Commuting by bicycle in Tokyo (Part 1) – Should I get a bicycle?




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Commuting by bicycle in Tokyo (Part 1) – Should I get a bicycle?

Everybody knows that the public train system in Japan is a world-class, highly-reliable and affordable means of commute in Japan. It is a great to travel to school or work. But if you're trying to save even more money up, commuting by bicycle might be a viable option to consider.

How much money can you save buying a bicycle? This defers for everyone's situation, but it should save you quite a bit even if your original train commute is already one of the cheapest possible. Let's use my scenario for example.

I stay at Oakhouse Kajigaya, and the nearest station is Miyazakidai. My office is 7 stops away on the Tokyu Denentoshi Line, and costs me the cheapest 160yen one way. A one month commuter fare costs 6000yen and a six month fare costs 32000yen.

I spent 28000yen on my bicycle, and it wasn't the cheapest model available either. This means that commuting six months, I would have broke even the cost of my bicycle. Considering that I'm planning to stay at least 2 to 3 years in Japan, the bicycle will prove its monetary worth many times over. That isn't factoring other use of the bicycle, including my weekly trip to the nearby supermarket for groceries.

Besides saving money on the long run, commuting by bicycle is a great form of exercise. It is especially suitable for people who do not like any other forms of sports or exercise, or those do simply not have time to allocate to 1-2 hour sessions of exercise daily.

If you stay somewhere scenic, the daily ride can be a great form of relaxation and stress relief. I stay at Kajigaya, and I cross the 200 metre Futagobashi that spans across the beautiful Futagotamagawa river on my commute to work. Of course, not everyone is going to be as fortunate to have the good scenery that I enjoy. If you work in the central business district, you're likely to encounter mostly stretches of tall skyscrapers and urban traffic, although that might not be too bad for some.

What might be a serious dealbreaker is if your prospective bicycle commuter includes some serious inclines, especially if you live in the suburbs or down in Kanagawa like myself. I'm not going to lie, for me the rough part is a long 500m stretch where there is a gentle but continuous upslope, and I sometimes (especially if I'm tired from work) have to get down to push my bicycle along. I find that part bearable, however, and considering the rest of the journey and my overall fitness, the benefits outweigh this portion. Also, going the other way to work, that part is a 500m breeze!

Another problem to seriously consider is the weather, especially in summer when it gets really hot. Of my seniors at work who also cycle to work (it's quite common), half have purchased dry fit cycling attire and change out in the office, the other half say they stop cycling for about 2 months in summer and resume when the weather gets cooler. I have not yet experienced the summer commute with a bicycle in Japan, but I'm thinking I'll probably join the latter half of the group.

Commuting by bicycle isn't for everyone, for various reasons, but it can be and should be great for most. If you're considering it seriously, stay tuned for my next post, where I share my own tips for purchasing a bicycle in Japan.

Parked outside, in a nice dedicated parking area of Oakhouse Kajigaya Terrace

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I'm an aspiring architect pursuing/living my dream of working in Japan.
I work in Tokyo, but live across Futagotamagawa in Oakhouse Kajigaya, Kawasaki.

Working in Japan is hard, but there's lots of opportunities to play hard as well.
I hope to share a little of my experience with everyone through this blog.