Winging in Japan

 

        

East edge of Mt. Fuji.  It has snow on it, so you can barely see it.  Yes, they drive on the left side, not the wrong side!

Traffic Laws, etc.

In Japan, vehicles drive on the left side of the road, just like in England and Australia. 

Motorcycles are not allowed to have a passenger on highways.  You must take secondary roads for two-ups.

All highways are toll-ways.

Until recently, maximum legal speed limit for motorcycles was 50 mph or 80 kmph!!   The law was changed and now it is up to 62.5 mph or 100 kmph on highways.

Lane splitting and riding between shoulder/curb and vehicles are legal.

Many intersections have motorcycle stop zones in front of the regular stop line so motorcycles can lane-split and get ahead of cages at traffic lights.

Speed limit enforcement is more lax in Japan than in the U.S.  They use stationary photo radars, but they are constantly on, so they can be easily detected.  Police cruisers and motorcycles are not equipped with radar guns.  The police are required to follow right behind you for a certain distance and match their speed with your motorcycle's speed.  Using a second speedometer, the police lock in your speed.  If you pay attention to who's behind, you wouldn't get caught!

Gasoline costs about 1.00 USD per litter ( little less than a quarter of a gallon).

Traffic

Now, please keep in mind that I cannot speak for the entire country of Japan since my riding was limited to Tokyo and its neighboring prefectures toward the west.  My favorite ride was around Mt. Fuji.  Every weekend (as long as the weather was OK), I woke up at about 5:00 a.m. and hit the road between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m.  Why so early?  Well, unless you leave early, everybody in Tokyo would be trying to get out of the city, and there would be a traffic jam by 7:00 a.m.  I would ride around Mt. Fuji area and go home by early afternoon to avoid the traffic jam on the return!  I missed riding with Amy.  She is not an early-riser, so she wasn't willing to get up that early.  Plus, I couldn't take the highways with her due to the traffic laws.  Besides heavy traffic, what bothered me most was the exhaust pipes of large trucks and buses.  In Japan, they are located on the the side or rear of the vehicle.  So, when you ride behind or beside of one of these trucks or buses, you are riding in the diesel exhaust.  In fact, after wiping your face upon return from riding through Tokyo, the towel turns black.   I used to wish those exhaust pipes would shoot out from the top like in the U.S.  Anyway, one thing for sure, you get pretty good at slow riding and tight lane-splitting!

 

Meeting Japanese Wingers

Before Amy and I returned to Japan from Mexico, We already knew another Winger in Japan.  Masahiro Tsuji, aka, Masa #2 on WOTI.  He is a member of Japan Gold Wing Party.  We invited him, the party leader, aka, Tank,  and their family to our house one weekend.  They arrived on Saturday.  Sunday morning, we rode together around Mt. Fuji.  Masa #2's wife drove a cage and followed us.  While on back roads, I got to ride with Amy, but when we were taking the highways, she rode with the other wives and children in the cage.  After that weekend, I met with some of the members of Japan Gold Wing Party several times.  Very nice folks -- serious Gold Wing enthusiasts!

 

We lived in the City of Hachoji, located northwest of Tokyo.  The City and its surrounding area happened to have quite a few Wingers.  There was a cycle shop specializing in Gold Wings, and there was a Gold Wing club there.  They had about 30 members.  Amy and I joined their Sunday morning ride once, and their year-end party.  Again, they were very nice folks.  I guess you find the nicest people on Hondas!

 

 

Why only Wings for the Japanese market has factory installed windshield wiper?

After I started riding in Japan on my Gold Wing, it was apparent that you NEED a windshield wiper in Japan.  You just can't ride fast enough to get rid of the rain from the windshield due to traffic, speed limits, etc.  Plus, it rains a lot there, too.  The factory windshield wiper equipped with the Japanese models surely looks a lot better than the aftermarket ones!  Some U.S. Wingers have asked me about the possibility of installing the Honda genuine windshield wiper.  Well, there is one lister on the Japanese discussion list who had added the factory windshield wiper to his older 1500, which did not come with a windshield wiper.  It cost $700 just for the windshield wiper parts, plus an additional $200 if you wanted to have the windshield washer...  I doubt one would be willing to pay that much. Check out this link to see how he installed the factory windshield wiper.  Follow the blue URL link to go to the following pages (yes, this site is in Japanese).  http://www.goldwing.to/techlab/genuine_wiper/wiper1.html  The white 1996 SE here belongs to Masa #2 in Japan.  Note the windshield wiper fluid filler cap right below the license plate and a peep hole for the fluid tank on the rear fender.

 

Favorite Rides in Japan

Since 80% of Japan is mountains, curvy roads and twisties are easy to find.  Such beautiful scenery.  Like I said, earlier, my favorite ride was riding around Mt. Fuji.  Since Japan is volcanic islands, there are numerous hot springs.  The best thing during the rides was to stop by an onsen or hot spring.   It is so relaxing to sink yourself in an outdoor hot spring in a remote area.  I wish there were hot springs in Texas!

 

Enjoy the pictures from Japan!  Remember, click on the pictures to view high resolution version.

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Copyright 2001 Masahiko Kamata.  All rights reserved.  Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.