In April 2017, we used 7-day standard Japan Rail Pass to do a rail and cycling tour of Japan. We did a day trip on the Day 1 to Kagoshima then 5-day trip covering Shimanami Kaido, Mt Fuji and Noto Peninsula, with the last day travelling to Osaka to catch our flight from Kansai Airport. This is our brief itinerary for 7 days with further posting for each route to follow.
In Japan you can take bikes on trains including Shinkansen free of charge with no need for prior booking, but you need to carry them in bike bags called Rinko 輪行 bag.
Please refer to our article below or further information on taking your bike on trains in Japan.
When I went to Tokyo to attend a meeting, I needed to leave my bike somewhere near the station so that I could pick it up for further journey later on the day. In non-metropolitan areas it is easy to find bike parking areas, but in central Tokyo it is not the case as you see Churin Kinshi 駐輪禁止 signs everywhere saying it is banned to park bicycles. If you ignore the sign, more often than not your bike will be taken away, and you would have to go through complicated procedures plus a fine to get your bike back.
In Japan there are several ‘Cycle Trains’ which allow bikes to be transported as they are without dismantling. Some of these operate all the time while others run during limited periods only such as weekends or when special events are planned. Many are offered by smaller private rail companies in non-urban areas but some major private and JR lines also operate such trains. Some charge extra for bikes and others allow bikes to be transported free of charge. You may have to book in advance to use these trains.
Japan is covered by an extensive and reliable network of railways. 70% of this is owned and operated by the Japan Railway Group, more commonly known as JR Group (JRグループ). This consists of six passenger railway companies of JR Hokkaido, JR East, JR Central, JR West, JR Shikoku, and JR Kyushu, and one nationwide freight railway company. Together they operate a nationwide network of regional and local train lines including Shinkansen (新幹線).
The remaining 30% belongs to other private railway companies mainly in urban and suburban routes such as Tokyo and Osaka areas. Note that you cannot use JR Pass on these lines.
Here you can find information on all 6 JR groups. read more
A Japan Rail Pass (or JR Pass) offers unlimited travel on most trains including Shinkansen, buses and ferries operated by Japan Railways Group throughout Japan, for one, two or three weeks.
It is available only for those travellers visiting Japan from abroad as tourists and you have to buy an exchange voucher BEFORE you travel to Japan. You can buy the JR pass online or through travel agents across the world.
In Japan, traveling on the train with a bicycle is permitted, even on Shinkansen with no extra charge. You can take a bike on any train at any time for free of charge if you store it in a bike bag called ‘Rinko bag’ 輪行バッグ.