If you’re after a way to connect with Japan and get from A to B, using a bike to explore is a fantastic way to do just that. You’re able to delve into a side of Japan that you may not see when using other methods of transport, which often leads to finding hidden gems along the way.
Rental bikes are becoming easier to access across the country. Read on for what you need to know about finding a set of wheels to cycle through Japan.
It’s important to have an understanding of Japan’s road rules for cyclists, for both your own safety and the safety of others. Visit our helpful guide on Japan's Cycling Rules to ensure you know the basics.
There are a host of reasons why renting a bike in Japan is a worthwhile idea.
Cycling gives you the ability to be flexible with your travel plans. You’re not bound to public transport timetables or stuck dealing with traffic. If you find somewhere you love, you can linger.
Speaking of finding places you love, cycling means you’re right there in the thick of it all. If you cruise past a ramen shop that smells amazing, you can pop right in. Want to stop and people watch? Go for it! The world is your oyster when you rent a bike, and it can help you connect with a whole new side of Japan.
Bike rentals are an incredibly cost effective method of transport. There’s no need to worry about the cost of transportation tickets or the price of gas - once you’ve paid to rent your bike, there are no hidden fees or charges. There’s also the eco-friendly factor: no emissions, no pollution - just pedal power!
If you’ve decided you’d like to cycle in Japan, the next logical question is “where do I find a bicycle to rent?” Here are some leads on where to look.
If you’re visiting a popular tourist spot, check tourist information centers to see if they offer bicycles for rent. They’re usually hired out in hourly or full-day blocks, for several hundred yen per hour or around 1000-1500 yen a day depending on location. Payment for rental bikes at these centers is often only available in cash, so have some yen on you.
If a tourist center doesn’t rent bicycles, they can usually direct you to somewhere that does.
Many Japanese cities are embracing the cycling trend, and it’s becoming a regular sight to see bike share companies in urban centers. These bike share services usually have multiple pick-up and drop-off points, making it easy to start in one location and finish in another if you desire. Payment is often accepted by major international credit cards including Visa and MasterCard for these facilities.
If you need a set of wheels, you can also check with your accommodation. More and more hotels and ryokan are offering bicycles for guest use, either for free or at reasonable rates. These are usually provided on a first come, first served basis, and some will require an advance reservation when booking the room.
Outside the above options, you also have the ability to hire a bicycle from an independent bike shop. It’s wise to call or email the shop ahead of time for details, especially if you are looking for specialized equipment.
Many rental bike providers will have different models to choose from, and a common consideration is whether to opt for a powered or unpowered set of wheels. If you plan to cycle a substantial distance or have concerns about physical fitness, powered options can be convenient.
If you need a specialized bike (i.e. a mountain bike for off-road cycling), those are best sourced from specialist bicycle rental stores.