Green Okinawa (5) Cycling in Okinawa

Thank you OISTers for your fabulous tips on cycling to campus. We have put together your insights and recommendations for those considering commuting to OIST on two wheels. All your responses are anonymous. Please find them below.

We also spoke with the owner of Cycle Plaza Ikehara. It is the closest bicycle shop to OIST campus, located in Ishikawa, Uruma city(see link)1-2. Here you can buy new and used bikes, as well as a range of kit from bike racks to shild seats (although they don't stock bikes for kids). Cycle Plaza Ikehara also offers maintenance and repair services and buys used bicycles if they are in good condition.

Mr Ikehara recommends electric assisted bikes to deal with the physically demanding slopes and climate in Okinawa. He owns one himself and used to ride it take his two daughters to day care! Read the full interview with Mr Ikehara here.

1. Where do you cycle to OIST from?

Onna, Ishikawa, Yomitan and Rycom, Kitanakagusuku.


2. Approximately how long does it take?


Onna Between 10 - 45 minutes (5 minutes from Seaside House)
Ishikawa Between 25 - 50 minutes
Yomitan Between 35 - 90 minutes
Rycom, Kitanakagusuku Approximately 50 minutes


3. Would you say the route is easy, moderate or challenging?

From Easy Moderate Challenging
Onna 4 8 0
Ishikawa 0 5 1
Yomitan 0 3 2
Rycom, Kitanakagusuku 0 1 0


4. Would you say the route is safe to do with a child in a child seat?

From Yes No
Onna 9 3
Ishikawa 2 3
Yomitan 2 3
Rycom, Kitanakagusuku 0 1


5. Any other comments?

Cycling in Okinawan weather

Many survey responders shared tips on how to manage the Okinawan weather on a bike.

  • High temperatures in the summer, high levels of humidity, heavy rain and strong winds make cycling on a daily basis all year round challenging.
  • Cycling in the summer and during the rainy season is possible but not as pleasant as cycling during the cooler winter.
  • In the summer, it gets hot after ~7:30am. Remember to drink regularly when cycling in the summer.
  • Rainy days are very rainy, be prepared with waterproof bags.
  • It’s good to have at hand waterproof clothes and waterproof backpack or bike bag.
  • Avoid carrying a heavy load whilst commuting by bike.
  • Even outside of typhoon season there are sometimes strong winds that will slow you down, so plan some extra time for your commute especially if you have a meeting to attend.
  • Remember - biking is very pleasing when the weather is nice!
  • Be sure to stay hydrated if cycling in the middle of a hot, sunny day!


Traffic and routes


  • Make sure to wear a helmet.
  • There can be many trucks on the road.
  • Cycling generally feels safe but it’s good to stay to the left and always check your lane when passing a parked car.
  • Right turns are safer using the pedestrian crossing, especially when there is lots of traffic.


From Onna

  • From Tiger Beach to OIST, you can use the pedestrian sidewalk the whole way (both the 58 and the 58 bypass). Note that pedestrians have priority over bikes.
  • The 58 sidewalk is a bumpy in places, but the sidewalk along the 58 bypass is really smooth and has fewer and often no pedestrians.
  • Along route 58, after Onna no Eki, you can switch to the road by the beach for the lovely views. It also has less steep climbs and downhills.
  • Most of the 58 (both town roads and the bypass) has enough space for bicycles to be on the sidewalk.


From Ishikawa

  • You can commute approximately half of the way using the pedestrian sidewalk, and the other half on the road.
  • In general, cars are normally slow and drivers take care of cyclists but some cars pass you way too close on larger roads like 329.
  • For commuting from Ishikawa, use the small roads over the fields, those are pretty safe for riding with a child seat.
  • From Ishikawa, I use the path through the farmlands that Google Maps recommends. The only traffic lights I see are Ishikawa Interchange and OIST driveway intersection on 58. There's sidewalk all the way on 58 that's wide enough for bikes to share with pedestrians.
  • Some pedestrian paths are rocky and sometimes blocked by plants, grasses and trees.


The OIST driveway

A number of OISTers commented on the joy of cycling down the slope of the OIST drive after a hard day's work. And the effort to surmount it in the morning! 

  • When you first begin to commute to OIST by bicycle is the final hill is very challenging, no reason to lie about it, but you get used to it, so don't be discouraged!
  • A 24+ gear bicycle will also make your life much easier.
  • Okinawa has a lot of hills, so I recommend an electric assisted bike unless you want to train yourself for bike race.


Showers at OIST

The showers at OIST are great for cycling commuters. They are located on Level B, Lab1; Level B, Lab2; Level C, Lab3; Level D, Lab4; Level E, Lab4; Level F, Lab4; and in the Gym if you have access to it. One tip is to give yourself time to shower and a bit of time for a cooldown once you get to OIST in the morning.


Bike storage at OIST

There are places to lock your bike all over campus, including in the multi-storey carpark which has bicycle parking on the CDC side. See the map here


Cycling after dark

  • Some roads are not well lit at night, so make sure to have good front and back lights or avoid community by bike when it's dark. .
  • Wearing hi-visibility clothing and using lights is important at night.


Mitigating rust

  • Bicycles can easily get rusty because of the salty water contained in strong winds blowing from the sea.
  • Keep your bike inside if possible or use a cover.
  • Routine maintenance and indoor bike care are essential near the coast because of salt buildup from the sea spray, which can cause rust very quickly.
  • Keep your bike indoors and keep your chain nicely oiled.


Bicycle shops and repair shops

  • Taira Cycle in Chatan 3-4. They also sell bicycle seats for children. 
  • Sunset bikes in Chatan is a great place for tune ups 5-6.
  • Tabata also has a growing selecting of bike accessories.


For a small fee you can register your bike at your local police station.


Note, we will keep the survey open until the end of May, 2020 and update this post with more information.  Share your own tips/comments on cycling using the survey

Read previous Green Okinawa tips here:

This Green Okinawa post was developed in collaboration between Yoshimasa Nakamura (OIST Resource Center) and Kate Whitfield


  1. Cycle Plaza Ikehara website
  2. Cycle Plaza Ikehara location
  3. Taira Cycle website
  4. Taira Cycle location
  5. Sunset bikes website
  6. Sunset bikes location


Photo credit:

Tips/comments shared by the OIST community members

Name: Anonymous

eBikes purchased within Japan are limited to 250 watts, and pedal assist
stops above 24 km/h. ebike-okinawa in Naha had a good selection, and can
If possible to suggest for OIST facilities: additional lockers and a
sheltered bike rack near the labs would be helpful. Unfortunately the garage
is the only sheltered place.


Name: Anonymous

OIST has showers and lockers in Lab 2 Level B.
Sunshine bikes is a good bike shop in Chatan Mihama on 58. Repairs and new bikes and stuff.
Beware of new Y plate drivers who drive too close to the left of the lane, and cut in too close when they pass. Otherwise Okinawa is one of the safest places inn the world to ride on the road.
It is illegal to ride two abreast in Japan.
Lycra cycling clothes are far and away the coolest when it's hot and humid.
Bananas are over rated as cycling food but better than sponge cake.

Are there any topics you want Green Okinawa to cover in future?

Please give the topics you want us to cover
how to grow your own fruit and vegetables by renting a community farm plot, etc.