Japanese drivers are relatively well mannered and are normally aware of cyclists, but there is still the chance that you may be involved in a traffic accident. In this article I reflect upon my experience of being involved in an accident whilst cycling in Japan and try to advise on how to deal with the situation.
Cycling related accidents
While bicycles play an important role in Japan as a convenient transportation method, there has been an increase of bicycle accidents relative to the total number of traffic accidents.
Convenience stores, often shortened to Konbini コンビニ in Japan are so convenient that any cyclist cannot go without during bike tours.
Appearing on every stretch of roads where you cycle, they offer all kinds of products: food (including hot meals and bentos), drink (including alcohol and freshly brewed coffee), magazines, stationery, clothes, medicines, cosmetics, batteries, you name it. And they are open 24 hours 365 days (not that I cycle at 3 AM wanting to buy a cup of coffee).
Do you have tattoos and want to enjoy onsen in Japan?
This seemingly fairly simple wish may cause some issues if you do not do some prior research.
Many public bath, together with some gyms, swimming pools, tanning salons, Yoga studios, and bathing beaches in Japan have very strict rules about tattoos.
They often display notices 入れ墨禁止 (irezumi kinshi, or tattoos forbidden) to announce that nobody with a tattoo is allowed in.
Not many cyclists enjoy riding in rain. You may wonder exactly how much rain you may encounter in Japan. This depends on when you go and also where you are as Japan is a large archipelago stretching in latitude.
It is always a good idea to learn simple local language wherever you travel. The Japanese language (or “Nihongo”日本語 in Japanese) may sound and look difficult, but it is actually fairly simple to learn basic conversational Japanese, as opposed to master reading and writing.