Cheap Flights to Japan

Trevtassie
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Cheap Flights to Japan

Postby Trevtassie » Thu May 03, 2018 12:15 pm

I dunno what's going on, but flights to Japan on JAL are really cheap at the moment for July August. Like $845 return MEL to Tokyo. JAL aren't too bad luggage wise, two bags at 23kg each, so plenty of scope for bikes and panniers. Looks like there is a USD$100 charge for bike boxes though...
I could see a nice tour, fly to Narita, whack your bike together, spend a day or so riding to Oarai and catch the evening ferry to Tomakomai in Hokkaido for about $120, there is some superb riding from there, especially around Lake Shikotsu and Toya. Mostly free camping and cheap food and beer!

BugsBunny
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Re: Cheap Flights to Japan

Postby BugsBunny » Thu May 03, 2018 5:21 pm

I'm heading to Hokkaido in August too (via Hong Kong) and probably gonna bring the bike along for some rides. Any ideas on where I can get some info on some nice routes?

Trevtassie
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Re: Cheap Flights to Japan

Postby Trevtassie » Thu May 03, 2018 11:01 pm

BugsBunny wrote:I'm heading to Hokkaido in August too (via Hong Kong) and probably gonna bring the bike along for some rides. Any ideas on where I can get some info on some nice routes?

To be honest, pretty well anywhere in Hokkaido is nice, except for the flat bit north of Sapporo. Out of Sapporo there are some great bike paths towards Chitose and then up to Lake Shikotsu. The ride through from Lake Shikotsu to Lake Toya on the 276 and 453 is awesome. There's even a really nice bike path not marked on any map running along a fair bit of the 453. There are bike paths everywhere, but no easy maps to find them... best bet is to buy the Touring Mapple for Hokkaido and look for small dashed green lines. I keep going on about the bike paths because most of them are more like mini highways, and there's nobody on them.
There is some good info here http://www.japancycling.org/v2/cguide/part3/ and this facebook group is pretty good https://www.facebook.com/groups/968300389915651/
Most of the roads have massive verges and extremely polite drivers and there are convenience stores everywhere. It's bike touring Nirvana.

BugsBunny
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Re: Cheap Flights to Japan

Postby BugsBunny » Fri May 04, 2018 11:50 am

Thanks mate.

I've ridden three times in Japan before (Aomori, Fukuoka and Kyoto) and indeed its just flat out awesome. Looking forward to Hokkaido.

That FB site seems to have heaps of useful info too so will delve a little deeper there.

Cheers!

Bugs

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Re: Cheap Flights to Japan

Postby brumby33 » Fri May 04, 2018 1:58 pm

Another awesome facebook group started by a Canberrian (ACT) Paul Evans gives you stacks of info in bicycle Touring in Japan which incidently is the name of the Facebook group.
He has done a lof of great work on this site that you might find very valuable.
Check it out!!

Cheers

brumby33
"ya gotta hold ya mouth right"

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Thoglette
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Re: Cheap Flights to Japan

Postby Thoglette » Fri May 04, 2018 5:33 pm

While some denizens of this forum go into anaphylaxis at the mere mention of his name, Jan Heine regularly posts reports of cycle trips in Japan.

His are usually one-night or sub-24 pass hunts utilising a train trip from Tokyo to get to the start of the ride and then home again.

E.g. Return to Utsukushigahara or Weekend Trip to the Mountains

They're worth reading just for the photos. But from your perspective the comments usually contain some gems about the details
Stop handing them the stick! - Dave Moulton
"People are worthy of respect, ideas are not." Peter Ellerton, UQ

Trevtassie
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Re: Cheap Flights to Japan

Postby Trevtassie » Sat May 05, 2018 12:18 am

BugsBunny wrote:Thanks mate.

I've ridden three times in Japan before (Aomori, Fukuoka and Kyoto) and indeed its just flat out awesome. Looking forward to Hokkaido.

That FB site seems to have heaps of useful info too so will delve a little deeper there.

Cheers!

Bugs


Not sure about Fukuoka, but we've ridden from Kyoto to Hokkaido via Aomori and Hokkaido kicks the mainland's butt in terms of scenic touring. Not so much in terms of big hills...
There are few nice bits on the mainland, like the coast from Tsuruga up to Kaga, the Noto Penninsula and Sado Island but the rest isn't as good as Hokkaido.
We've pulled the pin on Korea, too hot in July and August, so we're gonna do the South East of Hokkaido now, after the wedding we are going to in Tokyo. Mid July to mid August are about perfect weather wise as you'll get up there...

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Re: Cheap Flights to Japan

Postby LG » Sat May 12, 2018 12:24 pm

We've booked at a not much more expensive price with Thai Airlines, albeit 30kg baggage allowance, Melbourne-Bangkok-Sapporo, with a 32 hour stop in Bangkok on the way back. 4 weeks of cycling, walking and touristing purely on Hokkaido mid July to mid August. Can't wait!
LG = Low Gear

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metalrideroz
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Re: Cheap Flights to Japan

Postby metalrideroz » Sat May 12, 2018 8:43 pm

LG wrote:We've booked at a not much more expensive price with Thai Airlines, albeit 30kg baggage allowance, Melbourne-Bangkok-Sapporo, with a 32 hour stop in Bangkok on the way back. 4 weeks of cycling, walking and touristing purely on Hokkaido mid July to mid August. Can't wait!


Sounds so good! Have fun. Would be interested in a trip report.

Trevtassie
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Re: Cheap Flights to Japan

Postby Trevtassie » Sun May 13, 2018 1:08 pm

There are cheap domestic flights available on JAL through this link: https://www.world.jal.co.jp/world/en/ja ... servation/ so our flights to Sapporo work out to A$135 each.
Good thing is that you get the full international baggage allowance of 2 at 23kg each! Unfortunately most of the flights leave from Haneda, so you have to deal with the Limousine bus between Narita and Haneda if you arrive at Narita.

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Re: Cheap Flights to Japan

Postby LG » Sun May 13, 2018 5:51 pm

metalrideroz wrote:
LG wrote:We've booked at a not much more expensive price with Thai Airlines, albeit 30kg baggage allowance, Melbourne-Bangkok-Sapporo, with a 32 hour stop in Bangkok on the way back. 4 weeks of cycling, walking and touristing purely on Hokkaido mid July to mid August. Can't wait!


Sounds so good! Have fun. Would be interested in a trip report.

Will try to enjoy it! From past experience I'm not much of a journal or record keeper but will try to make some notes.

Following a test weigh of most of our gear we should be fine with the baggage allowance (including camping gear, trangia etc) and were put off by the JAL requirement to change airports in Tokyo (total cost on Thai was $950 Melbourne to Sapporo and return each). Now to learn a few key Japanese words, between us we only know about a dozen and most of them are types of food.
LG = Low Gear

Trevtassie
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Re: Cheap Flights to Japan

Postby Trevtassie » Sun May 13, 2018 8:01 pm

Just discovered the equivalent airfares on ANA https://www.ana.co.jp/en/ph/promotions/ ... rience_jp/
About USD$104 for a flight from Tokyo Narita to Sapporo. Apparently again with 2 x 23kg luggage. We have Surly Trolls, they always come in at around 22kg in the box... so 8kg isn't much fat.
We've got a wedding to go to in Tokyo, so we've gotta go there first.

Incidentally LG, you'd be better off ditching the Trangia and getting one of these: https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/KOVEA-SPIDE ... SwgmJX1gYu with one of these https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/2017-Butane ... SwTf9ZOqtC Because you can buy the cartridges everywhere for around 110yen for a 220g cartridge. Best ones are from Daiso 100 yen shops for 108yen (100yen plus 8 yen tax!) Don't buy the ones branded Bombe, they suck...
Finding Alcohol would be a lot harder than the cartridges, it's around, just it's not going to be available in convenience stores which are everywhere. You'll need to find a drug store or a hardware, which are in the bigger towns, then do a bit of head scratching with google translate and a shop assistant.
The food is awesome in Hokkaido too, the convenience stores and supermarkets have lots of fresh seafood, so we carried a tiny BBQ like this http://www.dcm-ekurashi.com/goods/469613 the last couple of times, you can buy fuel everywhere too, or even scrounge it out of BBQ pits! And the sweet corn in July and August is awesome BBQed, you can buy it from roadside stalls.

Trevtassie
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Re: Cheap Flights to Japan

Postby Trevtassie » Sun May 13, 2018 8:30 pm

LG wrote:We've booked at a not much more expensive price with Thai Airlines, albeit 30kg baggage allowance, Melbourne-Bangkok-Sapporo, with a 32 hour stop in Bangkok on the way back. 4 weeks of cycling, walking and touristing purely on Hokkaido mid July to mid August. Can't wait!

Looks like Thai aren't super bad with bikes, if you go over 30kg then you are only up for US$60 per bike each way, better than paying $40 a kg like their normal excess.

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Re: Cheap Flights to Japan

Postby LG » Sun May 13, 2018 8:53 pm

Trevtassie wrote:Incidentally LG, you'd be better off ditching the Trangia and getting one of these: https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/KOVEA-SPIDE ... SwgmJX1gYu with one of these https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/2017-Butane ... SwTf9ZOqtC Because you can buy the cartridges everywhere for around 110yen for a 220g cartridge. Best ones are from Daiso 100 yen shops for 108yen (100yen plus 8 yen tax!) Don't buy the ones branded Bombe, they suck...

Thanks Trev, we use the Trangia with a gas adaptor kit using a screw on bottle fitting and also have the clip on fitting you refer to in the ebay link for the cheap gas cans (not this exact adaptor but like it and much cheaper http://www.bogong.com.au/trangia-gas-burner-gb74.html). Our trangia dates from the early 1990's, but the recent purchase of the gas kit has been a revelation and one of the best things I've ever bought for camp cooking. We found the gas based Trangia great in Europe, we could find the thin gas cans for butane torches etc in many small hardware stores or supermarkets when the 'proper' cans were hard to find. As we didn't have a stove that needed to sit on top of the bottle it was no problem for us unlike some of the cyclists we met who were having trouble finding proper coleman type cans.

Cant wait to try BBQing corn on the Trangia! We're also meeting up with a friend in Japan on her first cycle tour, so hope to travel a while with her (she has spoken to you about Japan Trev).
LG = Low Gear

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Re: Cheap Flights to Japan

Postby Trevtassie » Sun May 13, 2018 10:53 pm

We actually carry a charcoal BBQ. You can either buy charcoal or these little compressed charcoal block thingos or scrounge around... Charcoal is cheap, like 400yen for 3 kilos, but you've gotta carry it! Oh well, the 6 cans of beer I usually end up carrying with a kilo of ice to keep them and the milk cold...

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Re: Cheap Flights to Japan

Postby Trevtassie » Tue May 15, 2018 8:43 am

LG wrote:We've booked at a not much more expensive price with Thai Airlines, albeit 30kg baggage allowance, Melbourne-Bangkok-Sapporo, with a 32 hour stop in Bangkok on the way back. 4 weeks of cycling, walking and touristing purely on Hokkaido mid July to mid August. Can't wait!

I'll dump a bunch of links here that might help in planning...best thing is to make sure you have the Google Translate add on for your browser, or use Chrome.
General Planning
You'll probably want to order a Touring Mapple for Hokkaido, it's the bible for bike tourists: https://www.amazon.co.jp/%E3%83%84%E3%8 ... e+Hokkaido
I use RidewithGPS to plan on because it's reasonably intuitive and has the elevation trace. Just watch for tunnels though, they don't show up, so you get some pretty extreme peaks sometimes. Zoom in for a close look
This has some good stuff: http://www.14degrees.org/hokkaido-cycle-touring-routes
http://northern-road.jp/navi/
Google earth of course
Google Maps too

Rider Houses: Cheap or Free accommodation for Cyclists and Motorcyclists
In the Mapple and ....
https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?hl ... 338867&z=7
https://www.hatinosu.net/

Campgrounds
The Mapple
https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mi ... 202638&z=8
And the hatinosu website
and mapping sites
Usually if you click on the campsite name on Maps, and untranslate it back into Japanese then search google with the name, it'll lead to a municipal authority website for the campground that'll let you know rates, facilities etc etc.

Free Camping
If there isn't a rider house or camp ground where you want to go, look on Maps/google earth satellite view for a park, then check out street view for a toilet block... nobody will bother you if you go out of the way.
This map has Michi-n-eki sites which you can usually find a place to camp, with 24 hour toilets: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mi ... 202638&z=8
Convenience stores and supermarkets have toilets which you can use too, just seach convenience stores or supermarkets on Maps, they'll show up!

Onsens and Sento
Baths are pretty important, because you will be sweaty as hell... and they make you feel so good every night... plus a lot of camping spots don't have showers, they assume you'll go to the Sento or nearest onsen. We select our camp spots based on their proximity to a bath even if they do have showers.
Onsens are marked on the Mapple and the Hatinosu site plus this site http://www.secret-japan.com/onsen/location/japan.php they vary but are generally around 500-800yen each. When we're free camping we treat that as our "camping fee"
Sento are are local bath houses found in most towns, to find them on Google Maps search for 銭湯 also, when you look up a campsite or park go to the municipal website, they might have a location for a Sento. Otherwise ask a local when you get there. they are usually cheaper than onsens at around 300yen each

Anyway, I'll post some more later, gotta hang out the washing and go dig some holes...

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Re: Cheap Flights to Japan

Postby LG » Tue May 15, 2018 9:33 pm

Thanks Trev, lots of great information.
LG = Low Gear

Trevtassie
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Re: Cheap Flights to Japan

Postby Trevtassie » Wed May 16, 2018 7:13 pm

A good loop for a month with some hiking would be, buy some bear spray then Chitose to Asahikawa, up Sounkyo Gorge, Climb Daietsuzan from the end of the cable car. There is a free camp in Sounkyo, plus a hut you can stay in at the top of the mountain if you wanted to make a night of it. Across to Abashiri via Kitami and the Don Meister bakery, the best in the world, and I've been to a lot of bakeries. Drink all the coloured beer in Abashiri, yes pink and blue beer. Head down to Shiretoko and climb Mt Rasau from the little Onsen called Kinoshita and view the bears Up and over the pass down the coast to Shibetsu, head inland to Lake Kussharo, have a bath in the hot sand onsen, then have a look at the volcano. Across to Me-Akan and climb that volcano, head down through Honbetsu to the coast. If you've got time, head down the coast from Tomakanai to Noribetsu, it's crappy riding but hey it gets you there, head up to Lake Toya through the mountains on road 2, if you didn't see any bears at Shiretoko you get another chance at Noribetsu BEar park. After that, head back up the 453 and 276 via the Mushroom Kingdom (to check out the grand piano in the dunnies) to Lake Shikotsu. from there there's a bike path right to Chitose and the airport.

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Re: Cheap Flights to Japan

Postby LG » Sun May 27, 2018 9:36 pm

Well I think we're getting closer to having some idea of a route. The suggestion above from Trev is good, but think we may end up in reverse. Current thought is we arrive at Shitose airport in the morning and could then catch a train straight away from the airport station to Kushiro and start our trip from there (even though Kushiro doesn't sound all that interesting). A couple days heading north around Akan NP (the lakes) then NE to the coast and the Shiretoko Peninsula for a few days (hopefully walking, cruising etc). From there continue on the north coast to Abashiri - Kitama and potentially the climb over the pass towards the Sounkyo Gorge (cable car and walking) and on to Asahikawa. From there back to Chitose but not sure which route to take, as some of the roads south of Furano appear to be heavy with trucks from reports on the net. Any spare time at the end would be spent riding in the lakes area south of the airport (want to keep this up our sleeve as an option). This would be around an 800-900km trip.
LG = Low Gear

Trevtassie
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Re: Cheap Flights to Japan

Postby Trevtassie » Sat Jun 09, 2018 12:11 pm

LG wrote:Well I think we're getting closer to having some idea of a route. The suggestion above from Trev is good, but think we may end up in reverse. Current thought is we arrive at Shitose airport in the morning and could then catch a train straight away from the airport station to Kushiro and start our trip from there (even though Kushiro doesn't sound all that interesting). A couple days heading north around Akan NP (the lakes) then NE to the coast and the Shiretoko Peninsula for a few days (hopefully walking, cruising etc). From there continue on the north coast to Abashiri - Kitama and potentially the climb over the pass towards the Sounkyo Gorge (cable car and walking) and on to Asahikawa. From there back to Chitose but not sure which route to take, as some of the roads south of Furano appear to be heavy with trucks from reports on the net. Any spare time at the end would be spent riding in the lakes area south of the airport (want to keep this up our sleeve as an option). This would be around an 800-900km trip.

Hey LG, these airfares might be helpful... getting from Chitose to Kushiro. Only 54000 yen, so around 70 bucks to fly. And international baggage rules apply, so two items at 23kg each... https://www.ana.co.jp/en/au/promotions/ ... rience_jp/ though you may want to check what plane flies that route and make sure it'll take a bike box!

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Re: Cheap Flights to Japan

Postby LG » Wed Jul 18, 2018 5:57 pm

Departure day tomorrow, will report back on experiences when able. We're quite excited but don't really know what to expect.
LG = Low Gear

BugsBunny
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Re: Cheap Flights to Japan

Postby BugsBunny » Fri Aug 10, 2018 2:02 pm

Hi guys.

Just back from my vacation in Hokkaido. This was a family trip with 10 people - rented two 7 seater cars and we moved from hotel to hotel over the 6-7 days. I was the only cyclist so had to squeeze the rides in whenever I could and I took the Brompton which was super convenient - from bringing it into the hotel (the black cover disguised it well) to packing it for checking in/out for each new hotel.

My rides were:

Sapporo city. Just rode along the Toyohira gawa river. Completely flat and you can't get lost. The bike path is dedicated so totally safe and good warm up. From what I could tell it goes on for many kms - my guess 50km+ easily. I rode it inland - although if I headed the other way it would have reached out to the coast line. We caught the cable car up Mount Moiwa with the family - which was about 500m elevation and it looked perfect for a ride up. But I asked one of the guys there and unfortunately its not accessible by bike.

Hoshino-Tomamu. Drove to this resort. We caught the chair lift up the mountain (normally a ski mountain in winter) - aka Mt Tomamu. I think about 1000m is the peak. Hard to get good road info on google and wasn't clear if I could ride to the top. So asked reception and they said "no". Had a short winder in the arvo so gave it a shot anyway and got about 200m vert up the mountain and then it was blocked off.

Lake Akan. This area is gorgeous. Found out the circumference of the lake is 26km so thought it would be cool to ride around. Google map roads indicated I might be off the main road after 5km or so out of time so decided to check it out. I went from paved roads to dirt track and a sign saying bears in this area - bring a bear bell. Since it was pretty remote and I was riding solo, I decided against it. I'm also pretty sure on the unpopulated side of the lake telephone reception would be non existent. There is a Mount Oaken near by but I ran out of time to ride that.

Abashiri. There is a gorgeous lake here. But unlike Lake Akan, its very easily accessible on paved roads and totally "safe" with civilization surrounding it and mobile reception. Alas, I woke up late and didn't get in a ride - but worth a trip.

Sapporo city - up to Mt Teine. Mt Teine is a quick 17km out of the city centre. The mountain is about 600m so decided I needed a climb. Mt Teine was the 1972 winter Olympic sight. Saw many roadies in the morning. Nice climb, safe and going by Strava heatmaps, popular with the locals.

My rides were all leisurely rides of between 90min and 3 hours - not quite a touring type ride but more "exploratory". On a Brompton this was easily done.

Bugs.

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Re: Cheap Flights to Japan

Postby xastorm » Sat Aug 11, 2018 4:10 pm

Great to hear Bugs! What was the weather like?
I'm heading over for 2 weeks bikepacking in a fortnight, riding from Metambetsu across to Shiretoko, down to Nerumo, then back to Lake Kussharo, Lake Akan, up through Daisetsuzan and then looping back to Asahidake and finishing in Furano. I'm tired already! :lol: But looking forward to the beautiful roads, scenery and food :D Just rather hoping the rain and wind gods are kind to me.

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Re: Cheap Flights to Japan

Postby BugsBunny » Sun Aug 12, 2018 11:14 am

xastorm wrote:Great to hear Bugs! What was the weather like?
I'm heading over for 2 weeks bikepacking in a fortnight, riding from Metambetsu across to Shiretoko, down to Nerumo, then back to Lake Kussharo, Lake Akan, up through Daisetsuzan and then looping back to Asahidake and finishing in Furano. I'm tired already! :lol: But looking forward to the beautiful roads, scenery and food :D Just rather hoping the rain and wind gods are kind to me.


We struck gold with the weather. At our most northern/coldest point (Abashiri) it got down to about 13 degrees at my 6am morning rides. And to top it off it was sunshine and blue skies throughout our vacation. Around 25 during the day.

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Re: Cheap Flights to Japan

Postby xastorm » Sun Aug 12, 2018 7:55 pm

Excellent to hear, hope it holds true for the next few weeks! :mrgreen:

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