Japan high school graduation trip

Dec 11th, 2010, 08:08 PM
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Japan high school graduation trip

My son has chosen to go to Japan for his high school grauation trip. We have traveled throughout the US, to Canada, and to Europe, but have never ventured to the Far East. We are both excited about this trip(it will be just me, his mom, and him going). He is an avid BMX bike rider (he will be bringing his bike to Japan) but we are also wanting to see the sights. I am thinking we will go for 2 weeks... would that be a decent amount of time to see some of the highlights of Japan? We are thinking of going in early June, 2011 right after he graduates. I have been reading that June is a rainy month there. Have any of you traveled to Japan in June? Can you give us some idea of what to expect- temperature-wise, weather-wise. Is the early part of June dryer than the later part? We also would love any suggestions on things to do. I bought two travel guides today and will begin my search online for information about Japan, but I love input/suggestions from others to help me get started. When is it a good time to buy airplane tickets? We live in Houston, TX and would fly from IAH. Thank you all for your help ahead of time.
kkukura is offline  
Dec 11th, 2010, 09:05 PM
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June is not really all that rainy in my experience (15 years in a notoriously rainy city). What we call rainy season (tsuyu) begins sometime in June and lasts into July...it is typically humid, warm, and often overcast. Sometimes it rains for a few days running, but not often. When tsuyu ends in late July, the heat sets in, and it's hotter than you can imagine, even being from Texas. November is far rainier. Early June is nicer, both in temperature and less chance of high humidity/rain.

With two weeks, you might visit Tokyo, Kyoto and one or maybe two other places. Since you say it is his trip, you might enlist his help in planning.

I'm wondering about the bike...it will truly be a hassle to carry it any distance using trains and/or buses. Unless he will be competing, I'd see if perhaps he could manage to leave it at home. This site may be interesting for you. http://www.kingofground.com/contents...&category=NEWS

Tickets...when you see a price you like, buy it. Continental flies non-stop from IAH to Tokyo (NRT) which would be very convenient for you,
KimJapan is offline  
Dec 11th, 2010, 09:29 PM
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Thanks KimJapan for the quick response. He is already part of the planning...it is team work from this end. He will lug his bike...it is what he wants to do. He did it on our trip to Canada so he is prepared to do it on this trip also. We pack light so hopefully he isn't too burdened by lugging his "prized possession" around! I will let him know about that web site, thanks!
kkukura is offline  
Dec 11th, 2010, 09:38 PM
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Is the bike easily disassembled and bagged? That's the only way you can take it on a train. You might find this site about biking in Japan and travel with a bike useful. http://www.japancycling.org/v2/info/transport.shtml
KimJapan is offline  
Dec 11th, 2010, 10:12 PM
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Yes, when we traveled to Canada he packed it in three boxes so it could count as luggage and we didn't have to pay extra. This time he will get a bike bag for it that he has seen online. The bike is pretty light weight also. He is a huge biking person and volunteers in a bike shop in Houston so he is pretty quick at taking it apart and putting it together.
kkukura is offline  
Dec 12th, 2010, 04:10 PM
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Tell him the time has come to evolve away from little kid interests.
Mango7 is offline  
Dec 12th, 2010, 04:33 PM
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Sorry, that won't happen. It is his form of exercise. He does well in school and enjoys riding a bike for fun, exercise, relaxation, etc. So do I for that matter. I see nothing wrong with him riding bikes. I imagine he will eventually grow older and move on to mountain biking and road biking. (In fact we have ridden in 3 MS 150 bike rides which are over a two-day time of 180 miles to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis.) It might seem immature to some people but I like this about him! He prefers to ride a bike to places and is very interested in keeping the environment "green".

I am also wondering if Tokyo has informational bike tours like we have done in New York, Montreal, Berlin, Munich,and Paris. Does anyone know? We enjoy taking a tour the first day we arrive in a new city and prefer to do it riding a bike (Fat Tire Tours, Ride the Big Apple, etc.) Thank you.
kkukura is offline  
Dec 12th, 2010, 07:56 PM
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I think I'm having a hard time envisioning what your son wants for this trip. Sightseeing and BMX just aren't really connected. It may be hard to find a place to use his bike in cities, yet getting to places with good courses for BMX will require often complicated transport and many times are best accessed by car.

So if his goal is to participate in BMX in Japan, whether it be recreational or competitive, I think you've really got to do some serious research into the options for places. If that is the goal, plan transport and hotels around those locations.

If it is to be a sightseeing trip with the bike coming along like it sounds like Canada was, then I think everyone would be happier without the bike. Bicycles are used for local transportation, but...roads are crowded with bicycles often sharing sidewalk space with pedestrians. As such, bicycles are not the norm in central Tokyo. Subway and bus are used much more than bicycles. Bicycles are commonly used to commute to a station and then ride train or bus to the city. Bicycle stays parked at designed bike parking at the station.

Which brings up the next point. Security. Typical commuter bikes are inexpensive, and while we of course would be inconvenienced by theft, theft of these bikes is no big loss in terms of money. Also, these bikes are pretty much all the same, and have a police registration sticker, making theft pretty unlikely in spite of the typical flimsy locks we use.

However, a cool looking, stickerless (meaning unregistered) bike is more likely to be stolen. There are few to no suitable places to lock the bike securely to an immovable object. Locking to street posts or parking meter or similar...this sort of locking behavior is not allowed, and the consequences range from nothing to being told to move it to actual fines. So, the bike is a real hindrance to sightseeing, and if most of your time is sightseeing, there is no point to bring the bike.
KimJapan is offline  
Dec 13th, 2010, 06:33 AM
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This is an interesting discussion. I am not a kid but cycle (mountain, cyclocross, road) everyday until the snow hits. We were in Japan for six days only in 2008 so I am no expert on the country.

Bringing a bike will be a huge hassle. But I can't tell you how many times in Japan and China I wished I had my bike. As a kid might say, it would have been a blast.

So if my teenager said he wanted to bring his bike on our next trip to Japan I would tell him nope too much of a hassle. But someday I am going back with my own bike and I'm not going to tell him.
colduphere is offline  
Dec 13th, 2010, 02:05 PM
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Thanks everyone for your responses. I have talked to him about the issues you brought up KimJapan. We will continue to look into this because he very much wants to bring his bike. All this depends on the cost to take on the plane, ease of storing it at places we stay, how it will be to transport from place to place, etc. If we can meet those needs (and any others that might come up) we will be taking it along. (We take it everywhere we travel in TX and the U.S.)

I have found that both Tokyo and Kyoto do have bike tours of the city so we will do one for sure in Tokyo, and possibly in Kyoto.
kkukura is offline  
Dec 13th, 2010, 02:59 PM
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If the bike is bagged, hotels will let it in the room. Assembled and not bagged, they won't allow it in.

There are no baggage carts in train stations, nor are there porters. Carry everything yourself, often farther than expected and involving stairs. In many cases escalatore run only up and elevators are pretty much for strollers and people with disabilities. They are also often not easy to locate.

You can rent bicycles at Kyoto station - the typical no gear shopping bikes that everyone uses. That would be easy. And safe - no risk of losing his good bike. While japan is typically low in crime, two items stolen with amazing regularity are bicycles and umbrellas. Shoping bikes don't matter, but I have several friends who have had their nice mountain bikes go missing more than once, and even from their locked parking at home.

There is baggage delivery service that is very reliable. Takes a day. Not sure of the cost for a bicycle but a total guess. ¥5000.

I'm convinced that a rental once in a while would be much easier and stress frree. Japan is not like Canada or the states in terms of space for both riding and parking. It is also busy with cars, other bikes and walkers, and noone gives way. I've seen bicyclists crash head on more times than I can count. This year alone I've seen three cars hit cyclists right in front of me. Unconscious riders each time. I didn't mention safety before, but it's just another issue lots of small roads connecting to big roads where car drivers just cannot see until it's too late due to buildings obstructing the view.

Yeah, leave the bike home. Or skip the cites and go to the countryside and do s bike tour. Maybe Backroads does one. Not sure.
KimJapan is offline  
Dec 13th, 2010, 04:51 PM
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CNNGo recently published an online article about biking in Tokyo, I thought you'd like to read it.


Friends of mine recently brought their collapsable bikes to Tokyo and they had a ball. They said that they saw parts of Tokyo that they would never have seen from alighting from train and subway stations- neighbourhoods rarely visited by tourists. They even said that locals were shocked to see tourists ride up their streets! I have to agree with KimJapan though that if your son likes tearing up the asphalt avoid places like Shinjuku and Shibuya. There is a certain level of awareness you have to have, because of the huge numbers of pedestrians there, you have to ride slowly and brake on a dime. I certainly couldn't do it.

Unfortunately though my friends had to get work done on their bikes while they were there, and one repair job couldn't be done in Japan (pushing their machines too hard!) While there though they had their bikes repaired by "sensei", a bike repair person regarded at the highest levels. I think my friends also got a few admiratory glances from other bike riders for the bikes they were riding.
Sydney2K is offline  
Dec 14th, 2010, 04:30 PM
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My son-in-law who is a serious ironman triathlon competitor who brings his custom-made bike from UK to US for his 2 months here every year would not dream of bringing his bike to Japan for a two week vacation. He has a custom made bike case for the summer trip and it is a terrible hassle getting to and from the airport. Lugging it from place to place on a vacation does not make sense when you are using trains and buses. Kimjapan knows everything about Japan since she lives there. Take her advice. You can rent bikes if you really need to ride. Just planning a good bike route when staying in Tokyo or other major city is a major undertaking. Side note...now there are bike lanes in NYC. Just saw some tourists trying to bike in Times Square.. they must be out of their minds. Excellent way to land in hospital.. Tokyo is often like Times Square plus ten.
Elainee is offline  
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