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Thread: Tokyo - Nagasaki - Tokyo (the long way)

  1. #21
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    Also, I need to add two exceptions to my no-expressways rule: The two times it makes sense to be on an expressway are:

    (1) You need to get somewhere in a hurry, or

    (2) You're passing through or close to a big city, where the local roads are dull and choked with traffic.

    Of course, you should stay away from those areas as much as possible while touring anyway, unless you have some reason to be there! ;-)
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  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmizer View Post
    Will you be using OSM? If so, where did you source your maps?
    I found the Japan map on garmin.openstreetmap .nl

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by drbeamer View Post
    I found the Japan map on garmin.openstreetmap .nl
    Yeah, that map is really bothersome because it's in Chinese, not Japanese, so place names don't match.

    Use this one instead: http://tmz.skr.jp/data/gmap.html the page is in Japanese, but the map is displayed with correct English readings of places. Just download the gmapsupp_170411.zip file in the left column. The right column is for hiking maps.

  4. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Jinbaiquerre View Post
    Also, I need to add two exceptions to my no-expressways rule: The two times it makes sense to be on an expressway are:

    (1) You need to get somewhere in a hurry, or

    (2) You're passing through or close to a big city, where the local roads are dull and choked with traffic.

    Of course, you should stay away from those areas as much as possible while touring anyway, unless you have some reason to be there! ;-)
    Good exceptions, I love Nagoya but if you're just passing through the ¥770 is worth it for the Nagoya Expressway. I often use the expressway to get out of town then switch to the slow roads.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmizer View Post
    Yeah, that map is really bothersome because it's in Chinese, not Japanese, so place names don't match.

    Use this one instead: http://tmz.skr.jp/data/gmap.html the page is in Japanese, but the map is displayed with correct English readings of places. Just download the gmapsupp_170411.zip file in the left column. The right column is for hiking maps.
    This map is awesome - thanks!!! It even shows convenience stores such as 711 and (some) hotels as far as I can tell (need to redo all my routes now using this map).

  6. #26
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    How many days will you have? You mentioned that you'll be here in May, but not for how long. It's important to note that you'll get a lot more fatigued riding here than you will in the states.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmizer View Post
    How many days will you have? You mentioned that you'll be here in May, but not for how long. It's important to note that you'll get a lot more fatigued riding here than you will in the states.
    I have left myself some flexibility, but overall I'll have between 12-14 days. The idea is to get a good general understanding of the regions west of Tokyo and then possibly come back for more riding on a separate trip. (Hokkaido is also on the bucket list - eventually.)

    One thing I wanted to ask you is about nightly accommodations in minshukus and airbnb's without pre-booking. The idea is to ride every day till about 5pm or so, and then find a place to sleep. Since I will be there after the annual vacation period this should not be a problem, would you agree? Are there some big chains (like "Motel 6" for example here in the US) that have basic, but well maintained inns on the side of the major roadways?

    PS: Here is the latest version of my route map:
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails japan-route-map-4_sm.jpg  

  8. #28
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    Oh - and another question about the ferry crossings (4 right now): do these ferries run regularly or only once/twice a day? Is there a website with departure times, and can I just roll up there, or will I need to make a reservation?

  9. #29
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    Default Tokyo - Nagasaki - Tokyo (the long way)

    The ferry to Toba and the ferry from Wakayama run fairly often
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  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by drbeamer View Post
    I have left myself some flexibility, but overall I'll have between 12-14 days. The idea is to get a good general understanding of the regions west of Tokyo and then possibly come back for more riding on a separate trip. (Hokkaido is also on the bucket list - eventually.)
    That sounds like enough time.

    Quote Originally Posted by drbeamer View Post
    One thing I wanted to ask you is about nightly accommodations in minshukus and airbnb's without pre-booking. The idea is to ride every day till about 5pm or so, and then find a place to sleep. Since I will be there after the annual vacation period this should not be a problem, would you agree? Are there some big chains (like "Motel 6" for example here in the US) that have basic, but well maintained inns on the side of the major roadways?
    Making reservations on the day with minshuku will prove troublesome if you don't speak Japanese. If you do speak Japanese, it's no problem to find a vacancy on the day you wish to stay. However, you really need to call and book the place around noon. If you wait too long into the evening, they won't be able to accommodate you. A big chain that you can look for everywhere that has good English support is Toyoko inn. Typically, Toyoko inns are downtown, near stations though.

    Have never stayed at an airbnb in Japan, so I can't help you there.

    Quote Originally Posted by drbeamer View Post
    PS: Here is the latest version of my route map:
    Can you post a closeup of your route around Aso please? There are some road closures in the south portion of Aso that you'll need to avoid. I'd like to see if your current route is avoiding the closures.

    Quote Originally Posted by drbeamer View Post
    Oh - and another question about the ferry crossings (4 right now): do these ferries run regularly or only once/twice a day? Is there a website with departure times, and can I just roll up there, or will I need to make a reservation?
    All of the ferries you have in your route have regular crossings and do not need reservations, so yes, you can just roll up and hop on. Try to be there about 30 minutes before departure to insure that you can get your paperwork done. Most of them take around an hour or two, and cost around 5000 yen including both your bike and passenger fare. None of the ferries in your list have English websites, but here they are in clockwise order:

    http://www.isewanferry.co.jp/publics/index/22/ crossing time is 55 minutes. Departure port is 伊良湖発 (Tahara)
    http://nankai-ferry.co.jp/timetable/kudari.html (3 columns on the right show ferry number, departure time, arrival time) crossing time is 2 hours. Departure port is 和歌山港発 (Wakayama)
    http://www.uwajimaunyu.co.jp/timetable/ (You want the timetable on the left) crossing time is just under 3 hours. Departure port is 八幡浜 (Yawatahama)
    http://kumamotoferry.co.jp/timefare/ crossing time is 30 minutes. Departure port is 熊本港 (Kumamoto)

    For these ferries, the cost of the passenger is included in the bike fare. Look for 750cc以上 to see how much the fare is.

    The fourth ferry is from Kumamoto city. I presume you're routing through here in order to see Kumamoto castle. Please be aware that Kumamoto castle was heavily damaged in an earthquake last year and is off limits. You will NOT be able to visit it. Rather than going through Kumamoto city (which can be complicated and confusing), I suggest avoiding the city all together and crossing at another ferry farther north called Ariake ferry.

    Here's the Ariake ferry timetable link (there's one every hour starting at 6am):
    http://www.ariake-ferry.com/timetable/ crossing time is 45 minutes. Departure port is 長洲港発 (Nagasu).
    Fare is listed here: http://www.ariake-ferry.com/fee/

  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmizer View Post
    Making reservations on the day with minshuku will prove troublesome if you don't speak Japanese. If you do speak Japanese, it's no problem to find a vacancy on the day you wish to stay. However, you really need to call and book the place around noon. If you wait too long into the evening, they won't be able to accommodate you. A big chain that you can look for everywhere that has good English support is Toyoko inn. Typically, Toyoko inns are downtown, near stations though.

    Have never stayed at an airbnb in Japan, so I can't help you there.
    Hmm... I am studying Japanese right now, but it will not be enough to have a conversation... I will need to see how this goes, I guess. Can't plan for everything. The Airbnb option was great when I rode across New Zealand last year. But there it's easy because you have no traffic., and so you know pretty much on the dot how long it takes to get from point A to point B.

    Quote Originally Posted by dmizer View Post
    Can you post a closeup of your route around Aso please? There are some road closures in the south portion of Aso that you'll need to avoid. I'd like to see if your current route is avoiding the closures.
    Posted below.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Quote Originally Posted by dmizer View Post
    All of the ferries you have in your route have regular crossings and do not need reservations, so yes, you can just roll up and hop on. Try to be there about 30 minutes before departure to insure that you can get your paperwork done. Most of them take around an hour or two, and cost around 5000 yen including both your bike and passenger fare. None of the ferries in your list have English websites, but here they are in clockwise order:

    http://www.isewanferry.co.jp/publics/index/22/ crossing time is 55 minutes. Departure port is 伊良湖発 (Tahara)
    http://nankai-ferry.co.jp/timetable/kudari.html (3 columns on the right show ferry number, departure time, arrival time) crossing time is 2 hours. Departure port is 和歌山港発 (Wakayama)
    http://www.uwajimaunyu.co.jp/timetable/ (You want the timetable on the left) crossing time is just under 3 hours. Departure port is 八幡浜 (Yawatahama)
    http://kumamotoferry.co.jp/timefare/ crossing time is 30 minutes. Departure port is 熊本港 (Kumamoto)

    For these ferries, the cost of the passenger is included in the bike fare. Look for 750cc以上 to see how much the fare is.

    The fourth ferry is from Kumamoto city. I presume you're routing through here in order to see Kumamoto castle. Please be aware that Kumamoto castle was heavily damaged in an earthquake last year and is off limits. You will NOT be able to visit it. Rather than going through Kumamoto city (which can be complicated and confusing), I suggest avoiding the city all together and crossing at another ferry farther north called Ariake ferry.

    Here's the Ariake ferry timetable link (there's one every hour starting at 6am):
    http://www.ariake-ferry.com/timetable/ crossing time is 45 minutes. Departure port is 長洲港発 (Nagasu).
    Fare is listed here: http://www.ariake-ferry.com/fee/
    Fantastic - thanks again for all your help dmizer; I am so glad I found this forum!! All of your advice will sure be useful also for others who are planning a similar route in the future. (And if there is anyone coming across this thread in the future who wants my gpx files just send me a note.)

  12. #32
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    Just as I suspected. Route 111 on the south side from 325 is not open yet. It might be by the time you get here, but I wouldn't suggest counting on it. you can get up to the Aso crater from the north on 111, and the crater was very recently (a week or two ago) reopened for visits. Crater tours have been prohibited for years.

    Also the Raptor (or Laputa), the nice looking twisty road between route 149 and 339, was heavily damaged in the earthquake. It was already damaged and closed to traffic a couple years ago. The earthquake damage was extensive and the road will probably never be opened again.

    I suggest routing around Aso to the north as shown in the google map link I shared earlier. Take 265 N to 57. Head E to Milk Road N. Shoot over to 11 (Yamanami Highway) and N to 45, then 12 and 339. If you want to visit the Aso crater, just take a quick detour south down 212 to 111.

  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmizer View Post
    Just as I suspected. Route 111 on the south side from 325 is not open yet. It might be by the time you get here, but I wouldn't suggest counting on it. you can get up to the Aso crater from the north on 111, and the crater was very recently (a week or two ago) reopened for visits. Crater tours have been prohibited for years.

    Also the Raptor (or Laputa), the nice looking twisty road between route 149 and 339, was heavily damaged in the earthquake. It was already damaged and closed to traffic a couple years ago. The earthquake damage was extensive and the road will probably never be opened again.

    I suggest routing around Aso to the north as shown in the google map link I shared earlier. Take 265 N to 57. Head E to Milk Road N. Shoot over to 11 (Yamanami Highway) and N to 45, then 12 and 339. If you want to visit the Aso crater, just take a quick detour south down 212 to 111.

    Oh no - Laputa is closed? That was actually one of the "must-do" roads, but - oh well... Adjusted my route to drop down into Mt Aso from the north, then backtracking to the 45:

    Click image for larger version. 

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  14. #34
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    Damn... Somehow I managed to miss Laputa while riding right past it. And now it's gone forever.
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  15. #35
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    drbeamer, I notice on your latest route map you still have the east coast of Shikoku and Izu on there. I strongly recommend finding a way to head inland through the mountains and then back out to the coast only at the end of those areas.
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  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by drbeamer View Post
    Oh no - Laputa is closed?
    Yup, back in 2013, a big typhoon blew through and caused some land slides on that road and it's been closed ever since. The road was still passable at that time, but dangerous. Recently, it had become an extremely popular site in Aso and they had been working on getting it opened again. Now it looks like this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vnz0VDQXEAE

    If you're going to do the Yamanami Highway (route 11), it's important to hit that in the late evening or very early morning because there's lots of tour bus, tourist, and dump truck traffic on that road during the day. An alternative that's more traffic free is Milk Road, I mentioned earlier.

    I wouldn't suggest doing this because the roads around Aso are really special, but if you're running short on time, you could cut east across the Aso valley via 298 and climb the eastern crater wall on 23. 298 doesn't connect to 57 anymore, but you can take 149 north to 23 instead.

    Finally, your route doesn't go all the way up to the active Aso crater on 111 yet. Keep going past the Aso Volcano Museum to 阿蘇 山上広場, it's a short hike from there to see the currently active crater. Also, don't forget to stop by the equally impressive Daikanbo, just off route 43. Daikanbo is the highest point on the Aso super volcano crater wall, and offers an unforgettable view of the entire crater valley. It's also a Japanese motorcycle Mecca, so you'll see loads of interesting bikes there.

  17. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Jinbaiquerre View Post
    drbeamer, I notice on your latest route map you still have the east coast of Shikoku and Izu on there. I strongly recommend finding a way to head inland through the mountains and then back out to the coast only at the end of those areas.
    Hello Guy, thanks for your note. The (hand-drawn) route you see on the map uses the Izu Skyline drive to go around Ito, and then reconnects with the coastal 135 in Yawatano. I was hoping for great vistas and less traffic down there. Do you think it's still too much and that area should be avoided?

    I suppose could take the 414 down through Izu, and reconnect with the 136 in Shimoda for coastal riding all the way up to Nagaoka for the night:

    Click image for larger version. 

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  18. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmizer View Post
    If you're going to do the Yamanami Highway (route 11), it's important to hit that in the late evening or very early morning because there's lots of tour bus, tourist, and dump truck traffic on that road during the day. An alternative that's more traffic free is Milk Road, I mentioned earlier.

    I wouldn't suggest doing this because the roads around Aso are really special, but if you're running short on time, you could cut east across the Aso valley via 298 and climb the eastern crater wall on 23. 298 doesn't connect to 57 anymore, but you can take 149 north to 23 instead.

    Also, don't forget to stop by the equally impressive Daikanbo, just off route 43. Daikanbo is the highest point on the Aso super volcano crater wall, and offers an unforgettable view of the entire crater valley. It's also a Japanese motorcycle Mecca, so you'll see loads of interesting bikes there.
    This is a tough one - so many things to see on this day. I have added Daikanbo and modified the route to use the 298 to go up to the crater, and that results in a 10 hrs driving day (per Google maps) which is a bit long as it doesn't include stops. An alternative might be to shave off 2hrs by skipping the Takachiho route... Thoughts?

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails mt-aso5.JPG  

  19. #39
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    It's only 381 km. It's a long day, to be sure, but the 10 hour estimate is well on the conservative side. Also, by the time you get here to Kyushu, you should have a pretty good feel for how many KM you can put in in a day comfortably and adjust accordingly. Where is your start and finish point for this day?

  20. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmizer View Post
    It's only 381 km. It's a long day, to be sure, but the 10 hour estimate is well on the conservative side. Also, by the time you get here to Kyushu, you should have a pretty good feel for how many KM you can put in in a day comfortably and adjust accordingly. Where is your start and finish point for this day?
    That's a very good point; I can delay the decision which route to take around Mt Aso until I actually get there. The start of that day is around Beppu/Oita and the destination is Nagasaki.

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