Motorcycling in Japan: A Guide to the Best Rides and Routes

Japan is a country of contrasts, where ancient traditions and futuristic technology coexist. It’s also a country with a rich motorcycle culture, where riders can enjoy some of the most thrilling and scenic routes in the world. Whether you’re a local rider or a visitor looking for adventure, Japan has plenty to offer. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at some of the best routes, tips for riding in Japan, and answer some common questions about motorcycling in Japan.

The Best Routes for Motorcycling in Japan

Japan has some of the best roads for motorcycle touring, with winding mountain passes, coastal routes, and scenic countryside roads. Here are some of the best routes to explore:

Route Description
Hakone Skyline A popular route in the Mt. Fuji area, with stunning views of the volcano and surrounding mountains.
Shimanami Kaido A 60-km bridge connecting several small islands in the Seto Inland Sea, with picturesque views of the sea and surrounding islands.
Noto Peninsula A scenic route along the rugged coastline of the Noto Peninsula, with views of the Sea of Japan and traditional fishing villages.
Irohazaka A winding road with 48 hairpin turns that connects the town of Nikko to Lake Chuzenji, with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests.
Mount Aso A route around the active volcano of Mount Aso, with views of the crater and surrounding landscape.

These are just a few examples of the many great routes for motorcycling in Japan. Whether you’re looking for scenic views, challenging roads, or historic landmarks, Japan has something for everyone.

Tips for Riding in Japan

Riding in Japan can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it’s important to be aware of some of the unique challenges and rules of the road. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Familiarize Yourself with the Traffic Laws

Japan has strict traffic laws, and it’s important to be aware of them before hitting the road. Some important rules to know include:

  • Motorcycles are required to have a valid license plate, registration, and insurance.
  • Speed limits are strictly enforced, and fines can be high.
  • Drinking and driving is illegal, and penalties can be severe.
  • Some roads, such as expressways, require tolls.

2. Plan Your Route

Before setting out on your ride, it’s a good idea to plan your route in advance. This will help you avoid getting lost or ending up on a road that’s too challenging for your skill level. You can use maps, GPS devices, or online resources to plan your route.

3. Stay Safe and Visible

When riding in Japan, it’s important to stay safe and visible. Some tips to keep in mind include:

  • Wear protective gear, such as a helmet, jacket, and gloves.
  • Use high-visibility clothing or accessories to make yourself more visible to other drivers.
  • Be aware of local road conditions, such as weather, traffic, and construction.
  • Be prepared for emergency situations, such as breakdowns or accidents.

4. Respect Local Customs and Traditions

Japan has a rich cultural heritage, and it’s important to respect local customs and traditions. Some things to keep in mind include:

  • Be respectful to other drivers and pedestrians.
  • Observe local customs, such as removing your shoes when entering someone’s home.
  • Be aware of local etiquette, such as bowing or using honorific language when speaking to others.

5. Enjoy the Ride!

Finally, remember to enjoy the ride! Motorcycling in Japan can be an incredible experience, with stunning scenery, challenging roads, and friendly people. Take your time, soak in the sights and sounds, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is it legal to ride a motorcycle in Japan with a foreign license?

A: Yes, it is legal to ride a motorcycle in Japan with a valid foreign license. However, you may need to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) in order to rent a motorcycle or drive in Japan.

Q: What is the speed limit for motorcyclists in Japan?

A: The speed limit for motorcyclists in Japan varies depending on the road and location. In general, speed limits are lower than in some other countries, and fines for speeding can be high. It’s important to observe speed limits and ride safely at all times.

Q: What is the weather like for motorcycling in Japan?

A: The weather in Japan can vary depending on the season and location. In general, spring and fall are good times to ride, with mild temperatures and clear skies. Summer can be hot and humid, while winter can be cold and snowy in some areas. It’s important to check the weather forecast and plan your ride accordingly.

Q: What are some good resources for motorcycling in Japan?

A: There are many online resources and guidebooks available for motorcycling in Japan. Some popular options include Japan Travel, Japan Rider, and Japan Motorcycle Rental.

Q: Can I rent a motorcycle in Japan?

A: Yes, there are many options for renting a motorcycle in Japan. However, it’s important to have a valid license and insurance, and to carefully read the rental agreement before signing. Some popular rental companies include Rental819 and Japan Bike Rentals.

Q: What are some tips for traveling with a motorcycle in Japan?

A: If you’re traveling with a motorcycle in Japan, it’s important to plan ahead and be prepared. Some tips to keep in mind include:

  • Ship your motorcycle to Japan in advance, or rent one upon arrival.
  • Research local laws and regulations, such as import/export requirements and customs procedures.
  • Pack light and bring only essential gear, as space may be limited.
  • Be prepared for language barriers and cultural differences, and consider hiring a translator or guide if necessary.


Motorcycling in Japan can be an incredible adventure, with breathtaking scenery, challenging roads, and a rich cultural heritage. By following these tips and exploring some of the best routes, you can create memories that will last a lifetime. So gear up, hit the road, and enjoy the ride!

Thank you for reading, and we’ll see you in our next article!

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