Another Japan hopeful

brookes79

Warming-Up
Dec 10, 2012
4
0
0
Dallas
#1
Hello all,

My name is Shawna and I am currently living in Dallas Texas...but soon I hope to make Japan my home. In November I made my first trip to Japan and went all over the place; Nikko, Tokyo, Shizuoka, Osaka, Kyoto, Mt. Koyan, Niigata, Hiroshima and Miyajima. It was a fast and furious trip and I left my heart on soul over in Japan...and I must reunite with them.

I plan to be in Japan in January, this time more for business as I will be looking for a job. One of my criteria for selecting a city to live in is access to great roads to cycle on and perhaps this forum might aid me.

So far, Hiroshima is my first choice but nothing is set in stone. I am very curious how safe it is to cycle in Tokyo; furthermore, I would want to cycle in the countryside more often than urban settings...which leads me to my first set of questions:

Can I bring my bike (Trek Equinox with aero bars) on the local train and ride the train to the countryside and disembark there?

How close/ easy access are country routes near Tokyo?

How safe and pleasurable is urban cycling in Tokyo metro? American drivers are not courteou swith cyclists and I wonder if Japanese drivers respect cyclists.

Thanks!

Shawna
 
Apr 3, 2012
401
98
48
Tama Center <-> Otemachi
#2
Shawna,

The Positivo Espresso blog has number of links regarding bicycles in Japan. It's a good resource.

You can get on the trains with a rinko bag (bicycle bag). With this, even if you are in the heart of Tokyo metropolis, it's straightforward to get out of the urban areas. I'm certain it's similar in other metro areas in Japan.

I would say the Japanese drivers are oblivious. This goes to pedestrians and other non-enthusiast cyclists. The urban roads are not bicycle friendly, but with enough confidence and speed, it navigable.

Good luck in finding a job.
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
2,435
880
133
Setagaya, Tokyo
joewein.net
#3
Can I bring my bike (Trek Equinox with aero bars) on the local train and ride the train to the countryside and disembark there?
Yes, provided you pack it into a bike bag (rinkobukuro) to protect other passengers.

How close/ easy access are country routes near Tokyo?
Trains from Shinjuku in central Tokyo to near the mountains to the west take about an hour to an hour and a half (fare: 500-1600 yen, depending on route) or you can cycle out there in a few hours.

There are cycling routes along the Tamagawa and Arakawa rivers.

How safe and pleasurable is urban cycling in Tokyo metro? American drivers are not courteous with cyclists and I wonder if Japanese drivers respect cyclists.
Wherever I go in Tokyo I ride my bicycle, not the train. My son commutes to university (19 km one way) in any weather, all year round. Riding on the roads here took some getting used to.

The faster you can go, the easier it is to swim with the flow. In a way it helps that cars can't go all that fast a lot of the time because of traffic. There are some roads I still avoid, based on average speeds there, number of trucks, traffic density, etc.

It's very bad for a driver to hit a cyclist or pedestrian, it almost always becomes their fault. On the other hand, many drivers don't know how to deal with road cyclists, as most bicycles here ride on the side walk.
 

kiwisimon

Maximum Pace
Dec 14, 2006
2,669
483
103
Japan
#4
the ever helpful all knowing Joe said:
as most bicycles here ride on the side walk.
Which is actually illegal. You'll get used to it pretty soon. Seriously any city is close enough to the country so go where you find a job, good luck
 
Sep 2, 2009
5
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0
#5
^Except when I went to a safety seminar last week, they showed a safety video, which included a section about riding on the pavement and being courteous to pedestrians.

I honestly think they don't know themselves.

Anyway, despite me doing that very thing, let's not turn this into one of 'those' threads.
 

microcord

Maximum Pace
Aug 28, 2012
914
294
83
Tokyo
#6
It's very bad for a driver to hit a cyclist or pedestrian, it almost always becomes their fault. On the other hand, many drivers don't know how to deal with road cyclists, as most bicycles here ride on the side walk.
The former is a silver lining for the hospitalized cyclist, but little more.

In my part of Tokyo plenty of cyclists ride off the sidewalk (unless you're Britishly inclined, on the pavement). Many drivers here just don't seem to notice or care. (Perhaps their driving assumptions and habits fossilized twenty years ago.) Taxis in particular are notorious for braking and changing lanes quickly in order to pick up fares. Assume the presence of fools/morons, get insurance, and remember that although less of a worry than elsewhere, (attempted) bike theft is common.
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
2,435
880
133
Setagaya, Tokyo
joewein.net
#7
The former is a silver lining for the hospitalized cyclist, but little more.
I still think it acts as a (limited) deterrent - perhaps similar to the standard practice that in collisions between cars, no side gets 100% fault unless the other was completely stopped at the time, which in general makes both sides drive more defensively than in countries where a 0% / 100% split is more common.
 
Sep 2, 2009
5
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0
#9
Haha, yeah and while it may give off the wrong impression, I find that they are far more passive / yielding when they have done something wrong and you give them some verbal abuse.

Overall, as long as you ride smart, and confidently, you will no have any major problems (unless you are very unlucky)
 

stanc

Maximum Pace
Sep 4, 2011
255
41
58
Brighton
#10
Unless you're dicing with yaks in white Mercedes or BMWs
Image of the day :) I was trying to explain to someone planning a trip earlier today that it's illegal to ride on the pavement (sidewalk) but that the police make you do it. Also the most intimidating thing I found were the small rural roads, barely wider than a car with deep drainage channels either side. What the heck do you do when something comes the other way. All traffic was much more courteous than at home in the UK.
 

brookes79

Warming-Up
Dec 10, 2012
4
0
0
Dallas
#11
Thank you for the replies. I am trying to decide living between Hiroshima and Tokyo..any further information is helpful.

In Dallas, drivers just don't give a poop about cyclists and actually are spiteful; many times I have been "buzzed" on three lane roads so I have pretty steel nerves.
 

brookes79

Warming-Up
Dec 10, 2012
4
0
0
Dallas
#13
Well, I have never ridden in a pack with others...you know triathletes are just so stuck up and keep all to ourselves..peloton and drafting are cheating ;)

No, just kidding. I hope to make cycling a more social affair in Japan.

I know of the bike bag but just wondering if I will have to break down the aerobars with a bike bag...not a big deal.

Texas is flat so it will be fun to experience a true "hill climb."
 

bloaker

Maximum Pace
Nov 14, 2011
1,550
1,221
433
Miura, Japan
#14
you know what they say... if your not good at Cycling, Running or Swimming, do all three.... :p

Different bags fit differently.
I would think the large MontBell bag I have would work with a 52 or so with Aerobars, but not positive.
 

brookes79

Warming-Up
Dec 10, 2012
4
0
0
Dallas
#16
Cycling is one aspect of my decision; when I was in Japan last month, I was near the Imperial Gardens and saw a pack of cyclists riding in the early morning...heck, might have been some of you all! Wherever I find reasonable employment is the biggest factor and I will simply adapt. Its still Hiroshima vs. Tokyo right now...but I will be back in Japan in January to make further assessment.

I was very impressed by the "bicycle locks" in Japan; I found most bikes to be "locked" by a circular ring about the back wheel...here in the States, bikes are >chained<to something solid! Japan is that honest? I think it would be somewhat suspicious if someone was carrying one of those bikes on their shoulder down the street.

But these were just common bicycles. Still, I don't think I would leave my tri bike outside.

I took a brief stop in Fujinomiya and rented a regular commuter bike and rode around the city. It was fun and I felt fine...except the basket does not double as aero bars and it seems commuter bikes tires were soft for comfort. Plus...the kickstands on those bikes are something...

About triathletes...Jack and Jill of all trades...master of none :)
 
Nov 2, 2012
60
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0
Minami Gyotoku
#17
come to Tokyo, there is a lot more to do here than Hiroshima. In my experience cycling on the road has been fine, the drivers treat you with respect, its just a lot of them are not used to seeing cyclists on the road and wont look for you, so you have to be extra alert.

Bike crime does happen here, but in general Tokyo is very safe, and there are so many bicyles!
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
2,435
880
133
Setagaya, Tokyo
joewein.net
#18
Leaving a tri bike / TT bike outside wouldn't be be a good idea (we had a thread here a couple of months ago after one bike disappeared).

In general bike theft here is of the most basic variety, someone taking an unlocked shopping bike because they are too lazy to walk back from the station at night. It doesn't take much of a lock to deter that kind of thief, if there are other, easier bikes around.
 

Sikochi

Maximum Pace
Sep 13, 2010
1,177
70
68
Kochi
#19
If you don`t know, the main problem with cycling in Japan is traffic lights. They are endless and so many are just redundant that cycling can be very stop/go unless you `cheat`. Thus, big cities can be awkward places to ride bikes unless you can find a nice route or loop that takes traffic lights out of the equation. Apart from that, Japan is the nicest place I have ridden a bike in.

I can`t comment on Tokyo, but been in Hiroshima a few times (parents-in-law reside there), however only rented a bike once or twice. There are plenty of nice wide roads, and the pavements are wide if you need them, so cycling is no hassle if you pick your routes wisely. However, can`t comment on whether there is a nice traffic light free loop available in the cental section - maybe near the sea front/port district is an option. There are flat routes available if you head inland, but don`t know what they are like from a cycling point of view. Certainly the mountains are close on either side so unlike Tokyo (from what I read) you don`t have to spend a long time on a train/or face a long transit to go climbing. Best thing, is to log onto strava or map my ride and try and find some local cyclists and see where they go.

Also, if you want to explore you have easy access to Kyushu and Kyoto/Osaka area is closer. And if you want a nice place to ride, then if you go to Onomichi and ride the bridges/islands across the inland sea to Shikoku - that is beautiful. Shikoku...now there`s a nice place to live/ride a bike ;)

If you want to do triathlons whilst you are here, then sports entry is a good place to start.
http://www.sportsentry.ne.jp/search.php?ct=t