Touring in Japan - Advice please

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  • My partner and I are planning to go to Japan for around two weeks, probably the first two weeks of April. We will take a tent and mainly camp, although a few nights in cool places would be nice.

    In April this year we went to Sicily and did between 75-100km a day, although I guess on average there will be more climbing in Japan. It would be nice to see as much as possible, but we also don't want to be rushing or stressing about distances. Beautiful roads and scenery are much more important than ticking off sights.

    So my main questions are:

    Where should we go (I've heard Hokkaido is amazing, but probably too cold at that time of year).
    Are there any must do things, aside from cycling? - I think we would like to spend a day or two in Tokyo.
    Any other tips/suggestions/inside info?

    I know that there are some people on here who live in, have connections to or have at least ridden in Japan so it would be great to hear your thoughts - @xDOMx @Jaap @roboto

  • I only really know Hokkaido as I visit my in-laws there every year. First two weeks of April is probably a bit too cold for most of the routes I’ve done there though.

    Others will be more qualified than me to talk about the climate and roads on Honshū, Shikoku or Kyūshū but in general I’ve found it very easy to plan routes and find my way around with very limited knowledge. Get yourself sorted with a data SIM card or portable Wi-fi hotspot and it’ll be easy to navigate.

    Enjoy the cities and the cleanliness and find some nice routes that take you across the mountain passes. I’d be tempted to look at a route that will take you from Kyoto to Tokyo and going through places like Osaka, Nara, Nagoya, Shizuoka and Yokohama. Loss of touristy stuff to do in those places and it’s a popular Route that will take you past Fuji. South coast shouldn’t be too chilly around that time of the year. I think.

  • I did a quick month long tour a couple of years ago, flew in to Tokyo and rode to Nagasaki and back. Camping wise, I mostly wild camped and given that public facilities (bathrooms, even outdoor showers at coastal locations) are amazing it still felt pretty cushy even on rainy days I always found a quite covered public rest area to stay dry in. There's a really useful google 'mymaps' out there that has the locations/details of all the road houses, onsens and free campsite sin the country that you can load straight onto a GPS. Destinations wise I really enjoyed the Irago Peninsula, the five lakes route around Mt. Fuji, the Shimanami Kaido (of course) and some of the mountainous riding in Gifu. I think Lake Biwa would be nice in better weather but I had several very gray days then. How are you travelling with your bikes? I found it super easy to fly in to Tokyo with my bike in a bag get the train in from the airport and then leave the bag at the hostel for the month that I travelled then simply stay there another night before departing and pack the bike up again. Have fun, I'd go back to tour again in a heartbeat!

  • Thanks for the info, so many options!

    Re bikes - we are open to options, we did a similar thing in Sicily, flew with bike boxes and left them in Palermo while traveling around. Also happy to use cardboard boxes if we start and finish in different places.

    Because of the bike bag situation on trains, I also thought it might be best to fly to Kyoto, leave boxes there, do a loop, then pack them up for a train journey to Tokyo where we would do non-bike stuff before flying out.

  • My mate is cycling round Japan at the moment. Latest message said it's amazing - very friendly, cycling is pretty tough, with lots of traffic and tunnels. Hostels are great, with shampoo and pyjamas. She's island hopping around the Hiroshima area right now.

    On bike transport, I usually cycle point to point using cardboard boxes - build the bike and leave the box at the airport, get to the destination in time to get another box from a bike shop. Sometimes takes a few hours, but never been a problem.

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Touring in Japan - Advice please

Posted by Avatar for cjr @cjr