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  #1  
Old 25 Feb 2012
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Riding in Japan

It's been there off and on for many years.
DBS also calls to Japan.
If you are going all the way upto Hokkaido,,
Remember,,,
Japan is a very long country ,, Tokyo to Hokkaido by bike ,,, takes about a week to get there,, then another two days or so to hit the ferry ,, meanwhile ,, you are paying 6 - 10 USD for a bowl of noodles ,, gas,, lodging at 70 yen per one USD,, Frequent rain,, impeccable drivers maintaining proper speed limit, at all times, in front of you ,,
Been to Japan,, some 60 times and lived in Shibuya, for a year riding horses at the Joba Clabe with Madam Yukio Mishima... love the place ,,, you have to do Japan,,, piece by piece,,to appreciate,, And watch the weather carefully.
Don't be penny wise,, pound foolish.

Last edited by seouljoe; 25 Feb 2012 at 23:54.
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Old 2 Mar 2012
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Originally Posted by seouljoe View Post
If you are going all the way upto Hokkaido,,
Remember,,,
Japan is a very long country ,, Tokyo to Hokkaido by bike ,,, takes about a week to get there,, then another two days or so to hit the ferry ,, meanwhile ,, you are paying 6 - 10 USD for a bowl of noodles ,, gas,, lodging at 70 yen per one USD,, Frequent rain,, impeccable drivers maintaining proper speed limit, at all times, in front of you ,,
I have been living in Japan for 10 years now and riding for 8, and no offense but your take on Japan touring is at best highly misleading.

First of all, Wakkanai (at the northern tip of Hokkaido) to central Tokyo is about 1,350km by road. I personally have ridden from Wakkanai to Tokyo in 22 hours, including two hours hanging around the Hakodate port waiting for the ferry to depart, and another 4 hours on the ferry itself. Unless you are deliberately exploring every side road along the way and stopping frequently, the idea that it takes a over a week to get from Tokyo to any point on Hokkaido is simply incorrect.

Moving on to costs, especially with the strong yen (now at 80 to the dollar, not 70) it is certainly possible to pay 6-10 dollars or more for a big bowl of ramen noodle soup. (And it will be delicious!) But if you look for things like sandwiches, onigiri rice balls, or meat buns at convenience stores, or eat at cheap cafeteria-style restaurants at service areas, you can get a quick meal for only a couple of bucks. Better yet, if you're really pressed for cost savings on a long tour, stock up on non-perishable food at a supermarket and carry it with you. To save money on lodging, the obvious answer is to camp, either at campsites or for free in places you find on your own. (Choose wisely, be discreet, and no one will hassle you.) Campsites are also a good place to cook your own food from the supermarket.

As to weather, yes, it does rain sometimes in Japan, just like in most other places! A good idea is to avoid the rainy season from late June to mid-July, and the typhoon season from late August to mid-September. But even during those times, you can get days and days of great, sunny weather.

Finally, there are many different varieties of Japanese driver. On the expressways, you will regularly find people exceeding the speed limit by 20-40km per hour. Not Autobahn crazy, but certainly not little-old-lady timid, either. And lane splitting is 100% legal in Japan. So if there's a slowpoke in front of you on the expressway, just split your way past him! And on narrow mountain roads here, bikers regularly pass cars and trucks (after checking to make sure the oncoming lane is clear, of course). 9 times out of 10, the cager will actually ease over to the side to let you past! It's considered polite to give such drivers a friendly "thank you" wave as you pass them.

Maybe you somehow managed to have a bad time touring in Japan. I'm sorry to hear that, since I firmly believe Japan is one of the best countries in the world for motorcycle touring. I'd be happy to offer you or anyone else advice if you're considering a Japan trip. Or you could check out a local riders' forum at http://www.gaijinriders.com
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  #3  
Old 2 Mar 2012
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Japan Riding

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy Jinbaiquerre View Post
I have been living in Japan for 10 years now and riding for 8, and no offense but your take on Japan touring is at best highly misleading.

First of all, Wakkanai (at the northern tip of Hokkaido) to central Tokyo is about 1,350km by road. I personally have ridden from Wakkanai to Tokyo in 22 hours, including two hours hanging around the Hakodate port waiting for the ferry to depart, and another 4 hours on the ferry itself. Unless you are deliberately exploring every side road along the way and stopping frequently, the idea that it takes a over a week to get from Tokyo to any point on Hokkaido is simply incorrect.

Moving on to costs, especially with the strong yen (now at 80 to the dollar, not 70) it is certainly possible to pay 6-10 dollars or more for a big bowl of ramen noodle soup. (And it will be delicious!) But if you look for things like sandwiches, onigiri rice balls, or meat buns at convenience stores, or eat at cheap cafeteria-style restaurants at service areas, you can get a quick meal for only a couple of bucks. Better yet, if you're really pressed for cost savings on a long tour, stock up on non-perishable food at a supermarket and carry it with you. To save money on lodging, the obvious answer is to camp, either at campsites or for free in places you find on your own. (Choose wisely, be discreet, and no one will hassle you.) Campsites are also a good place to cook your own food from the supermarket.

As to weather, yes, it does rain sometimes in Japan, just like in most other places! A good idea is to avoid the rainy season from late June to mid-July, and the typhoon season from late August to mid-September. But even during those times, you can get days and days of great, sunny weather.

Finally, there are many different varieties of Japanese driver. On the expressways, you will regularly find people exceeding the speed limit by 20-40km per hour. Not Autobahn crazy, but certainly not little-old-lady timid, either. And lane splitting is 100% legal in Japan. So if there's a slowpoke in front of you on the expressway, just split your way past him! And on narrow mountain roads here, bikers regularly pass cars and trucks (after checking to make sure the oncoming lane is clear, of course). 9 times out of 10, the cager will actually ease over to the side to let you past! It's considered polite to give such drivers a friendly "thank you" wave as you pass them.

Maybe you somehow managed to have a bad time touring in Japan. I'm sorry to hear that, since I firmly believe Japan is one of the best countries in the world for motorcycle touring. I'd be happy to offer you or anyone else advice if you're considering a Japan trip. Or you could check out a local riders' forum at http://www.gaijinriders.com
Don't mean to piss match here ,,

"Rain late June to mid-July, and the typhoon season from late August to mid-September"
Looks like missing out best time of the year. I went in April and it was miserable two weeks. Wet and foggy every day.

"Wakkanai to Tokyo in 22 hours"
No taking in of the culture, cuisine and people? Just ride like hell? What about all the lovely Japanese coast lines and small fishing villages,, and sashimis on the way?

"speed limit by 20-40km per hour"

Getting out of the Tokyo it self takes more than an hour,, two on bad traffic, if I remember correctly. Japanese cops are very good in nabbing you and penalty high for speeding.

And where I differ ,, my idea of grand tour of Japan is nice warm nights at a classic Ryokan , Onsens,, and warm Saki. No rice balls on the side of the road some where ,, in the middle of the rain.

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Old 5 Mar 2012
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Originally Posted by seouljoe View Post
Don't mean to piss match here ,,
No pissing match, just info from a local who loves riding here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seouljoe View Post
I went in April and it was miserable two weeks. Wet and foggy every day.
April in Japan is generally regarded as a prime month for motorcycle touring. Sounds like you had really bad luck with the weather, and that's unfortunate, but it can happen in any country.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seouljoe View Post
"Wakkanai to Tokyo in 22 hours"
No taking in of the culture, cuisine and people? Just ride like hell? What about all the lovely Japanese coast lines and small fishing villages,, and sashimis on the way?
I agree if you're touring to see the country, as opposed to get somewhere, it's much nicer to stop and smell the roses instead of blasting straight to your destination. I thought in your original comment you were saying that that's the minimum time it takes to get from Tokyo to Wakkanai. My point is that if you're in a hurry for some reason, it can be done in less than a single day. Of course you can make it take as long as you want by exploring fun roads and sights along the way, camping out, soaking in onsen, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seouljoe View Post
"speed limit by 20-40km per hour"

Getting out of the Tokyo it self takes more than an hour,, two on bad traffic, if I remember correctly. Japanese cops are very good in nabbing you and penalty high for speeding.
Technically, the whole area called Tokyo is more like a state than a city. (It's kind of like how New York is a city but also a state.) It could take an hour to go across the entirety of Tokyo, I guess. But I don't see how it could take an hour to get out of just the "central Tokyo" city part on a motorcycle. I ride around central Tokyo every day as part of my commute and don't have any problems with traffic. But even in peak traffic jam conditions (example: setting off at the start of a three-day weekend, when everybody and his brother jumps on the expressways out of town) you can just lane split your way to freedom. Or you leave early and beat the rush. If you refuse to lane split and you get caught in peak traffic, then yes, it could take you an hour or more!

You can easily get nabbed for speeding in the city. Out on the expressway, especially in less-populated areas, the odds of getting nabbed fall off dramatically.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seouljoe View Post
And where I differ ,, my idea of grand tour of Japan is nice warm nights at a classic Ryokan , Onsens,, and warm Saki. No rice balls on the side of the road some where ,, in the middle of the rain.
Yes, there are very expensive places to stay in Japan. You could easily spend $100 a night or more. But my point is that the amount of money you spend on food and lodging is really up to you, just like the amount of time it takes you to go from Tokyo to Wakkanai is up to you. If you want to stay in "classic ryokan" and eat fancy meals, you're going to end up spending more -- maybe A LOT more -- than someone who camps or looks for budget accommodations and cheap eats. This isn't Japan's fault; it's a consequence of your personal preferences. One last point I'd make is that cheap doesn't have to equal low-quality. I've cooked nice, hot dinners at campsites that were every bit as delicious as a good restaurant meal.

My main point in all of this is that Japan is an incredible place to tour, and the costs and distances are easily manageable to fit all sorts of different agendas. I really hope you give Japan another try, and I hope you get better weather when you do.
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Old 5 Mar 2012
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I started a new thread and moved some posts, as this debate (?) was getting off the Sakhalin ferry topic!


Regarding getting in and out of Tokyo:
Even if you are on a budget, I recommend taking the expressway (toll road). Taking surface roads, you really can spend 2 hours in stop and go traffic before you reach somewhere you can ride more than 5 minutes before hitting the next red traffic light. 1 to 15 dollars worth of tolls will get you far enough away that you are moving more than you are stopped.
The Metropolitan Expressway at the center of Tokyo, however, can be confusing as hell. Even being able to read and write Japanese, I sometimes get confused as to where I am going! And there are very few places to pull over and check the map there.

Routes in Japan to avoid include Highway 1 between Tokyo and Nagoya: Traffic is hell and there ain't a whole lot to see. Highway 6 on the Pacific coast is probably in bad shape as there was a bit of a tsunami last year (understatement of the decade?). Going to or from Hokkaido, don't ride the entire way on Highway 7 on the Sea of Japan (that would be East Sea to you Joe!): the scenery is mostly the same all the way.

Disclaimer: The opinions above are my own and may or may not reflect the real situation or tastes of anyone other than myself.
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Old 6 Mar 2012
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I fully agree with Chris and Guy!

Yes, Japan can be expensive, yes the weather can be somewhat shi...y, but touring in Japan is GREAT!

I've lived here for more than 20 years now, riding bikes to all kind of places,including 2 trips to Hokkaido. I accomodated RTW bikers twice so far and they were full of praise concerning their "Japan-experience".

It always depends on what you want to do, when and where.
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Old 6 Mar 2012
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Japan Riding

My god ,, you guys are more sensitive than Japanese about Japan. Gee,,,
I never said riding Japan is sxxxty ,, in fact I praised it's beauty profusely.
Why do you think I have gone there more than 60 times ,,

All I am emphasizing , watch the weather, while riding in Japan ,, you will be miserable ,, caught in several days of non stop rain,, after all Japan does have one of the highest rainfall average,,

Once I went to a small village up north from Tokyo to a small riding club ,, they gave me a great horse and six of us,, went for some 5 miles parallel to the beach then turned left and through a narrow path in the huge bamboo field some 6 meters high ,,we full galloped some 80 meters ,, then ,, at the end of this bamboo tunnel ,, as we bursted out into the bright open ,,, vast Pacific and white sand ,, (rarity in Japan) clear blue sky ,, took the horses in the sea ,, and back at the stable ,, did some jumping ,, drank saki ,, sushi ,, great time was had by all .. Then there was a time ,, on a Shinkansen ,, met a woman professor at the Keio University ,, who insisted that I stay as her guest at a ryokan in Kyoto,, full moon it was ,, dinner was served in our room with a view of flowing water,, moon over it ,, and the fish served in Pompeii position ,, and her gentle of whisper of itai ,, itai ,, all night.

On other occasion to Japan,,,I was drunk dancing like a madman ,,, at Mugen in Roppongi ,,ended up meeting a German fashion model ,,spent a year with her and set up a house in Shibuya , near Tokyo daigaku,, still 3 days out of 7 ,, it rained in Japan...

Peace Gaijin Japanese brothers,,,
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Old 6 Mar 2012
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My god ,, you guys are more sensitive than Japanese about Japan. Gee,,,
I never said riding Japan is sxxxty ,, in fact I praised it's beauty profusely.
Why do you think I have gone there more than 60 times ,,
I think your comma key is stuck.

Anyway, no one's being "sensitive" here. I just wanted to make sure your earlier negative comments don't turn people away from touring Japan and having great experiences there like you and I have had.

Stay classy,
Guy
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Old 6 Mar 2012
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Originally Posted by Chris of Japan View Post
Regarding getting in and out of Tokyo:
Even if you are on a budget, I recommend taking the expressway (toll road). Taking surface roads, you really can spend 2 hours in stop and go traffic before you reach somewhere you can ride more than 5 minutes before hitting the next red traffic light. 1 to 15 dollars worth of tolls will get you far enough away that you are moving more than you are stopped.
I agree completely -- I had just assumed anyone heading out of Tokyo would be taking one of the expressways!

But of course, someone who's just visiting and doesn't know what the surface roads around Tokyo are like are like might be tempted to try them instead. That would be a mistake.
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Old 7 Mar 2012
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Question How Tragic ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,!

Just realised ,,,the place,, where I went riding ,, north of Tokyo,, mentioned above is the Fukushima ,,where ,,the recent nuclear fiasco took place. Very sad to think such a beautiful place,, now desolate.
Fukushima is famous for horse farming.

Last week ,, a delegation of a village near there came to Korea,, to negotiate with Junra province,, about whole Japanese village migrating here.
Junra is old Baek Jae Dynasty,, in 1100s ,, artisans from this region of Korea went to Japan to build and make things, in Japan,,hence Japanese always and still has affinity for this particular region of Korea.
Hmmm ,,,,,,,,,,,,, it will be very interesting as to what Korean government will decide on.

I personally will welcome them with an open arm. We Koreans need to learn Japanese sense of order and politeness.

Last edited by seouljoe; 7 Mar 2012 at 11:32.
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Old 18 Mar 2012
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24th of March ,,

Flying in to Tokyo,, to have a din din with my good Japanese friends,, staying at the Shinjuku Prince , flying back to Seoul next day ,,
If any Japan HUBB ,, would like to meet for a coffee Sunday 10AMish ,,
RSVP seouljoe@seouljoe.com

When I was a young man ,, I flew to Tokyo on KAL first class ,, I was the first one at the exit ,, right behind was an old Anglo man ,, carrying six heavy duty free bags , his back was hunched ,, he had a big straw hat on , with age worn khaki pants and a white shirt ,, geeks wear.
I felt sorry for him so I carried all his bags for him ,, and they were bloody heavy ,, I let him get off the plane first ,,
There were perhaps , 30 some camera men,, flash bulbs going off every where ,,, then they yelled ,, sah rahrence , rahrence ,,,
He was Lawrence Olivier ,, this old man ,, all of a sudden ,, picked up his shoulders ,, blew up like a balloon ,, chest high ,, more than 6 ft tall ,, I behind him,,, carrying all his bags like a houseboy....

It was fun though ,,,
Next time ,, I will tell you about the time I ran into Rod Steiger at Rome Grand Hotel ,, and how we drank the night away, with two lovely La Dolce Vitas....

Last edited by seouljoe; 18 Mar 2012 at 10:28.
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Old 18 Mar 2012
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Originally Posted by klaus View Post
I fully agree with Chris and Guy!

Yes, Japan can be expensive, yes the weather can be somewhat shi...y, but touring in Japan is GREAT!

I've lived here for more than 20 years now, riding bikes to all kind of places,including 2 trips to Hokkaido. I accomodated RTW bikers twice so far and they were full of praise concerning their "Japan-experience".

It always depends on what you want to do, when and where.
I agree re: it being expensive and about the weather but the I lived in Japan for 6 months about 10 years ago in a beautiful place called Takayama in Gifu and loved it!! Will be going back as part of my RTW trip with my husband can't wait
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Old 18 Mar 2012
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Flying in to Tokyo,, to have a din din with my good Japanese friends,, staying at the Shinjuku Prince, flying back to Seoul next day
Don't miss the Tokyo Motorcycle Show that weekend!!
I am going Friday, as the missus wants to go to but has to work on the weekend.
Looks like I will miss you as I gotta get back to Nagano same day, but enjoy your stay in Tokyo.
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Old 27 Mar 2012
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Tokyo March 24-25 2012

Landed at Narita ,, took the AP limo into Shinjuku ,,
My travel agent tried to rip me off ,, I tore his head off. I have booked at the Okura ,, then my friend Shoji ,, said move it to Shinjuku ,, close to Shibuya, where their home is ,, the travel agent assures me ,, Shinjuku Prince is equal to Okura (Old famous business hotel, with lovely garden ,, double starts at USD 450..) I show up ,, I am right in front of Kabuki Cho ,, the old part of Shinjuku right next to the train station ,,sex clubs ,, seedy part of town,,worse than Frankfurt Haupbahnhoff in 80s,, I passed the new Park Hyatte ,, and all other hotels, which were all fully booked..
The lobby looks and feels like Katumandu Express, in the basement ,, I've paid for Okura. Prince (Whole Prince Group is not what it used to be,, going under at the moment) starts at USD 250 ,, he is paying back the full amount.

Something,, I noticed this time ,, no energy in the streets ,, people's expressions reminds me of ,, post 9/11 Manhattan,, recent catastrophe must have had huge impact in people's psyche.

My friend ,, who is the CEO for an European bank in Tokyo ,, when I've asked him ,, you must have shxxted in your pants many times ,, says he,, many many times ,, keeps extra pairs of underwear and he just bought a new house in Shibuya ,, two years ago ,, it has a lovely garden. Kept saying to me ,, wonder what would happen, to his home.. in the big quake.

His family and mine goes back 18 years ,, from Manhattan,, our kids went to same kindergarten ,, Jr. High ,, and part of high school ,, until I 've moved the family to Monte Carlo ,, right after the Sept. 11,, I knew such thing would happen eventually.

Shoji's wife is a Koreaphile ,, so are many Japanese ,, some 20 years ago ,, Japanese used to give Korean students sxxt for eating kimchi in the building ,, now they all eat kimchi ,, watch Korean soap operas and listen to K-pop ,, two countries getting closer ,, yet , still far away.

We went to Tokyo for an over night ,, to have great food and talk ,, a very interesting restaurant in Minatoku ,, an Italian called Appian ,, they bring in antipasti to deserti ,, and prepares the food right in front of you ,, in a private room.

Then next day ,, Shoji's wife Kurumi ,, cooked for us ,, a Korean lunch cum ,, Latin American seafood salad and Japanese shabu shabu ,,
Champagne flowed so did some great wine ,, and Suntory reserve ,,

I come back to Seoul next day ,, Obama,, Hujintao ,, Medef ,, and 20 other heads of state are in town ,, discussing ,, what else ,, nuclear safety.

Had a great time ,, love Japan.

Appian Main Course ,,,
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