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October 2009 Archives

October 7, 2009

Staff Bloggers, Come on In !

In addition to our tweets, we' will have not just myself, but other staff members blogging here more often with interesting articles about Japanese culture, cycling in Tokyo, intersting events going on, or whatever they are thinking of at the moment. I'm hoping we'll be able to give you the "real stuff", in contrast to non-everyday things written in guide books.

At last we can depart from this blog merely being an update infromation board ! :-)
Stay tuned folks.

October 8, 2009

What to take along when cycling in Japan

I'm getting ready to fly from Oregon to Japan next week for 2 weeks of cycling! I'm looking forward to meeting my friends -- the staff of Cycle Tokyo! -- who volunteer to take you on a unique tour of this exciting city. Based on my past experiences, here's a list of recommended gear to take along when cycling in Japan. Some things may be obvious, and you may have more to add.

Bike gear - besides a helmet and spare tubes (if you're bring your own bicycle), bring a good cable lock, as there are not many bike racks, and a U-lock may not fit; a mirror to mount on the *right* side of your helmet or glasses (you'll be riding on the left in Japan) - safer on congested streets than turning around to look. Water bottles or a hydration pack (water is safe to drink everywhere); Front and rear lights. If you have a bike case or excess gear, you can easily ship it to your next destination via 'takkyuubin' delivery service from the airport, hotel or any convenience store ('konbini'). I did that when I took way too much stuff on my first bike tour.

Navigation - a GPS is very useful - http://uud.info/ has Garmin MapSource compatible navigation maps with labels in English. The handiest map books are the "Touring Mapple" series with detailed maps for every region of Japan. Although labeled in Japanese, they show elevation and distance (in kilometers, of course) with symbols for campgrounds, hot springs, fast food (if you're desperate), and 7-11s -- useful to know because their ATMs accept international debit cards.

Taking your bike on trains (called 'rinko') - bikes are allowed on trains as long as they are covered before entering the train station and onto the train, so bring a bike bag (or purchase at a bike shop). If your bike has 'big wheels' they should be removed first. If you have a folding bike with little wheels, just bag it and go. Tip: long distance trains, such as the shinkansen (bullet train) have minimal luggage space, but there's usually space behind the seats in the last row of each car to stash your bike. On local trains, use common sense and avoid rush hour.

Clothing -- you want to be comfortable while biking, but note that Japanese tend to dress conservative, i.e., less revealing clothing. Japanese cyclists do wear spandex when training, but for sightseeing and visiting temples and shrines, loose shorts or pants or skirt with padded shorts underneath may be more appropriate. Take full rain gear just in case -- June and July are the rainy season, followed by typhoon season, so you can't predict when you'll get wet. Shoes - besides bike shoes, slip-on shoes are handy because you'll be removing them when going inside temples, castles, and other historic buildings, as well as traditional inns ('ryokan'). Make sure your socks don't have holes!

Toiletries - take band-aids and pain reliever. Small packs of tissues & a small towel are handy as not all public restrooms have toilet paper or paper towels. (But they do have remote control, high-tech toilets ^_^)

Electronics - bring your cell phone if it's compatible with Japan (or rent one at the airport or online - see japanrentaphone.com). Electricity is 100V and most electrical outlets take 2 flat prongs (not 3 prongs like many in the U.S.). If you're coming from a country with 120V you won't need an adapter.

Something to share - you'll have a chance to meet and interact with Japanese people on trains, in shops, restaurants, hotels, even school children on the street. Strangers may come up to you to try out their English (or French or Korean...) and ask questions about your culture. If you have some picture postcards, treats or small gifts to share, they will be delighted (and may even invite you to their home).

All for now... happy cycling!

October 16, 2009

Bike Event List is here!

In response to periodic inquries regarding bike events, we decided to prepare a list of annual bike events held mainly around Tokyo. (Threw in some good events that are away from Tokyo.) Suggestions for events that should added are welcome.
Follow the "Bke Events" link, or through the Ride Courses section.

direct link : http://cycle-tokyo.cycling.jp/events.html

October 17, 2009

Updated Bike Tour Courses

Uploaded detailed route information for "Kamakura Excursion Course" in the Bike Tour Courses page

October 19, 2009

IMHO on bicycles in Japan


It's always nice to shed some light on the real-life situation, rather than talk only about the good and best of things. It helps to understand.
Frankly speaking, bicycles in Japan are not the best behaving vehicles in the world.
(Before going any further, this does NOT mean that cycling in Japan is dangerous, that's another story.)
There are many cyclists in Japan that understand the rules and etiquetts of the bicycle, are conscious about where the bicycle fits in the traffic infrastructure, and obey traffic laws that apply to bikes. Unfortunately, there are also many bicycle riders that do not.
The majority of hobby cyclists fit into the former category, whereas the majority of other cyclists fit into the latter.
Elderly moms and pops who's riding habits soaked in their body in the old days when they didn't have to care about heavy traffic and co-existance. Teenagers at the age when "going their own way" is the cool thing to do. High school girls that can't put their text-ing (and iPods) away while they ride their bicycles. Mothers with small kids, who just want to get there choirs done as soon as possible, before the child starts crying. Most of them ride on the "mama-chari", and ride around the neighborhood shopping streets in living areas, so visitors may not encounter them in central Tokyo.
These "latter" type people exist, and are the ones that run through stop signs and red lights, ride on the opposite side of the road, making sudden manouvers surprising cars and pedestrians, and ride on the sidewalk violently ringing bells scattering people away to the side as if they are the king of the road. All of these behaviors are illigal by the law, but can be seen on a daily basis.
Now what kind of atmosphere allows this in Japan?
In my opinion, the biggest cause for this is that though bicycles are legally categorized as light vehicles (hence must abide by vehicle rules), they are not treated so in real-life. People are used to categorizing bicycles closer to the pedestrian than vehicles, within the big picture. People using bicycles for everyday utility treat them as "geta", or clogs, with the mind that they can be used easily like your feet, not being tied up to traffic rules. There are actual statistics that show more than half of people were not aware they were violating traffic laws, and were not aware that bicycles had to follow traffic laws in the first place.
Then, there are the authorities that also have a half-way thinking regarding the positioning of bikes, proofed by the existance of a rule that allow bikes on sidewalks with pedestrians. There are so few bike lanes that if existed, would designate bicycles as independent vehicle category with their own place to run. Instead, there is a widespread notion that bikes should run safe on the sidewalk as part of the pedestrian infrastructure.(which in fact does not align with the actual traffic law that say bikes basically belong on the roadway.)
Every cyclist in Japan, old,young, hobby cyclists to mamachari riders... has to realize that bicycles are not "getas"(part of pedestrians) but are vehicles. This awareness will become the root of good cycling behavior, leading to a good reputation for bicycles, and a good traffic environment for all. This change in notion will require education and evanagelism, which the social system has the responsibility of doing.

By the way, here's another interesting article I found.
Dannycho.com : Tokyo Bicycles - http://www.dannychoo.com/post/en/857/Tokyo+Bicycles.html

October 20, 2009

Lynette in Japan !

Lynette Chiang, customer evengelist of Bike Friday is in Tokyo, and will be staying for about 3 weeks.Let's see how she has to say about Tokyo, Japan, and the bike culture here. I'll be forwarding her posting of videos and talks about this country.

Japan on a Friday:Arrival In Tokyo

Lynette in Japan 2 !

Hitting the ground pedaling by joining the halffastcycling.com folks for a 40K BBQ ride around Tokyo Bay

Tokyo on a Friday with HalfFastCycling.com

Lynette Chiang, customer evengelist of Bike Friday is in Tokyo, and will be staying for about 3 weeks.We'll be forwarding her posting of videos and talks about this country.

October 21, 2009

Lynette in Japan 3 !

Here's a link to Lynette's photo galley.

Lynette Chiang, customer evengelist of Bike Friday is in Tokyo, and will be staying for about 3 weeks.We'll be forwarding her posting of videos and talks about this country.

October 23, 2009

Lynette in Japan 4 !

Cycling Tokyo's Westside Wards tikit-ing around the neighborhood with Bike Friday owner Jeff Gilbert.
Japan on a Friday: Cycling Tokyo's Westside Wards

Lynette Chiang, customer evengelist of Bike Friday is in Tokyo, and will be staying for about 3 weeks.We'll be forwarding her posting of videos and talks about this country.

October 27, 2009

Lynette in Japan 4 !

Lynette's photo gallery of Bike Friday Japan Meeting 2009 in Karuizawa - http://www.galfromdownunder.com/galleries/WEB-japan09-gallery/BF%20Club%20of%20Japan%20Gathering/index.html

Lynette Chiang, customer evengelist of Bike Friday is in Tokyo, and will be staying for about 3 weeks.We'll be forwarding her posting of videos and talks about this country.

October 28, 2009

10 Ramen Shops in Tokyo Worth Visiting

Hmm.... It is difficult to choose just 10 out of a million of Ramen shops in Tokyo. After all, there are varieties of tastes, and personal likings are different among individuals.
Here's an article anyway.

About October 2009

This page contains all entries posted to Cycle Tokyo ! Weblog in October 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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