Warren
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I have completed 100,000km touring Japan by motorcycle. I made this map initially just so I knew which roads I had explored because it got confusing with the extraordinary density of roads in this country.

It was never intended to be a guide for others but I decided to share it because information about riding in Japan for foreigners is limited and besides now I have seen more of this country then most people so this map actually has some good info.

If you open the map on to a new tab/page (use the brackets icon top right of map) then you can see the map legend and easy pan and zoom. Clicking on roads will usually give some description. Hotels are not positioned precisely and are just my own records of where I stayed previously.

As you can see there are good roads everywhere in Japan as you might expect in a land of mountains as well there are superb viewpoints everywhere.

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If you are wondering where to ride first then anywhere away from big cities is enjoyable. Shikoku and the inland sea and Kyushu are my favourites but there are fabulous roads everywhere else. Hokkaido despite the marketing hype offers less twisty roads being flat farm land but Tohoku is spectacular so a ride north is as good as going south.

I have written much more detail about how and when to ride Japan in my Guide to Motorcycle touring Japan that tries to cover everything you need to know.

25 Comments

  1. Hey thank you so much !!

  2. Thank you a lot from this great map.
    I just finished one week long motorcycle trip in middle Japan. I partly used this guide to plan my route and I cannot thank you enough from the all great tips and routes that you have marked in here. I would have probably missed many great routes if not thanks to this guide!!!

  3. Jon Stevens

    I’m shocked with the news Warren, stay strong in mind and body and I agree with you that you will be riding bikes in future for sure. Determination to succeed is in your nature I know that.

  4. Hi Warren,
    Really appreciate your effort and dedication. A really wonderful act.
    I have been a serious follower of the routes you have highlighted. and tried many.
    Really enjoy the local roads you have selected.
    Thanks again.

    • Thanks Raghu, appreciate your feedback.
      Unfortunately no updates to my map in 2022 as I am unable to ride this year due to medical situation.
      Sure hope I will be able to ride more of Japan again in the future.

  5. thanks for all that!!!
    I want to make a trip to Japan and travel by motorcycle maybe…. not sure because have no idea. I ride here in the Usa.
    I also want to bring my painting equipment. Im an artist. Can you buy a motorcycle in Japan to travel ?

    • Hi Clark,

      You will need a residential address to buy a motorcycle in Japan, or register and insure it in a friends name perhaps.
      You can certainly bring your painting equipment and obtain a rental bike with luggage as an alterative to buying.

  6. Eric Harris

    Warren,
    I am traveling to Japan this April! Meeting up with my Japanese friend in Ebina (he鈥檚 bringing his SV650 on the ferry from western Honshu to Yokohama), renting a CBR from a shop there, then riding around the Izu Peninsula and Mt Fuji for 3 days before returning the bike. Do you have suggestions or 鈥渕ust sees鈥 while we are there? I previously thought that would provide plenty of entertainment for 3 days, but wondering now if we have time to go farther distances, and if so do you have recommendations?

    • Hi Eric,

      With three days I think Izu and Fuji is your best choice.
      You could go a little further however realise in April many high mountain roads will still be closed with snow or at the very least high risk of black ice.
      Izu will be open and free of snow and very low risk of any black ice in April there. It’s also a superb place to ride, Izu skyline seems like a road made for motorcycles.
      Between Izu and Fuji is Gotemba and Susuno, places where you will find affordable good hotel chains like Route Inn that I have used in both those locations.
      These are big congested towns so try use toll roads to get through there a quickly as possible.
      If you ride the 139 up to Motosu Lake there is good Mt Fuji view point there and the nearby roads in Yamanashi are less traffic than the roads at base of Fuji on the southern side.
      Pack your winter liners and warm gloves it will be cold around Mt Fuji foot hills.
      Have a great time 馃檪

  7. Jonny McK

    Hi Warren, thanks for this amazing resource! My friend and I are renting bikes out of Tokyo for just two days in mid May, 10am pickup, 6:30pm drop off next day. What would be the best use of our time without doing crazy miles?
    Much obliged, Jonny

    • Hi Jonny,

      For two days then I think the Izu region is your best choice. It is not too far from Tokyo, offers a mix of coastal and mountain roads and on a clear day has good views of Mt Fuji.

      If you use my best Japan motorcycle roads map then you can see the nice riding roads there marked and work on how many you might link together.

      The western coast IMO rides better from south to north as does the Izu Skyline because then you are looking towards Mt Fuji as you ride, but the skyline is good any direction.

      It really depends on where you stay that night as to how you might route. A suggestion might be exit at Gotemba and ride via Hakone to the Izu Skyline then the 414 then up the western coast and climb to ride the Nishi Izu Skyline with it’s excellent views and then cut back over to ride part of the Izu skyline again northbound then continue past it to the Akinoko Skyline at Hakone or one of the other roads good there then rejoin expressway at Gotemba.

      Alternatively you could just ride the Hakone roads, Izu Skyline and then cut over to the Nishi Izu skyline and stay in Mishima city which has lots of chain hotels and will be easy to find accommodation. Then day two ride back via Hakone roads and then to Tokyo via Doshi route 413 which is a popular bike road.

  8. Hi Warren,
    Hope you are doing great. I am planning a 14 days trip to Japan completely dedicated to riding. Initially I thought I’ll start from Tokyo go upto Hokkaido and back. Any alternate suggestions basis weather and number of days.
    Thanks in advance 馃檪

    • Hi Rahul,

      Unless you will be in Japan in Summer when it is very humid I would not recommend going to Hokkaido. It is mostly flat farm lands with straight roads.

      If you are going to Japan in Summer then has to be Hokkaido. If going in Spring or Autumn I suggest take the overnight ferry to Kyushu then ride back via Shikoku. Kyushu and Shikoku are the best areas of Japan in my opinion.

      To do this if you rented via Best Bike *link in my Japan guide https://motorcycleparadise.net/2016/05/see-japan-on-two-wheels.html* they can arrange for you to collect it at Yokosuka, my former home town, and an overnight ferry runs from there. Making the booking requires a little use of Google Translate, perhaps Best Bike can assist, a person I know just rented with them and took their bike to Kyushu on that ferry so they are familiar with this.

      It that sounds a bit too much then my other suggestion is do a tour from Tokyo to Shikoku and return. Take the ferry down via Wakayama but return via islands of the Seto inland sea.

  9. Hi Warren,

    Thanks for the response. I think in that case I’ll skip Hokkaido and follow the itinerary suggested by you. I’ll just have a visit to Hokkaido as it’s on the list too. And I’ll rent a bike from the suggested partner. Thanks a lot. Happy riding.

    • Hi Rahul,

      Hokkaido is also a must see, a different side of Japan. If you have your heart set on it then try schedule it for last week of May – first week of June or Last week of August – first week of September.

  10. Venom Bottle

    I just finished Kasumigaura Ring Ring road. Mainly for cyclists for most of it you can either ride on it, or parallel to it on a motorcycle. There were just a few small areas that were exceptions. Might be a nice addition, I really enjoyed it.

  11. Hi Warren,
    Thanks so much for sharing your rides! I’ve done rides looping through 162, 367, 169, 168 and Ryukin Skyline this week based on yours recs, and they were absolutely phenomenal! In general the rounds in Japan are pretty amazing so far, but these were stunning, I ascended Ryukin from the south as you recommended ?
    Cannot wait to come back and ride Shikoku! (I was meant to do it this week, but some thunderstorm predictions changed that).

    Thanks again
    Amelia

  12. Hi Warren,

    Thank you for this resource, it is incredibly helpful for someone like me. In 2024, I will be riding solo across Japan for 4 weeks with a BMW GS in the month of May, starting in Osaka, then clockwise around the country. I am a seasoned rider of 20 years and have hundreds of thousands of miles clocked – but only in the US. I have ridden in snow and rain, and am very confident in my abilities. Are there any areas in which you feel I should avoid during this time in the season, despite this? My main concern is potential for ice in certain areas that are still coming out of the winter as I plan on riding on mountain passes as much as possible.

    My main goal is to circumnavigate the entire country if possible – including Hokkaido, saving that for the end of the trip in hopes of warmer weather. I do not plan on spending every night (except for 5 days in Tokyo) in a room and am prepared to camp quite a bit, do you know how accessible or accepting it is for a foreigner to use these accommodations? I know that your posts mentioned staying at hotels, but was wondering if you had any insight.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Mike,

      Starting your ride in May is the best month however some mountain passes may still be snowed in. The central Japanese alps around Nagano and the high roads to the north of Nagano in Aomori some will be closed early May.

      The solution is from Osaka to go south and this is important for another reason, the rainy season starts the end of May from the south of Japan so you want to ride there first to let the northern road become open and to not be in the south late May.

      If you are starting in Osaka I would suggest taking your bike on the excellent overnight ferry from there to Shibushi in Kyushu. Then you can ride back north around Kyushu and Shikoku and Shimane region with much more time because four weeks to ride all of Japan is a little tight time wise but using the ferry network will let you ride more of Japan.

      From Osaka the ferry is the Sunflower ferry which I have used a few times https://www.ferry-sunflower.co.jp/en/ There is a few tricks to making a booking if you get stuck message me. And another ferry I would suggest you use is from Tsuruga to Hokkaido then ride Hokkaido and come back down to Osaka with more time to zig zag and ride all the best roads but I suggest you avoid the Kanto region the traffic is very heavy anywhere near Tokyo. (Osaka is intense too especially it’s complex expressway network)

      If you want to use commercial camping sites then you must phone ahead to make a booking and will need a reasonable level of Japanese. They do not accept people without a advance booking. On Golden week everything will be booked in advance including hotels, be sure to check the dates of Golden week 2024 and secure hotel or camp sites for that period well in advance.

      There is free camping/wild camping in Japan. Actually I met a guy who free camped his entire trip outside of Tokyo. Check my guide to motorcycle touring Japan if you have not already read it and there is a map there of free camp sites. Also if you are discreet you pretty much can camp in many of the parks that are out of town or at end of one way roads up a hill. Japan has very few parks in cities but the countryside is overflowing with small parks which you will see as you ride and a friend of mine pitches his tent out of sight or just as dusk is falling and everyone has left with no problems all over the country. He uses onsens for his bath and thus doesn’t use hotels much at all but rural onsens will require you speak Japanese and of course onsens are not for everyone, personally I find them scolding hot and don’t like the attention a naked foreigner attracts from other men.

      Your other option is stay at rider inns. There is a network of rider inns across the country which are affordable hostel type places but often with private rooms but shared bathroom or a onsen however you will need a little Japanese to use these and they are not on booking.com or anything like that just have to google and contact direct. I stayed in one on my first time riding in Japan and it was this guy who had an old ski resort he turned into his home and biker accommodation. They are very cheap but I do not have a list unfortunately.

  13. is there a nice riding route from tokyo to osaka or vice versa?

    • You can exit the expressway network at a few places and then ride nice roads then rejoin the expressway a little further towards your destination however there is no viable alternative to using the expressway unless you were prepared to detour well north and meander for couple days in the other prefectures then circle back.

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