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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mother and Child Cycling in Kyoto

Mother and Child Cycling Kyoto母子自転車で京都を動き回る

In a typical Kyoto cycling scene, a mother is riding along Imadegawa Dori in front of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine with her infant child strapped to her back.

She is pedaling a mama chari all-purpose bike as she goes about her errands.

The babe is blissfully unaware of the traffic around him (?).

And mama rides.

Mother and Child Cycling Kyoto©

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Bicycle Book Review It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life Lance Armstrong

It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life

In spite of all the recent allegations swirling about Lance Armstrong, it is worth reviewing his story.

In 1996, Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Just three years later, following treatment, he won the Tour de France in 1999.

This work discusses his early life, his rise through the cycling ranks and his medical difficulties.

One section of the book is particularly revealing and honest. Armstrong talks about his relationship to wife Kristin and explains the technology that allowed them to have a child.

The book ends with Armstrong's victory in France and the birth of their son.

As of the publication of this blog, however, Armstrong is once again in the news, once again for allegations of doping.

Lance Armstrong's ghost-written biography is worth a read, whatever your suspicions about doping.

Buy on Amazon USA


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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cycling Kawai Kanjiro Kyoto Home and Museum

Kawai Kanjiro Museum KilnKawai Kanjiro Museum Kiln河合寛次郎記念館へ自転車で

Kawai Kanjiro was a potter, polymath, genius.

Although he is often lumped with the mingei (folk craft) movement that developed in the 1920s and 1930s in Japan, he is much more than that.

The mingei movement emphasized utility and anonymity. Kawai was interested in neither.

His works are madly creative and original - and instantly recognizable.

The house he resided and worked in, not far from Kiyomizu Temple, is now a museum that remains much as it was when he was alive.

It is a spacious two-story home with an inner garden. The massive kiln is in the back.

Throughout the house are works by Kawai, who was madly creative.


569 Kaneicho, Gojozaka, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0875
Tel. 075 561 3585

10:00 a.m. - 5 p.m. (last entry 4:30 pm); 900 yen for adults.


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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Kyoto Exhibit Summer Exhibition for Parents and Children Series: What is Raku? Feel the Season! Summer and Chanoyu

Raku Museum Poster親子で見る展覧会 シリーズ「樂ってなんだろう」 季節を感じよう!! 夏と茶の湯

The Raku Museum is hosting an upcoming exhibit entitled "Summer Exhibition for Parents and Children Series: What is Raku? Feel the Season! Summer and Chanoyu."

Got that?

It runs from Saturday 30 June until Sunday 2 September 2012.

The Raku Museum was founded in 1978 by Kakunyu (1918~1980), the 14th generation potter of the Raku family.

The Raku Museum has a collection that displays works made by the many heads of the Raku family.

The Museum is located next to the family home/compound on Aburanokoji Dori, south of Imadegawa, a short ride from the Urasenke Chado Research Center.

The current head of the family, Raku Kichizaemon (1949 - ), is the fifteenth generation ceramicist to lead the Raku family.


Raku Museum
84 Aburanokoji
Nakadachi-uri agaru, Kamigyo-ku
Kyoto 602-0923
Tel: +81 (0)75 414 0304

Opening hours

10:00 ~ 16:30 (last admission 16:00)


900 yen


Mondays (except National Holidays) and during installation


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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Kyoto News Byodoin Temple Phoenix Hall Repair Work to Start in September

Byodoin Temple京都宇治平等院鳳凰(ほうおう)堂の修理を9月に始める

South of Kyoto, in Uji, is the World Heritage site Byodoin Temple.

Byodoin was first constructed in 998 CE as the rural villa of Fujiwara no Michinaga. Like many other such villas, it was later converted to a temple.

In this case, Fujiwara no Yorimichi did so in 1052.

Its best known building is the Phoenix Hall. It was constructed 1053, and is the only remaining original building.

That building will be closed for repairs starting September. The work will last a year and a half, and during that time, the fabled hall will not just be closed to the public but sheathed in a protective sheet.

The ride from Kyoto to Uji takes from 90 minutes to two hours.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Cycling the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto

 Kinkakuji, Kyoto自転車で金閣寺へ

Kyoto's Golden Pavilion is among the world's most beautiful buildings.

Covered in gold leaf, the main hall shimmers in front of a man-made lake.

It is ethereal and exquisite.

Kinkakuji Temple, or the Golden Pavilion, is actually a Zen Buddhist temple.

It is located in northwest Kyoto, along a well-trod path of beautiful temples. Within Japan, it has been designated as both as a National Special Historic Site and a National Special Landscape. It is moreover a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Like other temples, it was originally the a villa of an important man, in this case the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. Following his death, it became a zen temple.

The current pavilion dates to the 1950s. During the Onin War, from 1467 to 1477, it was burned twice (and the entire city of Kyoto essentially destroyed).

More recently, in 1950, an insane monk lit the temple on fire - and destroyed it.


Kinkakuji Temple
1 Kinkaku-ji-cho, Kita-ku, Kyoto
075 461 0013

Entrance Fee: 400 yen; last entry at 4:30 pm

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

This Week in World Cycling News 24 June 2012

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2012年06月24日

New Data: Dangerous Drivers Are The Biggest Threat In New York City Traffic Transportation Alternatives Newsroom

Lance Armstrong says US Anti-Doping Agency charges are stale BBC

The 'charity' bike ride where no money goes to charity Guardian

Le Tour de l'Île de Montréal : un dimanche au paradis! Vélo Québec

El casco no baja la prima de riesgo El Pais

大学生が自転車レンタル事業、ホームレスに働く場…大阪 Yomiuri Shinbun

Olympic dream fades as Longo loses French crown Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Kyoto News Places to Keep Cool This Summer


As the Kansai area of Japan faces power shortages of up to 15% this summer, July and August are going to be hot.

Kyoto summers are always hot, but this summer the Japan Meteorological Agency is predicting it to be hotter than average in the coming months in western Japan.

Even as preparations begin to restart the Oi Nuclear Reactor, a mere 60 or so kilometers from Kyoto, citizens are being asked - pushed, berated, hectored, bullied - to reduce power use.

Kyoto City is now running a PR campaign to get people out of their houses, where they would use air conditioners, and into public facilities being touted as "Cool Spots."

The cool spots include museums, pools, and youth centers. Most are offering discounts during the peak of Kyoto's post-rainy season high summer.

Kyoto Cool Spots

Insho Domoto Museum
Kyoto International Manga Museum
Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art
Museum of Kyoto

There are other designated sites at pools at Nishi Kyogoku and Fushimi Minato Koen.


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Friday, June 22, 2012

Japanese Expression Jitensha Sogyo


"Jitensha Sogyo" is a Japanese expression that employs the word bicycle.

The word bicycle in Japanese


is pronounced "Jitensha," and is made up of three Chinese characters. The first, "ji," means self. The second, "ten," is to turn or revolve. Finally, "sha," means vehicle.

Thus: self turning vehicle.

The expression Jitensha Sogyo is literally "Bicycle Operation" (as in work or factory operation).

The expression means close to bankruptcy. It is an operation that, like a bicycle whose wheels are not moving, will fall over.

And, recently, many businesses are unfortunately like the proverbial bike whose wheels are not revolving.


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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Conveyor Belt Sushi Kyoto

Kaiten Sushi, Kyoto京都回転寿司

Conveyor belt sushi (aka, "kaiten sushi," in Japanese) is fast-food sushi that is delivered to patrons seated in booths via a conveyor belt.

The conveyor belt wends its way through the restaurant. As the small dishes pass by, diners may take the ones they want to eat.

The bill is based upon the number of dishes one takes (and, in some cases, the type: e.g. maguro tuna will tend to be more expensive than other items).

It is a fun day or night out for all.

Though an inland city, Kyoto has its share of such restaurants.

This one is located down the street from the Golden Pavilion close to the Insho Domoto Museum.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cycling Hirano Shrine or Not

Hirano Shrine Kyoto平野神社を自転車で通る(実は乗ってはいけない)

Hirano Shrine is a small and pleasant shrine not far from Ritsumeikan University in northwest Kyoto, just off Nishi-oji Dori.

It was founded in 794 C.E. when the capital was moved to Heian-kyo (the ancient name for Kyoto) from Nagaoka-kyo, which is now a part of the southern tip of the city of Kyoto.

Hirano Shrine is best known for its cherry trees.

Since 985, there have been annual cherry blossom viewing events.

Today it is often full of college students reveling under the trees, singing and drinking.

Cycling, however, is not permitted, as the small sign attests.

Hirano Shrine ToriiInformation

Entry into the grounds is free. There is a booth that sells o-mamori, the good luck charms all shrines sell. Within the grounds is a majestic four-hundred-year-old camphor tree.

By bus from Kyoto Station, take the #205 or #50 to Kinugasa Komae. From Sanjo Keihan, take #15 and get off at the same stop. From Shijo Omiya (Hankyu Railways), take #55 to the same stop.
Hirano Shrine (in Japanese)
Tel: 075 461 4450
Hirano Miyamoto-cho 1, Kita-ku, Kyoto


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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Parking Meter Maids on Their Bikes in Kyoto

Cycling Kyoto駐車違反防止対策で京都をチャリで回る

In their dark green slacks, lime green button-down shirts, reflective vests, and dark green baseball caps, Kyoto's meter maids are instantly recognizable.

They patrol the city on bike, and travel in pairs.

They can be found all over the city.

These two are pedaling south on Kiyamachi, just below Oike Dori, on a slow Sunday afternoon, in search of oil-guzzling, exhaust-spewing scofflaws.


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Monday, June 18, 2012

Kyoto Woman in Front of Bicycle Pileup

Reading Woman Kyoto沢山の自転車の前にiPadで遊んでいる京美人

We're guessing that is not her bike, but it would be exquisite were it so.

The white child's bike with pink basket and rear wheel, saddle and handle grips - would match her iPad cover.

All of this drama is taking place in downtown Kyoto, at Sanjo - Kawaramachi.

A young woman standing and checking something on her iPad, balanced on her high heels, as the world whirls around her.


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Sunday, June 17, 2012

This Week in World Cycling News 17 June 2012

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2012年06月17日

THE DIGNITIES OF COMMUTING BY BICYCLE Transportation Alternatives Newsroom

Mark Cavendish takes the lead in Ster ZLM Toer BBC

Cycle Buddy – wltm cyclists looking to share daytrips, pootles etc Guardian

Le Tour de l'Île de Montréal : un dimanche au paradis! Vélo Québec

El casco no baja la prima de riesgo El Pais

自転車のアームストロングを告発/米反ドーピング機関 Shikoku News

Armstrong's former manager denies accusations Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, June 16, 2012

KATAGAMI Style - Paper Stencils and Japonisme Exhibit Kyoto Museum of Modern Art


The National Museum of Modern Art Kyoto will be holding a must-see exhibit for lovers of Japonisme.

"KATAGAMI Style - Paper Stencils and Japonisme" will be held from July 7 until August 19 at the Okazaki museum.

Katagami, or stencil paper, is a well known Japanese art form.

In this exhibit some 400 pieces will be on display.

From central Kyoto, the museum is an easy fifteen minute ride.


Hours: 9:30 - 5 pm (last entry 4:30 pm); open until 8 pm on Fridays (last entry 7:30)

Okazaki Enshoji-cho Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8344
Tel: 075 761 4111


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Friday, June 15, 2012

Kyoto Bans Yakuza Mobsters from Taking Part in Gion Festival

Looking towards Gion in Kyoto祇園祭暴力団排除へ

Gion Matsuri (Festival), one of Japan's Big Three Festivals - the other two are Osaka's Tenjin Matsuri and Tokyo's Kanda Matsuri - has declared mobsters persona non grata.

As part of a yakuza eradication program, gangsters will not be allowed to pull the large floats and will be denied festival happi coats.

Every year known mobsters have taken part in the festival, usually twenty to thirty such men.

A year ago April, Kyoto city passed an anti-mafia ordinance. In keeping with that, known members of organized criminal organizations will be banned from participating in the festival.

The Festival was first held in 970 C.E., and has only in rare instances not been held.

The climax of Gion Matsuri is on the day of July 17, when the massive floats adorned with tapestries are pulled around the center of the city by teams of men.


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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Kyoto Rainy Season Hydrangea in Kamishichiken

Hydrangea in Kamishichiken梅雨いりの京都上七件の紫陽花

Rainy Season has begun in Honshu.

For Kyoto, that means a mix of weather, not all of it bad.

The first few days have been cool, which is often the case.

The mugginess will come, but for now nights and early morning require long sleeves.

It also means the blossoming of hydrangea.

This spectacular bush is at the western end of Kamishichiken, a geisha district that is adjacent to Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. The new street paving can be seen in the distance.

We prefer this species to the more bulbous mophead type.


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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Kyoto Bus Bicycle Manners Campaign

Kyoto Bus京都バス交通ルールを守ろう

Out on Sunday errands, we rode up behind a Kyoto bus on Imadegawa Dori on its way to Ginkakuji Temple (the Silver Pavilion).

A small depiction of a woman cycling caught our eye as we waited in a warm bath of bus exhaust for the large vehicle to go.


Bicycles are vehicles too.


Let's follow traffic rules.

Fair enough, bicycles are vehicles and those riding them should indeed follow traffic law.

To which we add, ad nauseam, how about creating separate lanes for:

1. cars and buses and taxis
2. pedestrians
3. bicycles

Improving on the city's transportation infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists would reduce injuries and fatalities and make Kyoto a more pleasant place to live - and move around - in.


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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sleeping Beauty on a Kyoto Bike

Kyoto Woman Sleeping on Bicycle自転車で寝ている京美人

At first this woman appeared to be sleeping.

She wasn't.

Seated on her mama chari (mama chariot) on a side street just north of Sanjo - Kawaramachi, she was deep into a conversation on her cell phone.

The image is testament to the type of kick stand her bicycle has.

It is a rear wheel drop out kickstand that is standard issue on most mami chari bikes.

Short of a large truck or typhoon grade winds, nothing can topple a bike supported by this type of kick stand.

Perfect for loading up on groceries, kids front and back - and even for a quick phone call.


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Monday, June 11, 2012

Cycling the Shibuya Scramble

Cycling the Shibuya ScrambleJR渋谷駅前でサイクリング

This is not for the faint of heart.

Shibuya, Tokyo's teeming downtown fashion center, is famed for among other things its Scramble.

The Shibuya Scramble is the intersection in front of JR Shibuya Station.

It is, in the words of the Los Angeles Times, a "...10-lane traffic interchange...flooded at rush hour by 2,500 pedestrians, and then completely emptied, with each change of a traffic signal."

With each change of traffic lights, in turn cars or humans flood the intersection, for roughly a minute. Then, the light changes again, and it is the other's opportunity.

And it works. There is little jostling, little aggravation, little aggression. People just move through the intersection.

What is relatively new to the mix is bicycles. Bikes have been around Tokyo - and Shibuya - for a hundred years or more. However, the volume of cyclists has increased dramatically in recent years.

We were on hand on a Sunday morning, and traffic was still light.

It would be hard to imagine getting through the intersection in one piece during rush hour.


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Sunday, June 10, 2012

This Week in World Cycling News 10 June 2012

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2012年06月10日

Londoners Dread Traffic as City Plans Olympics New York Times

Bradley Wiggins still in lead of Criterium du Dauphine BBC

Are you ready to skid? Guardian


La lucha (y II) El Pais

消失的自行车 China Newsweek

自転車一方通行 富山市がテスト 中心部歩道で来月 中日新聞

Cyclist Contador confirms return as doping ban ends Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Bike To Work Day Japan 2012

btwd20122バイクツーワーク2012/BIKE TO WORK 2012

It looks as though we missed the big day here in Kyoto.

The annual Bike to Work Day was June 4th. We rode from home to Demachiyanagi, and then caught the Keihan train to Osaka - as we always do on Mondays.

The roads seemed no different. No one appeared to be riding for the first time, or on this day only.

Perhaps if there were more bike lanes, a safer infrastructure, more people would take the plunge and cycle to work every day.


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Friday, June 8, 2012


Philosopher's Walk, Kyoto自転車で京都哲学の道へ


This Kyoto cycling route follows the Philosphers Walk.

It takes in many temples, such as Nanzenji and the Silver Pavilion.

For more information, in Japanese (with a link to an English page), here is a page on cycling along the Philosophers Walk.

Ride Philosophers Walk ride.


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Thursday, June 7, 2012

More Views of Shibuya Cycling

Shibuya Tokyo Woman on Bicycle渋谷サイクリング

Ah, the views to be had in Shibuya.

From a beautiful young thing on her pale blue rod to a cross bike with fat-boy tires tied to a pole in front of McDonalds.

It is a center of cycling culture in Tokyo, thus making it one of Asia's top places to watch the scene.

In terms of actual getting on a bike and riding, we are still a bit put off by the volume: of people, of cars, of noise.

Coming from the provinces, (i.e., Kyoto), we were overwhelmed and amazed by the number of helmet-less riders. (No cool helmets in Tokyo?)

Shibuya Bicycle©

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Middle Aged Kyoto Woman Cycling Visor

Cycling Woman Kyoto京都自転車ようバイザー

Japanese women take sun protection very seriously.

Most women wear gloves or arm covers up to the elbow or beyond, huge sun visors that cover the entire face, and even a parasol fitted to the handlebars.

This woman, who is cycling along Sanjo Dori in central Kyoto, is rather fearless: no parasol and, worse still, her hands are exposed.

She does however have the massive, de rigueur face visor.


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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cycling Ueno Tokyo

Bicycle Lane Ueno Tokyo東京上野を自転車で楽しむ

The Ueno area of Tokyo is many things.

Ueno Park is home to the city's zoo, a handful of great museums, Shinobazu Pond, a collection of cherry trees that draw thousands of revelers every spring, and Japan's most prestigious arts university.

Across the street from Shinobazu Street is Tokyo University, or Todai, which is home to privileged youth and future bureaucrats.

To the northeast, beyond Tokyo Geidai (Arts University) is the quaint area Yanaka.

Ueno is also a working class neighborhood that was the arrival point for many refugees from Japan's northeast. Following World War II - and prior to that as well - Ueno Station was the first view of the capital for hundreds of thousands of migrants from the rural north who moved to the big city for work.

The working class area today is primarily to the east of the large JR station.

The bike lane pictured above is along Asakusa Dori, which runs from JR Ueno Station to Asakusa, across the Sumida River, and farther into the old working class downtown area known as "shitamachi."

It is a great place to ride a bike. The side streets are slow moving, a world away from the manic energy of Shinjuku and Shibuya and the parts west in the "high" city.

The area is also undergoing a revival of sorts. Tokyo Skytree was built nearby, and young people are moving in because rents are lower than in other parts of the city.

Tokyo Skytree©

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Monday, June 4, 2012

Osaka Priest Praying

Osaka Priest大阪京橋お祈りお坊さん

In the covered area between JR Kyobashi and Keihan Stations, a priest begged for alms.

Unlike Kyoto, where such a scene is common, in Osaka one rarely sees priests out and about.

This young man was stone still, hands clasped, as commuters on bikes and foot rushed past him.

Back in Kyoto, the priests from Myoshinji wander the neighborhood, once a month or so. chanting powerfully to announce their arrival.

This priest was completely silent. Few donated.


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Sunday, June 3, 2012

This Week in World Cycling News 3 June 2012

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2012年06月03日

This Is How We Ride New York Times

Giro d'Italia 2012: Ryder Hesjedal is first Canadian to win the race BBC

Spanish Olympic team named Cycling News

Manchester gears up for England's first ever closed-road cyclosportive Guardian


¿Soy XL? El Pais

北京将扩大差别化停车收费区域 改善步行自行车设施条件 财经网

自転車のサドル、女性も性機能障害に陥るリスク 米研究 AFPBB News

Cyclist Evans upbeat about Tour defence Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Bicycle Culture Center Tokyo

Bicycle Culture Center Science Museum Tokyo自転車文化センター東京科学技術館

Located on the second floor of the Science Museum in Tokyo's Kitonomaru Park (along with Budokan) is the Bicycle Culture Center.

The Museum is a bit past its sell-by date - it opened in April 1969 and hasn't aged well - but the Bicycle Culture Center is worth a visit.

It features a history of bicycles, with many old bikes on display.

Befitting a science museum, there are also interactive displays on the physics and science of cycling.

For those who are not able to read Japanese, it will be a visual experience as the signage is only in Japanese.

Compared to its Osaka cousin, the Bicycle Museum Cycle Center Sakai, it is not as zippy. The latter enjoys corporate sponsorship (Shimano is based in Sakai) and its presentation was much more professional.

Still, the Tokyo facility has a library along with its displays and is a good hour or two.


Science Museum
2-1 Kitnomaru Koen, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 102-00091



Tokyo Metro Tozai Line

Takeshita Station, Exit 1b, 550 meters
Kudanshita Station, Exit 2, 800 meters

Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line

Kudanshita Station, Exit 2, 800 meters

Shinjuku subway line

Kudanshita Station, Exit 2, 800 meters

Bicycle Culture Center Science Museum Tokyo©

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Friday, June 1, 2012

Japanese Woman Cycling Near Kayaba Cafe Ueno Tokyo

Beautiful Woman on Bike Tokyo東京上野でサイクリングを楽しむ美人

A block northeast of Ueno Park just beyond Tokyo University of the Arts is a wonderful cafe.

Kayaba Cafe is an old pile of a building that now serves as a tea shop. It would hold its own among Kyoto's best machiya cafes.

In front of the cafe is a lovely arts (?) student on her green and black bike.

The bright green of the bike is offset by her faded jeans, white sweater, pink shoe straps, hennaed hair, and brown bag thrown over the handlebars.

Her hair and bag coordinate nicely, and bookend the rest of the montage.

Following a coffee at Kayaba, heading farther into the neighborhood - away from Ueno Park - is also a treat.

The Sendagi and Yanaka neighborhoods look and feel like much of Kyoto. They are dotted with temples, have old shopping streets, and a large famous graveyard.


Kayaba Cafe
6-1-29 Taninaka, Taito-ku
Tokyo 110-0001

Tel: 03-3823-3545

Kayaba Cafe Tokyo©

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