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Old 11-17-2015, 09:53 PM   #1
HadesOmega's Avatar
Barfie Winner 2017

Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: San Jose
Motorcycles: Empulse TT, ZR7, DR650, KLR650, 750 Turbo, Light Bee MX, KLX140L
Name: Merlin
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

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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