Motorcycle Tours in Japan

2017-10-17
MSI Blog

When you usually think about Japan what comes to your mind first is likely the Mount Fuji, Geishas, volcanoes, earthquakes, Sumo wrestlers, old wooden temples and shrines, sushi and sashimi, may be even blowfish, the Japanese language with its seemingly incomprehensible letters and as a rider may be the 4 big motorcycle makers like Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki but you would not think of motorcycle tours in Japan…Or would you?

Along the Nakasendo

You have your own motorcycle playgrounds in front of your door, from Scandinavia to the Alps and mountains in central and eastern Europe to coastline and mountain tours in southern Europe as well as the Rockies and the vast country of north America and Canada which you also need a lifetime to explore. What about middle and south America, the Andes and the way down to the wonders of Patagonia. Not to be missed either. India, Pakistan, Nepal and Himalaya tours on offer worldwide as well as beautiful tours from north to south in Africa…So what could Japan bring to the table to convince you   to go there at least once is a must, too?

It’s a long way from overseas to Japan just to join a motorcycle tour. That’s true and airfares are usually not cheap with the exception of the several weeks per year when discounted air fares are on offer. But – if you have a genuine interest and want to see Japan anyhow once in a lifetime – then come over and combine a unique experience with a motorcycle tour through Japan, meet Japanese local bikers and may be make some friends here.

Well, we do not want to say it is more interesting or better than a certain other tour because that is simply not true; there are tours worldwide we would give anything to join if we could afford the time and funds   but we will say it is different to almost anywhere where you may have toured before and to experience different people, customs, landscapes, unique things are the main reasons for anyone who tours internationally.

Nara

The whole country consists of 80% mountains and 20% low – usually coastal – land where the vast majority of currently 120 million Japanese citizens reside. Once you leave the bigger cities   there are thousands of country roads, small and smaller, curves after curves, running along rice fields cultivated since hundreds of years, old local shrines and temples revered by the locals and being most on volcanic ground hot springs dotted everywhere inviting you to rest and take a bath–inside or outside. The country stretches from the subtropical Okinawa island chain to Kyushu and the distance from southern Kyushu to the northern most point of Wakkanai in Hokkaido is about 3000 kilometers, spanning also climate zones from subtropical in Okinawa to moderate in mainland Japan to very cold in northern Japan and Hokkaido, with snowfall reaching several meters at times on the Sea of Japan western and northern coast and up to Hokkaido.

So, it is almost impossible to combine tours in southwest Japan with the northeast and northern main island of Hokkaido, due to its sheer distance and the available weeks for our yearly holidays. The solution then is to split Japan into two or 3 major tours, from Tokyo to the west from spring to autumn, covering Izu, Mount Fuji, the mountains around Nagano and Takayama, the old post road and Kyoto and reaching as far as Hiroshima and Miyajima before turning back through Shikoku Island to Nara and finally Tokyo.

Hikone Castle

The eastern tour, due to climate starting from July through September, with Nikko, Aizu- Wakamatsu, Bandai, Yamadera, Hiraizumi, Kakunodate, Tazawa-ko, Aomori, then Hokkaido with Hakodate, Tomakomai, Shiretoko, Wakkanai, Sapporo, Lake Toya and back through Aomori, Hirosaki and along Japan’s northwestern coast. This tour features an abundance of nature, from little villages with Hot Springs to waterfalls, from passages through dense forests and along tiny roads close to national parks, the last tour usually will be mid-September as later it gets really cold in the northern areas.

On any tour we will sample local food and as always, we will get together with locals while staying overnight on our way north and back south.

One word to safety: Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. Obviously, use your common sense to spot something unusual but in general its safe even to walk around through a city or park at night without having any feeling of anxiety. As some expat pages describe it   there is a highly developed sense of honesty and moral duty taught here to children and so people generally care about each other. We have seen lost wallets even in the 36 million metropolitan Tokyo area come back without fail and we too always leave – to the confusion of our foreign clients – all navigation systems overnight attached to the motorcycles, never ever anything missing. That is just the way it is here.

One more point of general interest: when we tour – let’s say – in America we never know how much to tip waiters. In Japan there is NO tipping whatsoever, you pay the taxi driver’s fee of 1910 Yen and get the 90 Yen back, you pay the amount on your dinner or lunch bill and that’s it.  Do not try to tip anyone–it may just create confusion. Just remember:  No tip accepted, nor expected.

 

That concludes it for now, for details about the tours please go to the tours page.

 

And now please enjoy some pictures from our latest trips.

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