Biking in Japan is a much more popular form of transportation than it is in America. Most of Japan is bicycle-friendly and you'll generally have no trouble finding a sidewalk or bike path. In fact, for short or medium distances, cycling is probably the most convenient and efficient way to get around. Not to mention it's cheap! Without a driver's license, you'll find yourself relying a lot more on just your legs to get you around. Some universities like JCMU allow you to rent a bike directly from the university.

You'll be able to find bike storage and parking in most cities--often located near the local train station. Many of the city-run bike garages offer free daytime parking while you'll have to pay a fee for overnight parking.

Bicycle Safety and Rules

  • Just like in America, it is best to wear a helmet while cycling
  • Both cars and bikes must keep to the left side of the road
  • Technically all bikes should be equipped with a headlight and a bell--be sure to turn on your headlight at night
  • In some prefectures it is illegal to talk on a cell phone while biking
  • It is illegal to ride a bicycle while drunk and a drunk bicyclist can be arrested
  • Pedestrians always have the right of way
  • Riding two to a bike is forbidden although you'll probably see plenty of school girls ignoring this rule
  • While the crime rate in Japan is commendably low, bicycle theft is not unheard of. Be sure to always lock your bike securely no matter where you go.