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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


CycleKyoto Home Page


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


CycleKyoto Home Page


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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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Japanese Saleswoman Cycle Show Osaka 2011

Japanese Saleswoman大阪サイクルショーの看板娘

At the Cycle Mode International Osaka 2011 convention, it was bikes bikes and more bikes.

The Intex Convention Center was packed with bikes of all types and bike geeks of all ages.

While (attempting to) take a breather from all the incredible bicycles and bicycle products - none of which was for sale! - this lovely young woman came by with a catalog.

For a nanosecond, we forgot about the bicycles.

Which was just the perfect tonic, a brief respite.

Then it was back into the maw.


Disco BicycleCycleKyoto Home Page


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Funaoka Onsen Public Bath

Interior of Funaoka Onsen, Kyoto船岡温泉

Funaoka Onsen is Kyoto's best-known public bath.

Located in northern Kyoto, it opened in 1923.

Compared, perhaps, to the modern super sento public baths - multi-story, multi-bath facilities that also have dining - that have in places replaced the neighborhood bath, Funaoka does not have the variety of baths.

However, it more than makes up for that in atmosphere. It does have several types of baths, but its real draw is the carvings in the dressing rooms.

The neighborhood too has a funky, off-beat vibe.


82-1 Minami-Funaoka-cho, Murosaki no Minami Kyoto, 26 603-8225
Telephone: 075 441 3735

4 pm - 12 pm; closed Tuesdays

410 yen fee


Interior of Funaoka Onsen, KyotoCycleKyoto Home Page


Monday, November 14, 2011

Elliot Erwit Kyoto Exhibit

エリオット・アーウィット展 何必館・京都現代美術館蔵

Sixty of photographer Elliott Erwitt's works are on display in Gion until November 27,

The works span his long career in both the worlds of art and fashion photography.

The photos feature well known figures and also more intimate and casual works of scenes of every day life.


Kahitsukan Kyoto Museum of Contemporary Art*
September 3 - November 27, 2011 (closed Mondays)
10 am - 6 pm
Telephone: 075 525 1311

Admission: 1,000 yen

*Kahitsukan is located on Shijo Dori on the north side between Hanmikoji Dori and Higashi Oji Dori.

Map in Japanese


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Sunday, November 13, 2011

This Week in World Cycling 13 November 2011

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2011年11月13日

With Generators Gone, Wall Street Protesters Try Bicycle Power New York Times

Cycling and walking instead of driving BBC

British cyclist Damien Sharp banned after positive EPO test Guardian

Schooling for cyclists Japan Times

Ces (grosses) cuisses ont fait tomber un mythe français Rue89

El 'Festibal' El Pais

北京将严查自行车存车费私自涨价 Caijing

Landis convicted in France over doping lab hacking Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


CycleKyoto Home Page


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Biking Heian Shrine Kyoto

Heian Shrine自転車で平安神宮へ

On a glorious fall day heading back from Nanzenji Temple through the Okazaki area, we pedaled right up to Heian Shrine.

As religious buildings and sites in Kyoto go, Heian Shrine is not in the major leagues by a long shot.

It is very new, having only been built in 1895.

The construction of the shrine was done to commemorate the 1100th anniversary of the founding of the capital in Kyoto.

The shrine itself is dedicated to the souls of the first and last emperors who lived in Kyoto: Kammu (737 - 806) and Komei (1831 - 1867). All subsequent emperors have resided in Tokyo.

The name "Heian" comes from the former name of the city itself.

What is worth seeing at the shrine though are the gardens.

Also, every October 22 witnesses the "Festival of the Ages" (Jidai Matsuri), which is a long parade of people in period costume. It ends at Heian Shrine.


Nishi Tennocho, Okazaki, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto

Garden Hours: 8:30 to 17:00
Admission Fee: 600 yen


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Friday, November 11, 2011

Cycling Ryukoku University Kyoto

Ryukoku University自転車で龍谷大学へ

Kyoto's Ryukoku University is one of Japan's oldest educational institutions.

Founded in 1639, it was originally a Buddhist seminary called "Gaukryo" and near Nishi Honganji Temple.

In 1655, it was destroyed by an order of Shogunate government. However, the seminary continued to exist, albeit in a different form.

German was the first western subject introduced into the school's curriculum. This happened in 1872.

The Omiya campus, pictured above, was established in September 1876. The buildings, many of which survive, were supposedly modeled after buildings at Oxford and Cambridge.

Today there are three campuses - in south Kyoto (Fukakusa), central Kyoto (Omiya), and Shiga (Seta) - that comprise the university.

The only campus though that most cyclists might visit is the Omiya campus, which is a short ride from Kyoto Station.


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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Japanese Cops on Bicycles

Kyoto Copsママチャリ乗っている京都の警察

Kyoto cops like their brethren in all urban areas frequently tool around the city on bicycles.

They use standard-issue "mamachari" bicycles: no gears, squeaky brakes, and not much speed.

They are practical but do not inspire much respect or fear.

In the US, cops on the bike beat are often kitted out with decent mountain bikes, helmets, police issue shorts, and very visible handguns.

Why Japan does not have a more modern bike force is beyond us. The cities are ideal to be traveled on two wheels, and Japan has a highly developed bike culture.


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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cycling Laque Shopping Mall Kyoto

Laque Kyotoラクエ四条烏丸

Formerly a bank branch, the northwest corner of Shijo-Karasuma in downtown Kyoto was reborn as Laque.

Laque is a high-end urban mall.

Like department stores, there is eating in the basement.

The origin of the name comes from sources in both Japanese and French.

In Japanese, raku(洛)means "capital," which Kyoto was for more than a thousand years. The kanji is used to indicate geography today: for example, "rakunan" would be south Kyoto, "rakusei" west Kyoto, and so on.

In French, "laque" is lacquer, which of course is one Japan's best known traditional industries.


Karasuma Subway Line, Shijo Station; Hankyu Line, Karasuma Station.
Exit 22 or 24


Open 11 am to 7 pm

Telephone: 075 213 1010


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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cycling Kyoto Concert Hall

Kyoto Concert Hall 京都コンサートホール自転車で

Kyoto Concert Hall was built in 1995, on the anniversary of the 1200th anniversary of the ancient city. It is home to the Kyoto Philharmonic.

The hall is made up of three primary blocks: The Main Hall, The Ensemble Hall Murata, and the Foyer.

The exterior of the building is covered in terracotta panels. Principal architect Arata Isozaki chose a subdued silver or black color for the panels, which he felt would be suitable for a Kyoto structure.

Within the Main Hall, however, the circular Entrance Hall was built using limestone from Florence, Italy. Walking a gently sloping spiralling pathway, one heads up to the Foyer and the two Concert Halls.

The sound quality within is excellent.

The nearby area, Kitayama, is elegant. Close by are the city's botanical gardens and many places to dine and drink and shop.


1-26 Hangi-cho,Shimogamo,
Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
TEL: 075 711 2980
FAX: 075 711 2955
Tickets Inquiry 075 711 3090 / 10:00 – 17:00


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Monday, November 7, 2011

Cycling Shugakuin Imperial Villa

Shugakuin Imperial Villa修学院離宮自転車で

Shugakuin Imperial Villa is one of the absolute must see places in Kyoto.

It is a sprawling set of gardens and outbuildings, many of which are tea houses.

The buildings and grounds are administered by the Imperial Household Agency, and reservations are required (for this one must go to the Imperial Palace).

For landscape gardeners, Shugakuin is one of the master works of Japanese gardening. On the fifty-three hectare (133 acres) grounds, there are three separate gardens:

Lower Garden, Middle Garden, and Upper Garden

The villa was built in a mere four years, beginning in 1655.

The Upper Garden has a large man-made pond. Within the pond are a number of small islands. Behind it looms Mt. Hiei. The gardens use this as a backdrop, employing the "borrowed scenery" technique.

The view from above is breath-taking.

In the 1960s, Kyoto bought many surrounding acres to preserve the view.

Though, ironically, within the grounds of the villa, there is farming. As you wander the gardens on the tour, farmers are tending to their small plots.

The area is still semi-rural, and there are many temples and sites not far:

Enkoji, Manpukuji, Shisendo


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 6, 2011

This Week in World Cycling 6 November 2011

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2011年11月06日

Wearing Bike Helmets New York Times

Lancashire Police appeal after St Annes cyclist death BBC

Boris Johnson's cycling policies: putting the motorist first Guardian

Cyclists piste at Tokyo police crackdown Japan Times

Chouette, on peut faire du vélo en contresens à Paris Rue89

Rompiendo candados El Pais

环太湖自行车赛:烟雨江南岸 Caijing

2012 Tour to take cyclists from Santa Rosa to LA Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


CycleKyoto Home Page


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Cycling to Nanzenji Temple

Nanzenji Temple自転車で南禅寺へ

Nanzenji Temple is one of Kyoto's most beautiful places.

Nanzenji is a Zen temple in the Higashiyama area of Kyoto.

It was established by Emperor Kameyama in 1291. The temple is also the headquarters of the Nanzen-ji branch of Rinzai Zen Buddhism.

One enters the temple through the Sanmon gate, a dramatic wooden structure built in 1628.

Once inside the grounds, there are many buildings to see. Among the highlights, ironically, is an aqueduct built in 1890.

The red brick structure is reminiscent of Roman aqueducts, and still is used to carry fresh water from Lake Biwa to Kyoto city.

Nearby are Eikando Temple and Philosophers Walk. Both are ideal to visit in the fall as the leaves change.


Nanzenji Temple
86 Nanzenji Fukuchicho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8435

Entrance Fee: 500 yen

Eikando Temple
Eikando-cho 48, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
075 761 0007

Entrance Fee: 500 yen


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Friday, November 4, 2011

Osaka Bicycle Lane

Bike Path in Osaka大阪城から淀川の自転車道

It is possible to ride from Arashiyama, in far west Kyoto, all the way to Osaka Castle, smack in the heart of Japan's second city, without ever meeting or dealing with a car, truck, or taxi.

The 42 km bike lane that starts in Arashiyama and ends in Kizu, which is ideal for those heading to Nara, takes you to Yawata.

At that point, those heading to Nara need to continue on the Kizu route and head inland.

For those heading to Osaka, cross the bridge at the confluence of several rivers at Yawata and turn right.

At that point, a mostly unmarked but paved route follows the Yodogawa River all the way into Umeda. As long as the river is on your right, you are heading the right way.

At the Okawa River, which is close to downtown - the skyscrapers loom in front of you, turn left and follow the bike path south (pictured above right). This will take you straight to Osaka Castle.

Riding time is 4-5 hours.


Osaka CastleCycleKyoto Home Page


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Women in Kimono Kyoto

Women in Kimono Kyoto大徳寺で着物着ている京女

Last weekend there was a large "chakai," or tea event, at Daitokuji Temple.

These three elegant women were standing in the shade of a sub-temple.

Daitokuji has long been associated with tea because of its connection with Sen no Rikyu.

The great tea master is buried at the sub temple Jukoin.


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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Murasaki Shikibu Grave Kyoto

Lady Murasaki Shikibu Grave紫式部墓地

The acclaimed author of The Tale of Genji, Lady Murasaki Shikibu, is buried in a tiny secluded grave in north Kyoto.

Genji is thought to be the first novel - ever - and was written in the 11th century.

This was the height of the Heian period. The novel concerns itself with court life in Kyoto.

Murasaki herself was born into the nobility, and chronicled her class from the vantage point of an insider.

In both literary circles and wider popular culture, Genji and Murasaki are very well known. Within Kyoto, however, she has yet to be feted. For that, one needs to travel to Uji and visit the Genji Museum.

Her grave, moreover, is hard to find, badly marked from the street, and in need of a bit of simple upkeep.

From the corner of Kitaoji-Horikawa, one walks south on Horikawa on the west side of the street.

Just before a factory (?) in part of the Shimadzu Corporation complex is a narrow passage. It is marked with a stone that reads, in Japanese only, "Grave of Lady Murasaki Shikibu" (pictured above).

A short walk back and there it is. In the corner, hard by a property wall, is a mound of earth with weeds sprouting out of it. Here lies one of Japan's greatest novelists.

Next to her is another, slightly smaller, grave.

Lady Murasaki Shikibu Grave©

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cycle Mode International 2011 Osaka


This weekend brings bikes to Osaka. Lots of bicycles.

This year's Cycle Mode International 2011 will be held at Intex Osaka Hall on November 11 & 12, from 10 am - 5 pm.

"The Bicycle: From Fashion to Culture" goes the slogan of this year's event.

Over 60,000 are expected to visit.

As anyone who lives in Japan, the number of cyclists has exploded in the last decade.

While this has brought with it many benefits, other issues have come to the surface.

Among them are safety - for cyclists and pedestrians - and infrastructure issues.

For those looking to be surrounded by like-minded folk - bike freaks - this is the event for you.


Osaka Venue Intex Osaka (Hall 1, 2, 3)

Date: November 11 & 12, Sat 10:00~17:00; Sun 10:00~17:00



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