Beyond Exercise: How Cycling Can Deepen Your Connection with Japan

Cycling has brought me closer to the people and places of the Kanto Plain, revealing sights, sounds, and encounters that I would have never otherwise experienced.

Anthony Griffin
Kokoro Media
Published in
4 min readJun 8, 2023

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I’ve been cycling for as long as I can remember — ever since I earned my first scabs and scars as a young daredevil during the 1980s. The past 14.5 years in Japan have been no exception (minus most of the daredevil behavior).

During my early years in Japan, cycling was simply a convenient way to get around my corner of Tokyo while getting a little exercise in the process. However, over the years, as I piled on the kilometers and covered more and more of the city, I realized that there was a greater meaning to my riding ritual. Jaunts around town have evolved into two-wheeled adventures that have taken me as far as Mt. Fuji. Cycling has brought me closer to the people and places of the Kanto Plain, revealing sights, sounds, and encounters that I would have never otherwise experienced.

Cycling around Tokyo and Beyond: Never a Dull Moment

A 2022 photo taken in the Toyosu district of Tokyo, commemorating over 4,000 kilometers ridden on my current bicycle.

As I’m not a fan of urban cycling, most of my rides are extended weekend excursions designed to get out into nature — four to eight hours per ride, depending on the destination. Setting aside this much time for cycling lets me reach the outskirts of Tokyo and beyond, including the neighboring prefectures of Chiba, Saitama, and Kanagawa.

When compared to traveling via cars and trains, long-distance cycling leaves you exposed to the environment for extended periods of time, allowing each neighborhood, city, and region you pass through to sink in to your psyche.

On the road, I take great pleasure in watching society function, and each ride comes with at least one story-worthy moment. My rides reveal denizens engaged in all manner of fascinating (and often surprising) activities: kayaking, horseback riding, falconry, and even paramotoring. For better or worse, I often see my tax yen at work…

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Anthony Griffin
Kokoro Media

Founder and principal consultant (www.consultsaga.com) helping Japan-based organizations market to and communicate with international audiences.