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International Japan by Motorcycle - Trip Planning

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' at netrider.net.au started by Morbo28, Jun 7, 2010.

  1. Hi All,

    (I've put this is Road, Touring and Bike Diaries as it is a combination of photos from a trip and also questions about others that have done a similar trip so I can plan my own. I see other threads in this section have been used as question/planning threads. Mods please move if you feel it's necessary)

    I'm at the very early stages of planning a tour of Japan by motorcycle. It would likely happen in about 18 months - 2 years if it's all feasible. SE Asia might be another option due to logistics.

    Has anyone here done this before? I have found a website or two (such as Gaijin Bikers) but would be interested in hearing first hand from NRs about what you learned.

    So far I looked at at a site and made out the following prices for renting bikes for two weeks:
    Does this seem about right in your experience? This is me interpreting mostly Japanese websites.

    The other week I was driving a rental car through the mountains from Hiroshima to Yamaguchi.


    I really wanted to check the conditions of the B and C roads and their suitability for motorcycle. The roads were perfect, just what I was after. Low traffic, excellent surface, twisty etc.

    Some pics from there to see road type, surface, views (these were just taken from a moving car):





    Is this what the majority of road surfaces/types are like across Japan in the mountain regions? I noted that some of the C roads could become little more than surfaced walking tracks! We had to avoid these in the car, but they may actually be a laugh by bike, though it would be slow going at times:


    So a few questions:
    - Not all roads in Japan have street view - do you have any hints as to how to evaluate which are roads or which are tiny tracks?
    - We are looking at taking two weeks to do top to bottom. We don't expect to see everything, but due to relatively small distance of the country we don't think it's unreasonable. What do you think?
    - Has anyone rented bikes in Japan? This is a major part of the planning I'd like to figure out. Re price, insurance, picking up at one place, dropping off at another etc
    - What time of year did you go, how did you think it was, weather-wise?
    - Any other tips? In the end I'm happy to just get the basics sorted and wing it from there, but a bit of advanced notice might help with the planning :grin:

    Ta people,
  2. Wow this is also something I would like to know. Bike touring Japan would be quite awesome.
    I'm do vacation trips to Japan yearly, but this is a great idea as an alternative way to travel in Japan.

    Let me know how you go.
  3. Hi Morbo28,

    I rode in Japan a while ago and will do more riding there in October.

    You can find my ride report and where I hired from and my routes etc on my blog. http://motorcycleparadise.blogspot.com/

    SBK Japan is a recent break away forum from Gaijin Riders that offers a Wiki with good info for anyone visiting and wanting to ride Japan.

    There are many rider lodges which are incredibly cheap to stay at however I often stay at the Toyoku Inn chain of hotels which are very nice compared to Ryokans and often at comparable prices.

    Navigation was the thing last time that I was concerned about. I used a paper map however since my last trip I have sourced a Japan map for my Garmin GPS but it is problematic. A new version is on its way in August so that should be good. http://uud.info/en/

    Also I recently found an iPod app call mapfolder that allows me to cache google maps of Japan (with many levels of zoom) so I can use this without data roaming charges but still with current location displayed via built in GPS. Unfortunately Google were not too happy, so mapfolder is gone however sure to be similar out soon for smart phones and if the above GPS map update is no good then keep an eye on that.
    I plan to use the cached maps via this setup which I already have ready.

    I read on SBK forum of a recent magazine that surveyed readers for the top 10 rides in Japan (Bikejin April edition) so I sourced a copy and am slowly (crudely) translating and finding those roads on google maps and will do a post on same in the near future. (No.2 was the Venus Line that is header photo on my blog)

    If you need any specific info email me from my blog as I visit the forums very infrequently and won't be following this thread up.

  4. Iron Chef,

    You are a champion! =D> That's some really great info there, I'll look through the links tomorrow.

    Thanks so much, I look fwd to reading your blog too :grin:
  5. Nice work!

    The most recent copy of ARR has a ride report from Japan as well. Sounds like a whole lotta fun to me.
  6. Sounds aweeeeeeesome! *squeak* The ADVRiders forum might have some info for you.
  7. This may be a really stupid thought - but how much would it cost to have a bike sent over instead of renting? If a Brit plate car can drive in France, why can't an Aussie plate bike drive in Japan?
  8. I agree - I am looking at welding up my own steel crate/pallet that I can just wheel my bike into, strap it in and lock it up. I'd be looking at 2.5m3 and would not be *too* expensive to ship by sea. Then you just need a carnet - which is not *too* difficult to obtain. And you would be without your bike for the weeks it is on the water.
  9. When you say not TOO expensive... just HOW expensive? I'm thinking of starting a thread, surely people have shipped bikes around a bit on this forum :)
  10. I started typing a detailed reply and it disappeared somehow. I used to get a full 20' container from Asia for about AUD$2000.

    A full 20' container is around 32 cubic metres. LCL or "Less than Container Load" Freight rates are those charged at a premium and take longer at each end.

    My design for my 'crate' comes in at around 3.2 metres cubed. That is not to say that you could get 10 bikes in a container, but I think with some 'tweaking' it could be possible. That is also not to say that the freight to Asia would be $200

    That said, there are PLENTY of empty containers going back to Asia, so deals can often be had. I'd love to find or create a central hub where like minded bikers could get together and share a container over and back. Either tour together or do your own thing in Japan or I'd love to do Taiwan as well.


  11. It'd be worth getting shipped to somewhere that is very "connected" such as Europe, then you can ride the continent :)
  12. Oh yeah,

    Will do that one day too. But I'd probably buy a BMW when I got there and bring it back with me.

    I have an intense interest in Asian culture and lifestyle and I just think Japan would be an awesome country to see on a bike. I'd want to take my time. I couldn't see myself flying through in a month.

    There is a series of publications called "Touring Mapple" - I own one of a series of 7. It's A5 size and packed with over 100 maps of just the Kansai area.

    Incidentally, I sent off a quote request for some company that specialises in motorcycle transport. I told them simply that I wanted to ship a CB400

    The quote came back fairly promptly at AUD$835 - ouch!

    You can buy a good used 3 year old CB400 with low kilometres in Tokyo for around AUD$3000. Just not sure of the legality of buying one as a 'gaijin'


  13. Actually 845 isn't THAT bad. I wonder if money could be saved by taking the bike apart for shipping?
  14. yeh i reckon! its 350$ from Brizzy to Sydney, 845 not bad at all
  15. For the sake of completeness I will update this thread :)

    It's been three years and this trip (or a small version of it at least) finally has legs. (I should note that since this post I have ridden in other countries - i think i posted on it).

    The premise for this trip was actually to see the Japan F1 but there are four of us (out of 6) who are motorcycle riders, so we are just hijacking 4 days of that trip to ride some bikes, biatch!

    We have hired an FZ1, Ninja 1000, Benelli TNT 1130 and an Aprilia Shiver. We are doing four days, will switch bikes each day. It'll be like our own BOTY test ;) they chucked in an English GPS and some top boxes, so we'll use those.

    We are based out of Tokyo for that part of the trip. We are staying at a ryokan there booked out for the period, so there might be a day trip included in there, but can also do multiple day trips through mountains. Checking out hikes, onsen, temples and shit.

    We decided to just wing it really. If we did the full 2-3 week trip we'd plan some key routes, but a 4 day, staying within Tokyo thing means we will just pick a sweet target each day and find the twistiest road to get there. Lots of twisty, good quality roads there.

    FYI in case any one is searching in the future, iTrek were the only people I could find who would give me travel insurance for riding a 200+ cc bike. In fact they insured me for doing a track day on a s1000rr at Laguna Seca. Lucky to find that. Can't say I recommend as such as I didn't have to make a claim. But at least I was covered.
  16. Hi mate,

    We did it this year too. A mate and I headed up in April and hired 2 x CB400SFs for 7 days. The roads were everything we expected and more! Only thing is it's tough going. In 7 days, we covered just over 1400km. Average limits are 50km/h (and of course we obeyed those).

    Drivers are amazing and very bike aware. One day we headed out from Takayama 高山 - literally 'tall mountain' and were crossing some peaks in the alps at about 2200m. The snow was falling, the roads were icy and the mercury went from 5 to 4, 3, 2, 1 and finally 0. All I can say is that I've never gripped a tank so tightly or ridden so slowly. The cars just hung back there quietly. As soon as possible, we'd pull over and they'd overtake us and thank us. A stop here to await the snow to lift was one of our most interesting cultural stops.

    Only concern about your plan would be using Tokyo as a base. You will spend a lot of time getting the hell out of there each day. Perhaps consider a bit of a loop? Some great little Ryokans and hotels out in the more rural areas. We had a bit of a delay in Yokohama, but then headed for the Izu Peninsula. Some great roads North West of there. My favourite was route 19

    Keep us updated and have a great trip!


  17. If you can, head to Hakone the hills there are just prolific. But be careful of drifing wide on corners the resort busses could give Seb Loeb a run for his money up Pikes Peak.
  18. Hey mate, myself and my best mate we're planning to ride around Japan one day, good to hear you enjoyed yourself. Any chance you took some pics/videos? If you don't mind me asking who did you organize this through, I have never organized my own travel and was hoping to do this around next year after I turn 21.
  19. Actually, I am heading back in just over a week. I'm looking the viability of putting tours together for Foreign riders. Am meeting with a company to commence discussions.