(UPDATE October 2022)
(UPDATE September 2022) (UPDATE May 2022) (UPDATE February 2022) (UPDATE October 2021) (UPDATE December 2020) (UPDATE May 2020)

Click here to read our latest Special Reporthttp://www.kancycling.com/Features/COVID-19_Special_Report.htmlhttp://www.kancycling.com/Features/COVID-19_Special_Report.htmlhttp://www.kancycling.com/Features/COVID-19_Special_Report_Update_10-22.htmlhttp://www.kancycling.com/Features/COVID-19_Special_Report_Update_9-22.htmlhttp://www.kancycling.com/Features/COVID-19_Special_Report_Update_5-22.htmlhttp://www.kancycling.com/Features/COVID-19_Special_Report_Update_2-22.htmlhttp://www.kancycling.com/Features/COVID-19_Special_Report_Update_10-21.htmlhttp://www.kancycling.com/Features/COVID-19_Special_Report_Update_12-20.htmlhttp://www.kancycling.com/Features/COVID-19_Special_Report_Update.htmlhttp://www.kancycling.com/Features/COVID-19_Special_Report_Update.htmlhttp://www.kancycling.com/Features/COVID-19_Special_Report_Update_10-22.htmlhttp://www.kancycling.com/Features/COVID-19_Special_Report_Update_10-22.htmlhttp://www.kancycling.com/Features/COVID-19_Special_Report.htmlshapeimage_10_link_0shapeimage_10_link_1shapeimage_10_link_2shapeimage_10_link_3shapeimage_10_link_4shapeimage_10_link_5shapeimage_10_link_6shapeimage_10_link_7shapeimage_10_link_8shapeimage_10_link_9shapeimage_10_link_10shapeimage_10_link_11


In terms of touring, the major cycling magazines are starting out the year slowly (normal for the cold months). Cycle Sports has an all-too-brief article on a 181 km route from Kyoto through Nara and on to Wakayama (the first part of which is mainly the long bikepath covered by us here. But in terms of giveaways, Bicycle Club offers a very nice waterproof handlebar pouch and includes a 2-page spread with suggestions about how to use it. Free with your purchase of the magazine.


Here’s hoping that 2022 finally brings an improvement in the COVID situation that will once again make it possible for cyclists to come and enjoy cycling in Japan, in places like those shown in the New Year’s Card above — from left to right, Hakuba (spring), Kyushu (summer), Kyoto (autumn) and once again Hakuba (winter).


The major December cycling magazines both come through with major articles about routes: Cycle Sports with multiple paths in the Izu-Fuji area, and Bicycle Club with no fewer than THREE articles (Ibaraki, a 10 day trip around Shikoku and a fun article on “oretoge” or “my mountain pass” — all with great photographs). BC even includes a freebie (back pocket holder). And if that weren’t enough, we were gifted with two year-end additions to major route series: the SEVENTH edition of the Cycle Sports Jitensha-tabi series, this one on Kyushu’s Mt. Aso (we haven’t scored a copy of that one yet) and the THIRD edition of the new Kyu-Kaido series on the ancient roads of Japan.

The first two were on the Tokkaido and Nakasendo, between Tokyo and Kyoto. This one covers three routes leading from Shimosuwa (Lake Suwa near Matsumoto) to Nihonbashi in Tokyo, and from there to Nikko and on to Shirakawa in Fukushima Prefecture. Also includes a few “side routes” of old in Kamakura, Hokuriku and elsewhere. As impeccably designed as the previous volumes; highly recommended.


The two major November cycling magazines have little in the way of cycling routes. Oddly enough, the best magazine this month for both cycling and freebies is the October issue of the outdoor magazine BE-PAL, which normally focuses on camping and hiking but which this month devotes 34 pages to “Bicycle Life” including some routes. If that weren’t enough, it also includes one of the most unusual giveaways yet: a tiny cast-iron skillet designed for solo campers. Free with your purchase of the ¥1,100 magazine; get yours before they’re all gone.


Japan’s version of the “vaccine passport”  program (only for travel from and back to Japan) launched at midnight last night. Are these worth applying for? We investigate in our latest Special Report.

(It appears that some of the links were initially messed up; the problem has been fixed.)


September’s major cycling magazines both offer freebies: a combination ballpoint and iPad touch pen and case from Cycle Sports and a “double fastener wallet” from Bicycle Club. Cycle Sports also has a 31-page special feature on cycling the island of Sado that includes a route with combined 2100 meters of hill climbing, plus short features on bike-bagging (4 routes) and Kyushu’s Mt. Aso area.

ultiple news outlets including Kyodo reported yesterday that Japanese municipalities will begin issuing vaccine passports in mid- or late July (initially paper but later possibly digital) to Japanese citizens, and reportedly foreign residents, to facilitate travel from Japan. However, there’s no word yet on when proof of vaccination will be accepted for people wanting to travel TO Japan, and in fact the Japan Times reports that “...Japan is not planning to establish a system that would allow vaccine passports issued abroad to be accepted when people enter the country”. Although several news outlets reported that the passports will be free of charge, JT says pricing has not yet been decided.  More information as it becomes available.


The June issue of Cycle Sports has a long (almost 30 pages!) special report on cycling around the island of Awaji — not only the perimeter ride but also inland shortcut and “back” routes, with many nice photos. Recommended — but go get it immediately since it’s almost time for next month’s issue to come out. If it’s already gone from the bookstores, you can find it on Amazon. This is the second Cycle Sports issue in a row to feature an extensive touring section (following May’s article on Shikoku)— here’s hoping they keep coming.

But the more consequential recent release is a truly massive (nearly 200 pages!) guide whose title translates to “Japan Best 100 Cycling Routes (selected by cyclists).” While “best” is a subjective judgment, it offers dozens of excellent routes and many, many lovely photos, and it’s very reasonably priced at ¥1,650. Its only real flaw is a lack of consistency with regard to maps. Section 1 contains 50 of the 100 routes, illustrated with lovely photos but with only very tiny maps (but at least they’re there). Section 2 has long ride courses (Nikko, Shiga Kogen etc.) with larger maps. Section 3 is devoted to the Mt. Fuji area and also has decent maps (and it includes the Tokyo Olympics cycling route!) But the next section, on “touge” or mountain passes, has almost no maps at all! The following section, on river bikepath routes, has large maps in addition to QR codes (why?). Finally, there’s a 3-page section with only QR codes, and a final 2-page section listing 9 routes throughout the country with no maps at all. The inconsistency and even omission of maps in some cases is, frankly, baffling, since this is yet another guide put out by Cycle Sports. Still, very much recommended for overall value. One more caveat: this is the second Cycle Sports guide in a row to focus on mountain passes that does NOT include Shikoku’s Kyobashira-touge, perhaps the most spectacular mountain pass in the entire country. Why?


Today (April 12) COVID vaccination finally started nationwide, and with daily infections spiking particularly in the Kansai area, it’s not a moment too soon.

But there’s still no word on when cyclists and other tourists might be allowed into the country again. Ironically, the decision not to admit foreign spectators at the Olympics and Paralympics might result in tourists being allowed in sooner than if there was another huge COVID resurgence in the wake of mass spectator attendance. All we can do at this point is wait and see.

In the meantime, many new touring books and magazines have come out in the past few months. We present a rundown in our latest Special Report.

(And by the way, the May issue of Cycle Sports has a big — nearly 50 pages! — special section on cycling completely around Shikoku, with lots of lovely photos, some side routes and even a freebie hand towel printed with “Round Shikoku” in both English and Japanese — highly recommended.)


There’s still no word on when tourists might be allowed back into Japan (we still think that’s not likely to happen until after the Olympics). However, if you’re already in Japan, you should know that, because they can’t count on an influx of foreign tourists anytime soon, the rail companies are beginning to make some of their foreign-tourist-only passes available to non-Japanese residents. Tokyo Time Out reports that JR Kyushu is already doing so, and JR East will do so soon.

The JR Kyushu offer is of limited duration and ends on March 29. As TTO says: “The most comprehensive All Kyushu Area Pass will normally set you back ¥29,920 – but with this promotion, you’ll only need to spend ¥12,000 for a three-day pass. The Northern Kyushu Area Pass, on the other hand, is just ¥6,500 for three days ... in Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto and Oita prefectures.” (Passes for children aged 6 — 11 are half-price.

Beginning April 2021, JR East will make its Tohoku area* pass and Nagano—Niigata—Matsumoto—Hakuba area pass available to “anyone with a foreign passport regardless of visa type.” Both passes offer unlimited rides in the region for five consecutive days, for ¥20,000 adult for the Tohoku area (which includes Chiba and Tokyo!) and ¥18,000 for the Nagano area. (Passes for children are half price.)

(*The Tohoku area pass covers the prefectures of Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Miyagi, Fukushima, Yamagata, Akita, Iwate and Aomori.)

Of course, three or five days to cover areas as large as this would result in a pretty rushed trip for normal sightseeing tourists. But what if you just wanted to hop on a train early each morning and go somewhere, hop off, assemble the bicycle and cycle along only the best parts of the area, and then train to another great destination to spend the evening and prepare for the next day’s ride? If you configured your itinerary carefully, this could be a fabulous deal. Bus travel is normally half as expensive as train travel. These price reductions likely make train travel even cheaper than bus travel — and, unlike buses, there’s usually no problem bringing a bagged bicycle aboard trains.

If you go for these passes, to get maximum benefit from them, plan your last ride on the final day carefully. For example. you might consider ending your Northern Kyushu pass with a train ride ending up in Nagasaki (since it’s such a wonderful city for an extended stay). If you choose the Tohoku pass, you could end with a LONG and normally very expensive return trip all the way to Tokyo.


After the challenges and frustrations of 2020, we hope this year will (eventually) be a year of rewarding opportunities, and that Japan will once again be able to open its doors to cycle-tourists from around the world.

(The text below the “Happy New Year” greeting says “May 2021 be a ‘reboot’ (restart) year.”


Our updated COVID-19 report is here.


The last cycling magazines of the year are out, and December’s Cycle Sports offers in-depth coverage of rides around Lake Biwa and yet another freebie (long thin pouch). But the bigger news might be the release of the sixth volume in Cycle Sports’ excellent “Jitensha-tabi” (cycle-travel) series, this one on Wakayama. It features ten routes throughout the prefecture comprising 800km of cycling (“Wakayama 800”). The guide is lavishly illustrated with detailed maps and many, many lovely photos, and also includes information on food and gifts along the way. There’s even a pull-out map with the detailed route and information on “park and cycle” options and cyclist-friendly accommodations. Like the other issues in the series, it represents outstanding value (priced at 1,200 yen). Highly recommended. Past issues have featured ① the Seto Inland Sea, ② Aomori, ③ Ibaraki (that one is A5 size instead of A4 for some reason), ④ Shiga/Biwa and ⑤ Oita.


Japan’s domestic tourism stimulation program is in full swing. How viable is it — in particular for cyclists? We investigate in our latest Special Report.


No progress on restarting tourist entry, but Kyodo News reports today that returning foreign residents as well as business travelers and Japanese citizens will be exempted from the 14-day quarantine:

Those eligible will be required to submit a detailed plan of their movements in the 14 days following entry into Japan, including accommodation and place of employment, they said.


Given the anticipated burden on airport staff to handle paperwork and other inspection measures, the government plans to impose a daily limit on the number of people eligible for the exemption based on testing capacity at airports and other ports of entry.

New regulations are expected by the end of the month. Kyodo reports that there will be “no restrictions on countries.” More as this story develops.


We’re preparing a long-delayed Japan COVID update (spoiler alert: most tourists still prevented from entry) and a special report on our experience with the new “Go To Travel” campaign. But the November cycling magazines are out, and both of the Big Two are worth a look: Bicycle Club for an article on four routes around the Boso Peninsula and some truly lovely photos of Kyushu’s Yamanami Highway, and Cycle Sports for an extensive article on river routes in the Tokyo area and around the country. CS also includes a freebie: a wrap-around velcro cupholder (or anything-holder) for attaching to your handlebars. Free with the magazine; get your copy before they’re all gone.


October is normally a good month for touring information in J-magazine-land, and this year’s issues do not disappoint. Bicycle Club offers detailed routes in Okutama and Shikoku’s Shimantogawa with lovely photos. But the bang-for-buck winner is definitely Cycle Sports, for its massive 50-page section on cycling Mt. Fuji, including articles on the three routes leading up to the 5th stage (the highest you can go by wheeled vehicle), cycling in the area, the 2020 Olympics road race course, the 5 Lakes district and even camp-touring. (Bicycle Club also featured an extensive article on Fuji last month.) As if that weren’t enough, the issue also includes a freebie: a cloth “sports shield” that you can soak in water and then wear around your face for a cool ride, and that can also provide some virus-droplet spread protection in case you need to go into a shop en route. On sale for the next two or three weeks; get your copy before they’re all gone.


Both the Japan Times and Kyodo News report that the restriction on entry (and re-entry) will end for all lawful foreign residents as of tomorrow, September 1. Re-entry to Japan will be contingent on showing the results of a PCR test (taken within 72 hours of boarding) and observing the same 14-day quarantine period that is required of returning Japanese nationals.

However, the Japan Times notes an additional requirement for resident foreigners wanting to leave and return:

[T]hose who are planning to re-enter will need to contact the Immigration Services Agency before their departure from Japan. Such requests will be accepted online.

The procedure is needed to keep a record of people departing from Japan and boost testing capacity at airports.

As before, there was no word on when tourists might be allowed to enter.


As reported on the 7 am NHK news this morning, the Japanese government has decided to allow re-entry to ALL legal foreign residents of Japan, contingent on taking a PCR test beforehand and then quarantining in designated hotels for two weeks upon arrival.

The NHK World website reports:

 ...the government is planning to allow the re-entry of all residential status holders on the condition that they take PCR virus tests and quarantine themselves for two weeks at designated hotels. The measures are similar to those currently taken for Japanese travelers.

About 2.6 million foreigners hold resident status in Japan. Officials are preparing to expand the testing capabilities at Narita and two other major airports to 10,000 people per day next month to meet the demand.

No target date was listed, although the Japanese version of the report says “starting next month” (September). In addition, the other two airports were not specified, but one is undoubtedly Kansai International Airport. We’ll have more information as this story develops. Still no word on any plans to reopen to ordinary travelers.


News reports from Hawaii last week and again today speculate on a possible travel “bubble” between Japan and the state of Hawaii that would not involve the need for two-week quarantines on both ends. How realistic is the idea, and when might it happen? We investigate in our latest Feature.


(With apologies to The Eagles)

Confirming previous reports, the Japan Times notes that stranded residents can now apply to be let back into Japan — but only if they left before the ban on re-entry was put in place. And most foreign residents will STILL be barred from traveling overseas and then being allowed back into the country:

”According to the Immigration Services Agency (ISA), people considering such a move — regardless of their visa status — will still need permission to re-enter the country under special circumstances deemed as humanitarian grounds, such as a relative’s death or a health emergency.”

Moreover, skyrocketing new cases in Tokyo and also nationwide mean there is little chance that Japan will open up to tourism anytime soon.


The Japan Times and Kyodo News report that the government will allow foreign residents who were stranded abroad to return to Japan, reportedly beginning in August. Returnees will need to present a negative COVID-19 test. However, this will not include people who left Japan after the ban was implemented (and presumably those in Japan who need to travel abroad in the future will still be prevented from returning). Kyodo News says:

Those who departed later or have newly obtained a visa with plans to move here will be allowed in at a later date, a government official said.

This shift seems unlikely to blunt the criticism of Japan’s policy summarized by Kyodo as follows:

Japan's expatriate community has been outraged by the government's prior refusal to let foreign residents back in except under "special exceptional circumstances," a nebulous set of criteria that includes the death of a family member.

Many other countries that have imposed travel bans such as Germany and France do not discriminate between citizens and foreign residents in granting re-entry.

Moreover, obviously tourists are still banned, and given the dramatically increasing case numbers particularly in Tokyo (more than 200 new cases per day for most of the past week, and over 300 yesterday), it seems unlikely that Japan will allow in ordinary tourists anytime soon.


Kyodo News reports that 1/4 of Tokyo bicycle-commuters began doing so to avoid crowded public transport following the coronavirus outbreak. The survey, conducted in June, also found that 1/3 of respondents said their employers had actually recommended that they begin commuting by bicycle.


The Japan Times reports today that more foreign residents will be allowed to return to Japan. Those permitted to return will be expanded to include “expatriate workers and educators.” A PCR test will be required to re-enter the country. We’ll have more information later in the week after the formal announcement is made.

Obviously this does not affect tourist entry, but any movement on entry by foreigners is progress.


Kyodo News and the Japan Times report that Japan will open coronavirus testing centers at the three main international airports (Narita, Haneda and Kansai), and in the cities of Tokyo and Osaka.

The airport centers will test both international arrivals and departures, while the city centers will be exclusively for departing travelers. The aim is to increase PCR testing to more than 4,000 tests per day, and to use new methods to reduce testing times to a few hours  (test results currently take 1 to 2 days).

The Japan Times article also says:

“The government has yet to decide whether to use [the centers] for those in Japan who may require evidence they are virus-free to travel outside the country.”

Meanwhile, talks on opening up reciprocal travel arrangements with Taiwan and Brunei are set to begin soon, and arrangements with China and South Korea are said to be “under consideration.” The process would be the same as that for the initial four countries: first business people, then students and finally regular travelers (“tourists”), and each stage will take time. So even when they happen, these openings will be slow.


According to today’s Japan Times, Japan is “in talks” to allow in travelers from Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam. Entry would be contingent on getting a PCR test and submitting an itinerary of specific places to be visited during the travelers’ stay. Apparently they’re planning to allow in business people first, followed by students and then later tourists. Visitors may be required to use a GPS smartphone app to facilitate contact tracing. More info as this situation develops.

UPDATE: A Bloomberg article (also carried by the Japan Times) on Thailand tourism reports that “Thailand’s first few travel-bubble pacts, with nations such as Japan and Australia, probably won’t be ready until at least August.”


Japan’s current immigration policy still denies entry to travelers coming from 111 countries. As we’ve noted before, Japan is also preventing re-entry by non-Japanese permanent residents who were out of the country before the ban took effect. We’ve been on the lookout for any change in that particular policy, since it might indicate a softening of entry restrictions in general.

Yesterday the Japan Times reported that the exceptions to the ban on non-Japanese resident re-entry have been clarified. The details are not encouraging. The ban remains in place, and only in very limited circumstances will it be waived on humanitarian grounds. Moreover, people who are in Japan now but need to go overseas will also be prevented from returning; the only exceptions are for things like visiting critically ill relatives or attending funerals, having medical treatment, or testifying in court.

Since there’s been no relaxation of even the policy on lawful permanent residents, it seems unlikely that ordinary tourists will be allowed in anytime soon. There has been some talk (or rumor) of the idea of establishing travel “bubbles” between Japan and places that have held the virus in check such as Hawaii and New Zealand. If that happens, we’ll let you know.


We’ve updated our COVID-19 Special Report here.


The July cycling magazines don’t have much in the way of route information. Bicycle Club reverts to form by offering a freebie item (paper-thin cycling cap), but much of the rest of the issue is devoted to “indoor cycling style.” And Cycle Sports has an interesting comparison of online map services (covering services such as STRAVA Routebuilder, Ride With GPS and Komoot as well as Google Maps) but there’s little touring information. However, both magazines have released new stand-alone touring guides that come at the perfect time for anyone looking to enjoy the great weather on a bicycle in newly unlockdown-ed Japan.

Bicycle Club’s guide is “Introduction to Solo Road Bike Touring.”

The subtitle says that it “provides the know-how for traveling solo, from bike-bagging to long rides and bicycle camping.” Some guides turn out to contain mostly bicycle model recommendations and cycle gear promotions. Thankfully, this one mainly stays laser-focused on the nuts and bolts of how to tour. Almost half of the book is occupied by detailed coverage of 10 specific routes throughout the country — six of which are given additional space for profiles individual riders showing how they traveled each route, with many wonderful photos and examples of the specific gear they took along. Also has a section on bicycle-camping. Lastly, it’s relatively moderately priced (¥1200).

The guide from Cycle Sports is something we’ve been eagerly anticipating for a long time. It’s part of the magazine's Jitensha-tabi (cycle journey) series which up to now has consisted of six volumes. However, this apparently marks the beginning of a new Jitensha-tabi series that focuses on one particular type of road: the Kyu-kaido or old historic roads.

The Kaido roads were built up through the Edo period to connect various parts of the country, often with the capital (Edo, now known as Tokyo). This guide focuses on the most famous of these: the Tokkaido, which linked Edo with Kyoto along the Pacific coast. (Yes, that’s right: finally a guide that shows a great way to cycle between Kyoto and Tokyo!) The route covers the nearly 500 km distance between the two cities on roads that parallel the busy National Route 1 highway, avoiding it as much as possible and joining it only when absolutely necessary. In addition to all of the detailed maps and information, the guide is also beautifully done, with page after page of lovely photos. And it’s also relatively inexpensive (¥1200). Best of all: as mentioned earlier, this is clearly the first in a series, so we can expect new issues covering the other famous Kaido in the future.

Both of these guides are available now in major bookstores throughout Japan. Here is the publishing information.


As you’ve probably heard, the government has lifted the lockdown in all parts of the country (even in Tokyo and Hokkaido where daily cases are at or near the low double digits). This should make it easier (and more socially acceptable) for people to move around the country, including bicycle-tourists. So if you’re already here, you are presumably free to plan cycle trips, and inns and so on will be opening up again. However, the ban on people coming into the country is still in place (and even non-Japanese legal residents of Japan are still barred from returning). The government is reportedly studying the question of how to reopen the country to non-Japanese; stay tuned.

(The mood on the street is relieved but still wary; 100% of shop owners are still masked, and the vast, vast majority of people in downtown shopping areas and so on are wearing masks as well.)

An additional note: we’ll put this in the Update to our special COVID-19 report, but we have one important piece of advice for people planning to go cycle-touring in Japan: WEAR A MASK when near other people. This will accomplish two things: it will help to keep both you and others safe, and more importantly it will show people in rural communities that you understand the current situation and are taking the disease seriously. We can’t think of anything that will do more to ensure that your presence is accepted and welcomed in Japan.


As reported late yesterday (May 20 JST), the government has decided to lift the (voluntary) lockdown advisory for the three Kansai prefectures (Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto). Details are now being worked out. The lockdown will remain in place for the Tokyo area prefectures (Kanagawa, Tokyo, Chiba) and Hokkaido. Note that this will not affect the international travel situation — at present, even lawful permanent residents of Japan are still not allowed back into the country! This situation was covered in the Japan Times and NHK reported on it last night as well, so that part may change — but it will probably be awhile before tourists are allowed in.

Incidentally, NHK last night presented a jaw-dropping statistic. Only 2,900 foreign tourists visited Japan in April — a 99.9 percent decline as compared to a year earlier.


The news this morning reports that a decision on lifting the (voluntary) lockdown in the remaining 8 prefectures will be made on Thursday JST. (Note that this will not affect international travel, particularly arrivals; those restrictions will stay in place.)

If we were to make predictions, we’d say there’s a good chance that the lockdown will be lifted — even in the Tokyo area prefectures, cases were down to single digits yesterday. The case for opening up is particularly good in Kansai: yesterday in all of the Kansai prefectures only one new case (in Hyogo) was reported.


Japan has eased its (voluntary) lockdown in 39 of its 47 prefectures, keeping the lockdown in place in only the Tokyo and Osaka metropolitan areas (including surrounding prefectures) as well as Hokkaido, which has seen a resurgence of infections. The government says it will consider what to do about the lockdown in the remaining prefectures in one week.

Obviously this does not affect international travel, but it might make it easier (and more acceptable) to travel in most areas of the country for people who are already here, and for tourists once they are able to get in.

Stay tuned.


Japan's major cycling magazines have switched personalities this month (June) in that it's not Bicycle Club but Cycle Sports  that offers the freebie: a very cool-looking wallet designed in cooperation with Italian bike manufacturer Cinelli. Absolutely FREE with your purchase of the ¥1,000 magazine. Get yours before they're all gone.

The other reason to get this issue is the lead article on "Your Second Trip to Shimanami" complete with truly impressive cover art.



OK, obviously it wasn’t “in a day or so,” but CoronaTime is different, as we're all discovering together. But we finally have a report on what the COVID-19 crisis means for cycling in Japan. Access it here:

COVID-19 and Cycling in Japan (May 2020)


In a day or so we will post a Special Report on the current coronavirus situation in Japan and how it is likely to affect cycling during the coming months. Please stand by.


The May issue of Bicycle Club becomes the first Japanese cycling magazine in years to include a special supplement with touring routes. It’s only 16 pages long, but it features detailed coverage of four routes and makes reference to a total of 10, and includes a full-sized map of Wakayama Prefecture marked with cycling routes. Free with your purchase of the ¥1000 magazine; for those outside Japan, the Wakayama 800 site is here:  https://www.wakayama-kanko.or.jp/marutabi/cycling/

And here’s a site where you can get route maps for individual routes (click the MORE button for each route): https://wave.pref.wakayama.lg.jp/cycling/routemap-archive.php


Here’s our New Year’s Card for 2020 ― of course meant to evoke the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Best wishes to all for many rewarding cycling journeys in the new year.


The relevant office in the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has graciously consented to let us post the very cool new official logo for National Cycle Routes in Japan, so here it is:

Here’s some information in English on the new National Cycle Route designation:


A look at the “Mandatory Criteria” for the establishment of such routes will show what a major undertaking this is. Kudos to the Japanese government for supporting cycling and cyclists in this manner.



Earlier this year, we reported on an ambitious plan by the Japanese government to establish national cycle routes in Japan, and noted that 59 routes were under consideration. Late in the year, the first three official National Cycle Routes were announced, and it should surprise exactly no one that Shimanami Kaido was selected to be one of the initial routes. The inclusion of the route circling Lake Biwa as one of the initial three routes is also not surprising. Only the third one was somewhat unexpected: the “Tsukuba-Kasumigaura Ring-Ring Road” (https://www.ringringroad.com/english/).

General information (in Japanese) on the three routes and general maps are here:


Also in this document is the new official logo (selected from 273 entries). The standards for download and proper use are still being finalized; we’ll post the logo here as soon as we can legally do so.


It’s already the New Year in cycling magazine-land in Japan, and the January issues are already out. As usual, Cycle Sports is a massive tome (their January issue always is), but there’s little of interest for touring cyclists — the lead article is “100 best product recommendations” by cycle shop staff, which has a lot of information but none of direct interest to people looking to go bike-touring. Meanwhile, Bicycle Club starts the new year by managing to find yet ANOTHER creative freebie giveaway — this time, a weight meter that looks identical to the ones people use for weighing luggage, designed to enable you to measure the weight of your bagged bicycle! (You attach the meter to the bikebag and then lift from the meter.) There’s also a nice article on the Sea of Okhotsk coast of northeastern Hokkaido, focusing on specific parts of that ride. The meter is free with your purchase of the ¥1000 magazine; available in bookstores for the next month.


The December cycling magazine issues are out, and the two major players end the year by doing the same sort of thing they’ve done all year: Bicycle Club finds yet another unique freebie to offer (this time it’s socks!), while Cycle Sports has yet another great article with 11 long-ride routes especially chosen for enjoying the late fall delicacies available in each area (Nikko, Hakone, Shiga Kogen and Koya-san among others). Includes some truly lovely photos; available in bookstores for the next month.


Apologies to the French speakers for the pun, but surely one of the more unusual freebie gifts in a cycling magazine has to be the lovely Lezyne tray included with the November issue of Bicycle Club — designed to hold valuables or tools and components during maintenance. Long-distance cyclists will also be interested in the article on the “10 best bicycle routes” in the country  that showcases rides that will be very familiar to KANcycling readers: Lake Biwa, Kyushu’s Yamanami Highway, Hakuba to Matsumoto and, of course, Shimanami. Get your copy in the next two weeks before they’re gone.


This month it's Bicycle Club that wins the cycle-mag bang-for-buck competition, with yet another freebie: a tiny bag that is actually designed to store another small pouch until it’s needed (but of course you can just start using them separately right away). Both are designed in collaboration with major bikebag manufacturer Ostrich. The issue also features a detailed “rinko” guide on how to take your bicycle in a bag on trains and buses (with helpful “NG” graphics showing what NOT to do), and an article on a “triple climb” ride around Mt. Fuji. In stores now until June 25 or so.


We’re a bit late in covering this, but the June issues of both major bicycle magazines include free goodies (a cycle cap for Cycle Sports and, unusually, a folding wallet with cycle logo for Bicycle Club). In terms of content, though, Cycle Sports is the hands down winner for its nearly 30 page title article “Let’s go on a trip by bicycle” that is a great general primer on traveling by bicycle. Tons of practical advice on a nuts and bolts level (for example, pointing out that although Fukuoka is the gateway to Kyushu, there are cheap LCC flights to Saga Airport as well, and showing the exact bike-packing contents for both lunchtime rides and extended camping trips). There should still be copies available at your local bookstore if you go in the next week or so.


The other intriguing article in the Bicycle21 issue mentioned in the previous post is about an ambitious plan to establish National Cycle Routes throughout Japan. The article says that 59 routes are currently being studied for possible designation as National Cycle Routes. Apart from a brief mention on the cycle.travel website in 2015, when the idea was first announced, there seems to have been no information in English on this up to now, so you may be reading about it here for the first time. This article includes a map supposedly showing the location of these candidate routes — we’ve been unable to locate the map online, but the caption says it was provided by the task force studying this issue. Here’s a tiny screenshot to whet your appetite:

For a more detailed version, check out the magazine. Until the official routes are unveiled, this could be a new game for cyclists: try to figure out where the proposed routes go. (But that red circle right at Shimanami should surprise exactly no one.) We’ll provide more details as soon as we know more.


Apart from the disappointment of this year’s Long Ride / Hill Climb supplement (see previous post), the cycle magazines have some things of interest this month. Cycle Sports has several routes in Miyazaki. Bicycle Club’s freebie offering is a name card case (an essential item in Japan) with a bicycle sprocket drive chain on the front, which is novel. But the most interesting magazine on the stands is the February issue of Bicycle 21, a venerable magazine that has been published since 2003 (!), for not one but two intriguing articles, the second of which we’ll cover in a separate post. The first is a (frustratingly brief) article on the big news about the Pacific Coast Bicycle Route, long-planned but not yet fully in place (and covered in KANcycling’s Shizuoka route). Apparently a committee was formed in November with the goal of having it completed, all the way from Chiba through Wakayama, by the time of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020. Exciting, if it really happens. The issue also has information on a 110km route around Ishikari (near Sapporo) on Hokkaido.


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