Japan is widely known as the Land of the Rising Sun. Being an island country, the people can always see both sunrise and sunset throughout the day. As a result, they enjoy the breathtaking landscapes. Japan itself is a blend of ancient traditions and modern lifestyle, depending on where you are at the moment. Big cities provide enough comfort to live a modern life, while the rural areas nurture the traditional way.
For motorcycle enthusiasts, Japan is an ideal destination to embark on an unforgettable adventure. The roads are well-maintained, the routes are scenic, and the whole island is motorcycle-friendly. Motorcycling in Japan is probably one of the adventures you need in your life, but don’t know how to start.
But don’t worry, since we have a complete guide for you!
1. Prepare for your journey
The first thing you need to do is to research and plan the whole trip. Take your time to get familiar with Japan’s traffic regulations and road conditions. It’s always a good idea to create a detailed itinerary, so you can plan which regions to explore during the trip.
Next, plan on motorcycle rental if you don’t own one. Japan has so many companies to help you with this. Research reputable rental companies, compare prices, and ensure they provide suitable insurance coverage.
Finally, check on what documents you’ll need to start this type of adventure. Check on your passport, and always buy travel insurance so you can be protected on the road.
2. The best time to visit Japan
Even though Japan is great all year round, spring and autumn are considered the best seasons. In spring, from March to May, you’ll enjoy full-bloom cherry blossoms as you ride through the scenic landscapes. If you choose autumn, i.e. from September to November, you’ll experience mild temperatures ideal for a comfortable chopper ride.
Additionally, we suggest checking on the weather forecast during the time you plan on staying there. Sometimes you’ll need additional planning, especially if you travel during the festival season.
3. The best destinations to visit
No matter where you start, you must visit Tokyo, as Japan’s bustling capital. You have so many places to see there, like Tokyo Tower or even the Imperial Palace. Using your motorcycle you can roam through the vibrant neighborhoods, and even plan your next step together with the locals. Surely, don’t forget to eat fresh Japanese food during the adventure.
Kyoto, the city that was once the capital of Japan is also a must! While Tokyo is the political capital, many consider Kyoto the real center of Japan. It’s famous for its temples, palaces, wooden houses, and traditional restaurants. You can even meet geisha women there.
For those who enjoy picturesque landscapes, Hokkaido is the best choice, as you can easily reach your destination using a motorcycle. Next, you can go to Hiroshima and Miyajima. Pay respects at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, and then explore the surroundings.
Surely, you can enjoy Mount Fuji here, as you can see it from almost every point in Japan. For brave motorcycle drivers, try to explore Mount Fuji deeper. You’ll be surprised by the hidden gems you’ll discover there.
4. Learn more about the riding etiquette
Before you even arrive in Japan, you must observe the traffic laws and learn more about the speed limits and parking rules. Stay vigilant, anticipate other drivers’ actions, and be mindful of pedestrians and cyclists.
If there is something Japanese people appreciate, that would be respect, kindness, and politeness. Practice good etiquette by greeting locals, lowering the speed in residential areas, and even spending some time with the people who greet you back.
Always wear safety gear, as being safe on the road is essential. Check weather forecasts regularly and be prepared for sudden changes in conditions, especially in mountainous areas.
5. Additional tips for the more comfortable Japanese experience
First, we suggest you bring enough cash and use the contactless payment options with your phone. ATMs have additional fees, so it’s better to exchange your money. Sometimes stores don’t accept international cards or don’t have them as a payment method at all.
Next, invest in a reliable GPS device or download smartphone applications to navigate Japan’s intricate road networks easily. You also need to plan where to stay at night and check if the places are secure enough to park the motorcycle there.
And finally, everywhere you go, eat something delicious and authentic. Indulge in Japan’s diverse culinary offerings, including regional specialties and street food. Those who’ve been there claim the sushi is the best, and ramen soup is out of this world.
6. Be respectful of the local culture
Traditional rural areas maintain a specific culture, so you must familiarize yourself with it before arriving there. So, look for any useful information you can find, and always act politely, even if someone is not polite to you. Don’t try to speak Japanese if you aren’t sure what you’re talking about. Most of the people there speak basic English, so it would be easy for you to understand and communicate.
If you visit temples, behave appropriately. Don’t talk to geisha women directly. They’ll initiate communication if needed. And don’t try to seduce them, or any other women there. Keep in mind that the Japanese culture is authentic and sometimes more traditional compared to the Western world. And that’s why we appreciate Japan so much, being the Land of the rising sun!
We hope that this guide helps you plan your motorcycle adventure, and even get to know Japan better. As you explore the country, you’ll be able to discover so many beautiful places you couldn’t reach with car or a bus. Surely, you must put your safety first in any case.
But once you’re used to the language and surroundings, it gets much easier for you to explore Japan. You should only set up your navigation, gear up with the equipment, and take some snacks in your backpack. And that’s all.