A little cycling holiday in JAPAN

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A little cycling holiday in JAPAN

Postby RetroPilot » Thu Feb 26, 2009 9:24 am

I'm planning a trip next few months to Japan, mainly tokyo, just hang out and see a few museums cruise a few markets etc, go to the Yasukuni shrine which as always interested me, and casully for last few months Ive been doing some homework on it, including the Japan-guide site and kancycling sites, a fair bit of info regarding bike bags, trains, and general cycling conditions in Japan, but some of it is also conflicting.

any up to date new info from recent visitors to Japan who used a bike ?
updates on boxed bikes on the airlines getting there, luggage allowances etc?

Im planning to basically mainly hang around Tokyo, but do a few trips via train and bike to otber centres such as Hiroshima.
Still tossing up whether to buy a weeks JR Pass.

Some people describe Japan tokyo in particular as a non bike friendly environment, which surprises me as bike numbers are far greater than here, salarymen in suits bike to work, but this also makes me wonder about what kind of bike to take ( or if to take one at all) as if a lot of travelling is done on footpaths alongside pedestrians, then an MTB works far better low speed control etc, than a road bike.
Taking a bike some people describe as taking coal to Newcastle, but bikes from a shop actually seem dear in Japan, especially racers/roadbikes, a lot of yen even for entry level bikes.
there are so many bikes abandoned, no doubt if you know the ropes one can be scrounged cheap, but perhaps only a Mamachari the most common kind, useless for travelling even longer rides across town.

One comment I see also says you will get "smoked" by drivers coming out of driveways such as filling stations like maniacs. I expected Jap drivers to be far less chaotic and more bike aware than this.

Comment on these issues?

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Postby twowheels » Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:12 pm

bikes in japan tend to be utilitarian, not recreational. Purchased cheap & heavy from supermarket. Ride from home to train station bike parking, bikes not allowed on commuter trains, too crowded, then pick up bike from train station parking to ride to work.

If you took a mamachari to japan definitely coals to newcastle, mountain bike or racer could be quite unusual & desired. don't believe the hype, stuff gets stolen in japan, the more bling your bike the bigger the risk.

how about doing as the locals do, buy el cheapo at each major place you go over there, donate to the local buddhist temples before you leave.

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Postby RetroPilot » Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:36 pm

No, I was never talking about taking a MamaChari TO Japan, the context I mentioned those was, take a bike in, vs buy in shop/scrounge 2nd hand / hire one there, if so maybe wind up with something like a Mamachari.

No, I was never talking about choosing a Mamachari to take in, that would be the worst of both worlds- the extra hassle of packing your own bike, combined with a quaint but undynamic bike anyway.

No the kinds of bikes up for going in with me would be along lines of what I punt here, here, which is local retro 27" racers/Shogun 18sp 26" MTB/Shogun 700x35 21sp Hybrid.

Yes, I know there is theft there even though the place is far lower street crime than Australia, apparently gangs do knock off valuable bikes certainly.

What Ive read about bikes on Jpn trains, is that:
1.must be Baggu-ed(put in bike bag, wheels off) sometimes an additional train bike fare applies technically but is rarely enforced .
2.the common sense consideration of avoiding peak hour trains.
That applies in Melbourne as well, you cant get on an outbound City to Pakenham line train with a bike from 3-6 pm...even though it is not against Connex rules technically, its a physical impossibility, theyd lynch you if you tried to force your way onto a carriage with a bike in morning or evening peak.

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Postby RetroPilot » Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:38 pm

Actually even getting a Mamachari here is not easy, Ive never even seen one for sale on ebay, I actually know someone who wants one.

But no, was never going to lug a lump of slow iron like that TO Japan.

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Re: A little cycling holiday in JAPAN

Postby tourdottk » Mon Apr 27, 2009 3:09 pm

Don't know id you have left yet or not, but for what it is worth: Japan is an amazing place to cycle!

Firstly, you need to get away from the major cities for all the fun and cycling out of Tokyo is a bit of a nightmare, if not for the traffic but the amount of traffic lights. But once you are out..... :D

The beauty is you can camp wild everywhere (yes it is true!) and food is cheap, fresh and high quality in the supermarkets, so you have an inexpensive freedom that you wouldn't expect from a modern country. Other Accomodation is expensive.

Bike touring is unusual in Japan for sure, but in general they treat you okay on the road. (major highways excluded) In fact they will be overly cautious at times and irritatingly sit behind you. Like to run red lights though so beware and don't take off too soon. There are bike paths all over the place, but they are more often than not a narrow dodgey footpath and not particulary comfortable for cycling with a loaded bike on. We used the road a lot. The bike lanes tend to swap sides of the roads as well, without warning, which is dead weird!

The terrain is gruelling in parts with amazingly steep inclines, but there is some great scenery adn out of the way places. As far as the cities were concerned I didn't think they were much chop but Hiroshima is a defenite must visit. People are friendly, though shy. If you speak a few words of Japanese you'll get far.

Travelling with a bike depends on the airline: check their website. It's bound to have the flying regs in black and white.


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Re: A little cycling holiday in JAPAN

Postby RetroPilot » Mon Apr 27, 2009 3:56 pm

thanks for that...I hadnt left yet, in fact, I had become a bit daunted by Japan as a first time cycle travel experience for one with little international experience and no little helper at the other end to help.

Id switched my interest-for now- to North Africa/Middle East, Morocco-tunisia-Israel Jordan.

also considering RTW ticket.

Carrying a bike anywhere is either going to be a huge undertaking, or else re-embarking it after the first stop will be.

Ive found out about Qantas bike boxes etc and that sounds quite good.

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