MTBing Trails and Bike Rental

Denimgrl66

Warming-Up
Jan 5, 2020
7
7
3
53
Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada
Hi there - thanks for the add! I don't know if this is the right forum for me to use to ask about MTBing in Japan in March? We are avid riders here in Canada. This March, we will be travelling to Japan and would like to find a trail where we can ride for a day and rent bikes. We are Intermediate/Advance riders. We have done some research and it seems the best places are in the north, where there will still be snow at that time of the year. Mostly, we will be travelling around Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka areas.

Just wondering if anyone has any advice. Thank you!
 

OreoCookie

Maximum Pace
Dec 2, 2017
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Trails are kept as a secret in Japan, because a lot of municipalities are not used to us MTBers and to avoid drawing attention to interesting trails, Japanese mountain bikers will typically actively avoid to advertise trails. That makes Japanese trails a bit hard to navigate if you don't have any contacts in the local community.
 

bloaker

Sincerely A Dick
Nov 14, 2011
2,102
2,429
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Miura, Japan
I am married! :D

@OreoCookie nailed it. We are not explicitly allowed to ride many places, so where we do ride, we try to keep it quiet and controlled to riders that understand how it is. This is why you don't see a map of trails and almost never are they advertised. Areas like Kamakura have banned mountain biking on 90% of their trails and that makes the entire area off limits as a wrong turn may put you on a forbidden trail.
 

Kangaeroo

Maximum Pace
Jan 24, 2018
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Oh, wow! Sorry @OreoCookie , I thought you were joking. I didn't know this. Bloody hell. Sounds like something Japanese local governments would do, though. I can already see the Silver Center employee with his arms crossed and screaming out "ダメ、ダメ、No, no!" at anybody going to ride a trail.
 
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OreoCookie

Maximum Pace
Dec 2, 2017
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Oh, wow! Sorry @OreoCookie , I thought you were joking. I didn't know this. Bloody hell. Sounds like something Japanese local governments would do, though. I can already see the Silver Center employee with his arms crossed and screaming out "ダメ、ダメ、No, no!" at anybody going to ride a trail.
Oh no, I wasn't. It took me a while to realize what was going on. Initially when I first moved to Sendai, I tried all the usual websites to look for trails. And basically there were no indicated trails. And I am using trails very loosely, because this might be just single- or double-track.Depending on your taste, that could just be the “boring” part of mountain biking. I don't have any proper trails around here, nothing that is maintained, only suitable hiking paths. Very different from Toronto where the city maintained a few dedicated MTB trails near where I lived, complete with signage and all.

As a foreigner, you have more leeway to break “the rules”, so you can get away with ignoring signs, etc. But the longer you live here, IMHO the more I don't want to rely on that. You really need to ask around, but depending on where you live, the local mountain biking community might be rather small. Many shops will not sell mountain bikes, at least not any serious mountain bikes. (It seems a local maximum is in Nagano-ken, but this is just heresay.) There are a few XC marathon races in Japan on youtube, and I might attempt one this year, so I reckon you could somehow obtain the GPS data and put something together. But the best bet is to ask around and find an in to the local community. Belonging to a growing team really does wonders, because we also have a few people who do CX and mountain biking.

I think a lot has to do with mountain bikes not being common, and because there is no precedent, Japanese tend to err on the side of not changing things. And because there are not many proper trails, the community remains relatively small, it is a vicious cycle. Unless you live in a region with many trails, probably a gravel bike is a better bet. I know quite a few routes that peppers double track in between paved roads of varying quality.

And yes, @bloaker is the man.
 

Kangaeroo

Maximum Pace
Jan 24, 2018
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Bloody hell. That's a shock.
Damn shame, too. Mind you, after watching the video that @bloaker and @luka made, and a few other YouTubes, I have neither the guts nor talent to be able to ride a mountain bike.
 
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luka

Maximum Pace
Jan 13, 2015
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I don't think you'll find anything matching your level, esp at that time of year, easily accessible from Tokyo. can't say about west Japan...
 

Denimgrl66

Warming-Up
Jan 5, 2020
7
7
3
53
Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada
Hey Everyone - thank you so much for the great responses! Very interesting to learn a little more about the MTB and trail culture in Japan. Not surprising and I totally want to be respectful of it. I am third generation Japanese Canadian so I am somewhat familiar with the culture. We were hoping to have the experience of riding a trail, doesn't need to be anything challenging. Will look into some of the suggestions and links provided.
 
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OreoCookie

Maximum Pace
Dec 2, 2017
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Another option could be veloguide.com. I have used them once in Chile, and while pricey, I got what I paid for. They have a valet, and the tour guide was an active racer (a domestique on the road bike and an avid mountain biker).
 

stu_kawagoe

Maximum Pace
Jun 23, 2018
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I road with a guy last month who was over here from San Francisco and he rented a bike from this company and he thought they were great. I don’t think they rent MTB though.


Edit: And the title of the link even says ‘Performance Road Bike’😣
 

Denimgrl66

Warming-Up
Jan 5, 2020
7
7
3
53
Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada
I road with a guy last month who was over here from San Francisco and he rented a bike from this company and he thought they were great. I don’t think they rent MTB though.


Edit: And the title of the link even says ‘Performance Road Bike’😣
Good to know - thank you!