Planning a trip to Japan? With its timeless traditions and stunning landscapes, Japan offers a unique cycling experience where the ordinary transforms into the extraordinary.
While cycling basics may seem universal, the Land of the Rising Sun has that signature dose of Japanese magic that transforms the rules of the road into a unique journey. In this comprehensive guide, we navigate the intricate details, unraveling the do's and don'ts to ensure your bike tour in Japan is not just a ride but an unforgettable adventure.
So, with anticipation high and pedals ready, let's navigate the twists and turns of cycle touring in Japan.
DO'S FOR AN UNFORGETTABLE CYCLING ADVENTURE IN JAPAN
Let's dive into the first essential tip to make your ride through the Land of the Rising Sun a breeze.
DO FOLLOW ROAD SIGNS
In Japan, bicycles are more than just a mode of transport—they're considered small, light-weight vehicles, and with great two-wheeled power comes great responsibility. So, here's the golden rule: Treat your bike like a car. That means following traffic laws, and yes, you'll be sharing the road with four-wheeled companions.
But hold on; if you spot a sidewalk sporting a round blue sign with a bike icon on it, it's your green light to pedal there.
Sounds simple, right? Well, almost. While you enjoy the sidewalk privilege, remember that it's a shared space with pedestrians. Navigating this two-wheeled ballet requires a dose of caution as pedestrians hold the right-of-way.
DO STAY IN YOUR LANE
In the cityscapes, you'll encounter bike lanes, often a welcome sight for any cycling enthusiast.
If you find yourself without the painted comfort of a bike lane, fear not. In Japan, cyclists are in harmony with the flow of traffic. That being said, you should always keep left, whether you're on the road or on the sidewalk.
And speaking of seamless journeys, imagine exploring the picturesque landscapes of Shikoku on a guided bike tour. On our Stunning Shikoku Bike Tour, you won't have to worry about navigating these lanes alone. With a local expert guide by your side, every turn becomes an opportunity for discovery.
DO PARK IN DEDICATED SPOTS
Stop, drop (your stand), and park smart!
Parking in Japan is similar to parking anywhere else in the world: you want to take note of where you parked and although Japan is incredible safe, it is worth using a basic bike lock in an unfamiliar area. Similarly, depending on the area and the amount of time, parking may require a small fee, while other areas are free.
Randomly locking your bike on a sidewalk or any convenient railing might seem tempting, but it's a risky move. Authorities have the power to liberate your bike with bolt cutters and send it to "bike jail", where you’ll need to bail it out for a fee. So, it's better to find a designated spot and remember where it is—losing your ride is not part of the adventure you want to have.
DO RIDE BEHIND ONE ANOTHER
Riding side by side in Japan could cost you 20,000 JPY. Why? Safety first. It's a collision risk, endangers all, and breaks the law. So, it's best to stick to a single file unless indicated otherwise.
DO IMMERSE IN LOCAL FLAVORS AND HOSPITALITY
Give your taste buds a journey of their own! Japan is a culinary wonderland, and every region boasts its own unique flavors. Read through our blog, Top 7 Foods You Must Try In Japan.
For sleeping/relaxing, take a detour from conventional accommodations and immerse yourself in the rich traditions of Japan by staying in a ryokan. These Japanese-style inns offer an authentic experience, complete with tatami-matted rooms, futon beds, and onsen baths. Engage with the local culture, embrace the serene atmosphere, and let the gracious hospitality of the ryokan staff elevate your stay.
Here’s what you can expect on our tours in Japan!
DON'TS FOR A SMOOTH RIDE
In Japan, koban (loosely translated as police stations) and watchful officers patrol the streets. While the police here are kind and fair, it's best to keep things smooth for yourself.
Now, for a stress-free journey: Non-Japanese speakers often get a pass on minor bike rule slip-ups. But let's dive into the don'ts when you're cycling in Japan.
DON'T HOLD AN UMBRELLA WHILE RIDING
Whether it's raindrops or sunshine, keep both hands on the handlebars! In Japan, holding an umbrella, chatting on your cellphone, or tuning into your favorite beats while riding is a big no-no.
And it's not just about staying focused—all three are against the law (so no surprise we don’t have an image for this one!)
DON'T TAKE YOUR BIKE ON A TRAIN WITHOUT THIS
Thinking of blending bike and train travel for your Japanese exploration? Brilliant! Before you hit the railway, here are the rules:
Firstly, get your bike train-ready by partially disassembling it. This means, at a minimum, bidding farewell to the front wheel. Then, ensure your bicycle is neatly enclosed within a bike bag. This measure is primarily aimed at ensuring the cleanliness of both passengers and the train.
Now, on our guided Japan e-bike tour, you won’t have to worry about navigating trains with your bike. Our local expert guide is your reliable companion, ensuring each train ride is a seamless part of the journey. Embrace the convenience, explore worry-free, and join us on a cycling adventure that effortlessly threads through the heart of Japan.
DON'T JUST MAKE A RIGHT TURN
As simple as it seems, making a swift right turn is an offense in Japan, even with the green light. Cyclists must first go straight across the street, come to a stop, and then make a right turn only when the light is green. If there's no light, play it safe and check for oncoming traffic before turning.
DON'T RIDE UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Japan boasts a distinctive drinking culture where enjoying a couple of drinks after work is commonplace. Visiting a local watering hole, or izakaya, presents an excellent opportunity to socialize with the locals and savor casual Japanese cuisine.
However, a word of caution: riding a bike under the influence, whether it be alcohol or any substance, is regarded as an offense. Riding under the influence could land you in lockup for a night or, in severe cases, result in up to five years behind bars, a hefty ¥1,000,000 fine, and potential deportation for foreigners.
DON’T TRY TO DO EVERYTHING YOURSELF
Navigating a foreign country can be a daunting task with a myriad of decisions to make, from arranging logistics and deciphering unfamiliar traffic rules to bridging language and etiquette barriers. But fear not; with Grasshopper Adventures, you can leave your worries behind.
Consider the choice between embarking on a guided journey led by a local expert guide or opting for a self-guided tour. With a guided tour, your attention shifts from the logistical puzzle to fully immersing yourself in the ride and absorbing the beauty and experiences that surround you. Instead of wrestling with maps, relish the thrill of the journey, the camaraderie with fellow cyclists, and the pure joy of exploration.
And for that extra touch of comfort, Grasshopper Adventures tours come equipped with support vehicles. Should you ever find yourself in a bind, assistance is just a vehicle away.
If you lean towards a bit more independence, seeking advice and support from experts regarding routes, accommodation, and emergency assistance is a wise move. Enter our self-guided tours, designed to eliminate the hassles of planning an independent trip. With included luggage transfers, you can travel light and make the most of your adventure without the weight of unnecessary worries.
Travel stress-free with Grasshopper Adventures, where your journey is our priority.