Japan CyCling FAQ
Common Questions and Answers about Cycling in Japan.
What are the basic road rules of cycling in Japan?
Japan is a 'left side' driving country. This means always stay to the leftside of any roadway unless otherwise indicated. In addition some common rules regarding bikes in particular:
- Cyclists should not drive on the pavement (sidewalks) unless otherwise allowed.
- Cyclists should not directly turn right at intersections with signal lights - instead proceed across the intersection then cross traffic similar to pedestrian.
- Cyclists should ride in single file if they are in a group. (Not abreast)
- Japan is a mutual fault accident country. You may assume some risk for ANY accident if it occurs. Generally speaking the larger vehicle(s) carry more risk.
Can i take my bike on the train?
Yes! Most trains welcome cyclists (and cycles) as long as the bikes are wholly covered in a case or bag. In Japan we call this special bag a 'rinko'. If you rent a bike and plan on taking it on a train, then do ask for a 'Rinko Bag'.
How can I find great routes to ride?
There are many sources of route guidance in Japan - but we particularly like:
- Ride With GPS - Many routes listed in Japan and also RWGPS allows for map downloads and turn by turn directions.
- STRAVA - Strava is well represented in Japan with many segments and routes to check out. Get a KOM (or QOM) today!
- Mapple - Go analog with MAPPLE. Mapple are Japanese road maps available at many convenience stores and outdoor shops. They are in Japanese only, but great for interacting with your Japanese hosts especially in the countryside.
- Google Maps - Google Maps has wide coverage (and listings) in Japan.
- Tokyo International Cyclists Forum - Several topics on Rides and Touring in Japan
Where Can I stay with a bike?
Japan has a long history of hospitality. There are many classes of hotels and accommodations for travelers and tourists. We suggest using the common booking sites to secure your lodging before coming to Japan. And once you are here, you can always ask your hotel concierge to help you further your bookings. The smaller, cooler places may be hard to book with normal sites - so don't be afraid to ask your Japanese friends or hosts to help you with them!
- Hotels / Business Hotels - mainly accessible by booking sites
- AirBNB - active in Japan but variable
- Ryokan / Minshuku - Smaller, Japanese style inns. May need to book by telephone or fax only.
- Campsites - many campsites in Japan, but generally need to book in advance.
- Off road resting - it's possible to 'rest' off road as long as you are not on private or restricted properties
Are there any group rides I can join?
We suggest checking out the popular social media for meetups and groups. In large metropolitan areas there may be some semi-organized rides such as:
Common japanese travel and cycling phrases
When you travel or bike in Japan it is useful to learn a few Japanese words and phrases. This will go far to make your travel more joyful and you'll be able meet new friends quickly!
- Hello! Ko-ni-chi-wa
- Thank you! ah-ree-ga-toe-go-zai-ma-su
- Excuse me! I'm Sorry! go-men-na-sai
- Yes. high (hai)
- No. ee-ay (iie)
- Where is <something> ? <something> wa , do-ko des-ka? Substitute <something> with whatever you are trying to locate.
- Bicycle. Ji-ten-sha My Bicycle. wa-ta-shi no ji-ten-sha
- Puncture. pun-ku
- Left. hee-da-ree
- Right. mee-gee
- Front Wheel. zen reen (rin)
- Rear Wheel. ko reen (rin)
- Bicycle Bag For Train. reen-ko bu-ku-ro
- How much (is it). ee-ku-ra des-ka?
- Accident. jee-ko I had an accident. wa-ta-shi-wa jee-ko ah-i-ma-shi-ta
- Map. chee-zu or maa-pu
- Water. o-mee-zu
- Have something. ah-ree-ma-su-ka? (you can put this on the end of anything to ask if it exists or is available)
- One. ee-chee
- Two. nee (pronounced knee)
- Three. san
- Four. shee
- Five. go
- Six. row-ku
- Seven. na-na
- Eight. ha-chee
- Nine. kew (pronounced queue)
- Ten. joo
Some of our favorite cycling routes in Japan