This blog is about travelling through Japan on a foldable bicycle (Brompton) but also by train, ferry, plane, bus or any other transport, if sea, weather, mountains or the like come between me and my desire to ride.
I have tried to summarise information that could be potentially helpful also for other bicycle travellers through Japan, such as list of bicycle roads, helpful web pages etc. Once I start my ride, I will upload the actual routes taken, together with some pictures and description.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Packing List

Okay, now the fun part thinking about the routes is over and the boring part, thinking about what to bring starts...

As I don't plan ever to camp or to cook I can safely reduce the number of items to bring. I also have no idea how to repair a bicycle, so I wont bring a tool kit, just two new tubes and a tire, so that a bicycle repair shop can fit them on the bicycle. I realise this sounds totally stupid, but as I can't repair a bicycle, what should I be doing with a repair kit or tools? Essentially if the bike breaks down, I need to call a taxi (or walk to the next bus/train stop) and then on to the next city/town with a bicycle shop. Good thing, in Japan there are a lot of bicycle shops. Bad thing, not so many sell Bromptons and while the front wheel apparently is changed like for any other bike, the back wheel isn't, or so I was told by my local Brompton dealer. So right now, I am going to take the risk. I also don't really plan to cycle in very remote areas. And quite often there is a train line not too far, as I am mainly going to cycle in flat landscapes.

For packing I checked the following pages, which however are for touring including camping & cooking:

I plan to only bring my T-bag plus the small bag at the saddle for the bike cover. 

So here my personal packing list (including a few changes after the first six days):

On the woman (summer & early autumn configuration) : 
  • inner bicycle trouser with padding
  • bra
  • T-shirt
    • Some extra money & 1 credit card & 1 ATM card (e.g. in a money bag)
  • skirt (or the short trousers in the list below)
    • For the very last part of my trip, Kyushu, I also added one pair of jeans. Which came in handy, as it got quite cold (coldest around 6 C) at end of November.
  • helmet
  • sandals
  • half-gloves

Clothes (for summer and autumn in Japan):
  • 3 pairs of underwear
  • 1 tank top
  • 1 bra
  • 2 tights
  • 1 pair of socks → Added a second pair of socks from Day 38
  • 1 T-shirt
  • 1 no sleeves shirt
  • 1 short trousers
  • 2 long sleeved cardigans
  • 1 fleece jacket
  • bicycle shoes (as long as it is warm enough, I will ride in sandals, but when it gets colder, closed shoes will be needed, I guess)
  • Rain wear: 
    • rain trousers
    • rain jacket
    • helmet cover
    • rain cover for shoes
    • rain cover for T-bag

Personal items
  • Lightweight handbag
    • Keys
    • Money& purse & the like
      • 2 -3 credit cards
      • 2 ATM cards
      • residence card
      • driving license
      • student card
      • health insurance card
      • ANA mileage card
      • JAL mileage card
      • PASMO card
    • handheld fan
    • pen with iPhone tip writer
    • handkerchiefs
    • emergency contact details

  • Handkerchiefs 
  • Suncream
  • Insect repellent 
  • Nail file
  • Foldable hairbrush with mirror
  • Q-tips
  • Cloth line and clamps →  From Day 38 cloth line removed, clamps only
  • Eye mask
  • Extreme light weight towel 
    • okay, I know, a lot of my other stuff isn't specially light weight at all. But I didn't have a small towel anyway so needed to buy one if I didn't want to bring just a totally normal towel. So at that point I thought I could go for the 42 g M sized towel
  • Medicines
    • Frenadol
    • Asprin
    • Ibuprofen
    • Labello
    • Kamilosan
    • Baby powder
    • Pulmoll
  • First aid kit
    • band-aids in different sizes
    • medical tape
    • blister bandages
    • disinfectant
    • sterile cotton
    • plastic gloves
  • Emergency foil cover
Now, you will miss such obvious stuff as soap, toothpaste and toothbrush here, but I just think that the hotels, ryokans, minshuku's where I will stay will provide those. If not, a toothbrush & toothpaste shouldn't be hard to come by. 

Accessories & Miscellaneous
  • Swiss knife
  • Small bell (probably more as a memory of past travels than really to ward of bears)
  • Bike chain lock
  • Leg reflector
  • Sitting cushion
  • →  Small umbrella from Day 30 onwards

  • iPad 
  • iPad keyboard
  • → From Day 7 instead I brought a small computer 
  • iPhone
  • → Waterproof case added from Day 38 onwards
  • iPhone lens set → removed from Day 38 onwards
  • Garmin
  • replacement Garmin holder
  • bicycle light
  • quick charger (can be used with all the above)
  • 1 USB plug with two USB slots 
  • 2 iPhone cables
  • 3 other cables (for Garmin etc)
    • Maybe these are too many cables... specially if I only bring one USB plug with two slots... So essentially 1 iPhone and 1 other cable should be all I need as I can't use more with 1 USB plug only... Unless obviously I use to charge two items from the quick charger and simultaneously 2 other items from the plug. At which point 4 cables would be enough... Well I think I will try with all cables initially and see if they all fit in.
  • bank pin device
  • 4 spare batteries for rear light

Bicycle stuff 
  • 2 replacement tubes
  • 1 replacement tire
  • lube

Here we are off to test packing. This is how it looks now:

... obviously the small piece of furniture and the stapler is NOT coming along.

Hopefully this will all fit into the T-bag... 

Here we go:
  • socks and tights in the left shoe, spare tubes in the right shoe
  • iPad in double zip lock --> from Day 7 onwards I used instead a small laptop, as on the iPad Garmin Connect does not work very well, nor does blogger.
  • Electrical supplies (in the inner zip locked compartment of the T-bag)

  • Assorted toiletries
  • First Aid kit & bag rain cover (after some tests I saw that it should go in the big bag rather than  the small side bag, because otherwise it is really difficult to get the handbag out)
  • Handbag (in the outer part of the rear right hand side outer bag)

  • Lube
  • Rainwear (in a compression bag)

  • Clothes (in a compression bag)

  • Fleece jacket (in a compression bag)

  • Isolated sitting cushion (probably unnecessary... but what else to put in the outer open front bag?)

Well, it all fitted in and it does not even seem to be too crowded. Both side bags are still empty (I plan to put some "emergency food" there and the bottle bag is also empty, where I plan to put the bike chain and a bottle of water/drink. The only piece of equipment that does not yet have good place is the replacement tyre. I don't think that just strapping it on top of the bag is really a good idea (it would be impractical if it rains and I want to cover the bag and I think even during riding it will probably slide over and just be a nuisance). So I will need to make some tests where to best append it. Currently I am thinking of maybe below the saddle... but that might be also uncomfortable if one hits against it with each turn... But there will be solutions to it.

So currently that's what the bag looks like:

In this configuration it weights 9.7 kg!

Here a review of what I used in the first part of my travel (and what I did NOT use). 

Post ride note: 
In summary my packing was perfect. There were very few things I never used (e.g. first aid kit, spare tire and tubes). All the rest I practically used on a daily basis. 
The one big disappointment was the rain wear. I only had two rain rides (Day 19 and Day 34) , but both times I got really SOAKED nonetheless I was wearing my full rain attire. I guess that the quality wasn't up to Japanese rain. I wouldn't say however that it was a specially bad rain. Just normal, persisting rain. 
The compression bags were also a really good idea. They kept everything nicely in order, packed in plastic so I didn't need to worry even on the rainy days. 
The red small handbag was also very comfortable. Normally (well, actually nearly always), when I parked somewhere during the day, I left the T-bag on the bicycle and just brought the handbag with me, with my money and smartphone. Everything else, including computer, clothes etc. just stayed on the bike in the bags. This is Japan after all. 

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