Cycling in Japan: Tips for Biking and Touring in Japan


Cycling in Kyoto

Here are some basic cycling tips in Japan :

  • Cars drive on the left-hand side of the road in Japan so cyclists should also do their best to stick to the left side of the road. While locals may ride differently it is recommended to stick to the left whenever possible.

  • Cycling on footpaths (sidewalks).  In Japan - especially in the cities - you'll see a lot of city cyclists riding on the footpaths if there isn't a dedicated cycling path. When you see a dedicated cycling lane on the footpath you should use that lane. If there isn't a dedicated cycling path then we recommend riding on the road on the left side so cars can still drive past.

  • Helmets - when cycling in Japan - you'll see a good portion of people cycling without a helmet. These cyclists are usually commuting (to the station, to work, to the supermarket etc) and more often than not they won't be wearing a helmet. However, you will see cyclists riding road bikes, sports bikes or hybrid bikes with helmets on which is good to see. At RBRJ we highly recommend cycling with a helmet at all times as it increases your protection from major injury. 

What to know when planning your bike ride

Common Questions for Cycling in Japan

What is the best season for cycling in Japan?

Springtime probably just pips Autumn to top place as the best season for Cycling in Japan but this is largely due to the popularity of the Sakura. However, the temperatures and comfort levels are pretty similar for both seasons. 

For those planning long tours, as a general rule if you are starting in the early Spring then start south and head north; and for those planning to ride in early Autumn, start north and head south. More insights into the best season for cycling in Japan here.

What is the best cycling route in Japan?

A good question. Japan is a Cyclist's Paradise with plenty of options to choose from. The Shimanami Kaido is probably the most popular route but there a lots of gems like Biwaichi and the Keinawa Cycle Road around the Kansai area. New video coming soon to our channel

Is cycling safe in Japan?

More content on this coming soon but in the mean time check out

What are the rules/laws regarding Cycling in Japan?

Unfortunately, there is a big disconnect between the rules of the road for all vehicles and the actual reality of the using the road system in Japan.

Rules can also vary between prefecture and be enforced with a varying degree of authority. With that in mind, it can be tricky to answer 'What are the rules of cycling in Japan?'. However, we will give you a general overview of the rules, hint at the reality of the situation and give our advice for cycling in Japan. Coming soon.

Can I take a bike on a train?

Yes but the bikes need to be covered up and if you are using the bullet train, you'll need to reserve an oversize luggage space beforehand. Some train lines are now providing cycle-friendly services at certain times and seasons where you can just walk on with your bike. Read our blog on taking the bike on the train here.

How can I ship a bike across Japan?

There are several nationwide courier services that provide oversized luggage shipping and specialized bike deliveries. Kuroneko YamatoSeino and Sagawa are the main courier services in Japan with differing levels of service when it comes to shipping bikes.

Generally, you'll need a bike box for shipping but Seino do provide an option to buy a large cardboard box or rent one. Some bike shops are happier than others to give large boxes away but there is no harm in asking. More information on our RBRJ Delivery Service here. 

Should I book accommodation in advance when Cycling in Japan?

While it's good to plan ahead and create a full ride and accommodation itinerary,  it can also be nice to have the flexibility to create a route as you ride and book accommodation 'on the go'. Generally finding accommodation in larger towns and cities on the day, isn't usually a big issue but book ahead in more remote places, during festivals and during national holidays (Golden Week in Early May, Obon in August, Silver Week in Mid-September and New Years).

Where can I park the bike when Cycling in Japan?

These days there are plenty of paid parking locations in most of the bigger cities and even some free parking at certain landmarks and tourist attractions. More on this coming soon.  

Where can I store my bike long term when cycling in Japan?

Check out Warm Showers for more information on leaving your bike somewhere for an extended period of time.