Our first trip outside Europe was way back in 1985 and brought us into a very different culture: Japan. We have always hesitated to put our information on our site as it might be outdated.
But then in 2001, we read Josie Dew’s “A Ride in the Neon Sun: A Gaijin in Japan” and nothing seemed to have changed. So here it is: our travelogue about our Japantrip. All information on these pages is based on our personal experiences cycling in Japan during August and September 1985.
Maps; getting around
Many road signs are in Japanese characters only. A map with names written in Japanese is therefore indispensable. To find your way around your map should at least show road numbers. For your own convenience it helps if it also shows names in Roman script.
We used a road atlas of more than 250 pages, including city maps (sorry, no name in English). It showed both road numbers and names in Roman script. To make it more handy we cut loose all the pages and only took the pages we were going to need.
Signposting along all the roads is good, but most of the time in Japanese only; all distances are measured in kilometres.
We used the well-known Lonely Planet travel guide as guidebook. Nowadays is also specific cycling information available, e.g. cycling Japan by Brian Harrell.
A dictionary and phrase book is essential. It is a good idea to find typical bicycle terms you may need in advance on the Internet, as you won’t find them in any of the travelers phrase books. And of course Josie Dew’s “A Ride in the Neon Sun: A Gaijin in Japan”. (more about Josie )
Links on the WWW
- The Japan Cycling Navigator
Edited by Japan Adventure Cyclist Club and ‘Nice Voluntary Staffs’. Excellent site.
- Trip report by Bill Macher; all about free camping, ferry’s, public baths and What Are The Roads and Drivers Like?
- Great story by Jan Boonstra about cycling tour through Western Japan in July 1993
- Cycling pages of The Outdoor Japan site
- Extensive report about cycling through Central Japan by Chris Ferree in 2000; with photographs
- Cycling events and information in and around Japan with emphasis on the Tokyo area.
- Tomer Gurantz’ 2002 Japan trip With info about camping, riding tunnels etc. etc. Japanese version under construction.
- On a tandem around Shikoku in 4 weeks (1999)
Tourreport by a Dutch couple on a tandem. Includes the interesting statement that it is not allowed to cycle on a tandem everywhere in Japan.
- The Japan Information Network ; general info and links to websites
- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
- Online Japanese- English – Japanese dictionary
Type in the word ‘bicycle’ and discover how the Japanese call your bike…
- Cycling in Hokkaido