Bikepacking is a relatively new trend in the cycling world, and it involves combining cycling and camping to explore remote and off-the-beaten-path locations. Japan is quickly becoming a top destination for bikepacking enthusiasts due to its rich culture, scenic routes, and challenging terrain. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what bikepacking in Japan entails and why more and more people are choosing it as their preferred cycling adventure destination.

Exploring the Beauty of Japan on Two Wheels

Japan is a country of many wonders, from its bustling cities to its serene countryside. And what better way to explore the breathtaking landscapes of Japan than by bike? Bikepacking, a form of cycling where riders carry their gear and camp overnight, has become increasingly popular in Japan in recent years. With its vast network of cycling routes, stunning nature trails, and unique culture, Japan offers a truly unforgettable bikepacking experience. In this guide, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of bikepacking in Japan, from the best routes to the gear you need to make the most of your trip.

The Best Bikepacking Routes in Japan

One of the best things about bikepacking in Japan is the abundance of cycling routes, ranging from easy and scenic to challenging and adventurous. Here are some of the best routes to consider:

  • Shimanami Kaido: This 70-kilometer route takes you across a series of islands connected by bridges, offering stunning views of the Seto Inland Sea. With plenty of rest stops and bike rental shops along the way, it’s a great option for beginners.
  • Hokkaido: Japan’s northernmost island offers a range of cycling routes, from coastal roads to mountain passes. The Furano-Biei Loop is a popular option, taking you through picturesque farmland and lavender fields.
  • Kumano Kodo: This ancient pilgrimage route in the Kii Peninsula offers a challenging but rewarding bikepacking adventure. With its mountainous terrain and historic shrines, it’s a great option for experienced riders looking for a unique cultural experience.

Essential Gear for Bikepacking in Japan

To make the most of your bikepacking trip in Japan, you’ll need to be prepared with the right gear. Here are some essential items to pack:

  • Bike: Of course, you’ll need a reliable bike that’s suitable for the terrain you’ll be riding on. Consider renting a bike if you don’t want to bring your own.
  • Camping Gear: Since you’ll be camping overnight, you’ll need a tent, sleeping bag, and camping stove. Lightweight options are recommended.
  • Clothing: Pack clothing suitable for the weather conditions you’ll be riding in, as well as comfortable cycling gear.
  • Navigation: A GPS device or smartphone app can help you navigate your route, especially if you don’t speak Japanese.
  • Tools and Repair Kit: Bring basic tools and a repair kit in case you need to make any adjustments or repairs to your bike on the road.

Cultural Considerations for Bikepacking in Japan

While Japan is a welcoming and hospitable country, there are some cultural considerations to keep in mind when bikepacking. Here are some tips to help you navigate Japanese culture:

  • Respect for Nature: Japan has a strong culture of respect for nature, so be sure to follow Leave No Trace principles and avoid disturbing wildlife.
  • Politeness: Japanese people value politeness and courteousness, so be sure to greet locals and show appreciation for their culture.
  • Language: While many Japanese people speak English, it’s still a good idea to learn some basic Japanese phrases to help you navigate your trip.
  • Etiquette: Japanese culture has many etiquette rules, such as removing your shoes before entering a home or temple. Be sure to research local customs before your trip.

Tips for a Successful Bikepacking Trip in Japan

To make the most of your bikepacking trip in Japan, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Plan your route carefully, taking into account the terrain, weather conditions, and rest stops.
  • Pack light and only bring essential items to avoid weighing down your bike.
  • Be flexible and open to unexpected detours or changes in plans.
  • Embrace the local culture and try new foods and activities along the way.
  • Stay safe by wearing a helmet, following traffic laws, and being aware of your surroundings.

FAQs for Bikepacking in Japan

What is bikepacking?

Bikepacking is a type of cycling tour that involves carrying all your gear and supplies on your bicycle. It’s a cross between backpacking and cycling. Bikepacking trips can range from day trips to multi-day expeditions.

Is bikepacking popular in Japan?

Yes, bikepacking has become increasingly popular in Japan, thanks to the country’s beautiful scenery and well-developed cycling infrastructure. Cycling is deeply ingrained in the culture, and there are many resources available for bikepackers, including campgrounds and outdoor stores.

What are some popular bikepacking routes in Japan?

There are several popular bikepacking routes in Japan, including the Shimanami Kaido, a 70-kilometer route that takes cyclists over several islands in the Seto Inland Sea. Other popular routes include the Hokkaido Traverse, a 2,000-kilometer route that takes cyclists across Hokkaido Island, and the Kaido Tokaido, a 180-kilometer route that follows the old Tokaido highway between Tokyo and Kyoto.

What are some things to consider when bikepacking in Japan?

When bikepacking in Japan, it’s important to be prepared for the weather, which can be unpredictable. The summer months can be hot and humid, while winter can be cold and snowy. Additionally, bikepacking in Japan can be expensive, as accommodation and food can be costly. It’s also important to research and follow the rules of the road and to be respectful of local customs and traditions.

Can I rent bikepacking equipment in Japan?

Yes, many outdoor stores in Japan offer rental equipment for bikepacking, including tents, sleeping bags, and cookware. However, it’s important to reserve equipment in advance, as availability can be limited. Additionally, it’s a good idea to bring your own bike, as rental bikes may not be suitable for long-distance trips.


By Frank

Frank Thompson, a seasoned cyclist and bike aficionado, has been passionate about all things bicycle-related since his childhood. Born and raised in the beautiful Seattle, Frank has spent countless hours exploring the winding trails, scenic roads, and vibrant urban landscapes on two wheels. With over 20 years of experience in the cycling world, Frank has garnered an extensive knowledge of bicycle mechanics, maintenance, and customization. After completing his degree in Mechanical Engineering, Frank pursued a career in the bicycle industry, working with renowned bike manufacturers and local bike shops. His expertise led him to become a sought-after consultant for professional cyclists, weekend warriors, and bike enthusiasts alike. Throughout the years, he has also volunteered with various cycling advocacy groups, promoting safe and accessible cycling infrastructure in the community. Frank's passion for cycling extends beyond his professional life, as he has participated in numerous local and international bike races and charity events. His love for adventure has taken him on several memorable cycling expeditions, from the breathtaking mountain trails of the Rockies to the picturesque coastal roads of the Mediterranean. As a valued contributor to West Seattle Cyclery, Frank shares his wealth of knowledge and experience with our readers through informative articles, how-to guides, and gear reviews. Always eager to help fellow cyclists, Frank is dedicated to making the world of cycling more approachable and enjoyable for everyone. When he's not busy tinkering with bikes or writing for the blog, you can find him exploring new routes, coaching beginner cyclists, or spending quality time with his family and their beloved golden retriever, Buddy.