but also because I wanted to finish with the Japan Alps and it is convenient then to go back to Nagoya.
I hadn't realise there was a ferry out of Kansai. It may be an answer. I checked the web site and as it is not a regular ferry but a speed boat it is still not sure.
Roughly my plans are to land in Nagoya, head toward Kyoto, then Nara and Koya-san and take a ferry to Shikoku at Wakayama, spend may be 3 weeks on Shikoku then from Takamatsu visit the islands of Naoshima and Shodoshima, cross to Himeji and head to the Alps maybe along Biwa lake. Just like you I'm not sure I can fit all that in 2 months. I also want to be open to opportunities.
I have done backpacking and cycling trips on my own. This time I will be with a girlfriend. I am from Montreal. What about you?
Please let me know if you find information about the ferry.
We are doing very similar things and we will probably cross paths along the way. I am cycling alone but have done a few trips before. Last year i was in France, before that india twice and outback australia 3 times.
I may have to look at nagoya but cost is a big factor for me so if it turns out that i can't get the kobe ferry i will have to think about alternatives even taking the train or whatever.
In addition to the places you mention, i want to go down to miyajima and hiroshima, okahama etc. and then in the north i had hoped to also go to nikko, kanazawa, and hakone. I am defiantly doing kanazawa but nikko and for hakone may have to be skipped if time is an issue. Its early days for planning the route so i am still adding all in and then i'll come back to weeding out.
Also near naoshima is another little island called teshima. Have a look at the web pictures for teshima art museum. I was blown away by this building and want to go there to experience it. I hope its not going to be full of stuff. I hope to experience it as an empty shell, though no doubt there will be art in it somewhere.
I saw the ferry boat to kobe but haven't yet enquired if bikes are allowed or not. I thought there might also be another ferry perhaps. I think i will ask about it on the cycle navigation website. I should do it now!!
What is this cycle navigation web site?
I bet you've already found it. I think i have cycling navigator as the wordage in my favourites list, hence why i call it that.
Nagoya isn't an option for me. No direct flights there.
Also in case you decided you want to use a train at some point, there is a link on that site which talks about ringko which is putting the bike in a bag. They have a link about making your own gingko with a plastic sheet.
And i found a photo of three guys who'd done just that. … http://www.unframedworld.com/japan-by-bicycle/ you can find it on page 35 of this ebook. check out their you tube video. Its a nice watch.
Also have you read the dutch cycling girl's blog. Its great. http://cyclingdutchgirl.com/2013/06/27/avoiding-bears-finding-beers-and-going-bare/
Sorry i don't know how to make these links active. If you know, please tell me.
The road out of the airport is a tollway so no bicycles allowed, jump on the Meitetsu train from the airport to a nearby station then unpack from there and then ride. Traffic on the bayside can be very heavy after leaving the airport. Good luck, I am in Japan from late February to mid May this is cycling trip number 4 in Japan.
Where are you going this time Paul?
I've resolved my itinerary. I'm flying directly out of the airport now.
Andrea, fly into Tokyo 23 February stay 9 nights then I'll make my way to Osaka, then a ferry to southern Kyushu. Cycle through Kyushu then onto Tottori via Yamaguchi then somewhere along the make a right turn to Kyoto/Osaka. Depending on time I may jump on a train and go north to Aomori and cycle back to Tokyo. Keep in touch and let me know how your trip goes. It will be very cold there now been some amazing storms that normally don't come till February.
I used the Japanese Atlas called Mapple. They also have apps that work with most smart phones. I don't have a blog but would be up for talking about my time there.
If typing is to much 'm always down for a good old fashion phone call!
Hi Robert. Thanks for your message.
How did you find the mapple. I just had a message from a cycle tourist i know who is over there now. He doesn't like the mapple very much. His it not bilingual. Did you have the bilingual one and did you like it?
I would do a skype call to a landline but or computer but not to a mobile phone. My skype address is passionfelt. Maybe we can arrange a chat soon. Today isn't suitable for me because i have to go out soon though. Which country are you in? I'm in Australia.
Andrea , I have been touring in Japan for some years now. https://www.flickr.com/photos/23389166@N07/ this is the link to my Flickr site it covers some of the places that you would like to go to. If you want to get in touch with me , do it via warmshowers and I'll give you an email address and send me your questions and I'll try to answer as much as possible. Also check out the Facebook site " Biking,Hiking and Friends in Japan" I am one of the mediators and lots of people are using the site to pick up info on Japan. http://davidonizuka1.wix.com/cyclingthroughjapan this is the blog of a guy ,who is a friend, we met in Japan this spring gone by, he was going north and I was doing an anti clockwise tour through central Honshu (this was my third cycle trip and seventh overall ).
Thanks for that Paul. I will chase your offer up with questions, but not tonight as i'm a bit worn out.
I think yesterday i ordered some learn japanese books and audio from amazon so that was exciting. I guess by now you must have learnt a bit of the language. If i can make myself do the work, then this will be a considerable weight off my mind because i know much easier it is when you can communicate a little bit with the natives.
Ah a question just formed in my mind then. Its about buying bike suitable clothing in Japan. I will give the details later though. I was reading a blog from a couple who, on riding up to the alps from Gifu in May, discovered their gear was inadequate when they got stuck in rain. They seemed to find a very nice rain jacket but who knows how much they had to pay for it. Anyway… don't worry about it now.
A quick one, I can't find the Facebook page you mention. Could you please give me a link. on the other hand, maybe i have to email you from this site. i'll do that now.
Sorry, wrong wording. Bicycle Touring,hiking and friends in japan.
I rode through Japan this Autumn and it was great. I lived there for a year a while back as well and Spring should be an awesome time to visit too.
I would really recommend Shikoku, which it sounds like you are going to do already. If you have time I would recommend doing the 88 temples pilgrimage while you are there. It is a really great way to see the island and can be done in around three weeks on the bicycle.
Shikoku is also great as it is not as busy as a lot of the rest of the island, so the narrow roads are less of an issue.
There is only one bridge (well series of bridges) from Honshu to Shikoku open to cyclists which runs from onomichi to Imabari and it is called the Shimanami Kaido. It is an experience in itself.
My blog for the Japan sections is: http://ridinground.com/category/countries/japan/
If you are interested in monasteries and so forth a visit to Koyasan would probably be worth while. There are a lot of monasteries/temples up there that you can stay up and it is well worth a visit if you don't mind a bit of a climb.
Thanks adam, i will check out your blog as i'm curious to see what that temple route might look like. So far i haven't picked up on anything at all to entice me so maybe your blog will do it. But it will have to be for another time as you will see from below that my route for this trip is now pretty much done.
For the record my itinerary has now been resolved as follows:
After much research and consideration this is what i've settled on:
The route has been worked out to minimise the amount of time spent riding through city areas, get to see enough cherry blossoms, and other sites that interest me, as well take a look at the japanese alps.
Arrive osaka, fly with peach to fukuoka.
Ride to nagasaki, via the cute looking little penninsula hoping for quieter and more rural roads and a bit of pretty coastline.
head across to kumamoto, on to Mt Aso, Down to the famous gorge and another famous shrine i think nearby. I would like to go up to yakui (the other famous onsen town) but its pushing my time limits a lot,
and then head towards a ferry. If i don't get to yakui, visit beppu instead.
The ferry would take me either to the funky little peninsula at the bottom of shikoku or directly to the town nearby where the train goes from.
Catch the train to takamatsu,
ferry to naoshima
ferry to teshima
ferry to shadoshima
ferry to himeiji to see the castle which will have just reopened and i expect will be chokkers with every child in japan.
ride over to kyoto arriving near where the moss garden is which i hope to visit.
ride over to Nara and hang out there for three days.
ride back to kyoto on the bike track, and hang out there for five days during cherry blossom time
train to gifu
ride up to takayama
ride to shirakawa-go, then on to ainokuro
ride on to Kanazawa spend about three nights there
ride around the noto penninsula
and then up to joetsu, take short train trips if i have to to save time crossing the city areas
train up to nikko
ride from nikko to nagoya via the shortest but quietest route which will bring me on to the nakasendo highway and down past magome and tsumago.
train to kyoto from Nagoya
spend a couple more days.
train to osaka airport
Originally i was going to visit osaka first and then head down to Mount koyasan and then down to the bottom of the kii penninsula before coasting it back to wakayama and on to tokoshima nad takamatsu but though that my route might be just a tad too cold and wet and decided it might be smarter to go to kyushu instead.
I've booked all my accomodation in the cities because i couldn't find any warm showers in these locations. Other times i will camp out.
I'm taking the train whereever i can to avoid the urban stuff.
I'm making my own rinku bag from weed mat.
I'm learning japanese so i can communicate my needs to the locals as much as possible.
I've got what looks like a nice road atlas from shobunshu which has a scale of 1: 250 000 and forced me to go buy a new pair of reading glasses so that i can actually read it.
If anyone has any other ideas of preparation i can do to make my trip better please make suggestions. If there's any nice spots along my route that you think it worthwhile to see, please mention.
If there's any less than obvious tips and things i need ot know, please feel free to suggest.
If there's something you liked a lot of didn't like a lot in kyoto please suggest. I haven't yet done all my kyoto research.
Regretfully with this itinerary i can't really get to see osaka and mount koyasan which were high priorities but don't fit with the demands of this new plan.
which month were you doing the 88 temple trip. I'd like to read that blog. I generally find blogs hard to navigate so a link would be helpful or at least tell me which month to look in if don't mind.
I did it in October which was a pretty good month I would say.
This link should give you my pilgrimage posts:http://ridinground.com/category/countries/japan/shikoku-pilgrimage/
This guy has a good blog and a good map with all the temples pinned: http://thecanty.blogspot.com/2009/04/cycle-trippilgrimage-around-88-temples.html
Thanks Adam, i started reading your blog yesterday. I found the 88 temple part. for some reason i hadn't realised it was part of this trip that you linked to.
I think you were pretty crazy and lucky to be out riding when a typhoon was threatening. It would have been a nightmare if you'd been camping and it hit the island. Or is there something i 'm missing.
Reading it reminded me of the episode of Death in Paradaise that i'd just watched on Saturday when the British Police Chief thought because he'd survived the 1987 storm in Britain that there could be nothing worse. I am assuming you are british. Anyway like you, the hurricane missed the island and he was fine. lol.
This is our group of cycling touring in Japan:
Paul Evans, David are administrators, and there are over 800 long distance cyclists and friends from all over the world, please take a look. It could be great if you can join and share your experiences with us.
You'll find a lot of useful information, tips and friends in our group.
Have a safe trip and I hope to see you in Tokyo soon.
Oh, sorry I saw that you are already in our group! lol
See you soon!