taro on his bike travel

4 Years, 38 Countries, 1 Man and His Bike

Friends and Family Across the World

Since we started our full-time travels, we’ve met so many amazing people. On our first day in Beijing, we made an instant friend – yes we’re talking about you Emily – and since then we’ve acquired a travel family, the Wagoners, a Thai family through Airbnb, a Taiwanese-Serbian family through couchsurfing and made friends and connections, across the world.  While we are still in contact with many, some people we met were just fleeting interactions that left long-term impressions on us, like the loud, friendly American from Long Island we met at a Thai restaurant in Chiang Mai who told us his life story, or some of the Airbnb and couchsurfing hosts we stayed with, who took time to talk about their life and travels. It’s crazy how many connections you meet, how many lives touch yours and how small this world really becomes when you travel. We’ve consistently run into people from a variety of walks of life, doing all manner of things, and we’ve been continually in awe of how many incredible stories there are.

Recently, we met Taro in Fukuoka, Japan. He was helping host the Airbnb rental where we were staying and when we met up at the restaurant where he works to pick up the key, we took time to chat with him and hear one absolutely inspiring travel story.

Meet Taro:

taro

Now 31 years old, Taro has only recently returned from 4 years of travel… on a bicycle. If you’re not as astonished as we were, we’d be very surprised. He said that more than 90% of his travel from Japan to England, and back again, was via his bicycle, with only a few flights in between when absolutely necessary! Born and raised in Osaka, Japan, Taro was working as a store manager for several years at a popular CD, DVD and comic store. He had travelled to several countries prior, including Mexico, the US, Cuba, Vietnam and Taiwan, where his love of travel thrived and grew.

We felt a kinship with Taro. Here was someone who also loves to visit new countries and really get to know the culture and people. We could tell, just by listening to him share his stories, and his videos – which you can watch on Taro’s YouTube channel – how happy travel makes him and how much he looks forward to his next adventure.

taro cave

We wanted to share his travel story with you and decided to ask him a few questions about his decision to leave, and his journey back to Japan:

Q: Why did you decide to travel? How did you do it?

A: Just out of curiosity. I just wondered if I could do it by bike or not, so I saved money and left.

Q: What was the route you took, did you map the way you went?

A: The route I took:

Started from Hongkong-China-Kyrgyzstan-Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan-

Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey-Greece-Italy-France-Spain-Morocco-

Spain-Portugal-UK-Ireland-UK-Denmark-Sweden-Finland-

Poland-Czech-Slovakia-Hungary-Serbia-Bulgaria-Turkey-Georgia-

Armenia-Iran-Dubai-India(by air)-Nepal-Thailand(by air)-Myanmar-

Thailand-Laos-Thailand-Cambodia-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore-

Taiwan(by air)-Okinawa-Japan (3weeks cycling to my home)

taro sunset bicycle

Q: Why on a bicycle?

A: I wanted to travel a path, not point to point. The slower the speed, the more we can see the things we don’t notice when moving at a high speed. The same can be said about our lives in general.

Q: What did you take with you?

A: Too much… 40kg of luggage plus a 20kg bike. The luggage included a tent, sleeping bag, mat, cooking stove, bike repair tools, GPS, clothes, spare bike parts, emergency food, etc.

Taro Bicycle travel

Q: What was the hardest part of your travels?

A: The hardest part was when I was in Kyrgyzstan.  Even with everything I brought, I didn’t have enough stuff to protect me from the freezing cold when I experienced terrible strong winds and hail at the top of the pass.

taro winter camping

Q: How long did you plan to travel? How long were you gone for?

A: I was planning to travel like that for 2-3 years, but for some reason (mostly laziness), I prolonged it. Sometimes I felt like stopping for a while at one place. I didn’t want go out, not even from the bed of my guesthouse. In total, I travelled for 4 years.

Q: What was your most memorable experience? 

A: In Nepal. I tried to climb up to the highest pass (altitude of 5416m) with my bike. I took a difficult route to get to the top, and gave up near 5100m. I’ll never forget the colour of the sky above 5000m altitude.

taro climbing the pass

Q: What is your favourite place that you travelled?

A: Nepal. Everything is perfect for me – the people, food, prices and landscape.

Q: Why did you go back home to Japan?

A: Simply, I spent all my money. I also felt like doing something new. Maybe i’ll go on a different style trip or for business. Right now, I’m working out the details.

taro campsite

Q: Where do you want to go next?

A: Bhutan, Mongolia, the Kamchatka peninsula and New Zealand.

Q: What did you learn through your travels?

A: My own strengths and weaknesses as well as to value and fear nature and humans.

taro amazing view

 

Q: What advice do you have for others who want to travel as you did?

A:

  • Just endure the first couple of weeks, you’ll get used to the circumstances.
  • Don’t try to do ridiculous things.
  • Prepare yourself for the hard times.
  • Also, humans are the most frightening aspects of travel, so don’t compromise when you choose the place to pitch a tent.

Q: What’s your best travel tip?

A: Do the same as the locals do.

 

Taro’s story is a unique one. It’s not everyday you run into someone who has travelled for four years, mainly via a bicycle and sleeping in a tent. Comment below and let us know if you would do something like this.

Don’t forget to check out Taro’s YouTube videos of his amazing journey: Taro’s YouTube channel

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26 replies
  1. Ryan Biddulph
    Ryan Biddulph says:

    Taro is an inspiring dude! I am so freaking inspired by folks who push themselves to the limit, then go above and beyond that. Ditto on Nepal. Although I didn’t have his same perspective, wow did I love the country, the people and the culture. We stuck around Kathmandu mainly; what a fab land. Prayers to them now of course as they need it. Thanks for sharing guys!

    Ryan

    Reply
    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      He is definitely an inspiration and that’s why we couldn’t help but share his story! We hear so many people say the same things you do about Nepal. We are definitely keeping them in our thoughts at this time and hopefully, one day, we’ll be able to visit.

      Reply
  2. Shawn
    Shawn says:

    4 years is a long time to travel. The endurance to hold on and keep going is amazing feat. I have spent a summer traveling on a bike but I couldn’t imagine doing it for as long or even in some of those remote locations. (at least not with a bike!)

    Reply
  3. Karl
    Karl says:

    Guys I am taking my young family to JAPAN for a 2 week trip soon, so I’ll have a look at your video. In regards to the guy on the bike, WOW! Wow wow. Good on him… And yes, NEPAL & it’s people is amazing. Especially on a bike…

    Reply
  4. Orana
    Orana says:

    What an experience! (for taro) and what a great person for you to have met. 4 years is so long to travel solo! He must have the most amazing stories to tell.

    Reply
  5. anna
    anna says:

    Awesome!! I love hearing about people who push themselves to pursue what they want even if it is outside social norms!4 years! So impressive. Thanks for sharing this.

    Reply
  6. Veronika Tomanova
    Veronika Tomanova says:

    What an inspiring story! I think Taro is really brave – I would personally never cycle to places like Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan. I have ida about the beautiful landscape they have there, but still I don’t feel like I know enough about the local people to trust them. What if your bike is broken? Or there is storm? Doing this is pure heroism. Good luck for upcoming adventures!

    Reply
    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      He definitely went through some interesting countries most people would pause to travel to, let alone bike through! He’s got quite a few stories of pitching his tent in a storm or the cold, or fixing his bike with his kit he brought along – very self-sufficient but yes, scary all the same!

      Reply
  7. Tim Kroeger
    Tim Kroeger says:

    What a great and inspiring adventure. I am also thinking about a longer bike trip, maybe from germany to bangkok and stories like this definitely motivate me to do it one day 🙂

    Reply
  8. Team g Square
    Team g Square says:

    Thanks for bringing such a wonderful story. Taro is definitely an inspiration. It’s even difficult to imagine that someone is travelling in cycle for last 4 continuous years.May he be successful in all his future endeavours

    Reply

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