Riding a Motorcycle in Japan   オートバイを運転する

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The Yamagata Alps

A rider on Ishikari beach

Riders on the Venus Line near Nagano

The magnificent scenery of the Venus Line

Bikers in Shibuya

The Venus Line

Easy Riding

Japan is known worldwide for its motorcycle brands, but people don't know that it's also a great country to explore on two wheels...

The principles of riding a motorcycle in Japan are as easy as driving a car. Simply obey the signs and rules of conduct.

In Japan, there are Japanese riders who like to explore the country in groups on the lovely routes that we will be talking about here...


In Japan, the international driving permit issued by France is not recognized. Tourists visiting for a short stay (less than less than one year) must use their French license accompanied by a certified translation.

People holding the B license for more than 2 years may drive light motorcycles - 125cc engine - with a certificate in French and Japanese at the consulate (on presentation of the French B license, the cost is equivalent to 18 €).

Holders of a B license for less than 2 years may drive displacement mopeds, below 50cc.

License holders can drive in Japan according to the category entered on their license, depending on the year of issue and legislation.

The regulations change frequently, so it's best to inquire directly with the consulate of France in Tokyo.

Riding with passengers

You are allowed to take a passenger on a motorcycle if the cylinder capacity exceeds 51cc.

To drive on the highway, it is mandatory to have at least 20 years, at least 3 years experience and a capacity of over 126cc.

On the Tokyo highways, it is forbidden to ride with a passenger because the traffic is heavy on the narrow and very winding roads, so it's a safety measure. There are clear signs indicating this.

The maximum speed limit is 100 km/h, as for other vehicles.

There are bike rental agencies in major cities, like there are for cars.

Gloves and helmets are available but not the combination. It is advisable to bring your equipment with you.

Japan by bike


All roads in Hokkaido are scenic, but particularly to Biei and its flower fields, the marshy plains of Kushiro, and many national parks, lakes, and volcanoes.

The roads are long, straight and fairly flat with very few streetlights. Summer is a great time to visit, as the temperature does not exceed 20°c, and there are some great places to visit and see. Not to mention the campsites, they are not very expensive and sometimes even free for motorcyclists.

There are also many "Rider Houses", specific accommodation for bikers. The only downside is that there are not many gas stations outside cities, or konbini on route.

Beware of wild animals crossing (deer, foxes, bears)

Tokyo and Tohoku:

Try Saitama on highways to Tohoku Aomori, Akita and Yamagata and discover beautiful natural onsen and sites. Be aware that the roads are closed in winter (November to April) due to snow.

The must-sees of Tohoku:

- Around the Lake Towada

- The Natural Park Hachimantaira, Aspite line then Jukai line.

- The Zao mountains and the Echo line connecting Miyagi Yamagata, the forests are very colorful in autumn.

- Around Oga Peninsula

- The Shiga Kusatsu, an alpine road culminating at 2000m altitude, is the highest road in Japan.

- The Bandai Azuma Skyline, Fukushima.

- Venus Line, a legendary road in the Southern Alps.

- The Miura Peninsula, Kanagawa.

- The Azu Peninsula, Shizuoka.

- The Boso Peninsula, Chiba.

- Around Mount Fuji.

The must-sees of Osaka:

- Rokko-san, Kobe.

- Wakayama on the coast.

- Around Lake Biwa.


Access to the island by road is by the gigantic Seto Bridge, or by ferry all year. You can go round Shikoku, including the 88 Temple Pilgrimage, by motorbike.


Take the Yamanami highway, between Yufu and Aso, to see the impressive volcanic landscape. You can also go around the volcano Sakurajima near Kagoshima.

Our advice: Stop regularly at the motorway service areas and roadside stops, where there are many services and rest areas.

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