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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Japanese Shimekazari New Year Decoration

Japanese New Year Decoration七五三飾り

At the end of December, Japanese decoreat their front door with a "shime kazari."

This is a knitted rope made from rice straw with strips of folded white paper ("shide") that zigzag across the straw.

They are similar to shimenawa, which can be found at Shinto shrines. Their purpose to inform supplicants and other visitors that s/he is now entering a sacred space, and moreover to chase away the evil spirits. According to an old neighbor, the shimakezari serves the same purpose.

The decorations come in many sizes and price ranges. Most opt for a simple decoration, similar to the one pictured above.

And with that, CycleKyoto wishes all a happy, healthy, and sacred year of the dragon.


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Friday, December 30, 2011

Murakami Sweets Teramachi Kyoto

Murakami Bakery Teramachi村上開新堂京都

Founded in 1904, Murakami is a cookie and sweets institution in Kyoto.

The shop is located on Teramachi north of Nijo Dori, which is between City Hall and the Imperial Palace.

It is the oldest western style pastry maker in Kyoto.

The shop has a pre-War vibe and is a real step back in time. The floor is made of tiles, and the cookies are kept in old-time glass jars.

Murakami is a known for its "Russian Cookies." Many of the cookies bring to mind the buttery cookies grandmom made: melt in your mouth delicious and topped with raisins, chocolate, and other items.

Much of Teramachi is lined with interesting shops: used book shops, restaurants, bamboo goods, a wonderful liquor store, the city's pellet shop (for heating), clothing shops.


Open 10 am - 18 pm
Closed holidays and the third Monday of the month
075 231 1058

Murakami Bakery Teramachi Kyoto©

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Window Decoration Near Shimogamo Shrine Kyoto

Kyoto window decoration下鴨神社近くの窓飾り

Close to the south entrance of Shimogamo Shrine is a block of opulent homes that back onto the Takano River just before it flows into the Kamo River.

Within one of them was a window that had been filled with a table, screen, and vase in which there was a bright red floral decoration.

Several of the houses in the neighborhood has similar, purpose-built windows that faced the street. These are common in older homes in central Kyoto, in which there are flowers or byobu screens or something decorative for the benefit of those walking by.

On a cold gray day, the lighting and red were a welcome sight.

The torii gates below announce that you are entering sacred ground, the shrine itself.

For those interested in cycling there, from the Eiden Demachiyanagi train station, ride west across the bridge. At the first street on the right, turn right (north).

Near Shimogamo Shrine©

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Demachiyanagi Kyoto Shrine

Kyoto Shrine Demachiyanagi出町柳神社

A stone's throw from the Kamo River on the Imperial Palace side is this small shrine.

It does not appear on Google maps and is but a small neighborhood shrine.

The plain cement torii gate, two lanterns, simple garden within - and requisite bike parked out front - give it a certain charm.

It sits next to a garden shop, in front of which vegetables and herbs were lined up for perusal.

The garden shop has the heady smell of soil, fertilizer, bulbs, and tools.

It fronts the west bank of the Kamo River, just north of the Demachiyanagi Bridge.


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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cycling Under the Japanese Bullet Train Video Kyoto


On a cold day, we rode down the bike path on the Katsura River, in Kyoto.

After a bit, the bridge for the  bullet train came upon us.

Fortuitously, the Intrada 80S/930 camera, attached to the helmet, was ready to roll.

This is along the Katsura River on the bike path about 5 km from Arashiyama.

More Kyoto cycling videos.


Cycling Under the Bullet Train Kyoto Route

If the map does not load when using Internet Explorer (IE) on a Windows PC, please hold down the "Control" key and refresh the page

View Cycling Under the Bullet Train Kyoto in a larger map


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Monday, December 26, 2011

Book Review Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities


Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities

Cyclist and writer Jeff Mapes rides and documents his way around the US with a detour to bike heaven: Holland.

Unlike Europe and Japan - where cycling has remained more practical than political - the act of cycling in many parts of the United States by an adult bicycle verges on being a political statement. In much of western Europe and certainly Japan

Mapes visits Amsterdam, Portland, Davis (California), San Francisco, New York, and other places and reports on the state of cycling and regional cycling cultures.

A good read with keen insight on the state of cycling, particularly in the US.

Buy on Amazon USA


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Sunday, December 25, 2011

This Week in World Cycling 25 December 2011

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2011年12月25日

Bicyclists may be inhaling twice as much soot as pedestrians Los Angeles Times

Sports Personality of the Year 2011: Mark Cavendish wins BBC award BBC

Save our cyclists with Dutch courage Guardian

Test of Metal set for 2012 edition Cycling News

Conseils de sécurité Vélo Québec

Señoras que... pedalean El Pais

塞舌尔 印度洋上的宁静交响 Caijing


Norway’s Hagen signs 3-year deal with Team Sky Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Museum Eki KYOTO Hokusai Exhibit

hokusai exhibit生誕250年記念展「北斎の富士 冨嶽三十六景と冨嶽百景」

The Kyoto Eki Bijutsukan, located on the 7th floor of the Kyoto Station Building, will be hosting an exhibit of works by Hokusai.

Hokusai is perhaps the preeminent ukiyoe painter. He lived from 1760 - 1849; the exhibit is a celebration of the 250th anniversary of his birth.

Hokusai lived to almost 90 and painted women, historical scenes, natural scenes, samurai, satirical works known as tanka, and more.

However, Hokusai is best known - both within Japan and abroad - for his depictions of Mount Fuji.

This exhibition will feature many of Hokusai's works, both the Fuji works and others.


The Museum Eki KYOTO is open from 10 am - 8 pm. The entrance fee is 700 yen for adults. The exhibit runs from January 2 - 22.


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Friday, December 23, 2011

Pontocho Kyoto

Pontocho Street Kyoto自転車で先斗町

Pontocho is one of Kyoto's licensed geisha areas. Thus, along the narrow atmospheric street are tea houses where geisha and maiko perform and entertain.

Many other restaurants and bars also line the street, so it is thronged with people every night.

Cycling is not an option except in the very early hours of morning. Even then it is a bit dodgy: if someone were to come out of a shop just as a cyclist was passing, the ending would not be good. There is no room to avoid a collision.

Hence, this street is a park-and-walk place. There is a lot on nearby Kiyamachi Dori.

Ponotcho runs north-south and is a tight alley that lies between the Kamo River and Kiyamachi in central Kyoto.

The name is thought to derive from the Portuguese "ponto" (point) and Japanese "cho" (neighborhood). The flowers of the night - geisha and maiko - have been working in the tea houses here since the 16th century. In the distant past, prostitution also was common on the street. Today that is not the case.

At the northern end of the street is the Pontocho Kaburenjo (pictured below), a theater in which geisha have performed twice annually since the 1870s.

Pontocho Kaburencho Theater©

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bicycles Parked on Kawaramachi Kyoto

Kawaramachi Kyoto河原町で駐輪した自転車

On a stretch of Kawaramachi Dori, in central Kyoto, cycling is not permitted on the sidewalk or the street itself.

Cycling on the sidewalk would be an act of both masochism and sadism. Because of the high volume of pedestrian traffic, it is not possible to ride at speed or at all. Also, you would probably hit someone.

However, for those who come in off of Kiyamachi via a side street, there is parking along the railing on Kawaramachi.

The light pink paving hard by the railing indicates that bicycles are allowed to park.

This picture was taken in front of the BAL department store.


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Wednesday, December 21, 2011



One of the great areas for cycling in Kyoto is Arashiyama.

For more information, in Japanese (with a link to an English page), here is a page on riding from to Adashino nenbutsu Temple:

Arashiyama to Adashino Nenbutsu


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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Kobe Port Island Bicycles

Kobe Port Island神戸ポートイランド自転車

Port Island is a manmade island in the harbor of Kobe, Japan.

It is literally a world apart.

It is home to a large expatriate population, the elite Canadian Academy school, a German school, and many shopping malls and highrise apartments.

On a visit to the Kobe Fashion Museum, we kept an eye out for bike and cyclists.

Compared to other urban spaces in Japan, it was pretty bleak. Though the streets are wide and traffic relatively light, there were not many cyclists on the ride.


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Monday, December 19, 2011

Kyoto Hiking Ninnaji Temple 88 Temples Route

Kyoto 88 Temple Pilgrimage京都ハイキング八十八ケ所霊場

Surrounded by hills and mountains, Kyoto has many great hiking spots.

Among them is the short trail behind Ninnaji Temple, which is modeled on and named for Japan's most famous hiking trail: the 88 temple trek on Shikoku Island.

The trail in Shikoku consists of 88 temples, spaced around the island. It is the best-known pilgrimage route in Japan and takes roughly three months to walk. Many do so in white pilgrim's wear.

In Kyoto, a much shorter version exists in the hills behind Ninnaji.

It is called 88 Kasho, mirroring the name of the hike in Shikoku.

Even at a slow pace, it will take an hour at best. At the top, it affords views of the entire city.

To get to the trail head, walk out the rear exit of Ninnaji Temple. From there contnue up the narrow street into the woods. A small "temple" will come into view. There are a total of 88, and the trail can be hiked in either direction.


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Sunday, December 18, 2011

This Week in World Cycling 18 December 2011

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2011年12月18日

A Workout Where You’d Least Expect It New York Times

Top Manx cyclists join together to make training films BBC

Guardian Focus podcast: are Britain's roads safe for cyclists? Guardian

Cyclingnews Fitness Q&A - December 16, 2011 Cycling News

Circulation urbaine : le piéton ne pèse pas lourd Rue89

Pedalear a la danesa El Pais

房价因小吃而改变:沙县房价赶上厦门 Caijing

池袋 自転車 バイクで罰金は嫌だ!(自行车的罚款讨厌!)YouTube

4-year ban requested for Androni manager Savio Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Book Review: It's all about the bike


It's All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness On Two Wheels

This book should be on every cyclist's bedside table.

Robert Penn is a very serious bicycle traveler. He has put in some 25,000 miles on a bike. Now entering middle age, he is in search of the "perfect" bicycle - and documents it in It's All about the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels.

Penn seeks out the world's best craftsmen and parts to have a bespoke bicycle built for him.

"I want a bike that shows my appreciation of the tradition, lore and beauty of bicycles."

En route, he takes the reader on a trip through cycling history, beginning with the 1817 Draisine that is thought to be the first bicycle (Japanese historians beg to differ).

All About the Bike is a wonderful book, full of facts, quotes, information, and illustrations.

Buy on Amazon USA


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Friday, December 16, 2011

Osaka Cycle Tour March 18 2012

Cycle Mode International Osaka 2011大阪サイクルエベント

Kansai cyclists mark you calendars.

March 18 of next year will be a chance to ride either a 30 km course that leapfrogs three of the manmade islands in Osaka Bay.

The 30 km course is the "Sports Bike Course;" a second course, "general course," is 10 km.

The ride begins at Intex Osaka.

The fee for the 30 km course is a 7,000 yen, 1,000 yen for the 10 km course. Bring your wallet.

Registration is until December 16 (today). However, because of demand, there will be a lottery for those who have registered for the ride.

The course is normally off-limits to cyclists and, weather permitting, should be a great ride.

Osaka is a good city for cycling, and this event has become more and more popular.


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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tokyo Police Cracking Down on Cycling

shibuya, tokyo, street東京警察自転車対策

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police have announced measures intended to reduce the number of rogue cyclists.

The plan will introduce fines and other measures against dangerous cycling.

The plan will be implemented on January 1, 2012, and includes citations for those riding bicycles without brakes.

Moreover, cyclists who ride and use headphones and or a cell phone at the same time will be warned.


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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Kobe Japan Cosplay Girls


Two young girls preened in front of a camera that one controlled with a remote control. And many more were nearby.

Over the weekend a "cosplay" (costume play) convention was held at the Kobe Fashion Museum.

Many young women, and a few men, were decked out in outrageous costumes.

The young women above right were both holding boxes of Pocky chocolate sticks.

When asked about the connection between the chocolate sticks and their attire, one said "We are totally yummy, just like the chocolate sticks." And her friend nodded in agreement.

Then it was off to the Kobe Fashion Museum.


Kobe Fashion Museum
9, 2-chome, Koyocho-naka, Higashinada
Kobe 658-0032
Telephone: 078 858 0050

Hours: 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Admission Fee: 500 yen

Kobe Fashion Musuem©

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Kiyamachi Kyoto Red Bicycle

Kiyamachi Kyoto木屋町赤い自転車

We love this bike.

A sporty red Giant with upturned handlebar grips, it was parked on a bridge on Kiyamachi Dori.

Fall this year has been warm, so the leaves even in early December are just starting to change.

Strategically placed behind the bike - and not staged - is a floor mat from a nearby bar or restaurant.

The owner of the establishment has hung it out to air or dry before business hours start in the evening.

The bridge is just south of Sanjo Dori with the Takase Canal in the background.

Behind the bike and to the left, there is a modern building designed by Tadao Ando.


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Monday, December 12, 2011

Kyoto Public Bath Kyogokuyu

Kyogoku sento Kyoto京都銭湯京極湯

Kyoto's neighborhood public baths are not dead yet.

Indeed, compared to other Japanese cities, the humble public bath seems to be holding on in Kyoto.

This bath, off Senbon Dori in north central Kyoto, is an old place that is worth a visit.

Most of the bathers are regulars and of a certain age, so visitors may be in for a bit of Japanese language practice.


Open 3 pm - midnight; closed Mondays
From the corner of Senbon - Nakadatchiuri, walk or ride one block east on Nakadachiuri. At the first small street turn left (north). After a few small blocks it is on the right.
Fee: 410 yen


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Sunday, December 11, 2011

This Week in World Cycling 11 December 2011

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2011年12月11日

After a Son Is Killed, Facing a Police Runaround New York Times

Emma Pooley seeks higher profile for women's cycling BBC

How two wheels and a camera recreated Tron light ribbons Guardian

Hall goes solo on global cycling record attempt Cycling News

Boris, technicien Vélib pour 1357 euros net hors primes Rue89

Guerrilla Lane El Pais

刚果:木头自行车畅销 Caijing

BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz! (Now With Electronic Shifting!) Bike Snob

Top 10 Gifts for Cyclists Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, December 10, 2011

High School Boys Cycling in Kyoto

Students cycling Kyoto京都でチャリ乗っている高校生

The school day is over! Ah, the joys of youth.

A group of high school boys, clad in their "gakuran" - old style uniforms - pound their all purpose "mama chari" bikes home or to who knows where near Taishogun Shrine.

The bikes have no gears, a simple basket, and almost never break down.

They all flashed smiles at me when I took their picture.


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Friday, December 9, 2011

Taishogun Shrine Flea Market

Taishogun Shrine Musician大将軍神社の音楽家とフリーマーケット

The small shrine known as Taishogun in north central Kyoto holds periodic flea markets in its narrow complex.

It is close to Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, which holds a much better known flea market held on the 25th of every month.

Kitano Tenmangu's Tenjin-san; Kobo-san, the flea market held on the 21st of every month at Toji Shrine; and Hyakumanben are the Big Three of Kyoto flea markets.

However, small markets flourish.

Taishogun is one example, and worth a visit.

On the first Sunday of every month, from 9 am - 4 pm, a low-key flea market takes place. Sellers spread out tarps and place their goods on top.

Recently, musicians have been hired to entertain. The accordian-playing woman was friendly and talented.

Taishogun Shrine ©

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cycling Toei Uzumasa Movie Park


Toei Kyoto Studio Park is a theme park in western Kyoto city that opened in in 1975 following the closing several years before of what had been one of Japan's great film studios.

Following the Great Kanto Earthquake, in 1923, which destroyed much of Tokyo, the film industry fled to Kyoto. Kyoto became the Hollywood of Asia, where most of the great Japanese films of almost 50 years were shot, either on location or at the studios.

Many of those were "jidaigeki" (period or samurai dramas).

At Toei Kyoto Studio Park, visitors can watch filming of period dramas and television programs. The park is still a working film studio.

In addition, you can put on period costumes.

For children, there are many game and animation related attractions.


10 Uzumasa-Higashihachigaokacho
Ukyo-ku, Kyoto 616-8586

Hours: December 1 - 31, 9:30 - 16:00; January 1 - February 29, 9:30 - 16:00; March 1 - November 30, 9:00 - 17:00

Fee (in yen): 2200 adults; 1300 yen junior and senior high school students; 1100 yen for children 4 - 12


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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

CycleKyoto Partner Site GoodsFromJapan


CycleKyoto's partner site Goods From Japan has recently been updated with a new design just in time for Christmas present from Japan.

Popular gifts for Christmas are baseball caps, byobu, toy gyroscopes, and kendama.

Cycling goods from Japan are coming soon.


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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cycling Fushimi Canal Kyoto

Boat in Fushimi Canal伏見運河宇治川

Close to the Gekkeikan Museum and brewery, in Fushimi south Kyoto, is an elegant canal.

It snakes its way near several of the area's sake breweries.

In the past the canal was built so that boats carrying the sake to Kyoto, Uji, and Osaka, could sidle right up to the breweries.

Today it is possible to take a ride on canal.

The area has other sites as well, many of them related to Sakamoto Ryoma, a 19th-century revolutionary who was nearly assassinated at the nearbyTeradaya Inn.

Today the inn is a museum.


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Monday, December 5, 2011

efish Cafe Kyoto

efish cafe kyotoefishカフェ京都

On a ride through the old redlight area Gojo Rakuen, we cycled past efish cafe on Kiyamachi just south of Gojo Dori.

The cafe backs onto the Kamo River - and nearly fronts the Takase River (canal) on Kiyamachi.

There are tables out front, and elegant interior, and a very chic vibe.

Coffee, tea, sandwiches, and a lunch menu are available.

It is not a machiya cafe - towards which we are hopelessly biased - but it is fantastic modern space.


11:00 am till 10:00 pm.

TEL: 075 361 3069
FAX: 075 361 3004


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Sunday, December 4, 2011

This Week in World Cycling News 4 December 2011

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2011年12月04日

In the Fast Lane, Biking in Tel Aviv New York Times

Cyclists 'urged to get insurance' BBC

Cyclist Mark Cavendish collects MBE from Queen at Buckingham Palace Guardian

New Japanese Continental team created Cycling News

Sécher son linge, à vélo en Amérique du Sud ou en galère à la cité U Rue89

Ciclista urbano = delincuente El Pais

“自行车王国”迎来“强国机遇” Caijing

BSNYC Single Speed Quiz-Taking World Championships! Bike Snob

Ullrich doping verdict expected in January Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Kyoto Fushimi Alley

Alley Fushimi伏見の路地

According to rumor, Kyoto alleys are a dying breed.

The reason is that, once knocked down or redeveloped, they cannot be rebuilt in the same way due to revised fire codes.

On either side of this alley are small flats, probably inhabited by one person.

In the past many of these alleys - known in Japanese as "roji" - dotted the cityscape of Kyoto.

Outside of areas such as Nishijin and Fushimi, there are fewer and fewer of them.

Nearby was a classic public bath, also in danger of extinction.

Enjoy while you can.

Public Bath Fushimi Kyoto©

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Teradaya Inn Fushimi Kyoto

Teradaya Inn Kyoto寺田屋京都

Sakamoto Ryoma is perhaps the most worshiped man in Japan today.

And he has been dead for more than 150 years.

He was born a low-ranking samurai in rural Kochi Prefecture in southern Japan. In his short life - he lived until his early thirties - however, he left quite a legacy.

Prior to being assassinated in central Kyoto on his thirty-third birthday, in December 1867, he organized a band of warriors and attempted to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate.

In March of the same year, assailants attacked and nearly killed Ryoma at the Teradaya Inn, in Fushimi, Kyoto.

As the site of the actual assassination - the Omiya Inn - no longer survives (a convenience store is at the location), the Teradaya Inn attracts busloads of tourists.

The Inn is now a museum and preserved more or less as it was in the 19th century. Sword cuts from the attack on Ryoma remain in the inn.

Today he is revered as a "pure hero."


263 Minamihama-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto
Telephone : 075 622 0243
Hours: 10:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. (entry until 3:30 p.m.); closed Mondays

Access: Keihan Line to Chushojima Station.
Fee: 400 yen

For those cycling, it is about 45 minutes from City Hall to Fushimi.

Ryoma Teradaya©

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Nintendo Original Headquarters

Nintendo Building任天堂

On a short ride through a former redlight area known as Gojo Rakuen, we came upon the original headquarters of Nintendo.

Nintendo is of course Kyoto's best known corporation (beating out Kyocera, Rohm, Omron, Wacoal, Murata, Nidec, and many others).

The former playing card company is now the multi-billion dollar world beater based in a large corporate campus in south Kyoto.

Now revered for its Super Mario games, its origins are far more simple.

Located on side street north of Shichijo just east of Kiyamachi, the old building remains.

The company began as a card company in 1889, first called Nintendo Koppai. Nintendo made Hanafuda, which are handmade Japanese playing cards.

Until the late 1950s it was a lively area of theaters, bars, restaurants, and brothels. Since the enforcement of anti-prostitution laws, the neighborhood has settled into a quiet area. It is hard by the Kamo River, and extends south of Gojo Dori to Shichijo Dori.

Nintendo Building Kyoto©

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Kimono Wearing Beauty Kyoto Sanjusangendo Temple

Woman in Kimono Sanjusangendo Kyoto三十三間堂前散策する着物着る美人

After a ride down to Fushimi, and then part way to Uji, we rode back via Tofukuji Temple and then cut down to Yogenin, with its bloody ceiling.

The 500 yen entrance fee was a bit steep, but we were set to go, wallet out.

However, according to the man at the reception area, visitors are required to join a scheduled Japanese-language tour. No wandering, no photography, and you have to be lead around by the nose by a tour guide.


Back on the bike, we pulled out of Yogenin and, across the street, in front of the wall of Sanjusangendo Temple strode a woman decked out in a kimono.

A moveable feast.


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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cycling Seoul South Korea


The cycling boom has hit South Korea.

According to recent reports, of the eleven million residents of Seoul 2.8% are now commuting by bicycle.

That is a four-fold increase on just ten years ago.

In keeping with this, South Korea's Public Administration and Security Ministry announced that it would build a 2,175-kilometer network of bicycle paths.

Construction is expected to be compete by 2019.

That will join a 440-kilometer bike lane opened this year.


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Monday, November 28, 2011

Biking to Shugakuin Imperial Villa Paintings

Shugakuin Imperial Villa自転車で修学院へ

The largest of Kyoto's imperial villas, Shugakuin, is endowed with spacious grounds at the foot of Mt. Hiei.

Shugakuin was designed by the former Emperor Go-Mizunoo, who was building a retirement villa for himself.

Go-Mizunoo ascended to the throne in 1611 while just fifteen years old. The power of the office of the emperor at the time was in decline as shoguns were consolidating their influence on a unified Japan.

As a result, the Emperor - wealthy, cosseted, time on his hands, and still respected - could only dabble in hobbies or in cultural affairs.

Around 1640, the shogun decided to pay for construction of an imperial villa for Go-Mizunoo.

The location chosen was a former nunnery, and was cleared for construction.

The lower villa (there are three villas within Shugakuin) was completed by 1659. The middle villa was finished in the 1680s, after Go-Mizunoo's death.

Today the area is much as it was, though of course a neighborhood has grown up around its western edge.

These photos are of paintings on doors within the villa.

Many temples - Enkoji, Manpukuji, Shisendo - and and almost rural feel await. It is a great ride.


Shugakuin Imperial Villa
Yabusoe, Shugakuin, Sakyo-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
075 211 1215

Entrance Fee: Free but a reservation is required. Please go to the Imperial Palace

Shugakuin Imperial Villa©

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

This Week in World Cycling 27 November 2011

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2011年11月27日

Prospect Park Takes Steps to Slow Cyclists New York Times

Cycling to power in DR Congo? BBC

How cycling set deprived Indian girls on a life-long journey Guardian

Japan Cracks Down on Sidewalk Cyclists Daily Yomiuri

Les dangers de la piste cyclable Rue89

Peligro: carril bici El Pais

北京将严查自行车存车费私自涨价 Caijing

BSNYC Contrived Situational Comedy With Live Studio Audience! (And Vacation Announcement!) [*Applause*] Bike Snob

Paralympian joins pro cycling team after recovery Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, November 26, 2011

International Comparison of Cycling Lanes Japan Holland Germany

Bike Lane Kyoto自転車道の整備状況に関する国際比較

Courtesy of the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, here are a handful of statistics related to cycling in Japan, Germany, and the Netherlands.

First is the amount of bike lanes.

In 1985, Holland had 14,500 km of bike lanes. That is 8.6% of all paved roads in Holland.

Germany, also in 1985, had 23,100 km of bike lanes. That was 4.7% of all paved roads in Germany.

For Japan, unsurprisingly, the statistics paint a quite different picture.

In 2006, Japan (377,835 square kilometers) - which is much larger than Holland (41,526 square kilometers) and a bit larger than Germany (357,021 sqare kilometers) - had but 7,301 km of bike lanes.

That came to but 0.6% of all paved roads.

Another interesting statistic is the comparison between Nagoya, home to Toyota, and Munich, home to BMW.

Nagoya is home to 2.17 million people, has an area of 326 square kilometers, and has 36.3 kilometers of bicycle lanes. These statistics are from 2001.

Munich has a population of 1.25 million people, an area of 312 square kilometers, and 284.3 kilometers of bicycle lanes. These statistics are from 2000.

For those who can read Japanese, here is a link to the Ministry site.


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Friday, November 25, 2011

Cycling Tokyo

Omotesando from Harajuku自転車で表参道と原宿を楽しむ

Tokyo is a beast.

There are no two ways around it. You will need a decent pair of cojones to ride the city.

Within a neighborhood, riding to the supermarket or shotengai (high street) or to a friend's on a mama chari (lady's bike) - Tokyo is like all other Japanese cities.

The bike never became a toy as it did for a while in the US, so cycling is a normal, practical, acceptable form of public behavior for all ages.

Thus, there is not nearly as much hostility from cars and trucks as is common in the United States. Moreover, awareness is high: Japanese drivers expect bicycles to be on the road.

However, once outside the confines of the neighborhood or a park, Tokyo has lots of traffic.

For those wanting to commute via bicycle it will take a while to learn the steps to the dance that are required to navigate Tokyo cycling.

Writing from compact Kyoto, the concept of riding in Tokyo would take getting used to.

Detractors notwithstanding, however, bike lanes are beginning to sprout up in the capital.


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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Cycling Around Osaka

Hirano Osaka自転車で大阪をぶらぶら

Osaka gets a bad rap in many things.

It is "dirty," it is "dangerous," it is "crude," etc.

Beyond its colorful dialect - which in Tokyo is often perceived of as "crude" - the city's famed comedy (ditto), and its food culture, most non-Osakans don't have a very positive image of Japan's second city.

In reality, though, the city is clean, safe, and compared to anywhere other than Tokyo it is not crude at all.

For cyclists, moreover, it is flat, relatively compact, and thanks to wide boulevards that crisscross the city it has a decent bicycle infrastructure.

Bike lanes are found in many parts of the city, particularly just outside the most central part of the city. (In late October, there was a bicycle "demonstration," in which roughly 100 cyclists rode down Midosuji Dori, the main drag of Osaka, protesting the lack of bike lanes.)

On the elevated part of the Chuo Line train en route to the recent Cycle Mode International convention, many many bike only lanes were visible.

In southern Osaka near Hirano, a wide street has a painted bike lane and parking - both under the freeway.


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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tsutenkaku Tower Osaka

Tsutenkaku Tower自転車で通天閣

In south Osaka - the zoo and museum and a park to one side, a slum of boarding houses for mainly unemployed elderly day workers to the other - is the Tsutenkaku Tower.

This tower is actually the second one to be built here. The first tower, which was modeled after the Eiffel Tower, was completed in 1912. At the time it was located next to an amusement park called Luna Park.

It was 64 meters tall (210 feet) and at the time was the second tallest structure in Asia.

However, in 1943, a fire badly damaged Tsutenkaku. As this was right at the height of World War II, city leaders decided to use the steel for planes and weaponry rather than rebuilding.

Once the war had ended, though, the tower was rebuilt. Tachu Naito designed it, and it was completed in 1956.

There is an observation deck on the fifth floor that is dedicated to Billiken.

Billiken is a good luck doll originally from the United States, and is now everywhere in the neighborhood.


For those on bikes, it is a short ride from Tennoji Station or Namba. For those taking the subway, Dobutsuen-mae or Ebisu-cho are very close.


Open 9 am to 9 pm.
Admission: 600 yen

1-18-6 Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa-ku, Osaka Tel: 06 6641 9555


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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cycling to Shosei-en Garden Kyoto

Shosei-en Garden自転車で渉成園へ

On the Kyoto Station to Kiyamachi cycling route is the fabulous Shosei-en Garden.

Shosei-en Garden, which is also known as Kikoku-tei, is a short distance east of the Higashi Honjanji temple. That is no coincidence as Shosei-en is a part of Higashi Honganji.

The grounds were originally a mansion owned by Prince Minamoto no Toru, the son of Emperor Saga.

Five hundred years later, in 1641, shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu gave much of the land to Higashi Honganji.

Then, in 1643, the renowned landscape designer Ishikawa Jozan was commissioned to create a garden.

The grounds and buildings were destroyed by fire, in 1858 and 1864. Everything however was restored in the late 19th century.

And the gardens are stunning.

It is a short ride north of Kyoto Station.

300 Higashitamamizu-cho, Shimojuzuyamachi-dori
Aidanocho-higasiiru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto
Telephone: 075 371 9210
Open: 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. (entry until 3:30 p.m.)


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Monday, November 21, 2011

Cycling Enkoji Temple Kyoto

Enkoji Temple自転車で圓光寺へ

Tucked in an almost rural part of northeastern Kyoto is Enkoji Temple.

It sits close to the foot of Mt. Hiei, Kyoto's highest mountain, and is a short ride from either Manshuin or Shisendo.

Tokugawa Ieyasu founded Enkoji in 1601 in Fushimi, in the southern of Kyoto. The original mission of the temple was to promote learning and scholarship. As a result, monks and non-monks were allowed as to enroll as students.

In 1667, the temple was moved to the current location.

Within the temple, there is a small gallery-like building in which images and other items are displayed. Within this is a six-panel byobu, or screen, that was painted Okyo Maruyama.

Inside the main hall of the temple are screens and other items.

The garden is also beautiful.


It is a short ride up from Ichijoji Station on the Eiden Railway. Cross Shirakawa Dori (street) and continue straight up the slope. On your right there is the gate of Shisendo, the lovely hermitage. Enkoji is down the narrow street you rode past just before getting to Shisendo. It is down this street on the right.

Enkoji Temple

Open 9 - 4:30 pm. 400 yen for adults.
075 781 8025


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Sunday, November 20, 2011

This Week in Cycling 20 November 2011

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2011年11月20日

Cyclist Fashion Is Diversifying, Way Beyond Spandex New York Times

Are bicycles and cars in a war for American streets? BBC

Getting children cycling to school - it can be done Guardian

Japan Cracks Down on Sidewalk Cyclists Cyclelicious

Le MIT présente le vélo électrique qui se recharge en freinant Rue89

Forever Bicycles El Pais

北京将严查自行车存车费私自涨价 Caijing

Schumacher joins third-tier Danish team Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Nape of Japanese Woman's Neck

Woman in Kimono着物の上の項

Back in April, at a junior high school entrance ceremony, many of the mothers arrived in kimono - one of them on a bicycle.

The Japanese school begins in early April, in sync with the blossoming of the cherry trees.

In Kyoto, early April can still be chilly, and school gymnasiums are unheated.

The kimono-wearing women sat ram-road straight, not a hair out of place on rock hard ice-cold wooden benches.

After numerous speeches, it was time for photos.

Then after a short meeting with the homeroom teacher, the day was done.

The woman who came on her bicycle remounted it - awkwardly but surely - and pedaled the  mama-chari up the slope towards home.


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Friday, November 18, 2011

Prinz Gallery Cafe Kyoto

Prinz Gallery自転車でPrinz Galleryへ

Located near Chayama Station, on the Eizen Railways, in northeast Kyoto, is one of the city's best galleries.

Prinz is a modern building that from the outside could be an architect's home. It is wide, sleek, and modern.

Inside though it is warm and spacious.

Dining space is in the back and in a large garden.

Exhibits range from photography to local crafts, and are often excellent.


Tanaka, Takahara, Sakyo-Ku
Kyoto 606 8242 JAPAN
TEL: 075 712 3900


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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cycle Mode International Osaka 2011

Cycle Mode International Osaka 2011自転車ショー大阪2011年

The recently ended Cycle Mode International Show attracted tens of thousands of visitors.

The annual convention featured many bike makers, large and small, panel discussions, and hundreds of bikes and bike products.

It was held for two days outside of Tokyo, then the following weekend at Intex Osaka.

The booths were spread throughout three of the halls within Intex.

Though the venue sits on a manmade island in Osaka Bay, it is connected by both highways, rail lines, and roads on which cyclists can use to cross the water.

The highlight of the convention was of course the bikes and bike gear.

Another highlight though is the chance to test ride the new models. Within the convention halls there was a fenced off track set up.

Bicycles in Japan, thankfully, have retained their status as practical tool. There is little or none of the emotional investment into bicycle as savior of the planet (which, admittedly, this blog may at times profess).

The bike in Japan is not a toy, not the answer to all human problems; it is a fabulous invention that helps one get from place A to place B quickly, comfortably, and one hopes safely.

And, as evinced by the numbers at the show, the bike is becoming a bit more than that.

Cycle Mode International Osaka 2011

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