Finally: Tokyo-Osaka-Kyoto(-Tokyo?)

rhinnq

Warming-Up
Jun 24, 2015
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#1
Finally hoping to make the trip since living here a few months. My idea is to ride from Tokyo to Osaka and then Kyoto and potentially back but I'm not sure about the ride back yet.

I'm kind of broke so Shinkansen won't work but I've seen it's cheap JR season and I could get a ticket set containing 5x day tickets for 12.000yen. Is that right? Is it easy to sell 4 of them and only hold on to one to travel Kyoto - Tokyo back including a packed up bicycle?

And if not:
which route do you recommend for first/return. Think I might tire by the end of and would prefer to ride the short route back to Tokyo. I'm not too time pressed to prefer the scenic cycle to the long motorways. Found lots of great discussions about trips but no info about preferences which directions to ride in case of a return leg.
I cycle ~30+km daily here in Tokyo and run 60km a week but my only longer ride lately has been to Yokohama and back.

Imagine to wake up early each day (4am) to start cycling to avoid the heat. Making average 100+km per day.
This shouldn't be too hard with my CUBE Cyclocross.

Ah, in case it's important. I'm planning to just sleep on the side of the road under a tarp with an occasional onsen trip and family restaurant to recharge the mobile. Done this elsewhere and have no problem getting a good nights sleep.
DO I HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT WILDLIFE? (BEARS, WILD BOARS, DEERS AND OTHER ANIMALS?)

And can somebody recommend a 5000-6000yen powerblock/battery to recharge the mobile on the road? Preferably something I can also easily use in mainland Europe.

Thank you,
really looking forward.
 
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rhinnq

Warming-Up
Jun 24, 2015
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#2
So, I decided to take a return trip via train as it's holiday season and I can get a cheap ticket. Now I'm only left with deciding which route to take, length doesn't matter too much.
Which is the most scenic, rewarding one?

1. Going down with the 2 ferries via Toi, Shizuoka, Irago, Toba to Osaka and later Kyoto.
or
2. From Tokyo via Nagano, Ogaki, Higone, Nara to Osaka and then Kyoto?

Thanks!
 

S Jones

Warming-Up
Jul 2, 2015
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#3
My husband and I did the route along along the Tokaido last summer, as recommended on The Japan Cycling Navigator website: http://www.japancycling.org/v2/cguide/part5/ with some small adjustments along the way.

It was absolutely beautiful. The only part I might be worried about is from what I read, the roads around Mt. Fuji can be extremely busy during tourist season...

If you're interested in some pictures and a little more route info, here is a link to our blog of the trip: http://ourtravelsinjapan.blogspot.com/2014/05/what-were-we-thinking.html

If you decide on the Nagano route, please let me know how it is! Our next trip will likely be Tokyo--> Nagano and on somewhere after that depending on time.
 
Likes: microcord
May 22, 2007
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#4
Sorry @rhinnq about the lack of responses. Most of the regulars on this forum are Megapolis-embedded and don't undertake the kind of tour you are contemplating.

You can get a rechargeable USB doo-dah from the 7-eleven or any electronics/electrical store. And you can plug it in to recharge it outside any convenience store - just buy a coffee and stealth-squat next to their outdoor electrical outlet.

You almost certainly do not have to worry about being eaten by bears. Insect repellant would be a good buy.

100 km a day starting at 4 am? You should be finished by 8 am. Honestly.... HTFU.
 

microcord

Maximum Pace
Aug 28, 2012
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#5
My husband and I did the route along along the Tokaido last summer, as recommended on The Japan Cycling Navigator website: http://www.japancycling.org/v2/cguide/part5/ with some small adjustments along the way. [...]

If you're interested in some pictures and a little more route info, here is a link to our blog of the trip: http://ourtravelsinjapan.blogspot.com/2014/05/what-were-we-thinking.html
Just now I read it for the first time. Enjoyable reading, enviable trip!
 

rhinnq

Warming-Up
Jun 24, 2015
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#6
Great to read the responses, thank you. Just getting back from a 100km roll that dissipated any worries.
Read a few of the blog entries and took notes of locations as well, great you wrote that down. I might do a last-minute switch for the Nagano route depending on weather and feeling,
but otherwise it's gonna be: From Tokyo via Toi, Shizuoka, Irago, Toba to Osaka, Nara and then Kyoto with the train back.

And the convenience store plug will come in very handy! It looks like the first 2–3 days might be very rainy until it clears up.
Looking forward, cycling tends to have these remarkable sanity properties and sharpens my mind and it will be good to get out of Tokyo!

Does anybody have recommendation for a Sake brewery to visit along the route?

Thanks for the help.
Starting on Friday!
 
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rhinnq

Warming-Up
Jun 24, 2015
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#7
So, back. Some info if anybody wants to make a similar trip in the future (I'll add some pictures in the coming days)
  • DAY 1: Tokyo – Hakone – Fuji (~145km)
    Started early and had done good research for routes, so I proceeded fast and got to Hakone pretty quickly. First and only time I cursed my 12kg backpack. The 10,1% part was painful by 34degree in the sun.
    Thought I could get some food in Hakone City, but for lack of choices I just turned to Family Mart. Cold and stormy once up at Lake Ashii though, I switched the route to cycle to Fuji instead. The last 10km before reaching Fuji were suffering slow screams for food. **** Long ride, possible. Start early to avoid the Hakone climbing heat.

  • DAY 2: Fuji – Shizuoka – Mochimune – Yaizu – Hamamatsu – Irago (~210km)
    Long day ahead, felt very fresh and started early. First highlight was getting to the just incoming ocean waves. Passed Shizuoka in a breeze (long, boring city but with a nice shallow river going through. And the oldest japanese water distribution system somewhere close by, perfect for laying in the cold water!). The road via Mochimune was spectacular, great ride on slowly ascending coastal slopes that only got stopped when I reached the tunnel. Falling stones blocked the way and I had to recede, leaving me unhappy thinking about the steaming tarmac of motorway 1. Took the metro for 1 stop to Yaizu and created an eclat by not having dismantled my bike. Station Master showed pity (or helplessness) and let me continue without much harassment. Hamamatsu must be the most uninteresting city in Japan and once again a stop proved the wrong choice. So I got late to Irago, long straight cycles through the slightly hilly countryside growing fruits in ventilated plastic domes. Lined by fake grandma konbinis and pupils walking home.
    Quite some nice looking surf spots on the route while seeing the parallel running ocean every few km. Irago, once again horribly researched, proved to have lots of weirdo drinks at vending machines but only upscale hotel restaurants and no convenience store within 8km. Grab some food before and the great sky view feel like the reward. And go to the elementary schools (fenced) pool for a night dip! ***** Check if the tunnel if open, avoid Hamamatsu, grab food before Irago. Very long cycle

  • DAY 3: Irago – Toba – Matsusaka – ~ Nabari - Iga - Nara (~150km)
    Still fresh. First ferry and then beautiful easy cycle from Toba to Matsusaka and towards Nabari. Heat (I suspect) had killed my Samsung Galaxy mounted on the handlebar by this point so I relied on the map, asking and guessing. A japanese Google Maps recommended a tiny, heavily sloped looking route through the mountains ignoring a mounted sign about the BAD ROAD ahead.
    The first 3km uphill was hard mountain biking terrain, by which point I had to carry the bike a few times over fallen rocks until it became a barely visible river/rock/gravel/grass path. Unused for a decade easily I guess. Kept pushing on as I expected it to join the main road (which I could hear, but not see nearby). 2km more slowly walking up the slopes in beautiful scenic waterfall environment fed the realisation that I either had to return or wade through the thigh-high river and climb a 55% mud acclivity to get back to the motorway. Opted for crossing the river (should have taken off the shoes) and climbing with the bike on the back. Thankfully I had a long rope that I could tow around a tree higher up.
    Nice cycle downhill towards Nabari, further to Iga (stunning sento in a temple & great Buddhist statues) before I got to Nara in darkness. Darkness is the best moment to arrive in a city, experience has shown. Nara looked exciting by night and more amazing by light next day. ***** Very varied cycle, very local and village scenery, map needed for best small-turn route, stop in Iga! – reach Nara by night

  • DAY 5: Nara – Osaka (~35km)
    Midday start and I just wanted to be quick to reach Osaka before the Typhoon rain started – so chose a boring ride next to the motor way. On the highest point heavy rain began falling and I was forced to race down the mountain next to two lanes of cars and near-to-no breaking power by mid-hill anymore. Scary surprise that there is a traffic light on the bottom were all the cars cue in long lines obscured by a curve. Make sure to have several extra-rain breaking pads with you as they can go fast. Skidding with 35km/h through the cars with one foot on the asphalt I was so wet I just continued into Osaka, checking the castle before joining the frenzy of Osaka's shopping maze turned Blade Runner. ***** pick a good, scenic route. there are lots of sightseeing spots on the way more comfortable than the motorway.

  • DAY 8: Osaka – Yamazaki – Kyoto (~50km)
    Easy cycle to Yamazaki Distillery (not really worth the detour but it's free so doesn't hurt either). Crossed into Kyoto via Arashiyama ***** by now 50km felt like a warming up ride.

During the city days I wanting to cycle ~50km just for fun. Some days were hard and I hated them while cycling but that turned to love the next day. I will definitely do it again, but with some more research for routes, roads, scenes and culture on the next trip. And possibly do it either in March–May or Late September–November to avoid the burning heat.

Let me know if there are any questions.
(sorry for my limited english)
 
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Tanki

Maximum Pace
Aug 7, 2014
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#8
Show us your bike set up. And apologise for the 12kg backpack, I was in pain from the third line.
 

rhinnq

Warming-Up
Jun 24, 2015
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#9
Sorry – my English is always this bad irrespective the circumstances.

To sum it up: Really great trip, beautiful rides I'd love to do again. As a day ride DAY 3 was the best as the route never really touched a busy road and had climbs, descends, rivers, long flat parts, coast and skies!
Nara was life-changing, good to see Osaka (fantastic food, O feels like an LA/SF american-korean invention of a japanese mega city & Osaka Ceramic Museum is very good!, great sentos) and Kyoto (crazy amount of tourists, but the best sites were surprisingly low on visitors. The place to take your affair when 45 and older! Noted)

Bike: Cube Cross Road (Aluminium frame, Carbon fork), 61'
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Just entering that damn river
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Likes: Tanki

Tanki

Maximum Pace
Aug 7, 2014
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#10
Not your English mate, the thought of all those kms carrying a backpack had me reading with sympathy pain. Can't you fit a rack to your bike?
 

rhinnq

Warming-Up
Jun 24, 2015
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#11
I was surprised at its actual weight too. The army ritual I never endured. Could definitely strip ~4 to 5kg next time as I didn't use the equipment anyway and possibly fit everything in saddle/handle and frame bag then without having to attach a rack (I'm biased, not sure why. Should just try finding a store where to ride one in comparison) . As the bike only is 7kg an extra 5kg on the frame won't kill the cycle feel.

Only immediate bike update I can think of would be some form an electricity generator (either solar or dynamo). Any good leads?
Will have to consult Goediepal on it..
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Aug 6, 2015
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#13
Thanks for all the information. I am going to ride to Kyoto at the end of the month (Aug. 2015). What app did you use to map your route? I was going to follow route 1 unless there is a better choice.
 
Jan 30, 2016
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#14
Hey there,

I'm thinking of doing this ride in mid-late March of this year if there is a good window of weather. I think I will take the Irako-Toba ferry to avoid the traffic of Nagoya, and then go around the southern coast of Wakayama to Osaka. I really want to see Nachi falls which is on the way. Has anyone done this route? I was wondering what anyone's experiences have been with Ryokan/accomodation during the nights? Are they generally easy to find in a town? My last question is about taking bikes back on a train. If I have the train-approved bag is that all I need?