Spend just a few minutes anywhere in Japan and you can see just how popular bikes are. Nearly everyone seems to have one, and you’ll often see hundreds parked around every town, city, station or shopping centre. But when you don’t know much about how something works in another country, the prospect of buying a bike in Japan can seem a little daunting.
There are many bike related stores across Japan, but, if you’re worried about language barriers and want the smoothest experience possible, then I recommend going to a big store – like Yodobashi Camera. These stores will often have a staff member with some English ability, or will at least be familiar with dealing with foreigners on a day to day basis. Yodobashi Camera has a great range of bikes at reasonable prices, from fold-up bikes to 3 seater mamachari bikes! There are Yodobashi Camera stores across Japan, so you should be able to find one near you.
In Japan, it is the law that you must register your bike with your local council. If you are found with a bike that does not match the address on your residence card, you will be in a lot of trouble! If buying a bike new from a store (such as Yodobashi Camera), this isn’t really a problem. The staff in the store will organise this all for you. All you need to do is write out your address and a few personal details and they will do the rest! If you are buying a bike second hand, this can be a bit trickier. You will need to register the bike yourself. To do this, you will need to make a visit to the police station to sort out all the necessary paperwork!
There are a few other things you need to consider when buying a bike in Japan. Note that in Japan, when its dark, you MUST have a light on your bike. It’s always best to buy this at the same time as the bike itself, and if you buy from Yodobashi Camera, they will set everything up for you! It might also be worth buying yourself a basket to help with shopping etc. And you will definitely want a lock. Bike theft is not very common in Japan, but it’s always better to be on the safe side.
Once you have your bicycle, be careful where you chose to park it. The “bike police” are a constant presence in Japan, and parking in the wrong place means your bike will be taken away and not released until you pay a fee.