Cycling in Japan

Cycling in Japan presents an exhilarating way to explore the country's stunning landscapes, vibrant cities, and tranquil rural areas. With its comprehensive network of cycling routes, cyclist-friendly laws, and a culture that embraces the bicycle as a beloved mode of transportation, Japan offers both novice and experienced cyclists an unforgettable journey on two wheels. This guide highlights the best of cycling in Japan, including popular routes, tips for a smooth ride, and how to immerse yourself in the Japanese cycling experience.

Why Cycle in Japan?

  • Scenic Beauty: Japan's diverse geography, from coastal paths to mountain trails, provides breathtaking views and a direct connection with nature.
  • Safety and Convenience: The country's respect for cyclists, combined with well-maintained roads and clear signage, ensures a safe and enjoyable experience.
  • Cultural Immersion: Cycling offers an intimate way to explore Japan's rich culture, allowing for unexpected discoveries and interactions with locals.

Bicycle Registration and Security

In Japan, all bicycles must be registered with the police to deter theft and assist in their return if found. This system adds an extra layer of security, making bicycle theft very rare. It's a reassuring aspect for cyclists, as it means that if you leave your bicycle somewhere, chances are it will still be there the next day. This sense of security encourages more people to embrace cycling as a daily mode of transport and as a leisure activity.

Popular Cycling Routes

Shimanami Kaido

  • Location: Connecting Onomichi (Hiroshima Prefecture) with Imabari (Ehime Prefecture) across the Seto Inland Sea.
  • Features: This 70km route is famous for its spectacular views of the islands and sea, along with access to charming towns and beaches. Suitable for all skill levels, the Shimanami Kaido is a must-do for any cycling enthusiast visiting Japan.


  • Location: Japan's northernmost island, known for its vast wilderness and natural beauty.
  • Features: Offering routes like the picturesque Furano to Biei area, Hokkaido is ideal for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy long rides through lavender fields, volcanic landscapes, and serene lakes.

Kyoto to Nara

  • Location: A historic route connecting two of Japan’s ancient capitals.
  • Features: This relatively easy ride takes cyclists through traditional villages, rice fields, and past significant cultural sites, offering a journey through Japan's rich history and splendid natural scenery.

Tips for Cycling in Japan

  • Rent a Bike: Major cities and tourist spots offer bicycle rental services, including electric-assist bikes, making it easy to start your cycling adventure.
  • Understand the Rules: Cyclists in Japan ride on the left side of the road. Helmets are not mandatory but recommended for safety. Always follow local traffic laws and customs.
  • Prepare for the Weather: Japan's varied climate means weather conditions can change. Pack appropriately, especially for long-distance rides, considering rain gear and sun protection.
  • Stay Connected: Consider renting a portable Wi-Fi device or purchasing a local SIM card to use GPS and mapping services, enhancing your navigation and overall experience.

Cycling Culture in Japan

Cycling in Japan is not just about the journey; it's about the connection and respect between the cyclist, the community, and the environment. Many towns and cities are embracing cycling, offering facilities like bike parking, rental services, and cyclist-friendly accommodations. Participating in this culture not only enriches your travel experience but also promotes sustainable tourism and a deeper appreciation for the Japanese way of life.


Whether you're weaving through the neon-lit streets of Tokyo, crossing the serene Seto Inland Sea on the Shimanami Kaido, or exploring the historic paths from Kyoto to Nara, cycling in Japan offers a unique perspective on the country. It’s an eco-friendly way to discover Japan's hidden gems, experience its diverse landscapes, and engage with its culture at a slower pace. The added peace of mind provided by the bicycle registration system enhances this experience, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty and tranquility of Japan on two wheels.