Jitensha Course Guides

Published by Atene Shobo

A long-lived series of guidebooks, these appear to no longer be available (alas). There are at least five volumes that I know of (Kansai, two Kanto volumes, Shinshu and Hokkaido). Hand-drawn maps with elevation guides and at least one (B&W) photo for each route. Quite useful.


Jissen Cycle Touring: Planning Advice & Guide

By Asai Kenji

Published by Yama-to-Keikoku-sha

[YAMA-KEI Publishers Co., Ltd.]  1991

1500 yen

Fully half of the book consists of brief descriptions (not detailed routes) of places to cycle, organized by topography (mountain passes, lakes, islands, etc.) and by prefecture north to south within each of those categories - enough to convince you that this guy has been EVERYWHERE in Japan. If you can read Japanese (and can find a used copy somewhere), this is a truly outstanding resource.

Kamakura / Shonan / Miura Jitensha Sampo Map

Loco Motion Publishing   2009

1700 yen

Describes nine routes in the area south of Yokohama, five very short (12 km or less) and the rest longer (26 - 29 km). Differs from other guides in that it also includes historical notes on the area, short walking and hiking courses, info on bike maintenance and so on. The publisher’s “Jitensha Seikatsu (Bicycle Lifestyle) Books” series is now up to 10 volumes and includes general references (how to travel by bike, cycling for health etc.) and several route guides for areas in and around Tokyo, the Arakawa (Ara River) and Nagoya.

Niigata / Nagano Cycling Course Guide

Published by Niigata Nippo Jigyosha


1500 yen

Contains 15 routes in Niigata and 15 in Nagano, but mostly very short routes (only one is over 16 km), so a bit of a disappointment for those of us expecting a hardcore guide to the Japan Alps. Still, careful directions and lots of photographs.

Kyoto Jitensha Map (machinami-hen / kogai-hen)

Kankyo Shimin

Pub by Seseragi Shuppan  2005

¥1000 each

Maps (actual maps this time) for Kyoto city and  environs, with routes investigated by 40 volunteers. 40 courses and 15 courses, respectively, for beginners to expert riders.

Nagoya Yu-Yu Jitensha Sampo Map

Covers short to medium distance routes in Nagoya; lavishly illustrated. This is number five in their “Jitensa Seikatsu (bicycle lifestyle) Books” series. The others are a book covering the Tokyo “shitamachi” area, one for Tokyo Musashino, “Let’s Travel by Bike,” and Satoshi Hikita’s “Jitensha Seikatsu Starting Book.”

Kanto Hirobiro Cycling Map

Guide to routes in “Kanto,” mostly very near to Tokyo.

MTB Touring Guide

1500 yen

Mainly contains shorter routes accessible from Tokyo area.

Miryoku no Rindo Course

1180 yen

For offroad riders, these are the famous “forest roads” that are almost invariably unpaved (though some of the more popular ones are gradually being paved).

Nonbiri Jitensha no Tabi

Tiny pocket guide with a bit of everything: riding technique, routes, clothing etc. Not badly done and an interesting idea.

Cycling Road Map "WIND"

Published by Bicycling Association of Japan (JCA)

(Nihon Saikuringu Kyokai)

For many years, this was the only attempt to map the many long bikepaths ("cycling roads") in Japan; most resources just give the addresses for the starting and ending points, and after that you're on your own. In contrast, this was a series of 36 detailed single-sheet maps, one side a colorful hand-drawn depiction of the route and sights to see along the way, the other side a black and white map showing the exact route. The package was also quite inexpensive considering the high quality (possibly due to receiving subsidies from somewhere); I think I paid 2,000 yen for it. Although the package is probably no longer unavailable, the color pages are now up on the web - point your browser to:



Clicking one of the titles displays the color page for that map. Unfortunately, the detailed B&W maps are not here.

However, this is now a moot point; the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT) has created a beautiful section on their site that FINALLY gives detailed information on at least many of the long-distance bicycle routes in Japan! Point your browser to:


At the bottom of this page is a map of Japan with beige tabs for each region. Clicking on a tab brings up a more detailed map for that region, with specific routes; clicking on each route brings up another page for that route, with a more detailed map, a few tiny photos and even a link to download a PDF file of that page for better printing. The blue section at the bottom of the page also has arrows for going to the previous and next routes and to the top page for that region. Note that the left arrow that says "Top Page" in Japanese does NOT take you to the long-distance cycling route page but to a page higher up in the heirarchy. Use your back button or the link above to get back to the long-distance cycling route page.

Sorry, no English...

I don't know if the old WIND maps are still available, and in any case they'd be pretty out of date at this point. If you really want to find them, you might try sending an English email on the Bicycle Culture Center site at http://www.cycle-info.or.jp, or contact the JCA in Japanese at jca@ma4.justnet.ne.jp. The JCA's address and phone number listed on my "WIND" copy are as follows:

1-9-3 Akasaka, Minato-ku Tokyo

(+81) 3-3583-5628

Cycling:Tekunikku Zukai to Zenkoku Koosu Gaido

(CYCLING: How-To Diagrams and Nationwide Course Guide)

This one is REALLY old at this point. One in the " Blue Guide" series of guidebooks, most of them general guides to different regions of Japan, this is mainly a how-to book with lots of photos and hand-drawn illustrations. However, the last third has a few routes and even suggestions for cycling completely across the country (from Hokkaido to Okinawa).

Books (E)E_Books.htmlE_Books.htmlshapeimage_15_link_0
Websites (E)E_Websites.htmlE_Websites.htmlshapeimage_16_link_0
Websites (J)J_Websites.htmlJ_Websites.htmlshapeimage_17_link_0
Japan GuidesJapan_Guides.htmlJapan_Guides.htmlshapeimage_18_link_0
Books (J)shapeimage_20_link_0

Kansai Cycling Map (edited by Tsuguchi Tetsuya) Yama-to-Keikoku-sha

[YAMA-KEI Publishers Co., Ltd.]


A book rather than a map, this seemed to set the standard for cycling guides, at least until the “jitensha sampo” trend of even shorter routes became the mainstream. It focuses mainly on relatively short routes, with excellent maps and lots of pictures. Each route includes an elevation indicator, symbols showing whether the route is for road or mountain bikes and whether rental bikes are available, and at least one point of special interest. Also has complete area maps and a brief but well-presented photo spread on bike-bagging, and even information on campgrounds.

Nishi-Nihon Cycling Guide "Outdoor 21st Field"

(edited by Tsuguchi Tetsuya)


[YAMA-KEI Publishers Co., Ltd.] 2001

Published by the same company as above (and not titled a map this time) - and equally attractive, covering some parts of Kyushu and Shikoku as well as western Honshu. Lushly illustrated with great photos and maps. Includes a long section on the new Shimanami route as well as many other great routes. Even if you can't read Japanese, the maps alone would make this well worth getting.


Bridgestone Cycling Maps

Published by Bridgestone Cycle
(The publisher's phone number in Tokyo is listed as (+81) 3-3271-2451)

Unfortunately, these may no longer be available. Unlike the Kansai "Cycling Map," these actually ARE maps: a series of ingeniously folded maps, one side a regional map with bike routes marked, and the other side a list of brief descriptions of each route. For years a tattered copy of the Kansai edition was my constant companion. I know of seven: (1) Kanto, (2) Hokuriku, (3) Kansai, (4) Tokyo, (5) Kanagawa (6) Saitama and (7) Chiba. In case you can still get them, here is the ISBN information for a couple:

Kansai (ISBN 4-8297-0323-7)    Hokuriku (ISBN 4-8297-0322-9 C2325)


Cycling Books in Japanese

As in the case of magazines, there has been something of an explosion in new Japanese cycling books over the past few years. Most of the new ones feature relatively short routes with lots of information on restaurants and shops along the route. This list starts with some of the older ones.

Jitensha Sampo

A relatively new series of guides that are exactly what the title would imply: “bicycle strolls” in various parts of Japan. The distances are usually quite short, making these guides not particularly useful for long-distance route planning. However, they are extremely well laid out and contain lots of information on sights, restaurants etc., so you may find them useful for detailed route planning. At this point, there are seven volumes: Osaka/Kobe, Kyoto/Nara/Shiga, Tokai (covering Aichi, Gifu, Mie and Shizuoka), Shonan/Kamakura, Kanagawa, Saitama/Chiba and Tokyo Shuhen (Around Tokyo).

Jitensha Ryoko Annai, Volumes 1 & 2

Published by Sankaido

Collection of routes (58 in volume 1, 57 in volume 2) that originally appeared in the cycling magazine Cycle Field between 1993 and 1996. Unfortunately, the routes appear to be in no particular order, and there are no overall area maps, reducing their usefulness to people who don't read Japanese. Still might be a valuable resource; cycle magazine rider-researchers often seem to find more interesting routes than the book researchers.


Zekkei no Michi 100-sen Touring Guide


1200 yen

Bicycle bias shouldn’t prevent us from accessing the wealth of data out there for drivers, especially motorcyclists. The “Route Planning” section has already mentioned the Mapple Touring guides; this book features glorious photos of 100 great roads and offroads all over Japan and also includes a pullout touring map. If these photos don't make you want to get out on a bike, you're hopeless. Well worth the price.