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Cycling Life in Japan?

djhnz

Warming-Up
Oct 3, 2022
6
2
Hi There,

Looking for a job relocation to Tokyo for a few years, but looking for some information on what the cycling is like around Tokyo (and Japan in general).

I've spent a lot of time living in UK, Australia and New Zealand. Outside work life, cycling is my main hobby and where I've typically made most of my friends and social circle. In all of these countries, there is a strong cycling culture with many bunch rides, meetups, and racing.

Are there many group rides, races and cycling events around Tokyo? Currently, my typical routine is to go training for a few hours before work. I know Tokyo is a very busy city. Are roads in the suburbs okay for riding before work? or generally too busy? I see a lot of people will take trains to get outside the city, but ideally I would be able to ride from where I'm living, or is this just not really possible in Tokyo?

Are there many expats and English speaking cyclists around?

Thanks in advance!
 

OneForTheRoad

Maximum Pace
Jan 3, 2021
142
162
It seems it has been asked (and answered) before

 

microcord

Maximum Pace
Aug 28, 2012
1,404
969
It seems it has been asked (and answered) before
Yes, but that was a dozen years ago and some of the answers show it.

I've spent a lot of time living in UK, Australia and New Zealand. Outside work life, cycling is my main hobby and where I've typically made most of my friends and social circle. In all of these countries, there is a strong cycling culture with many bunch rides, meetups, and racing.

Are there many group rides, races and cycling events around Tokyo? Currently, my typical routine is to go training for a few hours before work. I know Tokyo is a very busy city. Are roads in the suburbs okay for riding before work? or generally too busy? I see a lot of people will take trains to get outside the city, but ideally I would be able to ride from where I'm living, or is this just not really possible in Tokyo?
In Japan, there's a strong ditto -- but of course, mostly consisting of Japanese people and therefore in Japanese. But there are also plenty who speak English.

You might want to live in an outer suburb such as Hachiōji. From there you'd be able to ride for a few hours before work, and do so in areas worth riding around. But you might then have a long commute to work.

I'm now mostly surplus to society's requirements; but a couple of years ago when I wasn't, I'd routinely ride my bike to work and back. But my opportunities for "training for a few hours before work" were very limited and pretty boring. (Not that I would have taken them anyway. Training is anathema to me, and I'm lazy.)

Do you know where your workplace will be and when you'll have to be there?

(As you contemplate commuting by train, don't assume that for example a 40-minute commute is thirty or so percent more awful than a 30-minute commute. There are other factors. As a ferinstance, my closest station is a terminus, so it's easy for me to get a seat even for peak rush hour. I can then rather contentedly read a book or tune out. If I got in the train a couple of stops later, my morning journeys would be shorter but distinctly horribler.)

One of the first things you should do on arrival is embark on a course of spoken Japanese.
 

Trek DJ

Maximum Pace
Jan 27, 2009
272
158
Japan in a nutshell:

1) World Class riding outside of Tokyo/across Japan - major climbs, descents, views, great pavement conditions, friendly traffic for the most part.
2) Group rides - mediocre, not as many as you would find in any major Australia, USA city. They exist, just not to the extent or as organized. Mostly smaller more informal groups
3) Events - plenty of events but mostly focused on hill climbs. From March/April till early winter, plenty of events but they do have a tendency to be over organized or sell out very quickly so you need to be on your game about entering events like Fuji HC, Matsumoto Century ride and what not.
4) Racing: Poor - infrequent, quite a few crashes due to lack of pack riding skills and many people not used to bunch riding, races are typically too short unless you are in the top category. Hard (for me) to justify a 4-5 hour drive one way for a 20-30km race.

So if you love great riding, big climbs, Japan is great. If you like racing, like its your main focus, you won't be happy with Japan.

(Coming from an American, grew up in Portland which at the time had a great race scene for road/CX, lots of active clubs. Used to travel a lot to Melbourne, Canberra, etc also with strong club scenes)
 
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Elzico2012

Maximum Pace
Jan 29, 2014
195
236
Your cycling habits will certainly be driven by your commuting time. The less commute, the more the morning practice will be feasible, unless you are freelance or start working late.
Otherwise, the needed home trainer.
 

djhnz

Warming-Up
Oct 3, 2022
6
2
Thanks for all the replies, my main question was probably how easy it would be to find other expats and english speakers to ride with, who are probably at a pretty high level of fitness.

I have never been to Japan, and would be working around Minato City.
 

Trek DJ

Maximum Pace
Jan 27, 2009
272
158
Thanks for all the replies, my main question was probably how easy it would be to find other expats and english speakers to ride with, who are probably at a pretty high level of fitness.

I have never been to Japan, and would be working around Minato City.
Pretty easy. There are quite a few fast riders I know off hand who regularly train and are based in Minato.
 

Manu

Warming-Up
Oct 9, 2022
3
1
Hi there,
I'm new to TCC and in Japan since 2 months. Now that I am more or less settled, I can finally start thinking about cycling other than to go to work and move around Tokyo. Coming from Belgium I used to ride with a group of 15-25 every Sunday morning. I hoped I could find something similar here including via this forum. So far I haven't found the information. So similar to djhnz, I would welcome any tip that could facilitate my integration in Japan's cycling community. Best regards
 Manu
 

microcord

Maximum Pace
Aug 28, 2012
1,404
969
I don't think I've ever seen a group of ten riders going fast, let alone 15 or 25. More commonly there'll be four or six.

It's some time since I was last in Cross Cafe (Inagi), but back then there were ads for fast rides posted on a blackboard. They were all in Japanese, because, well, Japanese is the language spoken here. But my uneducated guess -- corrections welcome! -- is that you wouldn't need much Japanese as long as you're eager to pick up more and to cooperate.
 

Manu

Warming-Up
Oct 9, 2022
3
1
Thanks for the feedback! I guess all you need is a group of motivated riders who can organise themselves with a captain with a good knowledge of the nice rides in and around Tokyo. 😉 in the meantime I will ride solo but if anyone wants to share a ride, more than welcome. I plan to go out Sundays at 8 am for 3-4 hours, starting from Minato-ku. Average speed: 28/30 km/h, well in the absence of traffic lights 😇
 

Chuck

Maximum Pace
Feb 7, 2011
1,513
1,748
Been off the bike for quite a while but finally was able to get out for a ride up to Yabitsu (approach from the north, south descent to Hadano) via Aikawa. I made a video of the ride to include the city riding that maybe will give some idea of what riding in Japan is like. It is my first attempt at a YouTube video with my GoPro, so apologies in advance for the poor quality.

 

microcord

Maximum Pace
Aug 28, 2012
1,404
969
@Chuck , "The Climb" that starts at 1 minute (and is oddly short), or anyway the long descent immediately after, is to/from Hanbara-goe 半原越.
 

mr tim

Speeding Up
Mar 11, 2022
60
35
Been off the bike for quite a while but finally was able to get out for a ride up to Yabitsu (approach from the north, south descent to Hadano) via Aikawa. I made a video of the ride to include the city riding that maybe will give some idea of what riding in Japan is like. It is my first attempt at a YouTube video with my GoPro, so apologies in advance for the poor quality.


Nice video :) I cycle a fair few parts of that route myself. Video looked fine to me. I don’t have the patience to keep stopping and taking clips, so props for that. I’m not sure about the section you sped up. I was quite happy seeing it in real time. The pace of the video is great otherwise. Ah the backroads of Zama indeed … truck after truck is my experience.
Good stuff :)
 

djhnz

Warming-Up
Oct 3, 2022
6
2
Thanks for all the replies. Does anyone have any suggestions on what areas would be good to live in? Looking for somewhere central ish, but also easy to get out for a ride, and easy to get to Minato City for work. Maybe something like Shinagawa?
 

Chuck

Maximum Pace
Feb 7, 2011
1,513
1,748
Thanks for all the replies. Does anyone have any suggestions on what areas would be good to live in? Looking for somewhere central ish, but also easy to get out for a ride, and easy to get to Minato City for work. Maybe something like Shinagawa?
If you are downtown Tokyo, you will need to be content with rides with lots of stops. Cycling roads along the rivers are good, but usually lots of people walking, so hard to really keep a pace. Cycling roads along the Edogawa, Arakawa, Tamagawa, Tsurumigawa and Sakaigawa are easily accessible from downtown. With a rinko bag and a train connection, you can get to any surrounding prefecture easily.

Here is an example of cycling along the Sakaigawa.
 

gillty

Cruising
Jun 10, 2021
9
11
Thanks for all the replies. Does anyone have any suggestions on what areas would be good to live in? Looking for somewhere central ish, but also easy to get out for a ride, and easy to get to Minato City for work. Maybe something like Shinagawa?
A generalization, but the residential areas of Minato-ku, Shinagawa-ku, Koto-ku are boring, urban bedroom communities.
 
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