Cycling is an excellent way to roam Japan in a slow, relaxed manner. It is ideal for traveling distances too long for walks but too short for taxi rides. Cycling also adds a novelty experience that you cannot acquire from a train ride. The first step you need to start cycling in Japan is, of course, a good bike.
The benefits of renting a bicycle in Japan
Many people ride bicycles in Japan, and one can say that it is a part of their lifestyle. You will see people of all ages using them to get around.. Riding bikes is another means to get to where you are supposed to go, and it adds fun and exploration to your travel. Each time you roam around with the bike will be uniquely great. It is also beneficial for your body and the environment because it is both healthy and eco-friendly.
An excellent way to travel short distances
Transportation is made simple with bikes. Bicycles can be quite easy to learn how to ride and master. If you are not up to walking or taking the taxi or bus to your destination, you can choose to use a bike, and if you do not have a bike with you, you can rent bikes online or at a nearby bike rental shop. With this, you can avoid the traffic, and you will be able to be where you want.
Adds to the travel experience
When you are in a foreign country as a tourist or visitor, there is a need to know and follow public transport timetables of buses and trains to go from one place to another. With bikes, you wouldn’t be bound to those transportation time schedules, and your time is all yours to manage. Plus, when a place has caught your eye while you are riding the bike, you can stop anytime and check the place out.
There are also views and spots in Japan where you cannot easily see or reach with the other modes of transportation. You may even get a chance to see extraordinary sceneries and places that will enhance your quality of stay and experiences in Japan while biking.
How to pick a bike to rent
A word of caution before you rent a bicycle in Japan. The word for bicycle in Japanese is 自転車 （jitensha）. If you say バイク (baiku) or bike, it refers to a motorcycle. It’s confusing but try not to mix them up!
Renting available online
You can look for and rent bikes online for easier transactions as some bike rental shops usually require cash and do not accept card payments.
Japan has a bike share service where you can rent bikes, get them at the closest pick-up point, and return them at the nearest drop-off point. Japan Travel Bike is one of those companies with services where you can rent bicycles available online. Simply purchase a pass online and unlock a bike at their nearest bike port.
Bike designs to suit your preference
There are different bike designs you can choose from depending on which you are most comfortable to use and which is more convenient for you. The most popular bike is the mamachari or “mom’s bicycle.” It has a basket or child seat, a kickstand, a lock, and one gear. You can use this bike on casual or regular rides. It's also the most popular among tourists because you can put your belongings in the basket up front.
There is also the mountain bike and road bike, where best for prolonged use and long travel distances. If you are going up and down on hills and slopes, it is best to use electric-assisted bikes.
Range of prices and availability
Bike rental prices vary with the different rental shops and the kind of bike you will be renting. Overnight rentals are not allowed in most shops, but some accommodations offer rent of bicycles to their guests, either for free or with a charge. The mamachari is the most readily available type of bike for rent. Its rental fees are around the following ranges:
Per hour - ¥100-400
Half-day - ¥400-800
One day - ¥1,000-1,200
On the other hand, bicycles such as the electric-assisted ones have become increasingly available for rent. Expect that electric-assisted bike rates may be a bit higher than of the regular mamachari. If you are looking for mountain bikes and road bikes, they are also available for rent, but they may not be as accessible as the mamachari.
Fashion! Some designs are more suitable for taking photos
Bikes can be used as part of your aesthetics in taking photos or memories at a place during your journey. A good example of this is the electric bicycle, as it is a stylish bike.
Some places where you can have a great ride and take beautiful photos with your bike are at Asuka, the cradle of Japanese Civilization; Biei, a town with a beautiful landscape of hills; and Hagi, a former castle town and others.
Information about cycling
Basic renting process and requirements
Renting a bicycle in Japan is relatively easy and accessible to everyone. First, look for a bike rental shop. You can check and rent online, or you can search for physical bike rental shops within your area. Rental shops are frequently found at train stations. Some shops have other branches at different locations. You can also rent bikes at the Tourist Center. Once you’ve found the most accessible one, you can make reservations in advance and just pick it up, or you can visit the shop and get the available bike of your choice.
Rental shops may require the following:
Photo identification or ID
Address and/or phone number of where you are staying at.
The last step is to return the bike you’ve rented to the rental shop at the right time. As some shops have other branches, you may be allowed to drop your bike off to the nearest branch.
You must know Japan’s road rules
Like driving, there is a set of rules to follow when riding the bike for both your and others’ safety. Make sure to follow them to avoid accidents and/or getting fined.
Riding the bike is like riding a real road vehicle. With this, ride on the road and keep left. Avoid riding on the sidewalk unless there is a designated bike lane
Remember to observe traffic lights like how you would usually do when using a motorized vehicle.
Never go against the flow of traffic.
While riding the bike, do not remove your hands from the handle. Keep your hands on at all times.
You must never use cell phones, headphones, or umbrellas while riding as this may impair your focus, vision, and balance while riding.
Riding with your friends is fun, but do take note that you cannot give anyone a lift as two people riding on the same bike is not allowed, nor is it allowed to ride the bikes side by side.
Avoid parking or leaving your bike unattended anywhere you want to. There are designated or certain acceptable spaces to legally park your bike, and if you just park it anywhere, your bike may be removed, and you will be fined to get your bike back.
The bikes in Japan have to be registered. If you own a bike, remember to always bring the slips with you.
You must never ride your bike under the influence of alcohol.
When it is nighttime or when you are riding in the dark, make sure to turn your lights on so that you are visible to other people and vehicles.
A Relaxing and Interesting Ride
Exploring and touring around the places in Japan on a bike is a unique and unforgettable experience. This makes your stay in Japan even more worthwhile, and you will know what it feels like to be one with the locals. You can easily rent bikes should you want to roam around Japan differently. All of these are made possible by the accessible bike rentals available all over Japan. There are tours that mainly use bikes as part of the tour. Gear up, enjoy, and have fun, but do always remember to follow the Japan Road Rules to avoid any trouble.