Biking Gaijins

Dec 5, 2007
9
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11
Colorado
#1
My friends and I, three females and one male, ages 37 to 55, are planning a bike trip across Japan...the long way, about 1800 miles (2896 Km) from Kagoshima to the northern tip of Hokkaido. We are looking for a great cultural Japanese experience. We plan on leaving from the most southern tip of Kyushu (Sata) on March 15, 2008 and have until the end of May to complete our journey. We hope this will leave us time to enjoy everything Japan has to offer.. We would like to meet other Japanese as well as experience everyday Japanese life.

Also, we are willing to help at any project or job you may be doing. Need help in the garden, fishing, making Japanese food... Do you like to drink? We do too! You pick the task, we are willing to try anything. Please join us while we camp for eating great Japanese food. Do you want to join us for biking, we welcome your company.

Of course, this all will depend on if our schedule will allow us to take the time. We have never done a trip like this and don't know what to expect. Our plan is to leave the Southern tip of Japan and follow the Pacific ocean, then once on Hunshu we will follow the Japan Sea. We are willing to deviate somewhat. If we are in the area at the time you need help, we hope to stop by. Let us know.
 
Dec 5, 2007
9
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11
Colorado
#6
We plan to make it to Miyazaki on March 18, 2008. Probably in the afternoon. Thanks for the offer of putting us up, but there are four of us, kind of a lot to ask of someone.
 

ric

Warming-Up
Dec 18, 2007
5
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Miyazaki
#7
There's lots of spots around Aoshima were you could pitch a tent. Near the swimming beach there are public facilities, toilets and water. There's also a campground but I doubt it's open in March. You're welcome to pitch your tent in my yard and use my kitchen and shower if you want.

I've ridden from very close to Sata Misaki (I didn't make the turn off the main road) to Nobeoka. If I can answer any questions about the road just ask.
 
Dec 5, 2007
9
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11
Colorado
#8
There's lots of spots around Aoshima were you could pitch a tent. Near the swimming beach there are public facilities, toilets and water. There's also a campground but I doubt it's open in March. You're welcome to pitch your tent in my yard and use my kitchen and shower if you want.

I've ridden from very close to Sata Misaki (I didn't make the turn off the main road) to Nobeoka. If I can answer any questions about the road just ask.
Thanks for your reply, we really appreciate the information and offer. From your profile it looks as if you live in Miyazaki, the possibility of us pitching our tent may be really great. We've been checking out campgrounds and we realize, as you said, some are going to be closed, but we will ride right past Aoshima and check it out.

I do have questions about the road. We are somewhat worried about our safety and those that will join us. Are the roads fairly safe? Are the drivers courteous? Is there a shoulder on the road? Any information is appreciated!
 
Dec 5, 2007
9
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11
Colorado
#9
This sounds a great journey. When you pass by Tokyo, just stop by my house. I would spend sometimes with you guys. Welcome to Japan. There are many passes in Japan like Colorado. You would enjoy hill climb.:):)

Cheers, Minoru Arai
Thanks for the great offer, but we will try to avoid the big cities and will pass by Tokyo to the west along the Japan Sea. Come and join us for biking if you want.
 

ric

Warming-Up
Dec 18, 2007
5
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0
Miyazaki
#10
I feel the roads are safe, the drivers courteous and the few times I've had close calls with cars it was a mistake rather than malicious. Almost all of the busy roads will have a path on one or both sides, so you can stay off the roads altogether if you wish. 220 between Nichinon and Aoshima has a few places where you will have to ride on the highway but these sections are short. North of Miyazaki there's a nice bicycle path that goes beyond Saito and I would recommend it.

Coming out of Sata 448 is a very nice road that turns in to 220 around Shibushi. There's some hills and it's remote but very little traffic. Get a road atlas at any book store once you get to Kagoshima. I know you plan on staying on the Pacific Ocean side but it would be a shame to miss Kumamoto and Nagasaki. Perhaps you should consider going west from Nobeoka to Kumamoto?
 
Dec 5, 2007
9
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Colorado
#11
Ric, as usual, your information is both informative and appreciated. I've sent your information on to the others that will join us. I've been to Kumamoto and Nagasaki, but my friends haven't. There are so many nice places to go in Japan.

As far as maps go, we have the Kyushu mapple and will buy more as we proceed.
 

Londoner

Warming-Up
Jan 13, 2008
1
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Aichi
#12
Plan well.

Hi. Haven't done a great deal of cycling myself, but can recommend the the route from Gifu city to Takeyama, Norikura Skyline road (2800 metres), Kamakouchi, Mt Asama, then route 146 to the onsen town of Kusatsu in Gunma, R145 to Numata and on to Nikkko. From here you'll need more advice, but this route is great. As an experienced cyclist with good road sense you should be fine, but be aware that Japan has one of the worst road death records in the world. It shouldn't be a problem so long as you follow my philosophy which is "look out for them, because they are not looking out for you". It is not PC to say this I know, but Japanese drivers are absolutely terrible. But the scenery is amazing and Japan is a very safe place for cyclist aside from the drivers. If you need further info I'll do my best to help you out.

LD
 

Phil

Maximum Pace
#13
but be aware that Japan has one of the worst road death records in the world.
Hm. Everything I've seen says that Japan is among the safer countries compared to both other developed nations and developing nations. Lots of webevidence, but you could start with

http://www.factbook.net/EGRF_Regional_analyses_HMCs.htm

in which Japan beats everyone in the developed world except the UK for _lowest_ deathrate.

And claiming that an entire nation has somehow all learned to be "terrible drivers" is, well, a bit old-fashioned, don't ya think? ;)
 
Jan 14, 2007
2,516
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Noda
japanichiban.com
#14
I've found most Japanese drivers to be good. They drive much safer & slower than their Austrlian counter parts.

Japanese drivers expect cyclists to be on the road so they are aware...and won't go out of their way to kill you.

If you are new to Japan and not used to the local interpretations of giving way or stopping at pedestrian crossings for example then it can look like chaotic danger. Once you become used to the cultural differences in interpreting the law it is very easy to ride almost anywhere in Japan.
 
Jan 18, 2008
3
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0
Sagamihara, Kanagawa
#15
Be Careful!

I disagree with people stating that Japanese drivers are good. They are actually quite dangerous. The term incompetent would define it nicely. In the city, here in Kanagawa, it is not uncommon for drivers to pull out in front of cyclers. Many Japanese drivers are very selfish. They will pull out in front of you, smile, bow, wave, and put on there flashers for a couple of cycles. As if it makes it all better.

I bike 7 miles to and from work every day, and there aren't many uneventful days. I nearly get killed on a daily basis.

More dangerous than cars are pedestrians, and normal people on bicycles. They are the worst. They never look where they are going! They will dart out of an alley and you will nearly crash trying to avoid them. Old men are at the absolute bottom. They can't drive, or ride bikes.

Please be careful. It is possible to ride safely in this country, but you must be on your toes.

Have fun,

Andy:)
 

Deej

Maximum Pace
Oct 13, 2007
1,018
149
83
Setagaya
#18
You can't deny the facts. Defensive driving is an absolute must in this country. Incompetent drivers depend upon the other driver to compensate for their poor driving technique.
I don't doubt that you've had some hairy experiences here on your bike. Goodness knows, I have too -- on Monday, a driver actually revved their engine as they passed me at an intersection and did a little feint-swerve in my direction to try and spook me! Bizarre.

However, I wouldn't use that incident to color my overall view of Japanese drivers. On the whole, my experience has been that if I ride safely and smart, I do not feel particularly at risk on the road. And drivers for the most part have been tolerant of me, if not courteous.

But what you and I have mentioned are not necessarily "facts" about Japanese drivers in general, they are anecdotes specific to our personal experiences. A few posts up, Phil mentioned how a little Web research will yield objective data indicating that Japan is in fact a relatively safe place to ride a bike. If you have time, have a look at his link.

Rubber down :),

Deej
 
Dec 5, 2007
9
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11
Colorado
#19
Thanks everybody for your great comments. It's really been great to read all of them. We're going to try to avoid the big cities as much as possible, but when you go the length of Japan we won't avoid all of them. It's only 7 weeks until our starting date. See you all in Sata on March 15!!!
 

livestrong

Warming-Up
Aug 9, 2007
20
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tokyo, setagaya
#20
whats your intended itinerary for kyushu ? i was intending to cycle around kyushu at around the same time - it would be much more fun to be in company of fellow riders. i have to be back in Tokyo by 29th March, which gives me 2 weeks to cover kyushu .... sounds like you guys will spend an equal amount of time there .. looking forward to hearing from you.