Traveling by Bike in Japan   自転車で走る日本

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A small fishing village and a view of Kurushima bridge along the Shimanami Kaido.

The bike is certainly the most effective way to move from one temple to another in the streets of Kyoto.

The bike is certainly the most effective way to move from one temple to another in the streets of Kyoto.

One of the beaches you might pass on the Shimanami Kaido

Kurushima bridge from the Shimanami Kaido

Japan on Two Wheels

Discover the best routes and areas for cycling in Japan, whether you are a professional or an amateur.

For many visitors, traveling by bike while in Japan can be a good idea. For example, if you stay several days in Tokyo, it is not necessary to have a car - the public transport network is so developed that bikes are often used by the Japanese to journey between home and the station. The proof is in the huge bicycle parking lots that can be seen at the stations. For tourists, there are several ways to enjoy Tokyo by bicycle.

Twenty towns and cities across Japan also offer bike rental, the towns include Tokyo, Kanazawa, Hiroshima and Toyama. Some railway companies offer bike rentals upon arrival at the station, including JR East, JR Kyushu, Hankyu and Kintetsu. Don't hesitate to ask the Tourist Office about bike rental, it is usually very simple to rent a bicycle while in Kyoto or Tokyo.

On the other hand, there are not a lot of long-term rental options for tourists. Such a system has not really developed in this mountainous country, where the most popular form of competitive cycling remains keirin racing, a kind of track racing invented in Japan in 1948.

If you plan to travel by bike in Japan, we strongly advise you to book your rental online for when arrive at your starting destination. A more direct solution would also be to simply buy a bike in Japan.

Used bikes are usually around 6,000 yen. You can find many second hand bike shops in Japan. For a new bike you can pay from 15,000 yen to 30,000 yen or more, depending on the type of bike.

You can visit Eirin shops in Kyoto where you can sell your bike at the end of your stay, there are over a dozen in the capital.

There is also the solution of the "Clean Cycle", these are places that re-sell "abandoned" bikes that have been found on the streets. These are found everywhere in Japan, you can pick up a bicycle from 6500 yen. You might also want to take a look at the Recycle Shops.

If you want to organise a bike before you leave for Japan, there is also the Craigslist website where travelers and expats sell their bikes online (enter the name of a Japanese town and the word "Craigslist" in the Google search bar).

Please note that you must go to the koban, neighborhood police station, to register your bike: you will need your passport and the address and telephone number of your hotel. It is common for foreign cyclists to get stopped by Japanese police to see if their paperwork is correct and the bike is in working order.

Indeed, the rules for traveling with bicycles in Japan are very strict. By train, for example, you can travel with your bike on the condition that you have stored it in a special bag, and there is also sometimes a surcharge. By plane for a domestic flight, you will need a hard carry case. You also have the possibility of sending it in advance with Ta-Q-Bin, a fast delivery company.


Bike friendly routes

  • Around Lake Biwa

It is the largest lake in Japan with a 200km diameter. This route has a flat bike path all the way around. The landscape is quiet between the lake and surrounding mountains. Ride through the picturesque village of Omihachiman. At Umezu Osaki, 600 cherry trees on 4km create a pink tunnel in the spring. Discover also the Shirahige Jinja Shinto temple belonging to the Toyotomi family, known for its torii standing in the water called Itsukushima Omi.

Bike Hire in Hakone

Rental week 3500 yen per day, 6,500 yen for 3 days (helmet + lamp + padlock included)

Address: Dot five building 7-10 Chuo, Hikone, Shiga

Phone: + 81 (7) 49 26 1463

  • Near Sapporo

With a pleasant climate in the summer, the grandiose nature, impromptu encounters with wild animals, long straight roads that give the impression of having no end, this is a paradise for amateur cyclists.

Frontier Cycling Hokkaido offers road bike hire and delivery to your hotel, from 3000 yen per day. Several days rental is possible but booking is required.

Cycling frontier Hokkaido: www.hokkaido-cycling.jp (including the padlock)

Japanese address to enter in Google Maps: 札幌 サイクリングツアーステーション

For a day trip, a bike ride in Biei amidst fields of flowers is perfect. You can rent a bike in front of the JR Biei station. Prefer the bike with electrical assistance, this will cost from 3000 yen per day.

  • Mt Fuji and Five Lakes

At the foot of the mountain, lie the Five Lakes of Mount Fuji. We begin at Kawaguchiko although the true cycle path begins to Yamanakako. In the autumn watch the "Diamond Fuji" sunset on the top of Mount Fuji. Take the time to pass the Fuji Dengen Jinja Shinto temple, protecting mountaineers for 1,900 years.

The course is for more experienced cyclists, as the hills can be tough.

Bike rental: Aloha Bike Trip

Prices start from 3500 yen for a days rental, 14,000 yen for 7 days. You can collect from Kawaguchiko station, delivery is possible to the hotels in the area.

Phone: + 81(9)0 2428 1396

Website: www.alohabike.com 

  • Shimanami Kaido 

Shimanami Kaido is a route from Onomichi (Hiroshima) to Imabari (Ehime). The cycle route connects six islands spanning the Seto Inland Sea for 70 kilometers. Observe scenic landscapes and experience the pleasure of cycling in the sea air. 

Bike rental: 14 bike rental stations are available, at least one on each island.

Regular bike: Adult 1000 yen, Child 300 yen per day. A deposit of 1000 yen is required, you can return the bike to any of the other rental companies, but the deposit will not be returned.

Electrically assisted bicycle: Adult 1500 yen for 6 hours. Tandem Bike: 1200 yen for the day.

Website : www.go-shimanami.jp 

  • Tokyo

There is a beautiful 90 km cycling path along the Arakawa River, from Musashi-Kyuryo National Park to Kasai Rinkai Park in Tokyo.

There is also a Hamura circuit to Haneda Airport along the Tama River for 60 km. There are several cafes along the way for relaxation and recovery breaks for amateurs.

Tokyo: Rental list: www.rentabike.jp

  • Kyoto

In Kyoto the most popular site is one of the banks of the Kamogawa river that runs through the city, to Arashiyama along the river Katsuragawa. You can pause at any time to wander around the temples and other wonders that Kyoto has to offer. 

Kyoto: Emusica offers bike rentals www.emusica-dmcy.com

2,000 yen for a week, 3,000 yen for a month. A security deposit of 2,000 yen is required. 


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