By Ashley Haley
Ever considered skipping your dependence on congested public transport on a beautiful sunny day? If so, touring Japan’s beautiful countryside on a motorbike is a great alternative for catching some fantastic scenery that is hard to otherwise see.
One summer Sunday morning my husband and I set out to rent a motorbike and explore Chiba’s Bōsō Peninsula for the first time. We headed for the Odaiba branch of Rental 819 Kizuki, a motorcycle rental company that has a large selection of bikes from 125cc all the way up to 1800cc.
Rental 819 (“8-1-9” can be read as “ba-i-ku” or “bike” in Japanese) has about 97 shops across the country, which allows for great convenience and flexibility with regards to pick-up locations and types of vehicles. If there is a particular model you like, it is best to make a reservation ahead of time (online, via e-mail or by telephone), as they store about 200 bikes at an offsite central depot. We were thrilled to get our hands on a 2007 revival edition of Honda`s CB750, which has a unique history going back to the early 70’s. Being the first modern four-cylinder machine from a mainstream manufacturer, it is known to be the first “superbike”. (Check out Rental 819’s Japanese website for even more details and pictures of the different models than are contained on the English version.) Picking up a motorbike without a reservation is possible, and necessary accessories such as jackets, gloves, helmets etc. are available for rent at all branches.
Importantly for those of us without fluency in Japanese, Rental 819 can handle English inquiries via email, and there is detailed information on the rental process, required documents and insurance fees clearly described on the English website. A version of the rental agreement is also available in English. Renters cannot be younger than 20 years, and in the case of a first time rental with the company, be sure to bring a credit card. It is a good idea to bring a Japanese speaking friend with you if you don’t speak the language, although the company does offer English support if notified ahead of time.
Overall, the renting process was short and uncomplicated. We arrived 15-20 minutes prior to pick-up time to organize the necessary paperwork. The staff were very friendly and helpful to our requests and we even got caught up in a little tour of the different motorbikes available for rent (or even purchase). After copies were made of our IDs and the rental agreement was signed, we were ready to go!
Touring through Chiba’s Bōsō landscape was a relaxed and wonderful experience with green oozing everywhere! The landscape looked designed like the many golf courses in the area: well-manicured with squares of green rice fields, walls of cone-shaped trees, bamboo forests, small winding hilly roads, and here and there patches of blue and grey-tiled traditional Japanese houses. Bōsō is not very well explored yet by travelers, which is a huge plus for us. If you enjoy nature and are not in a hurry to get to a particular destination, Bōsō is certainly worth the trip.
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