Thursday, December 1, 2016

Japan travel tips with Brompton

I believe that Japan is now one of the must go countries for travelers. There are a lot of attractive destinations like Mount Fuji, Hokkaido, Nikko, Hakone, Kyoto, dozens of hot springs, sushi, tempura, Akihabara, Ginza, Tsukiji fish market, old shrines and temples, etc. In addition, due to yen depreciation in recent years, prices are getting less and less expensive. Japan is the most affordable for foreign people who are interested in Japan.

If you have Brompton, I recommend you to travel with it in Japan. I believe that Japan is the best destination to leverage portability of Brompton. Japan has a perfect nantionwide network of public transportation. A combination of Brompton and subways, suburban railways, super express railway systems, buses enables you to visit anywhere in Japan easily. Thanks to commencement of Hokkaido Shinkansen on March 26, 2016, you can take a super express train instead of an air plain and easily and comfortably reach Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan, with Brompton. 

I will share some knowledge and tips to use Brompton in the Japanese public transportation system and on street.

1. Free carry-on Brompton
In general you can bring Brompton with you for free to any railway but some buses and boats charge you for Brompton or a bike even it is folded and covered. (e.g. some buses in Shikoku and jetfoil to Oshima Island)

2. Cover Brompton for transportation
You should have your bike packed in a bag on any train, subway, and bus. Japan is different from London's circle line, rather fastidious. Naked Brompton in the railway is never allowed and you might be caught due to violation of the rule.

The foreign traveler in right is violating the rule. The left is OK.

Do not bring as naked. You need to cover all the time in a train and station.

3. Do not wheel the bike to the train
You need to fold and pack Brompton before passing through the ticket barrier. Inside the station, you need to carry Brompton in the bag or grab a saddle of Brompton packed in a cover. Before coming to Japan, you need to build up your arm muscle.

4. Stand in line before aboard
You have to stand in line with Brompton at the point where the door to your car will stop and open when the train is due to arrive.

5. Be quiet
Compared with other countries, people are calm in the public transportation system because it is tacit understanding to shut up a mouse in public space. Loud conversation and talking on the phone on the train will earn you dirty looks.

6. Use IC prepaid card for your convenience
The Suica or PASMO is a prepaid e-money card for moving around and shopping in Tokyo and vicinity. There is no more need to buy a ticket from a vending machine. Just touch your Suica or PASMO to the ticket gate and the fare is automatically deducted from your Suica. The Suica can be used not only for trains, but subways and buses as well. You can buy SUICA or PASMO at any station with a deposit of 500 yen. Please note that some buses do not accept.

7. Avoid rush hour of weekday
Please avoid morning (7:30 am - 9:00 am inbound) and evening (5:00 pm-8:00 pm outbound) of weekday to use train and bus in Tokyo because a big laggage like Brompton will be a trouble for other people in a train. Please do not disturb commuting people. In weekend, usually no problem because most of the passengers are travelling for leisure.

8. On board space for Brompton
Most trains have very little luggage space. If you take a commuter train, I recommend you to put Brompton in the small space at the side of each door.

When you get Shinkansen or Express trains, sometimes there is a small laggage space near the door. However there is one good bet - all the seats face the same way and there will always be a good luggage space - ideal for your Brompton etc - behind the rearmost seat in each car. You can put your Brompton in the space.

9. Storage at the station (and airport)
There are lockers with use of coins or SUICA in most of the stations. For SUICA available locker, your SUICA will be the key. Sizes and fees are as follows:
Small size: not to be used for Brompton storage
Middle size: height 550mm × width 340mm× depth 570mm  Fee: 400 yen or up
(you need to disassemble a saddle to put Brompton in this size of a locker)
Large size: height 840mm × width 340mm× depth 570mm Fee: 500 yen or up
Extra large size: height 1030mm × width 340mm× depth 570mm Fee: 600 yen or up

Please make sure that they are often full when busy time of the day.

Other than lockers, temporary storage of hand luggage is available in Tokyo Station. Take advantage of JR East baggage check-in services so you can take in the sights around the station.

Hours of operation: 7:30 to 20:30

10. Other things: Brompton shops/support
If you need some accessories or repair assistances when you travel in Japan, the following shops will help you and your Brompton. All are reliable and able to take care of Brompton.


Wada Cycle
address: 4-1-1, Momoi, Suginami-ku, Tokyo
tel: 03-3399-3741
hour: 13:00~21:00 closed tuesday and wednesday
(JR Nishi-Ogikubo Station, Chuo-line)

address: FLEG Daikanyama 1F, 1-31-12 Ebisu-nishi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
tel: 03-4283-1117
hour: 10:30~19:30 closed thursday
(JR Ebisu Station, Yamanote-line)

Loro Slow Spot
address: 1-9-9 Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
tel: 03-3231-5112
hour: AM 1030 - PM 0730, close thursday
(Subway Nihonbashi Station, Tozai-line, Ginza-line, Toei Asakusa-line)


address: 3-3-1 Shimo-Yamatedori, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo-ken
tel: 078-321-0830
hour: 10:30~19:30 close Wednesday


Loro Kyoto
address: 7-9 Chudoji Kushige-cho, Shimokyo-ku, Kyoto-shi
tel: 075-811-7162
hour: 10:30~19:30 close Thursday


address: Hanabusa Bldg. 1F, 1-2-1 Otemon, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka-shi
tel: 050-1365-6236
hour: 10:30~19:30 close Wednesday

Related articles:

Japan Travel Destinations for Bromptoneer (1) - Central Tokyo

Japan Travel Destinations for Bromptoneer (2) - Suburban Tokyo & Vicinity

Japan Travel Destinations for Bromptoneer (3) - Other special places to go