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Thread: So how quickly can you get on a bike after arriving in Japan?

  1. #1

    Default So how quickly can you get on a bike after arriving in Japan?

    I'm moving to Tokyo, soon, where I'll stay for 6 months, and I'd like to get a bike as soon as I can after arriving for commuting and exploring beyond Tokyo on weekends. My hope is to get a relatively cheap bike soon after I arrive, and sell it just before I leave, but I'm not sure how long everything will take (JAF says a license translation can take several weeks, and perhaps there are similar delays for other bits of paperwork?) I'd really just like to a sense for whether the process should take a few weeks or a few months...

    I have an unrestricted motorcycle license from Germany, which I believe is exchangeable for a full Japanese license, although I'm not 100% sure. If so, I expect that should make some steps go a bit quicker, though, right?

    So far, I've come up with:

    1. Arrive in Japan
    2. Get a Hanko
    3. Get an apartment & register with the local ward office (need a real address to register the bike at)
    4. Get foreign driving license translated at JAF (could take up to two weeks?)
    5. Exchange foreign license for a Japanese license (hopefully!)
    6. Find a bike & pay for it
    7. Get insurance for the bike
    8. Register the bike
    9. Possibly do Shaken? (depending on when the previous owner last did it)


    Did I miss anything? If I understand correctly, buying the bike and getting a Japanese license don't have to be done in order, and probably I can drive on my German license for several months (although I've read in other posts here that the police might not consider it a valid license, so it'd be best to get an actual Japanese license if possible).

  2. #2
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    Default So how quickly can you get on a bike after arriving in Japan?

    If you are here for less than a year, you can drive on your home country license with an international driving license, no strong need to change to Japanese license.
    If you want to buy a bike, it's probably best to get your alien registration card, and maybe register with your local council, and get the proof of address form from them. That'll make registering the bike in your name easy.
    Possibly the forum sponsor could sell you a bike with a buy back price agreed. I think they have done that before.


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    Some pithy saying about biking, or a quote from a self-styled guru. Take your pick.

  3. #3

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    Glad to hear the license isn't an issue! One less thing to worry about :)

    And I've heard nothing but good things about apex, so I'm definitely planning on talking to them about getting the bike.

  4. #4

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    For me, I drove the whole first year on an International Driving Permit ("IDP"). As RedSquare noted above, you should be able to do the same.

    I also used Apex to buy my bike. In my case I bought through the auctions and (because I had rented an apartment before I actually landed) had the bike delivered to my house before I actually got to Japan. Once I arrived, I had to do some paperwork to get the bike registered in my name (Which I needed my residence card to complete), but that was only an afternoon of waiting in a few lines and paying some small fees. That process would be hard if you don't have a Japanese speaker with you, but otherwise it was very easy. All in all, the whole process was super easy, and all of it was done using an IDP.

    After about a year I sold my bike to move to a bigger bike and the price I got from a dealer on trade in was around the same as what I paid (i.e. I got a good deal from Apex).

    Good luck and have fun.

    B

  5. #5
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    Default So how quickly can you get on a bike after arriving in Japan?

    I have registered several bikes at Samezu vehicle registration center over the years, without any Japanese reading ability. There is a guy at counter 14 (I think) who will fill it all in for you for a few thousand yen. Painless.
    There is a lot of back and forth between two buildings and multiple desks, but once you accept the total inefficiency, and the Japanese ability to use computers and paperwork together to create more jobs, it'll be OK.
    Just imagine you are queueing for something in communist Russia, and go with the flow.
    Socialism bordering on communism, the worst of both worlds. With a smile.


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  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by bulitt
    I also used Apex to buy my bike. In my case I bought through the auctions and (because I had rented an apartment before I actually landed) had the bike delivered to my house before I actually got to Japan.
    That sounds amazing! Never thought that would be possible! I'm suddenly MUCH more optimistic about the whole process. I haven't found an apartment, yet, so we'll see how it goes, but I'm definitely hoping to have something lined up before I arrive if possible. My employer expects me to start working the day after my flight lands, which doesn't leave a lot of room for apartment hunting...

    Quote Originally Posted by RedSquare
    There is a lot of back and forth between two buildings and multiple desks, but once you accept the total inefficiency, and the Japanese ability to use computers and paperwork together to create more jobs, it'll be OK.
    Just imagine you are queueing for something in communist Russia, and go with the flow.
    Socialism bordering on communism, the worst of both worlds. With a smile.
    Sounds pretty similar to the process in Germany, although I'm pretty sure there's a rule against government employees smiling on the job ;)

  7. #7
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    Your employeer does not sound very accomodating... Check with them if you can actually commute by motorcycle. Most companies in Japan dont allow it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sashajp View Post
    Your employeer does not sound very accomodating... Check with them if you can actually commute by motorcycle. Most companies in Japan dont allow it.
    I would suggest simply commuting by motorcycle without asking. I am the only one in my company allowed to commute by motorcycle because no one told me I couldn't do it for so long that they can't tell me no anymore. Much to the dismay of the other motorcyclists in the company.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmizer View Post
    I would suggest simply commuting by motorcycle without asking. I am the only one in my company allowed to commute by motorcycle because no one told me I couldn't do it for so long that they can't tell me no anymore. Much to the dismay of the other motorcyclists in the company.
    I heard about a similar rule and the excuse was that the company would be liable if you were to get into an accident while going to work. (bs?) Anyway, I don't commute all the time by bike, but I don't get any reimbursement for parking/gas. My assistant wonders sometimes why my train expenses are so low each month, lol.

    My only battle is finding an open parking space somewhere around Marunouchi -- if I come later in the morning, forget it. lol... have to park and walk.. :/

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by LCX View Post
    I heard about a similar rule and the excuse was that the company would be liable if you were to get into an accident while going to work. (bs?)
    Not BS.

    Quote Originally Posted by LCX View Post
    I don't get any reimbursement for parking/gas. My assistant wonders sometimes why my train expenses are so low each month, lol.
    Big missed opportunity there. I claim all of my train fare every month, and it comes pretty close to funding every single tank of gas I use, including all my touring.

  11. #11
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    So besides being able to use your motorcyle you can claim train expenses!? Man, you are lucky. Without a copy of my teiki I cant get a reimbursement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sashajp View Post
    So besides being able to use your motorcyle you can claim train expenses!? Man, you are lucky. Without a copy of my teiki I cant get a reimbursement.
    The company allows me to claim up to (but not more than) the amount my monthly train pass would cost. This means I have to write out an expense report for every train I "take", but obviously it's worth it.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmizer View Post
    Big missed opportunity there. I claim all of my train fare every month, and it comes pretty close to funding every single tank of gas I use, including all my touring.
    Well, I wish that was truly the case.. but I live so close to the office (or clients I see) compared to others, my monthly train expense is less than 10,000 Yen/month anyway.

  14. #14
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    Default So how quickly can you get on a bike after arriving in Japan?

    Not only can I ride to work, but about six of us do and we have free off road parking.
    I'm loving it.


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  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by sashajp View Post
    Your employeer does not sound very accomodating... Check with them if you can actually commute by motorcycle. Most companies in Japan dont allow it.
    Aw man, this is the first I've heard of that :( Good to know, though, I'll see what I can find out.

    Quote Originally Posted by LCX View Post
    I heard about a similar rule and the excuse was that the company would be liable if you were to get into an accident while going to work.
    By the same logic could they ban you from using a bicycle or any other non-train form of transport? Or are motorcycles singled out as especially risky?

    Quote Originally Posted by LCX View Post
    My only battle is finding an open parking space somewhere around Marunouchi -- if I come later in the morning, forget it. lol... have to park and walk.. :/
    I'll be in Chiyoda, too, and hear parking can be quite difficult. Any tips specific to the area? I've found some small lots nearby from the parking thread, but don't know how full they tend to be (though I figure "very full" is probably a safe assumption).

  16. #16

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    Like someone else said, its better to ask forgiveness than permission. Lots of companies will forbid riding to work if they get wind of it. As LCX also noted, I've been told that Japanese law counts injuries sustained while commuting to your job as work related injuries (i.e. your company would be responsible). So it's a condition of their insurance coverage that their employees use public transport (if they wanted coverage for personal cars or motorcycles, that would cost more). Not sure if its true.

    I tried to find parking in Maranuchi, but never found anything reliable. My work starts at 9:30, so all the public lots nearby are almost always full by the time i get in. Some monthly rental spots available in the Shin-Maranuchi building, but you have to have an office there to rent (I don't).

  17. #17
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    Default So how quickly can you get on a bike after arriving in Japan?

    I was previously in Marunouchi and rode in every day. There are multiple buildings with underground parking for motorbikes at 500yen all day. But. As you say. They all fill up by 8:30am. Many of the builders rode scooters in, and fill all the spaces.
    Try Shin Marunouchi building, it has a lot of bike spaces on two different levels.
    But you will have to get in early.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Tin View Post
    Aw man, this is the first I've heard of that :( Good to know, though, I'll see what I can find out.
    Again, I strongly urge you to not "find out", because the answer will most likely be no. Once they say, "no", there's no changing your situation. You will simply not be allowed to ride your bike to work. Then, if you do commute by motorcycle and you're caught, there will be consequences.

    If you don't ask, and simply commute by motorcycle. If you're caught, you can easily simply say that you didn't know it wasn't permitted. You won't be punished for this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tin View Post
    By the same logic could they ban you from using a bicycle or any other non-train form of transport? Or are motorcycles singled out as especially risky?
    Yes, motorcycles are singled out as being especially risky.

  19. #19
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    Default So how quickly can you get on a bike after arriving in Japan?

    Mainly because they are.


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    Some pithy saying about biking, or a quote from a self-styled guru. Take your pick.

  20. #20

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    By the same logic could they ban you from using a bicycle or any other non-train form of transport? Or are motorcycles singled out as especially risky?
    When I did some contract work for ECC they had a company policy that when you were commuting for any of their contracts you needed to use public transport or the pre-arranged taxis. So yeah, they banned the use of any personal vehicle.

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