CycleKyoto HP LInk

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fushimi Inari by Bike

Torii Gates at Fushimi Inari Kyoto自転車で伏見稲荷へ

Kyoto's Fushimi Inari is the top Inari shrine in Japan. Top out of some 32,000 inari shrines.

They are devoted to business, and as such are packed on New Year's Day.

We visited a few days prior to Christmas, and just about had the place to ourselves.

The famed gates - all 1300 of them - are normally clogged with tourists. Not last week.

The ride from the center of town takes about 30 minutes and is flat. The final stretch is on a narrow road, but nothing out of the ordinary for Kyoto.


Fushimi Inari Shrine
68 Fukakusa Yabu-no-uchi-cho, Kyoto

Entrance Fee: Free


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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Kyoto City Hall by Bike

Kyoto City Hall

Kyoto City Hall is a looming presence on Oike Dori, just north of downtown.

The building is not especially attractive. It was designed by Goiichi Murata and completed in 1927.

Other than location - a subway runs under it, the Kamo River is close, and shops and bars are nearby - what draws crowds are flea markets held in the plaza in front of the main building.

On the day we rode by, a large crowd was enjoying a sunny December day and perusing the used goods.


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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cycling Tenryuji Temple Kyoto

Wall near Tenryuji自転車で天龍寺へ

Cycling in Arashiyama offers so many sites and places to see - and some serious obstacles - that choosing a route is key.

Above all, stay off the main drag as much as possible. The street that runs from roughly the JR tracks down to the Katsura River at Togetsukyo Bridge is packed, year round, with tourists and those catering to their whims.

Except when crossing the bridge, it is best to stay off.

Once away, though, the fun starts. Even Tenryuji Temple, a World Heritage site located on the main drag that is very popular, can be approached from side streets which are pedestrian and cyclist friendly.

If you are coming from the Hankyu Railways side, cross the Togetsukyo Bridge, turn left at the first street. After you pass Kitcho - a three-star Michelin restaurant - and a few other fabulous buildings head north into the neighborhood that borders the temple.

Get lost. Find the statuary in front of a temple wall. Keep pedaling. Go into an old antique shop. Find the temple.


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Friday, December 24, 2010

Bicycle Sign Kawaramachi Kyoto

Bike restrictions Kyoto自転車乗らんと押してね

Not far from Shijo Kawaramachi, in downtown Kyoto, we found this fantastic sticker.

Don't ride, walk it!

Below the image of the cyclist duly walking his rod are the details:

Between Bukkoji and Oike, cycling is prohibited on the street from 8 am until 10pm. On the sidewalks, it is always 100% completely verboten.


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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Kitayama Canal Kyoto


A bit east of the center of Takaragaike in Kitayama - the area where the subway exits and botanical gardens are - is a wonderful streetscape.

Until the subway was extended to Kitayama in the 1980s, it was mainly rural area in the north of Kyoto.

Now it is a chic area with the city's concert orchestra hall and many large homes.

However, prior to the arrival of the newly monied, there were older homes that were built in the 19th century. Most of them hug the base of the hills, and are wonderful farm houses set behind a moat and large wall.

The moat runs the length of the street, and thus passes in front of each home. All of the houses require a small bridge for cars and pedestrians and cyclists.


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Monday, December 20, 2010

Kyoto Delivery Bike Sagawa Kyubin

Sagawa Delivery bike京都佐川急便自転車

In recent years, delivery companies - including the post office - have returned to human-powered vehicles.

With its narrow streets and human scale, Kyoto is ideal for this type of business.

We found this brand spanking new silver bike with back u-haul device north of City Hall not far from the Manga Museum.

The driver very politely waited while we took a quick picture, and then told us how he prefers pedaling a bike to riding the old noisy scooters. "With the exception of high summer, it feels great," he said.


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Friday, December 17, 2010

Bike Festa Kyoto 2011 Models

bike festa kyoto

The bikes on display at the recent Bike Festa at Takaragaike did not disappoint.

High end Colnago, Shimano, Scott, and other models were out in great numbers.

Most were racers that were priced often one zero out of our price range.

Still, one can dream - and in the case of Bike Festa we got to ride a few of the bikes.

The model at top right was not available for test riding, but a fabulous looking machine.

The bike below left is for serious hikers and trail riders. With a few easy movements - demonstrated by a sales rep, the bike collapses into a short flat marvel of engineering that can carried on your back.

On the frame itself is a backpack that is used to strap the folded up bike onto your bike.

The award for most expensive bike went to a carbon frame Scott mountain bike retailing for 1.2 million yen ($13,000).

The seller - Koseki-san from Koseki Cycle near Kitano Tenjin Shrine - encouraged us to lift it up. At just 7.1 kg, we were impressed, however briefly.


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Takaragaike cool bike

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Kyoto to Hiroshima by Bike


Milan Bannerje, 16-year-old Kyoto native, gets our Iron Man award.

This August, at the peak of high summer, he rode from his home near Kitayama 400 km to Hiroshima.

The basic details are noted below:

Duration: 4 days
Distance: 425 kilometers
Highest temperature during ride: 38.8°C
Lowest temperature during ride: 27°C
Average temperature (approx.): 35°C
Top speed achieved: 61kph (downhill into Hiroshima)

His grit and adventures are documented here and also in Japanese.


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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bikes Behind Daimaru Department Store Kyoto

Natural Bikes Kyoto京都大丸の裏にある自転車

Last Sunday while out on walkabout in downtown Kyoto, we came across a bunch of semi-funky bikes parked at the rear entrance of the Daimaru department store.

They were being sold by Natural Bikes, which is located on the Sanjo shopping arcade.

Not exactly our cup of tea, but interesting.


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Monday, December 13, 2010

Kyoto Transportation Safety Campaign


The Kyoto cops are on the warpath. From December 11 - 31, the men and women in blue are in campaign mode.

The "accident prevention campaign" has the cops out in force in an attempt at preventing accidents.

The campaign even has a poetic catchphrase:

「あわてんと ゆっくり越しましょ 京の暮」

Don't get wound up, take it slow and easy, Kyoto nightfall (the original sounds better)

The campaign is aimed at cars and bicycles.


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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cycling Restrictions Downtown Kyoto


The cops and their minions are cracking down in a "bike safety campaign."

Lately, from evening rush hour until early in the night, cops are manning corners - especially near universities - and stopping cyclists.

The usual: light not on, riding on the wrong side of the road, and checking to see if the rider actually owns the bike.

Also, at long last, the police and "bike cops" - men and women in blue official looking uniforms - are patrolling the main streets downtown.

As a reminder, Kyoto restricts cycling in the following areas:

Shijo Karasuma - Shijo Higashi Oji (Yasaka Shrine)
Shijo Kawaramachi (Takashimaya) - Kawaramachi Oike (City Hall)

These restrictions are in effect from 8 am until 10 pm.

Note: these restrictions are for the street itself, not just sidewalks (which are of course a no go area).

In addition, some of the streets between Kawaramachi and Karasuma downtown - for example, the Sanjo Mall, Teramachi, and other nearby streets - are designated pedestrian areas. That means from 8 am until 10 pm, no cycling.

The above are areas to be avoided if for no other reason than: many cars, many people, no joy.


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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Shirakumo Inari Shrine Kyoto

fall colors kyoto shrine自転車で白雲稲荷神社へ

On a ride in Kitayama, we came across a small beautiful shrine nestled in the hills east of Takaragaike park.

The steps up to Shirakumo Inari Shrine were framed by maple trees ablaze in fall colors, and, on the right rear, cedar trees.

After a day at the Bike Festa - test riding 2011 bikes and checking out a lot of cool stuff we don't really need but very much wanted - the shrine was the perfect stop before a ride back towards Ninnaji Temple and home.

The shrine is below the 法 (ho) symbol carved into the hills above. This symbol is one of the giant kanji that are set ablaze every August during the Bon holidays to help guide the spirits of the departed back to the other side.


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Monday, December 6, 2010

Cycling to Myoshinji Temple

Myoshinji Temple自転車で妙心寺へ

Kyoto's Myoshinji Temple is a sprawling complex in western Kyoto that dates to the 14th century.

Its Myoshinji school of Zen Buddhism is the largest within the Rinzai sect. Within the walls of Myoshinji are 47 sub-temples. It is literally a city within a city.

What is so special about Myoshinji though is that it is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and - except for special events in certain sub-temples - is free.

You will not find the crowds that throng the Golden Pavilion or Kiyomizu Temple, or even Daitokuji, another zen temple. High school and college students ride their bikes through on their way to school. Local people walk their dogs.

Unlike heavily touristed sites, it has a laid back vibe.


64 Myoshinji-cho, Hanazono, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto


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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Kyoto Cycle Festa in Takaragaike

京都サイクルフェスター in 宝ケ池

Mark your calendar.

Actually, just go: tomorrow is the annual "Kyoto Cycle Festa in Takaragaike" (link in Japanese).

Cycle Festa will take place in north Kyoto, in the park called Takaragaike, which is a short ride from Kitayama.

The highlight for us at CycleKyoto will be the opportunity to test ride 2011 bike models. All the big name makers will be there -  along with stacks of their new bikes.

All the major stores in town will be on hand, including Vigore.


Date: December 5
Hours: 9:45 am - 3 pm
Location: Takaragaike (subway Karasuma Line)
Free Admisssion


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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ninja House Kyoto


Just a short ride south of Nijo Castle is Kyoto's famed Ninja House.

It is more formerly known as Nijo Jinya but it is for all intents and purposes the Ninja house.

The house has been continually owned by the Ogawa family since it was built, in the 1660s.

It is now being renovated, and will reopen in 2011.

The building was used as an encampment for visiting feudal lords, and thus has escape routes and other special design features.


Nijo Jinya
due south of Nijo Castle on Omiya Dori
075 841 0972

Entrance Fee: 1,000 yen for adults, 800 yen for high school students


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