Cycling and Mountain Biking

Information on popular places for cycling and biking in Japan...

Cycling is very popular in Japan. Many Japanese people use their bicycles daily to travel between their home and the train station, grocery or market. The use of the bicycle bell is an acceptable practice in Japan to notify other people that a bicycle is passing, and most pedestrians will promptly move to one side to allow the bicycle to pass.

Bicycle registration

Bicycles must be registered with the police to help prevent theft. If a bicycle is purchased at a store, the shop will charge a small registration fee and take care of the registration procedure.

Some bicycle rules

  • Ride on the left side of the road in the same direction as cars
  • Give way to pedestrians on the sidewalk and walk the bicycle when needed for safety
  • Illegally parked bicycles may be removed to a temporary storage area and subject to a fee. ┬áIf your bicycle is removed, go to the local Koban police station for assistance
  • A light is required to be on the bicycle when operated at night

Mountain Biking

Hokkaido has some of the best cycling in Japan and a bicycle is a great way to explore the natural beauty of this island which is home to several national parks. The island is sparsely populated and has low speed limits, making it ideal for cycling. Once the snow melts, the mountains become perfect for mountain biking and there are many trails in the area.

Japan's main island of Honshu is connected to the island of Shikoku by the 60 Km Shimanami Kaido toll road. It passes over six small islands in the Seto Inland Sea and is popular with cyclists. The bicycle route is well marked and offers great views of the sea and islands. It splits off from the toll road on the islands and is very well maintained.

There are many good mountain biking locations in Japan. The Hakuba region has many exciting trails around mountain lakes and through small villages. The Minekata ski area has downhill trails leading back down to the valley. Cross-country riding is possible in the Snow Harp cross-country skiing area. There is a growing community of downhill racers in the region, which has resulted in the development of many new trails, as well as racing and events. The region has trails to suit all level of mountain bikers. The best times of year for mountain biking in the area are May, June and from September to November. It is possible to rent mountain bikes in Hakuba.

Cycling Organisations

  • The Japan Cycling Federation is the national governing body for the sport. They organise amateur and professional races, both on the road and in velodromes.