How to take a bike on a train in Japan

man with a bike

So, you brought your bike to Japan.
You plan on travelling around Japan by bike.
Unless you have plenty of time and are determined to bike to everywhere, you might want to get to the next destination quickly on a train.
How can you do that in Japan and what are the rules for bringing your bike on a train?
I’m writing this article to answer those questions.

Train is the way to transport your bike in Japan

I love cycling. I own a road bike and a mountain bike.
On my weekend trips to the country, I always bring my bike, especially in spring and autumn.
There are many good trails in rural areas of Japan with great views and clean air.
Because traffic in Japan is generally not great and driving can be a headache, I take my bike on a train to get to the destination.

How you can bring a bike on a train

It is possible to take your bike on a train if you take off the wheels (and in some cases also the handle bar and the saddle) and put it in a bag or a case. In the case of Japan Railroad (JR), which is likely the one you are taking if you are travelling using Japan Rail Pass, the sum of length, height and width is supposed to be smaller than 250cm (98inches). But they allow a little larger container if it can stand on its own in stable manner. One passenger is allowed to take maximum of two bags or containers.

Portable bike bag

I use a portable bike bag called “Rinko-bukuro” in Japanese. You can find it in most of bike shops in Japan.
I am pasting a link and a photo from Amazon Japan here for you to get the idea. (Note : I found a similar product on Amazon.com! See below.)

bike bagbike bag
This bike bag, rinko-bukuro, by Ostrich is very compact that it can fit in a small drawstring pouch, but is made with a strong material.

This is what I found at Amazon.com. If you live in the US, I recommend you get this before coming to Japan.
Huntvp Bike Travel Bag

I also use a portable clasp to protect rear derailleur from breaking.

rear derailler end clasp

Once you get to the train station, take off the wheels of your bike and put everything in the bag.
Then you can carry it on your shoulder and pass the ticket gate.

 

On the train

You need to be careful where you get on the train so that you’ll find a right spot to put the bike bag down.
If it is a local train, try boarding either at the lead vehicle or a vehicle at the tail end. You’ll likely to find a space at the end of the train to put down the bag.
If it is a express (Tokkyu) train, you can put the bag on the deck in-between vehicles.
On Shinkansen bullet train, it is required that you put it in Rinko-bukuro. The best spot is behind the last row of seats in each vehicle. Or you can put it on the deck. Be careful not to block the door, though.

Once you get off the train, get past the ticket gate first. Then, after you put on the wheels and any other parts you had taken off, hop on the bike and start exploring!

Off you go pedalling!

Wondering which way to go?
You’ll be able to find a trail map in tourist information center. The map may not be dedicated to bike trails, but it will give you the idea of available routes.
Note: I recommend you also use GPS. I love GPS. It has made it extremely easy to bike in the areas you are not familiar with.

Hope this article helps!
Let me know if you have any questions.

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