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90 days in Japan

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90 days in Japan

Hello everyone!
I recently completed my first bike trip together with my girlfriend and I really enjoyed it. Now, I´m planning my second one and I chose Japan because for many years it has been on top of my destination list. Still working on motivating her but she's already willing to come :)

Japan is so big, and we are so slow, that's why I came here for advise. Hopefully you can point me in the right direction. I'll list some information so you get an idea of our trip. Feel free to point flaws!

Time:
Because of Visa situation, we have only 90 days. I really don't feel like getting out of the country and try coming back for extra time.

Accommodation:
Mostly we will camp in our tent, in public land or private land when given permission. I read that most of the time we're better off asking people rather than stealth camping.

Budget:
Hard to say at this point but let’s say 20€ per person per day as a reference.

Route:
Only thing I know for sure is I want to spend quite a lot of time in Hokkaido. We’d probably finish the trip there and then take the ferry down to Oarai (if we leave the country through Tokyo).

Season:
I basically discarded winter because that would be too harsh in Hokkaido, and summer because it’s just too hot everywhere else, and also more tourists. I’m leaning towards spring, leaving Hokkaido for the last bit so it’s a bit warmer. So maybe 15thMarch to 12thJune or something like that. The alternative would be to arrive in Sapporo in late August/September and then work our way down.

Distance:
I think we can cover about 4000km by bike in that time. Yes, we are not the fastest riders :D In our previous trip we usually rode for 4-5 days and then took a day off. In some places we would stay longer if we really liked it, or needed a longer break. I read many people covering 90+km per day no problem. This is definitely not us. I’d say 70km is a much safer number. I rather miss some spots that having to rush for days or having to take main roads to shorten distances.

Interests:
We’re all about beautiful landscapes and honestly don’t care much about landmarks. We’re not going to spend 2 days on a highway to get to a city to take that postcard picture of that temple. I’m sure we’ll have our fair share of temples along the way :)
My girlfriend doesn’t enjoy big cities, and I don’t enjoy the hassle of getting into a big city. I assume traffic to get into the major cities (Tokyo,Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto…) is very high, so probably we will not go there unless we need to.
She also hates tunnels but I think she’s just out of luck this time because apparently there are plenty of those in Japan. I hope they have lights, or sidewalk, or both :)

My main interest besides landscapes is Food. I’ll eat pretty much everything I can afford on my budget. I’m a big fan of Japanese food (and I don´t mean sushi). I like cooking myself. I’ll probably cook many dinners (Rice curry, onigiris, ideas are welcome) and eat lunch out if that makes sense.

My original plan was to do Honshu (focusing in the southern half) and Hokkaido (probably West to East), but I’m open for suggestions.
I´m gonna list places I´d like to visit or other cyclists have told me that are nice for our trip, as well as other regions I do not want to visit, probably because other people told me they are uninteresting, boring, industrial, too busy, etc. I will update them if I get feedback from the community. If you think landing in March somewhere other than Tokyo might be a better plan, also let me know.

PLACES I’D LIKE TO RIDE:
Lakes around Mt.Fuji, Noto Peninsula, Jigokudani and surrounding mountains, Lake Biwa, Shiretoko Peninsula+Teshikaga lake area, Biei+Furano unless not so nice out of flower season.

PLACES I´VE BEEN TOLD ARE NOT SO NICE TO BIKE:
Honshu’s NW coastline.

Other people mentioned NE Honshu is still damaged from the tsunami and not so nice. I don’t think it’s uglier than the road that goes South to North since, when I look on GoogleMaps, it looks like this one is all built up with cities.

I can use so much information from you guys! I could use info regarding planning, regarding specific roads that you enjoy or dislike. While I don’t plan on writing down a plan and following it no matter what, it would help me a great deal to get as much feedback as possible.
If you made it to this point thanks a lot for reading. I know it’s a long post but I rather give you as much info as possible so you know what we´re up to.

Cheers and thanks a lot for reading!
Antonio

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japan

I hope you see this post
https://fr.warmshowers.org/node/114373

lots of informations too
http://www.japancycling.org/v2/
http://www.kancycling.com/KANcycling/Welcome_to_KANcycling%21.html
http://www.e-wadachi.com/howto_e.html

this is the blog of 2 french people we meet in hokkaido (they were on bike we travel with family by car)
http://superwanchan.org/JAPON/velo5a.php

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Thanks Marie!

Thanks Marie!

Very useful, I didn't know that the first link was my profile, lol. I hope your travels brings you to Japan!

Cheers!

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Thanks Marie!

Thanks Marie!

I'm going to have a look at the blogs and e-wadachi and the , I have been reading the other two recently and they have been very useful!

It's amazing the amount of information one can find online these days :)

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Hola!

Hola Antonio,

En mi profile tienes unos links que pueden ser de ayuda, tengo dos grupos, uno de cicloturismo en Japón y otro de lugares gratuitos para acampar y aguas termales, hay muchos lugares con cabañas gratis en Hokkaido.

En el grupo de cicloturismo en Japón tiene un lugar con muchos archivos que puedes bajar, recomiendo el manual de supervivencia con el Japones para ciclistas, esta en Ingles y español.

Saludos,
James

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Hola James,

Hola James,

leo tus grupos de ffacebook todos los días :P
¡Estoy seguro de que voy a usar el mapa de onsen muy a menudo en Japón!

También el manual de supervivencia aunque espero poder aprender suficiente japonés para poder comunicarme un poco.
Tengo todavía mucho tiempo para prepararme :)

Como parece que tienes mucha experiencia me gustaría que me dijeras tus sitios favoritos para recorrer en bici, y qué te parece mejor para la ruta: ¿15-Marzo al 15-Mayo en Honshu y luego Hokkaido desde el 15 de Mayo al 10 del Junio, o mejor empezar en Septiembre en Hokkaido un mes, y Octubre y Noviembre en Honshu?

¡Muchas gracias por tu mensaje!
Antonio

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even more reading
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I haven't read any of the

I haven't read any of the answers above so don't know how what i suggest will fit.

I cycled 2 months in Japan last year. I was there from 10 March to 10 May. and did kyushu, a spot of shikkoku, seto sea and kansai, japanese alps, noto penninsula, kanazawa. and kii penninsula.

I would highly recommend Kanazawa and noto penninsula. even though you say you don't like cities, in my opinnion it is foolish to leave some them out altogether. If you want very interesting food you should go to the cities. The food in the country areas can get a little repetitive after two months even though there is a lot of variety in japan but if you are in the country you will be eating most of hte time at the mini supermarkets who's name i totally forget. And it would be a shame to eat all your food there as while good its far less good than fresh made japanese food.

Anyway noto is fantastic if you can get sunny good weather but it might not be so nice if windy and cold.

March is too early. The last week is ok but earlier than that, even in the south it looks and feels like winter so imagine what its like in the north. Arrive at hte beginning of April and go straight to Kyoto to see amazing spectacle of flowers. If you don't want to see the spring, see the autumn there or in another city at the right time.

I am not suggesting landmarks but if you do a decent amount of reserach you can find wonderful things to visit in the cities. Cycle tourists who jsut ride the landscape seem to me to have duller tours than those in my mind. UNless you don't like culture much at all. I like cities to break up the rhythm of touring. It creates focal points and a change or routine and gives something different to look forward too. but its your call of course.

I can't remember what i spent. A lot depends on your exchange rate. Euros are probably fine. Ours had dropped since I was there.

YOu can camp without asking permission if you see a suitable spot just so long as its not on private property. I camped all over the place even in the cities by the rivers. You just have to set up late, leave early and be discrete. Don't make it look like you are there for the weekend. Don't hang about with your tent up all monring. Get out early. Not because you need to be afriad of being seen but because the people don't want to see you living there longer than necessary and I think it makes some of them a little nervous. Camping is most difficult in small places that are touristy. They don't like you camping at all except they'll let you camp in the miki no eki (roadhouses) but then you may need a pegless tent.

Three months is plenty. Or at least I was tired by the end of mine but then i'm older so that's probably all it was and I was alone.

Don't bother looking for camping grounds. They are usuall not very useful for cycle tourists.

I loved the islands of the seto sea as well. Inland Kii penninsula has some wild places.

I think you need to do some decent research and work out a rough route. Even if you choose your roads in advance, I think its better in Japan.

You don't have to jsutify how few or many kilometres you want to do. We are all different and there are no rules.

Kyoto and kanazawa were very easy to get into and out of. Its not the case with cities like Nagoya and Tokyo though i understand. Fukuoka was also fairly easy. Osaka is probably not so easy but you don't need to go there although people like it becuase the people more open than usual.

There is more to Japan than temples. I loved the geisha places I went to see some museums. I loved looking at the merchant houses and famous gardens. Nara is also an easy city with many wonderful things to see and do and has a lovely old city part. In fact if you only go to one city, that would probably be the best one for you because its so small. I even camped up on hte hill at the back of nara on my second night becuase i couldn't book another night in my guesthouse or anywhere else.

If your exchange rate is fine and your budget is ok, you don't need to cook at all except if you go somewhere remote. I had to cook a little bit on the kii penninsula and in Noto but really not so much. With so many people nothing is far apart but beware many villages and small towns have no shops at all becuase they all just drive to the nearest supermarket. So never leave yourself short hoping to buy something in the village.

In noto, i cycled almost all the whole coast starting on the west side. I would have gone the whole way but clinging to the coast as much as I could but i got a bit tired at the end and it was near the end of my trip and I wanted to get to Kii for something different. But i had 8 gorgeous days there. Wajjima was a nice not very big town. Great great food market. must do that.

I was sorry i did not go to the lacquer museum in wajjima as i met one of hte best laquer artists. I think i was tired and just didn't process the info properly. The lacquerware there is second to none its so utterly beautiful to hold in your hands.

YOu can read my blog on crazyguyonabike but its not finished. I would recommend reading it even the parts about kyushu even if you are not going there. I share a lot of useful info.

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I haven't read any of the

I haven't read any of the answers above so don't know how what i suggest will fit.

I cycled 2 months in Japan last year. I was there from 10 March to 10 May. and did kyushu, a spot of shikkoku, seto sea and kansai, japanese alps, noto penninsula, kanazawa. and kii penninsula.

I would highly recommend Kanazawa and noto penninsula. even though you say you don't like cities, in my opinnion it is foolish to leave some them out altogether. If you want very interesting food you should go to the cities. The food in the country areas can get a little repetitive after two months even though there is a lot of variety in japan but if you are in the country you will be eating most of hte time at the mini supermarkets who's name i totally forget. And it would be a shame to eat all your food there as while good its far less good than fresh made japanese food.

Anyway noto is fantastic if you can get sunny good weather but it might not be so nice if windy and cold.

March is too early. The last week is ok but earlier than that, even in the south it looks and feels like winter so imagine what its like in the north. Arrive at hte beginning of April and go straight to Kyoto to see amazing spectacle of flowers. If you don't want to see the spring, see the autumn there or in another city at the right time.

I am not suggesting landmarks but if you do a decent amount of reserach you can find wonderful things to visit in the cities. Cycle tourists who jsut ride the landscape seem to me to have duller tours than those in my mind. UNless you don't like culture much at all. I like cities to break up the rhythm of touring. It creates focal points and a change or routine and gives something different to look forward too. but its your call of course.

I can't remember what i spent. A lot depends on your exchange rate. Euros are probably fine. Ours had dropped since I was there.

YOu can camp without asking permission if you see a suitable spot just so long as its not on private property. I camped all over the place even in the cities by the rivers. You just have to set up late, leave early and be discrete. Don't make it look like you are there for the weekend. Don't hang about with your tent up all monring. Get out early. Not because you need to be afriad of being seen but because the people don't want to see you living there longer than necessary and I think it makes some of them a little nervous. Camping is most difficult in small places that are touristy. They don't like you camping at all except they'll let you camp in the miki no eki (roadhouses) but then you may need a pegless tent.

Three months is plenty. Or at least I was tired by the end of mine but then i'm older so that's probably all it was and I was alone.

Don't bother looking for camping grounds. They are usuall not very useful for cycle tourists.

I loved the islands of the seto sea as well. Inland Kii penninsula has some wild places.

I think you need to do some decent research and work out a rough route. Even if you choose your roads in advance, I think its better in Japan.

You don't have to jsutify how few or many kilometres you want to do. We are all different and there are no rules.

Kyoto and kanazawa were very easy to get into and out of. Its not the case with cities like Nagoya and Tokyo though i understand. Fukuoka was also fairly easy. Osaka is probably not so easy but you don't need to go there although people like it becuase the people more open than usual.

There is more to Japan than temples. I loved the geisha places I went to see some museums. I loved looking at the merchant houses and famous gardens. Nara is also an easy city with many wonderful things to see and do and has a lovely old city part. In fact if you only go to one city, that would probably be the best one for you because its so small. I even camped up on hte hill at the back of nara on my second night becuase i couldn't book another night in my guesthouse or anywhere else.

If your exchange rate is fine and your budget is ok, you don't need to cook at all except if you go somewhere remote. I had to cook a little bit on the kii penninsula and in Noto but really not so much. With so many people nothing is far apart but beware many villages and small towns have no shops at all becuase they all just drive to the nearest supermarket. So never leave yourself short hoping to buy something in the village.

In noto, i cycled almost all the whole coast starting on the west side. I would have gone the whole way but clinging to the coast as much as I could but i got a bit tired at the end and it was near the end of my trip and I wanted to get to Kii for something different. But i had 8 gorgeous days there. Wajjima was a nice not very big town. Great great food market. must do that.

I was sorry i did not go to the lacquer museum in wajjima as i met one of hte best laquer artists. I think i was tired and just didn't process the info properly. The lacquerware there is second to none its so utterly beautiful to hold in your hands.

YOu can read my blog on crazyguyonabike but its not finished. I would recommend reading it even the parts about kyushu even if you are not going there. I share a lot of useful info.

WS Üyesi tevas kullanıcısının resmi
Thanks for your insight

Thanks for your insight Andrea.
I have read your blog in crazyguyonabike and I took a couple mental notes thanks to that.

We will probably do the Noto peninsula and Kanazawa after crossing Nagano coming from the West side (maybe Nikkoo).

I understand your recommendation regarding cities, however most of the time I asked some tourists and especially japanese people, they usually tell me to not bother with most of them. People have been consistently telling me to stay away from places like Kyoto which I believe you enjoyed quite a lot. The idea of visiting ancient temples surrounded by dirty modern building with electricity poles all around like I'm back to Montreal doesn't really appeal to me. This added to the fact that my girlfriend generally dislikes cities makes me thing I'm better off planning our trip away from anything that's bigger than a million people.
Japanese people also told me to stay clear of Osaka, Nagoya, also Tokyo (but probably we will fly out from there so I guess we will put the bikes on a train near Fujisan when we are done and maybe spend 2 days walking around).

The fact that you mentioned that cities are the only places to vary menus got me a bit worried though, so I will investigate more and ask more locals. That being said, I find it hard to believe that +-100.000 population cities do not have a variety of choices, especially when I'm specially interested in trying local food rather than upmarket restaurants.

We are actually pretty interested in culture. My girlfriend is a historian but she also doesn't seem to think missing landmarks is a big deal in that regard. It's just that it's not worth the hassle when it involves traffic, pollution, more money to spend, etc (yes we are pretty broke so this is a factor :D).
I understand you have a different view on this but like you said, we're all different.

Even if later we're probably gonna scratch a lot of stuff and improvise I would love to choose some roads in advance. Problem is everyone is pointing me towards Touring Mapple but I don't have the money to buy a bunch of those, so I'm using google maps and some other apps I've found. In any case I find all pretty useless because it is pretty much impossible to know the state of a road, how busy it is, how wide it is, etc without information from someone that has already done it by bike (as you probably know already, asking for this kind of info to people that only drive cars is pretty useless for us cyclists :D). I found a road atlas in English but reading the comments I decided against buying it because it doesn't list small roads.
So basically I just read blogs of people that have been riding in Japan and highlight roads they find interesting. Also cross out busy roads with long tunnels and stuff like that.

I've done so much research that at this point what I would appreciate the most is detailed information regarding this or that road. Or how this whole prefecture is industrial or boring and I better take the main road until next beautiful spot.
I would also appreciate for people that have been cooking during their tours to let me know about stuff that can be cooked for cheap (like onigiris, or rice with curry) since we won't be able to afford eating out twice a day+snacks and we also appreciate camping when the sun goes down and cooking by the tent so we don't have to have dinner first, then keep riding looking for a place to camp.

If anyone knows a website with stove recipes for Japan I'd be very happy :)

Thanks again for your comment and safe travels!

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recipes

it wasn 't during a bike travel but we travel by carcamping 6 times in japan

for cooking

you can find already cook rice it is reallly a better choice unless you like glue rice ...

with this rice a made a lot of fried rice (with evrything I can found : vegetables ,porc , shrimps ... soy sauce )
and a lot of curry (also with evrything)
in big city you can found indian / thai curry paste

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ9rfuHmlYQ&ab_channel=SustainableVegan

wa eat also a lot of instant ramens bowl with extra : sprout beans ,porc ,eggs ,etc ...)

you can found also italian pasta with sauce ..; when you a fed up of ramen

in supermarket in the evening there is discount fresh food
look at the discount stickers: Half-price (半額) and % off (%引).
http://en.rocketnews24.com/2015/04/03/top-tip-for-saving-money-in-japan-visit-the-supermarket-just-...

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Salut Marie!

Salut Marie!

Thanks for your message :)
I usually cook my own rice, but now I'm curious about this "glue rice" you're talking about :D
It's good to know we can find some curry paste other than the japanese, it will be nice to have some variety.

I had heard about the supermarket discounts but I had this idea in my mind that it was basically for ready-to-eat food like sushi. Thanks to your link I know this also applies to meat :)

We usually ride until one hour before it's dark, then start looking for a campsite. Unfortunately it gets dark really early in Japan during September/November (more or less 17:50-16:30) so I don't think we'll be able to find discounted items before it gets dark.

On days where we do urban camping or we camp close enough to a supermarket I will definitely try to quickly ride to the market and then come back to cook dinner :)
I'm going to do some research and learn more about what time do supermarkets get the stickers out!

Merci pour ton message!

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me too I usualy cook my rice

me too I usualy cook my rice but in japan I never succed ?
it was always a sort of rice pudding ...

for landing be careful : kansai aiport is on an island and it is not simple to get out
and hokkaido is better in summer time (june july) unless we like snow ...

the traffic in big city isn 't so terrific as japanese use public transportation
however the suburbs are endless and not so fun ..

in japan in city you bike on sidewalk
http://www.tokyobybike.com/2014/04/sidewalk-cycling-in-japan.html

.