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I'm going to bike tour Japan! (Kyushu)

Old 04-10-19, 07:16 AM
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I'm going to bike tour Japan! (Kyushu)

I'm quite excited about my upcoming tour. 2 weeks starting May 1. All in Kyushu. On the Brompton folder. Inns, airbnb, hotels - not camping.

Days 1 & 2: Fukuoka, get my bearings, look & ride around, get some things together.
Days 3 & 4: early train to Usa and ride the Kunisaki Peninsula
Day 5+ ???

Please let me know if you have any advice, thoughts, etc.
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Old 04-11-19, 02:31 PM
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No comment other other than to express my complete jealousy! Recently while travelling, the Dayton hotel I stayed at had NHK TV from Japan on cable. I saw an episode of "Cycle Around Japan." The scenery was beautiful and the roads, at least for that episode, looked empty and inviting. The host is not Japanese, but does speak the language. I was wondering what it would be like NOT to speak it though. Best of luck - enjoy!
https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/tv/cycle/

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Old 04-11-19, 05:58 PM
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Have you ever been before? I've been to Japan a bunch of times, but never looked at it from the perspective of a cyclist. Look forward to hearing your plans develop.
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Old 04-11-19, 08:15 PM
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I've traveled to Japan in 2016 to do the Shimanami Kaido event with our local bicycle club, and it was spectacular! I wanted to rejoin another group last year since the event is every 2 years. 2016 was the "small" event with approximately 3000 participants, while 2018 was the "large" event with 8000 participants! The event alternates every 2 years. If you have the chance, I'd cycle through this famous bicycle route, which should be on every bicycle tour bucket list. I brought my daily commuter bicycle on this trip ('91 Cannondale ST1000) & I didn't have any problems with it not being a folding bike on the trains. Just have to have it completely covered in a "rinko" bag (Japanese bicycle bag for traveling on trains).

Also, in 2018, I returned to Japan to participate in an Eroica event. But this time, I brought my vintage De Rosa. The hills in Agatsuma/Gunma were brutal, but rewarding in the end, since we were located at an onsen (natural hot springs) resort, so you could soak after a hard day's ride. This is another spectacular event I'd like to continue to participate in the future. Although, riding my vintage bike through Tokyo city was just as memorable and exciting!

Japan is so much fun, so I'm sure you'll have a blast! Kampai!!! (cheers in Japanese)

P.S. Agree with the "Cycle Around Japan" episodes on NHK tv. They are well done, but sometimes way too much cycling & they carry so little on their bikes...but I'm sure the TV sag wagon helps them out too!
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Old 04-13-19, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Altair 4 View Post
No comment other other than to express my complete jealousy! Recently while travelling, the Dayton hotel I stayed at had NHK TV from Japan on cable. I saw an episode of "Cycle Around Japan." The scenery was beautiful and the roads, at least for that episode, looked empty and inviting. The host is not Japanese, but does speak the language. I was wondering what it would be like NOT to speak it though. Best of luck - enjoy!
https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/tv/cycle/
Those NHK vids are awful advertisements masquerading as documentaries. Chance meetings are all pre-arranged. I watched them and never stopped cringing. I live in Japan.
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Old 04-13-19, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by cobalt123 View Post
Have you ever been before? I've been to Japan a bunch of times, but never looked at it from the perspective of a cyclist. Look forward to hearing your plans develop.
No, never been. Still figuring out what to do after day 5. Really looking forward to it. Will post updates here.
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Old 04-13-19, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by edouble8 View Post
I've traveled to Japan in 2016 to do the Shimanami Kaido event with our local bicycle club, and it was spectacular! I wanted to rejoin another group last year since the event is every 2 years. 2016 was the "small" event with approximately 3000 participants, while 2018 was the "large" event with 8000 participants! The event alternates every 2 years. If you have the chance, I'd cycle through this famous bicycle route, which should be on every bicycle tour bucket list. I brought my daily commuter bicycle on this trip ('91 Cannondale ST1000) & I didn't have any problems with it not being a folding bike on the trains. Just have to have it completely covered in a "rinko" bag (Japanese bicycle bag for traveling on trains).

Also, in 2018, I returned to Japan to participate in an Eroica event. But this time, I brought my vintage De Rosa. The hills in Agatsuma/Gunma were brutal, but rewarding in the end, since we were located at an onsen (natural hot springs) resort, so you could soak after a hard day's ride. This is another spectacular event I'd like to continue to participate in the future. Although, riding my vintage bike through Tokyo city was just as memorable and exciting!

Japan is so much fun, so I'm sure you'll have a blast! Kampai!!! (cheers in Japanese)

P.S. Agree with the "Cycle Around Japan" episodes on NHK tv. They are well done, but sometimes way too much cycling & they carry so little on their bikes...but I'm sure the TV sag wagon helps them out too!
That route looks so fun. If I get to tour Japan a second time I might do Shikoku island starting with the Shimanami Kaido. But I shouldnt get a head of myself here.

There's a lot to think about for this first trip, solo touring in a new place where I cant even read the language!

Kampai to you too!
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Old 04-15-19, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by waddo View Post
Those NHK vids are awful advertisements masquerading as documentaries. Chance meetings are all pre-arranged. I watched them and never stopped cringing. I live in Japan.
The "chance meetings" did seem a little forced in the episode I watched, with some furtive glancing off to the sides by the person encountered. Frankly, I would have fast-forwarded through them if I were watching online. The scenery, though, looked fantastic.

A long time ago, in the pre-digital age when I was a teen-ager (think early 1970's), I used to listen to NHK in English via shortwave. There was a program called "One in 100 Million" that would focus on some person doing something uniquely Japanese. It was interesting without feeling like an advert. Back then, the only way that I could possibly conceive of going to Japan would be to join the US military (didn't happen).
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Old 04-19-19, 07:48 AM
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Excited and getting things ready here. I travel on April 30.

One thing, wherever I plan a nice little 35 mile ride on Map My Ride, it ends up like 4000 ft of climbing!
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Old 04-19-19, 08:26 AM
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I just returned back from our vacation to Japan. Among other things, we did Shimanami Kaido...spectacular...I'd say anything on Kyushu will be awesome but beware :-) The Japan I experienced was very hilly so plan your routes accordingly. I found the people entirely wonderful, respectful and willing to help out. I saw a lot of cool folder bikes in Japan.

I used exclusively the Booking.com app to find accommodations and it worked very well for us.

The food in the Family Mart mini stores is actually pretty good if You like Japanese food and it is inexpensive too.

Bring mini towel - toilets usually don't have ways to dry your hands

There are no trash cans on the streets but you can utilize trash cans in family marts, seven11 and other stores. There is no litter on the streets ... amazing. Eating while walking is considered rude. They don't do it and it is discouraged in some cases with signage.



Originally Posted by dgodave View Post
I'm quite excited about my upcoming tour. 2 weeks starting May 1. All in Kyushu. On the Brompton folder. Inns, airbnb, hotels - not camping.

Days 1 & 2: Fukuoka, get my bearings, look & ride around, get some things together.
Days 3 & 4: early train to Usa and ride the Kunisaki Peninsula
Day 5+ ???

Please let me know if you have any advice, thoughts, etc.
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Old 04-19-19, 12:59 PM
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Your tour of the Kunisaki Peninsula will lead you to Beppu. It is a university town with some very strange attractions. The first thing you need to understand about Beppu is that is is directly downhill from Mount Aso. The is a huge ancient but still active volcano (in fact I heard of some road closures near there). As a result of the vulcanism, Beppu sits on a river of superheated water. There are huge steam vents in the streets just to relive the pressure. There are tons of Ďfoot onsensí - small pools to soak your feet in the hot water. Even the most basic Minshuku will have an Onsen but get to some of the big old ones. They are very hot and left me wondering how the locals could manage a decent length soak. The seven Buddhist hells are another attraction. Some are beautiful but some are a bit run down and exploit animals.

From Beppu you could ride up to Mount Aso (or take the train, thatís what I would do!). The Aso Cauldera would be a good ride but you will definitely have you work cut out for you to get there. Also check about road closures - I think itís only right near the Volcano. There is a great hostel right near the Aso train station. From there you have a big downhill to Kumamoto and beyond.

Your other two options from Beppu is to continue along the coast or take the ferry to Shikoku. I havenít been along the coastal route but it leads to Kagoshima, which is a very cool city!

I need to get back to Japan!

Last edited by Mountain Mitch; 04-19-19 at 01:03 PM.
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Old 04-20-19, 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
I just returned back from our vacation to Japan. Among other things, we did Shimanami Kaido...spectacular...I'd say anything on Kyushu will be awesome but beware :-) The Japan I experienced was very hilly so plan your routes accordingly. I found the people entirely wonderful, respectful and willing to help out. I saw a lot of cool folder bikes in Japan.

I used exclusively the Booking.com app to find accommodations and it worked very well for us.

The food in the Family Mart mini stores is actually pretty good if You like Japanese food and it is inexpensive too.

Bring mini towel - toilets usually don't have ways to dry your hands

There are no trash cans on the streets but you can utilize trash cans in family marts, seven11 and other stores. There is no litter on the streets ... amazing. Eating while walking is considered rude. They don't do it and it is discouraged in some cases with signage.
Thanks for the thoughts. All the possible routes I plan seem incredibly hilly!
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Old 04-20-19, 07:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Mountain Mitch View Post
Your tour of the Kunisaki Peninsula will lead you to Beppu. It is a university town with some very strange attractions. The first thing you need to understand about Beppu is that is is directly downhill from Mount Aso. The is a huge ancient but still active volcano (in fact I heard of some road closures near there). As a result of the vulcanism, Beppu sits on a river of superheated water. There are huge steam vents in the streets just to relive the pressure. There are tons of Ďfoot onsensí - small pools to soak your feet in the hot water. Even the most basic Minshuku will have an Onsen but get to some of the big old ones. They are very hot and left me wondering how the locals could manage a decent length soak. The seven Buddhist hells are another attraction. Some are beautiful but some are a bit run down and exploit animals.

From Beppu you could ride up to Mount Aso (or take the train, thatís what I would do!). The Aso Cauldera would be a good ride but you will definitely have you work cut out for you to get there. Also check about road closures - I think itís only right near the Volcano. There is a great hostel right near the Aso train station. From there you have a big downhill to Kumamoto and beyond.

Your other two options from Beppu is to continue along the coast or take the ferry to Shikoku. I havenít been along the coastal route but it leads to Kagoshima, which is a very cool city!

I need to get back to Japan!
Very interesting ideas. Thanks!

At the moment, after Kitsuki, I'm thinking train to Oita or Usuki and ride to Taketa. Then Taketa to Takochiho. Then Takochiho to Nobeoka or Hyuga. Then.....?

But I'm not set on this yet, and will look into the places you mention .
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Old 04-20-19, 09:14 AM
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You may have already looked at this but, just in case you missed it: https://www.welcomekyushu.jp/cycle-i...courses/search
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Old 05-23-19, 01:08 PM
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I did it!
And it was awesome.
Beautiful country.
Friendly people.
Challenging language.
Difficult hilly rides.

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Old 05-23-19, 05:51 PM
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Is the dotted and red for alternating days?
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Old 05-23-19, 07:42 PM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
Is the dotted and red for alternating days?
Dotted is where I took trains. Red is cycling. Big dots just indicate places, but also coincide with overnight stays, except for a couple instances.

I did 3 nights in each of Fukuoka and Nagasaki, and a couple nights in Kitsuki and Takachiho, with day rides during the stays.

The whole trip was 15 full days on the ground, plus some travel days on each end.
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Old 05-23-19, 08:37 PM
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We did a week of riding/train combo in Kyushu over thanksgiving on bike friday. One of our best vacations!
Day 1 Fukuoka to Hita via Dazaifu temple, stayed in the ryokan with onsen.
Day2 Hita to Usa, via maple cycling road with a stopover in Rakanji Temple - both very highly recommended. Stayed in Naru guest house in Usa.
Day 3 Kunisaki penninsular, https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4724.html Fukiji , Futagoji, Usa temples. The highlight of the trip!!! We then rode to Kitsuki and took a train to beppu. If I do ti again I would stay in Kunisaki or somewhere near Oita airport. Too much too see on the penninsula for one day.
Day 4 Beppu to Oita with a visit to couple of hells, sand onsen and Monkey Mountain. We spent so much time in the attreactions that we decided not to ride to Saiki (original plan) and took a train there. Saiki is the place to have sushi. If you have a time - ride to Tsurumisaki Lighthouse, eastmost point in japan - (we did not have time)
Day 5 - train to Kagoshima, rode around there
Day 6 - ferry to Sakurajima, rode around the volcano - highly recommended. train back to Fukuoka

PS. When planning, the area around Aso looked very nice as well. Did not get to go. there is a facebook group on Japan touring with tones of advice.
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Old 05-24-19, 02:44 AM
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How was the train transport? Did you have to bag your bike?
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Old 05-24-19, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
How was the train transport? Did you have to bag your bike?
I put the "official" cover on my Brompton, which worked well and also let me bring the bike into hotel rooms no questions asked. On some small trains there was no luggage rack, so it was easy to keep the little bike at my feet.

Train transport was completely great. Mostly, I used the Hyperdia app for scheduling and just took a screenshot of the one I wanted and showed it to the ticket seller.
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Old 05-24-19, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by riceowls View Post
We did a week of riding/train combo in Kyushu over thanksgiving on bike friday. One of our best vacations!
Day 1 Fukuoka to Hita via Dazaifu temple, stayed in the ryokan with onsen.
Day2 Hita to Usa, via maple cycling road with a stopover in Rakanji Temple - both very highly recommended. Stayed in Naru guest house in Usa.
Day 3 Kunisaki penninsular, https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4724.html Fukiji , Futagoji, Usa temples. The highlight of the trip!!! We then rode to Kitsuki and took a train to beppu. If I do ti again I would stay in Kunisaki or somewhere near Oita airport. Too much too see on the penninsula for one day.
Day 4 Beppu to Oita with a visit to couple of hells, sand onsen and Monkey Mountain. We spent so much time in the attreactions that we decided not to ride to Saiki (original plan) and took a train there. Saiki is the place to have sushi. If you have a time - ride to Tsurumisaki Lighthouse, eastmost point in japan - (we did not have time)
Day 5 - train to Kagoshima, rode around there
Day 6 - ferry to Sakurajima, rode around the volcano - highly recommended. train back to Fukuoka

PS. When planning, the area around Aso looked very nice as well. Did not get to go. there is a facebook group on Japan touring with tones of advice.
Kunisaki Peninsula was great. Did two days of riding there, including a ridiculous amount of climbing. The temples there are more ancient than grand, giving the place a powerful feeling.
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Old 05-24-19, 08:30 AM
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A few pictures.....


Kunisaki Peninsula^^^



Kitsuki castle town^^^



Down the Gokase river from Takachiho^^^
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Old 05-24-19, 09:28 AM
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Spectacular! As you probably know, the carp ‘flags’ represent children as May is the children’s month.
I see you rode around Kirishima to take the ferry over to Kagoshima. Until fairly recently (1960s?) Kirishima was an Island. A volcano took care of that and attached it to the mainland. Fascinating area!
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Old 05-24-19, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Mountain Mitch View Post
Spectacular! As you probably know, the carp Ďflagsí represent children as May is the childrenís month.
I see you rode around Kirishima to take the ferry over to Kagoshima. Until fairly recently (1960s?) Kirishima was an Island. A volcano took care of that and attached it to the mainland. Fascinating area!
Two things I did not know, actually. Interesting.
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Old 05-24-19, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
How was the train transport? Did you have to bag your bike?
If you don't have a bike bag and looking for one for large bike just a few trips- get a motorcycle rain cover in the 100yen store and some zip-ties. Will work as good or better than rinko which are usually too small for the large frame bikes.
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