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Old 11-17-2015, 09:53 PM   #1
HadesOmega
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HadesOmega Japan Land of the Rising Sun Ride Report 2015





I know I'm still working on the Yosemite Tahoe Ride Report but I'll try to work on both at the same time and knock this one out since its shorter.

So I've finally gone and done it I decided to go on a trip to Japan and what better way to explore Japan than on 2 wheels! This ride report will cover planning for this trip, the actual events leading up to the bike rental, and the riding portion. Here's a little background story on why I chose to go to Japan and a little info on myself. It was a LOT of planning but it all went well in the end almost anyway.

I've always been a HUGE fan of Japanese Culture particularly their car culture, drifting, motorcycles (notice all my bikes are Japanese), anime, and manga. I've never been to Japan before because its expensive and people say its expensive, BUT its not really that expensive. At the current time this ride report is being posted Japan is in a RECESSION, at least I found out a couple days ago. For $1 you can get 120yen. Used to be the yen was stronger but now it is not. I would also like to add I have NEVER been to a foreign country by myself. I've been in Iraq and Kuwait before with my battalion, but apparently in times of war you don't even need a passport. I just recently got my passport for when we did the Baja trip earlier this year. I don't speak much Japanese either, which you can kinda get by, but its kinda difficult, I know some words and can't read kanji at all.

So what finally gave me that shove to spend that money was I attended a panel on visiting Japan at Fanimecon 2015 in San Jose. This dudes panel said NOW is the time to visit Japan, the exchange rate is great, tourism is at an all time high, you don't need to know Japanese to visit Japan, and otaku culture is at an all time high. You'll hear me mention otaku many times throughout the ride report, it means fan or fanatic. I did some research and the plane ticket is expensive about $1000 for a ticket. So I kinda put it off UNTIL I went to Jpop Summit Festival in San Francisco and they were promoting travel to Japan. I basically got a trip through the travel agency Nippon Travel Agency for 7 days was $1200. Also this year I decided to take a vacation year, I haven't had a full-time job the whole year so I decided to travel a bit, because when I do get a full-time job it'll never happen -_-.

So that takes care of the transportation and lodging for the most part. Then I wanted to ride a motorcycle in Japan that presents another challenge. First I needed an International Driving Permit to even rent a motorcycle in Japan. Its basically your drivers license/permit overseas. I went to my local AAA to acquire it. It was pretty easy, you just need to bring your Passport, License, $15, and a passport photo. I made a movie about the IDP and how to get one if you want more info on it.


HadesOmega Talks about International Drivers Permit and How to Get One
https://youtu.be/9Qw5wZ5nKGQ

There is a business in Tokyo called Japan Bike Rentals and they rent motorcycles out. I had originally quoted them to rent a F800GS because I had always wanted to ride one but after riding a F700GS I wasn't impressed with it at all. I kinda lost interest again and then finally decided to pull the trigger on it and rented a Yamaha MT-07 for 3 days. If your wondering what a MT-07 is its the Japanese version of the FZ-07 in the states. I decided to go in November also because there would be less chance of rain and it would not be super cold like in December.

The JBR (Japan Bike Rentals) Office in Akasaka, Tokyo, Japan


NOW renting the bike wasn't cheap. The MT-07 came in at 15,500yen a day which comes out to about $125 a day. Also I would like to add the MT-07 was one of the cheaper bikes to rent, the Honda CB400 was the only one cheaper. Then I got 2 options along with it which were an ETC card capability and a Givi Top Case and let me tell you now those two options came in EXTREMELY handy! The card was 1000yen a day ($8) and Top Case was 1200yen ($10). They even had an option to get panniers which I think I should have got also but I passed on it and barely got by with the Top Case. The top case is well a top case it a large top case that can hold 2 helmets. It big and bulky looking on the small sport bike but I fit all my junk in it!

Picture of the MT-07. I nicknamed it Yama Maru Nana (Mountain Zero Seven), because it's a Yamaha (Japanese word for mountain is yama and MT is abbreviation for mountain) thats good at riding on mountains and zero seven for MT-07.


Now let me talk about the ETC card. If you want to ride on any of the Expressways or toll roads in Japan (and there are plenty) you obviously gotta pay. Well with an ETC card it has a card reader installed on the bike and it has a transponder that will automatically pay the fee and let you go on your way. Plus the guys at Japan Bike Rental said you save like 40% on the fee also so sounded like a great idea and it was. Its kinda like our FastTrack here. Now for those FANCY toll roads you still gotta pay with cash. So I rented that and it was all hooked up worked like a charm. I did have to put a 10,000 yen deposit on it also and.... I spent 10,000 yen in tolls ($80).

Pictures of the ETC Card transponder. You can see it has a green light on sitting on top of the master cylinder reservoir.


Then they have what's called a "Scenic Guided Tour" option where they will program routes into the Garmin Zumo GPS and you just follow them. I figured I would go with that since I don't really know my way around Japan, but little do I know I was actually very good at planning my way around Japan. That was like 6900yen a day. I wanted to go around Tokyo Bay on the expressway also but they didn't have a guided tour for that so for the 1st day I did what was called a Open Explore option, where you basically just do whatever.

In the end it cost me about 73,800yen total about $600 for a 3 day rental. That is excluding lodging and whatever fees you rack up on the ETC card also. They booked the 2 hotels I stayed at but I still had to pay when I got there. That was pretty pricey BUT it was definitely worth it because exploring Japan on two wheels was awesome.

So here was the plan! I was going to fly to Tokyo, Japan, head straight to the Japan Bike Rentals office, pick up the bike, ride around Tokyo Bay for Day 1, ride to Hakone for Day 2, and then Mount Fuji on the 3rd day, then return the bike on Day 4. Did it go the way I planned I it? Not quite but not bad, but you'll learn that later. If you're wondering how far MT Fuji is from Tokyo its about 100 miles west and Hakone is right next to it. I will talk about them in more depth later.

Last edited by HadesOmega; 11-17-2015 at 11:08 PM..
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Old 11-18-2015, 08:53 PM   #2
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Here we go!

DAY 01 - Fly to Tokyo Haneda Airport from SFO

So you can rent riding gear from JBR but I opted to take my gear with me. I pretty much took all my adventure riding gear minus my riding boots. I could have taken them but they're way too bulky and I really needed to pack as light as possible. Took my adventure jacket because its a 3 season jacket. From the picture you can see my riding gear takes up 75% of the space on my luggage. For boots I used some tactical style boots I used when working for UPS. It was a good compromise of protection and flexibility. I used them to walk all over Tokyo after the riding. I put my knee armor back in my pants and didn't use my Leatt shinguards. The helmet was probably the bulkiest part of my gear but I had to take it because it has my camera mount and Sena Bluetooth module. Its a major pain in the ass to lug this stuff around especially on the train. My plan was to load this luggage up with my gear and clothing and an empty army duffelbag. When I go home I put my gear and clothing in the duffelbag and souvenirs in the luggage worked like a charm!


Here is me waiting in the checkin line at SFO, flying JAL (Japan Airlines)


Got my boarding pass and passport ready, Japan here I come!


Need to kill sometime because it 2200 and my flight doesn't leave till 0000hrs. Some interesting stuff at SFO, there's actually an aviation museum here.
Radial Engine


Large Squid in a bottle


Giant Fish Head


Models of Pagodas



These projectors are so small!


There's my ride JAL Boeing 777


Look at that massive turbofan engine!

Last edited by HadesOmega; 09-15-2016 at 02:50 AM..
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Old 11-18-2015, 09:15 PM   #3
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DAY 2 - Fly to Haneda Airport

Yes it's Day 2 by the time I board the airplane. Here's whats also crazy is its about a 10 hour flight and we're moving into the future. So by the time I get to Tokyo its Day 3 already, we'll skip one day! Yep already burned 3 days, well more like 2 anyway. I arrive at SFO on November 1, board the aircraft on November 2, and arrive at HND on November 3. Crazy huh?

I've been on a couple flight in my life but I've never seen this an entertainment system on the seat. It pretty dope, you can do all sorts of things with it like watch movies, listen to music, and even check your flights status!



Now I know I'm on a Japanese aircraft, it tells me where we are and how much longer the flight is. You know how crazy i am about GPS tracks





JAL Breakfast in Economy Class, not bad, Omelette, Tater tots and other goodies.


Now this makes it look like this flight only took a couple hours but it was a painful flight. 10 hours and the seat sucked, the padding was totally not thick enough. It was difficult to get any sleep and I need it because once off the plane it straight to JBR.



Looks like the flightplan is to fly to Tateyama then make an approach to Haneda.


The flight was suppose to arrive at Haneda International at 0500hrs... Yep! Everything seems on time in Japan. Let me tell you I saw a train was going to arrive at like 1005 at the station one time. So i looked at my watch (my watch is synced to an atomic clock also) and sure enough at 1004 I heard a train. Shortly after 1005 the train arrived.


I HAVE ARRIVED IN JAPAN FINALLY!

Whats the first thing I take a picture of after touchdown you ask?


You probably didn't guess it but at TOILET! Japanese super high tech toilets of course! The toilets are super awesome in Japan. Its got deoderizers, bidets, and dryers. Some have heated seats and motorized lids and seats!



Mitsubishi hand dryer a lot like those Dyson ones we have


Here is a Japanese style toilet, not a big fan of it, this restroom has both.

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Old 11-19-2015, 09:10 PM   #4
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After picking up my luggage I clear customs. Wasn't too tough they didn't even search my stuff, the guy just points to a list of prohibited items and just says "no firearms," maybe it looked like I may have been the type to carry firearms around maybe. I head out of the customs area and no I need to take care of some other business.

First is cash, Japan is a CASH society, you have to have cash, because only some places take card and if they do they'll slap a fee on it. So I find my friend the 7-11 ATM, which is pretty much right as you exit the customs area. To my knowledge this is the only ATM that work on foreign cards but they're everywhere. 7-11 is like everywhere and it's awesome in Japan so no big deal.


Cha-ching withdrew like 50,000 yen.


Next order of business is I need communications. Before I left I reserved a Pupuru wifi device for the duration of my stay. Its like 400yen a day and you get 10gb. I pick it up here at the JAL ABC counter which is open like 24hours, that's awesome because it like 0530hrs right now. I pretty much tell the counter guy "pupuru" and he understands and looks for mine.


WIFI deice ACQUIRED! This device was a lifesaver in Japan. I could use google maps to navigate the train network, navigation on the motorcycle, google stuff, upload picture to instagram and facebook, etc... Worked like a charm!


I didn't take a picture of it but the next thing I had to do is get a PASMO card. I'll probably take a picture of it later. But you can get one from one of the train kiosks and its basically a cash card that you can use for pretty much all the different train network and lines. You can also use it to buy stuff at certain store and vending machines, very convenient and saves time having to buy tickets. I put 10,000 yen on it ($80) and nearly use it up by the end of the trip. Getting around on train is the most economical way also.

TADAH! Here's the PASMO card!


I also get a buncha tour pamphlets that I really didn't use but it'll be good for another trip I take at some later date. I did a helluva lotta planning before I left.

Now it is time to travel to JBR and pick up the bike. Here's where I need to get to, Haneda Airport to JBR in Akasaka.



I take the Tokyo Monorail from Haneda Airport to Hamamatsucho Station. Then i walk to Daimon Station and take that to Roppongi station then walk to JBR from there. Its a real pain in the ass to take you luggage on the train. A lot of people do it but some station don't have escalators that go down so you gotta carry it up and down the steps. Sux walking around with it too, but good think I'm ditching it when I get to JBR. Also I'm using Google maps to navigate even while walking.


Here's what a train typically looks like when its not full, everyone sitting down looking at their phones. I was lucky I guess, at JBR they told me that it was actually a holiday today, had something to do about the emperor, thanks to that I didn't have to endure getting squished onto a train. It was pretty early though so that helps. I need to be at JBR by 0900 because i need to go through an orientation. I just noticed that guy is wearing blue crocs, I'm actually rocking my battle crocs right now also.

Last edited by HadesOmega; 11-24-2015 at 09:26 PM..
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Old 11-19-2015, 10:44 PM   #5
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I get off at Roppongi Station and start walking to JBR following my Google Maps. You'll immediately notice that everything is so clean here. Kind of reminds me of an air force base so clean. Along the way I stop by Tokyo Midtown Park. Its a nice park with jogging trails, exercise stuff, and sculptures. An interesting thing about this park is, that there is this beautiful parks and its surrounded by giant sky-scraping buildings.


There is a nice pond with a stage next to it.



Turtles in the pond




Tall buildings nice grass


Park Sculpture, the Japanese are really big on art.


Playground slide


Some strange exercise equipment


Some wooden art sculptures


Metal Sculptures






Plate art





So finally I make it close to JBR, maybe within a couple blocks but I'm a bit early by maybe like 30 minutes. The office doesn't open till 0900. So I decide to get some snacks at this konbini or convenience store. This is one of the 7-11 stores I was talking about, they're EVERYWHERE and they are indeed convenient. I get some snacks to munch on because I don't know when I'm going to eat next. I plan to eat at Umihotaru a rest stop you'll see it later, its a REALLY NICE rest stop, that happens to be located in the middle of Tokyo Bay.

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Old 11-19-2015, 11:35 PM   #6
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Unfortunately I don't have pictures of the rental orientation and everything because I was kind of in a hurry to leave. So I arrive at Japan Bike Rentals like at 0845 and munch on my food. Then I see Jonathan the guy that helped me set the rental up online, roll up in a bicycle. He opens the office and I had to take off my shoes at the entryway. We go over all the formalities like signing paperwork and he makes copies of my drivers license, passport, and international driver permit. He goes over the insurance and how there like a $1000 deductible. Then I go over the video, it kinda tells you about riding in Japan, what to do if something happens to the bike, some road rules, and that's pretty much it. Jonathan gives me a rider packet that has registration info, a card to give law enforcement that explains that your renting a bike and all, a roadside assistance card, and tour guides. There are 2 tour guides. For today I get a Open Explore guidebook. Its basically a book of the Tokyo area and has points of interests you can look up on the Zumo GPS and it'll take you there. You just need to punch in a certain code and it'll look it up for you. I didn't really use it I kinda know where I was going sorta and was going to use my phone to navigate if I needed to. Then he gave me a scenic guided tour book that has a my custom route for Hakone and Mt. Fuji. I just go to custom routes in the GPS and just press the first day and it will lead me on a custom route the put me on. I notice that I'm not exactly going to Hakone like I planed and I'm going to Izu which is the peninsula south of Hakone. I had planned like a full day of riding in Hakone that was gonna be a problem that you will see later.

Here is a picture of the JBR office again from after I returned the bike.


So while I was doing the paperwork and everything they had the bike prepped for me and ready to go. They kinda went over the bike and how to use the Givi trunk. Its like my bestem trunk just nicer, the locking mechanism is beefier. He tells me I have to lock the bike up every time I leave the bike somewhere for a while because while Japan is a country with very low crime and theft, motorcycle theft has been on the rise. They give me a cable lock to put around the wheel. They also give me a case for the GPS and a rain cover which comes in handy because it gets really dewy at night, suppose to protect the GPS connector from moisture when the GPS isn't there. We also inspected the bike for any damage or scratches, not too many.

Also Jonathan goes over the ETC card and I have to put a 10,000yen ($80) deposit to use it. But its totally worth it.

Next thing is I need to get my gear on. I put all my gear on and take enough essentials like clothing and toiletries for the duration of my ride. I put it in my assault pack. I get my camera setup also. I managed to barely fit everything into the trunk, barely so I didn't have to ride with my backpack nice! I think the panniers would have been nice to have to organize my clothes and stuff because everything was just dumped into the trunk. At least one pannier would have been perfect. It was a pain to take what I need then go to the hotel for a night then put it all back in. Not much room for souvenirs also. Wish i got a picture of how packed the trunk was.

So that's it TIME TO RIDE FINALLY!

Here I am ready to venture out into Tokyo! Kinda nervous because I've never rode on the left side of the rode before!

Last edited by HadesOmega; 11-24-2015 at 09:31 PM..
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Old 11-24-2015, 03:29 PM   #7
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Just saw your thread
I was in japan in the navy '88-'90, had my FZ600 shipped over there and got to do some great riding in the Yokosuka/Tokyo area. I miss it a lot
following your trip
Enjoy!
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Old 11-24-2015, 06:44 PM   #8
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Alright I got the MT-07 and these are the first moments I am riding a motorcycle in another country. I would like to add the FIRST time I have ever ridden on the LEFT side of the road! Here I am at the interesection at the alley where JBR is. OMG totally gonna do this!



So here I am at the next intersection and you see a Koban or Police box at the corner and a buncha policemen walking down the street, better not do anything stupid here. These Koban are all over the place also. There are pretty much police officers around every corner in Tokyo!


Riding down the streets of Akasaka


Check out this crazy intersection you can walk in pretty much every direction. Also notice the closed stores, I later learn that most businesses in Japan don't open until 1000.


My first BIG intersection. OMG so I had to think for a moment here I'm trying to make a right turn here. So I have to go AROUND the police officer in the intersection. If you are still getting used to driving on the left my best advice is to follow a car in front of you. Also in front of me is a large shrine called Hie. I think Hie Shrine was one of the shinto shrines on my list to visit but I never got around to it =( Its kinda funny if you look at the picture you would never guess there is a shrine there if you didn't see the tori (shrine gate) there. Its surrounded by buildings!


Yes successful right turn!


So waiting at another light and uh oh I can't seem to find my wifi device I definitely need that or I will be lost bigtime. I search my pockets and can't find it. So I decide to pull over somewhere and look for it and install my phone mount on the bike.


So here I am just wandering around Tokyo finding a place to stop.


Got the phonemount mounted and found the wifi device and put it in my pocket.

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Old 11-24-2015, 06:45 PM   #9
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Just saw your thread
I was in japan in the navy '88-'90, had my FZ600 shipped over there and got to do some great riding in the Yokosuka/Tokyo area. I miss it a lot
following your trip
Enjoy!
awesome I wish I could go over there for active duty I've thought about it but I kinda don't wanna go active duty army. Sometime in the future I would like to ship my DR650 to Japan and I would like to do a tour all over Japan, its so awesome touring Japan on 2 wheels =)
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Old 11-24-2015, 06:55 PM   #10
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Picture of me trying to figure out where I'm going, Tokyo is like a maze. Its similar to riding in San Francisco its just much larger I think.


So you see at this intersection that there is a police officer on the left and hard to see but there is another one in a little watch tower on the right. I wasn't kidding when I said police were around every corner.


In this picture you see a car parked on the side of the street. So it looks like there is something like a bike lane on the left but the car is parked on it and it sticking like a quarterway into the lane. This is a COMMON sight in Japan. If there's something in front of you Japanese drivers just swerve around it EVEN if it is on a lane that is oncoming traffic. Its just bonkers!


In this picture this bimmer stops for this pedestrian. Thats another rule pedestrians get right of way so you have to stop for them.
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Old 11-24-2015, 06:57 PM   #11
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I now present to you my first moments riding in Japan movie pretty much everything I just covered in the ride report but now with moving pictures!
https://youtu.be/4r19SFTExfU
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Old 11-24-2015, 07:56 PM   #12
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The JBR (Japan Bike Rentals) Office in Akasaka, Tokyo, Japan
What a great trip you're having. I spent four years of my life working in Akasaka, when you were picking up that bike you were close to Honda's corporate HQ in Akasaka. And that's why you rented a Yamaha.

Pasmo, GPS WiFi map talk, none of that stuff existed when I was there. I'd just ride my CBR600F3 across Tokyo, get lost, then fumble around til I found my way back.

I can't explain it, but I've traveled all over the world, living most of the 1990's in foreign countries...but Japan is the only place that has always stuck in my mind. Like a home away from home. Even now 15 years later I can still picture a map of Tokyo in my head. It's really a great place.
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Old 11-24-2015, 08:17 PM   #13
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Rocking your battle crocs. Hmmm. Interesting.

Very cool you rented a bike.
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Old 11-24-2015, 08:43 PM   #14
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riding around mt. Fuji was freaking awesome.
the bike scene was intense, the Ueno bike district was the candy stores of bikes and parts.
I crashed the fz600 and bought a new xt350 to replace it. that was better for the narrow twisty roads
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Old 11-24-2015, 08:57 PM   #15
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What a great trip you're having. I spent four years of my life working in Akasaka, when you were picking up that bike you were close to Honda's corporate HQ in Akasaka. And that's why you rented a Yamaha.

Pasmo, GPS WiFi map talk, none of that stuff existed when I was there. I'd just ride my CBR600F3 across Tokyo, get lost, then fumble around til I found my way back.

I can't explain it, but I've traveled all over the world, living most of the 1990's in foreign countries...but Japan is the only place that has always stuck in my mind. Like a home away from home. Even now 15 years later I can still picture a map of Tokyo in my head. It's really a great place.
Oh yeah I passed by Honda Headquarters when I was on a tourbus I didn't get to take a look though. They had a buncha cars you could look at, maybe I coulda seen the new Africa Twin!

Yeah I chose the MT-07 because I wanted to try it out, I wanted to get a F800GS at first but it was more pricey and I rode the F700GS about a month ago and I didn't really like it. The F800 was heavier also, the MT-07 is a great bike and super easy to ride and very small gets through those tight areas. They did have a Honda CB400 but I decided to get something a little more fancier, the CB400 seems to be one of the more common bikes I've seen. Naked bikes are very popular also like my good ol Zephyr!

Japan is such an awesome place and so much to see packed into so little land, I literally only saw half of the stuff I planned to see just not enough time. Also like you mentioned Japan is very unique place there really isn't any other place in the world like it.

They have a lotta interesting bikes and cars in Japan. I have pictures I will be posting as I get to them.

Last edited by HadesOmega; 11-25-2015 at 04:11 PM..
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