Friday, July 31, 2009

Cycling Japan: Tipps and Tricks

Quiet back road
When preparing a bike trip to Japan you can use two great English websites: Japancycling is a website by Japanese cyclists for foreign cyclists with great information on all aspects of cycling in Japan. Especially useful is their chapter on free camping because you can print out a Japanese text to show when looking for a camp site. When flying into Japan also check out their airport information on how to get away with a bike. The only item that did not work was their hospitality list: We had contaces several hosts on it but have never received an answer. Also have a look at Japan-guide: Although not specifically for cyclists it contains a lot of useful information, especially on public transport.

Once in Japan Tourist Information Centres are a big help. They are very efficient and are one of the few places where people speak fluent English. They will find and book you accommodation for free and will answer all your questions. Try to make a list of what you want to know because you will very rarely encounter other sources of local information.

Kyoto
When in a city we usually stayed in a business hotel and we preferred the Toyoko Inn hotels. They offered the best value for money: Toyoko Inn hotels are basically in every Japanese city. They are always very centrally located and extremely clean. Every hotel has free internet facilities in the lobby and a Japanese breakfast is included in the price. Often they have washing machines. You can very easily pre-book them on their English website. If you stay in Japan for a longer period it pays off to become a member of the Toyoko Inn Club which gives you discounts on hotel prices, one free stay for every ten nights and earlier check-in time. We just loved Toyoko Inn!

When it comes to eating there is one important thing to keep in mind: Japanese love their food to be fresh! Therefore all sushi and bento boxes are sold at half price at the end of the day. The first thing we learnt is how that red half price sticker looks like! So whenever we came to a new city we tried to find out when the supermarket closes and then came one hour before closing time to get the half price stuff. For me being a sushi lover that was heaven. For the price of one sushi in Germany here you got a huge sushi platter!

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