Japan tour: suggestions?

Komuso

Cruising
Oct 6, 2010
17
3
13
Melbourne
#1
Hello folks. Looking for suggestions on the following route.

The tour is planned to go for ten days, from April 30 - May 12, 2019. We will be a group of up to ten cycling nuts on roadies, plus a driver and support car. I previously lived in Japan for ten years, and speak Japanese.

The tentative plan is:

Ferry from Tokyo > Tokushima, where the cycling begins
Tokushima > Mt. Tsurugi
Mt. Tsurugi > Imabari
Imabari > Fukuyama
Fukuyama > Kobe (hopping on the local train for this)
Kobe > Kyoto
Kyoto > Toba
Ferry from Toba to Irago > Kakegawa
Kakegawa > Fuji River
Fuji River > Lake Yamanaka
Lake Yamanaka > Tokyo

Map attached (day numbers are provisional only).

Questions I have are:

1. Ferry tickets for Ocean Tokyu Ferry service (Tokyo to Tokushima) only become available from one month before departure date. The thing is that we will be traveling in Golden Week. I made an inquiry with OTF, and they said that tickets sell out within half an hour during GW. Does anyone have any experience with booking OTF for travel during GW, who can verify this? I'd be straight onto booking as soon as they were open, but there could always be complications. I have never traveled during GW while I lived in Japan, so I don't really know what it's like during that period. If we miss out on tickets, the plan B will simply be to do the whole thing in reverse, but I'd prefer plan A.

2. Will accommodation for a group of our size during GW be an issue?

3. Does anyone have any experience or suggestions on the sectors I have listed above? I can provide Strava route info if anyone is curious, or feeling particularly helpful! Any such help would be most appreciated.

4. Do hotels generally allow bikes in rooms if they are packed in a rinkobukuro?

It'd be great to link some other cycling activities in there too, such as doing a crit race in Tokyo when we're done, or watching keirin during or after. Haven't yet had a hard look into these activities though. Suggestions more than welcome.

Thanks!
 

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WattsUp

Maximum Pace
Dec 9, 2017
139
77
48
#2
According to my brother-in-law, bikes in hotel rooms are perfectly fine in rinkobukuro, and some hotels are fine even without a rinko bag if you call ahead and explain what you're doing. Large groups also shouldn't be an issue if you plan ahead.

I've traveled in Japan during GW, with...mixed results. At least my family tends to try and avoid traveling or holidaying during GW. Traffic at the start and end of GW can be horrendous (50+ km of bumper-to-bumper traffic etc), many shops closed etc. Hotels and such are often a lot more expensive. However, it wouldn't surprise me if that can be very dependent on where you're traveling to; maybe others can chime in.

Also note that GW next year is going to be a bit irregular, since it's going to be a 10-day stretch of holiday. As you may have heard, the current emperor is stepping abdicating the throne on 30 April, and 1 May is being designated as a one-time holiday as the new emperor ascends the throne. No idea what that will mean for hotel accommodations etc, but a 10-day stretch may encourage more people to travel overseas instead of holiday close to home?
 
Likes: jdd

OreoCookie

Maximum Pace
Dec 2, 2017
348
135
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41
#3
Another thing to consider is that at least further north there will still be snow in some places. (Near Sendai you can be knee-deep in snow at the end of April at moderate altitudes of ~600+ m.)
 

Komuso

Cruising
Oct 6, 2010
17
3
13
Melbourne
#4
According to my brother-in-law, bikes in hotel rooms are perfectly fine in rinkobukuro, and some hotels are fine even without a rinko bag if you call ahead and explain what you're doing. Large groups also shouldn't be an issue if you plan ahead.

I've traveled in Japan during GW, with...mixed results. At least my family tends to try and avoid traveling or holidaying during GW. Traffic at the start and end of GW can be horrendous (50+ km of bumper-to-bumper traffic etc), many shops closed etc. Hotels and such are often a lot more expensive. However, it wouldn't surprise me if that can be very dependent on where you're traveling to; maybe others can chime in.

Also note that GW next year is going to be a bit irregular, since it's going to be a 10-day stretch of holiday. As you may have heard, the current emperor is stepping abdicating the throne on 30 April, and 1 May is being designated as a one-time holiday as the new emperor ascends the throne. No idea what that will mean for hotel accommodations etc, but a 10-day stretch may encourage more people to travel overseas instead of holiday close to home?
Thanks for that info about the emperor abdicating. Was only vaguely aware. Assuming we can get ferry tickets, I can't imagine Shikoku will be bumper to bumper. Our plan B, on the other hand....

Another thing to consider is that at least further north there will still be snow in some places. (Near Sendai you can be knee-deep in snow at the end of April at moderate altitudes of ~600+ m.)
The trip will trace through Shikoku, up to Kansai, Mie, and Shizuoka to Tokyo. We won't be heading any further north.
 

Kangaeroo

Speeding Up
Jan 24, 2018
125
92
38
62
#5
You might want to try and work out something with Japan Biking?
Thomas, the operator, has intimate knowledge of lots of the rindo, cycling paths and off-the-beaten track thoroughfares through many of the areas that you're proposing to go. He also has contacts with lots of hotel operators AND ferries, so may be able to help you out.
 
Likes: WattsUp

Komuso

Cruising
Oct 6, 2010
17
3
13
Melbourne
#6
Wasn't sure if it'd be ok to ask tour operators for info, but I might shoot him an email and see if he minds me asking a question or two. Reckon he'd be open to it? I'm sure a tour would be better, but we're aiming to minimise costs.
 

Kangaeroo

Speeding Up
Jan 24, 2018
125
92
38
62
#7
Wasn't sure if it'd be ok to ask tour operators for info, but I might shoot him an email and see if he minds me asking a question or two. Reckon he'd be open to it? I'm sure a tour would be better, but we're aiming to minimise costs.
I don't really know, but you can try.
 

TokyoLiving

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Dec 9, 2015
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#8
Wasn't sure if it'd be ok to ask tour operators for info, but I might shoot him an email and see if he minds me asking a question or two. Reckon he'd be open to it? I'm sure a tour would be better, but we're aiming to minimise costs.
Check out Tim @ https://www.gsastuto.com/rentals.html

He’s got a good system set up for supporting tours on various levels along with bike rentals if needed. Good guy and very well versed in the terrain.

Tell him AL sent ya.
 

leicaman

Maximum Pace
Sep 20, 2012
2,564
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Asakadai, Saitama
#9
Wasn't sure if it'd be ok to ask tour operators for info, but I might shoot him an email and see if he minds me asking a question or two. Reckon he'd be open to it? I'm sure a tour would be better, but we're aiming to minimise costs.
I don’t think he’d be too chuffed in answering questions you may have about touring in Japan if you aren’t going to use him as a guide.
 

Komuso

Cruising
Oct 6, 2010
17
3
13
Melbourne
#10
Check out Tim @ https://www.gsastuto.com/rentals.html

He’s got a good system set up for supporting tours on various levels along with bike rentals if needed. Good guy and very well versed in the terrain.

Tell him AL sent ya.
Thanks for that, will mention it to the gents. I think we'll most likely be bringing our own bikes for fit and tech, but someone might prefer to rent.

I don’t think he’d be too chuffed in answering questions you may have about touring in Japan if you aren’t going to use him as a guide.
That was my first thought. I think I'll refrain.
 

WattsUp

Maximum Pace
Dec 9, 2017
139
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#12
I don’t think he’d be too chuffed in answering questions you may have about touring in Japan if you aren’t going to use him as a guide.
Really? I'm always surprised when I hear that about small business owners.
I run a business - helping out someone that isn't going to be an immediate client has always ended up with....more business.
Turns out "He's a nice guy and helpful' is good advertising; people running businesses tend to figure that out pretty darn quick.
There's of course a limit, but a few broad questions wouldn't raise my eyebrows in his situation.
 
Likes: Kangaeroo
Dec 27, 2015
4
1
13
37
www.strava.com
#13
Looking at your map, it seems like on your second day you are planning to ride past Shikoku-Chuo, Niihama and Saijo.

I rode those roads in 2016. Aside from the small climb around Niihama it was not a very pleasant experience with lots of heavy traffic and not very interesting roads. https://www.strava.com/activities/579841089

If you can you should stay in the mountains. It would be a vastly more enjoyable experience.
Maybe something like this? (as you're probably aware ride with GPS is not aware of tunnels so the elevation is very misleading)