Japanese Konbini : Convenience Stores for cyclists

Family Mart:Konbini

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).

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Road signs you need to know to cycle in Japan

If you want to cycle around Japan, you should be familiar with and recognise the meaning of basic road signs.   You do not need advanced Japanese knowledge, as road signs in Japan generally comply with most international standards and are mainly pictorial, making them easy to comprehend.

Generally red colour and/or diagonal line indicates some form of prohibition and yellow ones offer some kind of warning information, whereas blue colour indicates something is allowed. For example a sign showing a bike with a blue background means you can cycle here.

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Can tattooed cyclists go to onsen hotspring in Japan?

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.
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Lake Biwa Yoshibue Cycling Road

Lake Biwa Yoshibue Road   26.2km

Omihachiman to Higashiomi, Shiga (Honshu Kansai region)

びわ湖よし笛ロード(滋賀県近江八幡市~東近江市)

 

This cycling road is located within the Lake Nishinoko area northeast of Kyoto, from Omihachiman 近江八幡 to Azuchi 安土, Japan’s largest waterfront area. It is regarded as one of the eight most beautiful spots of Lake Biwa 琵琶湖 and as “a water district of Azuchi Hachiman 安土八幡 in spring colors.”  The area is designated as the first Important Cultural Landscape in Japan, because of the importance of its ecosystem, where reeds have a water purification effect.

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Basic Japanese useful for cycling in Japan

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.

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Shimanami Kaido Cycling Route

The Nishiseto 西瀬戸 Expressway, commonly known as the Setouchi Shimanami Kaido 瀬戸内しまなみ海道 Expressway, links Onomichi 尾道, Hiroshima Prefecture 広島県, with Imabari 今治, Ehime Prefecture 愛媛県.  It is a 60 kilometer-long highway that links the islands of the Seto Inland Sea with nine individual bridges.  There are two other land connections between Shikoku and Honshu, but the Shimanami Kaido is the only one accessible by bicycle and on foot.

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Cycle trains in Japan

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.

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Japan Railway Timetable and Map

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. 続きを読む

Japan’s top 10 cycling roads – ten of the best rides

There are numerous cycling roads in Japan.  Whether you are a casual cyclist or a serious racer, there is always a perfect route for you.  But you do not know where to start?  Here is top 10 cycling roads in Japan voted by Japanese cycling enthusiasts and professionals.

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