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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Kyoto News Brutal Summer Heat Settles Over Japan


A killer heatwave has settled over Honshu Island, Japan's main land mass.

Between July 23 - 29, or one week, 8,386 people in Japan have been hospitalized for heat-related illness.

That is 1.5 times the number from the previous week.

In this one week, 16 people died from heat. 163 have been diagnosed with serious illness.

42.8% of those hospitalized are over 65 years old.

Cycle slow, cycle early in the morning, cycle late at night.


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Monday, July 30, 2012

Cycling in High Summer in Kyoto


Cycling in Kyoto in high summer is a challenge.

The sun beats down from deep blue skies. High humidity and high temperatures - often hitting the high 30s (90s) by mid-afternoon - make for a hard day out.

The constant and ubiquitous thrum of the cicadas mock you for having gone out in the first place.

However, for those with a flexible schedule, CycleKyoto has a simple recommendation: ride very early - before 6 am - or conversely late at night.

Of the two, we prefer night riding.

Except for the very central part of downtown, traffic is light.

Night time temperatures dip to about 25 degrees (77 degrees Fahrenheit), and there is often a light breeze.

If you stay close to the river, or within the Imperial Palace, it is cooler still.


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Sunday, July 29, 2012

This Week in World Cycling News 29 July 2012

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2012年07月29日

New Legislation Would Ensure Police Protect New Yorkers From Dangerous Drivers Transportation Alternatives Newsroom

Penalty for Rule-Breaking Bicyclists: A Remedial Class New York Times

Where to watch the Olympic Road Race? London Cyclist

Bradley Wiggins' Tour de France win boosts UK cycling sales Guardian

Et si les salariés qui vont au travail à vélo gagnaient plus ? Rue89

Un viaje reivindicativo El Pais

自転車レーンで事故防げ 国、7月末にも指針 Asahi Shinbun

Cavendish poised to fulfill Olympic dream Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cycling the Kiyotaki Trail in Kyoto

Cycling Kyoto Kiyotaki Trail清滝川と高雄を自転車で乗る

On a day out in Takao, western Kyoto, friends and I cycled west from Ninnaji Temple towards a cooler spot.

The ride is about 20 minutes along Route 162 until a small, old-fashioned rest stop of sorts.

On the right is a restaurant, on the left side of the road is a gift shop. Beyond that is a parking lot.

This is the entrance for those who want to head down to the Kiyotaki River or Jingoji Temple.

We parked our bikes in the lot, and from there hiked down about 20 minutes to a spot where we could swim.

The waters were clear and cool - when the sun disappeared behind the clouds it was even cold.

However, for the first time in many trips, we saw cyclists along the trail.

A group of perhaps twenty young people - a university group from the looks of it - were navigating the somewhat rocky trail.

While we snacked and swam, the bikes bounced by on the trail.


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Friday, July 27, 2012

Cycling Book Review Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike

Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike

It sounds counterintuitive: a book on how to ride a bike.

"It's like riding a bike, once you learn you never forget" goes the old saw.

However, how many of us really are approaching cycling in a sensible fashion?

Like running, like walking, like eating, there are better ways to ride a bike. Living in Japan, we are tempted to even say a correct way to ride a bike.

Grant Petersen brings back some sense to the world of cycling. He advocates eschewing the fancy gear, the super-expensive high-tech bikes.

Just ride like you did as a kid.

Petersen is an ex-racer, owner of Rivendell Bicycle Works, and long-time commuter who writes for many cycling and outdoor magazines.

This work is sprinkled with interesting facts, the author's opinions, techniques.

Among other issues, in short easy-to-read chapters, it covers:

Count Days, Not Miles; Corner Like Jackie Robinson; Steer with Your Hips, Shift with Your Legs, and more.

Buy on Amazon USA


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Thursday, July 26, 2012


Torii Gates at Fushimi Inari Kyoto自転車で三十三間堂京都国立博物館智積院東福寺伏見稲荷へ


This Kyoto cycling route goes to the Deep South - aka, Fushimi - and takes in along the way Sanjusangendo Temple, the Kyoto National Museum, Tofukuji Temple, and the sites in Fushimi.

For more information, in Japanese (with a link to an English page), here is a page on cycling from Shichijo down to Fushimi.

Ride Fushimi ride.


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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Climbing Mount Atago Fire Festival

Mount Atago Kyoto愛宕山千日参り

The night of July 31 is magic in Kyoto.

On that night, thousands of hikers climb Mount Atago - at night.

At 924 meters, it is the highest mountain in the city.

The festival that takes place that night is known as "Sennichi Tsuyasai," which roughly translates as one thousand days all night festival.

The purpose of the festival is to pray to the gods on the mountain for a thousand days of flame (for cooking, heating, life) and, on the contrary, a thousand days of fire prevention.

The hike is about 4 kilometers from top to bottom.

What makes this event special is that most of the climbers do so after dark. The city strings up lights from the bottom of the mountain, in Kiyotaki, all the way to the very top at Atago Shrine.

As hikers ascend the mountain, they call out "O kudariyasu" (on your way down) to those descending. In reply, they say "O noboriyasu" (on your way up).

At the very top are many lanterns (see bottom left).

Once at the top, pilgrims buy good luck charms to ward off fire and bad luck.

What to Bring

Light clothes, plus something heavier for when you get to the top (the temperature can be quite chilly)
A change of clothes
Light snacks
Small towel for sweat
Bit of cash just in case
Sneakers or light hiking boots

Bus to Kiyotaki

Kyoto Bus:

From JR Kyoto Station: Bus stop No. C6 Bus No. 72
From Hankyu Arashiyama station: Bus No. 62 or 72
From Keihan Sanjo station: Bus stop No. 14 Bus No. 62


Mount Atago KyotoCycleKyoto Home Page


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Kyoto News Kyoto Aquarium Visitors Top One Million


The much protested Kyoto Aquarium opened on March 14 and has in three months has attracted one million visitors.

Although the facility has made many efforts to be green, it still features the dreaded dolphin show.

Though the documentary film "The Cove" was shown in Japan, its impact appears to have been limited to those already converted.

Though we would be interested in seeing the species from the local ecosystem - especially the giant salamander - we will not be patronizing this Kyoto attraction.


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Monday, July 23, 2012

Cycling Kyoto Tenryuji Temple

Tenryuji Temple Kyoto自転車で嵐山の天龍寺へ

This week's Arashiyama route is a really short ride from the main drag of Arashiyama to Tenryuji Temple.

Tenryuji Temple is a World Heritage site close to the Arashiyama Station on the Keifuku Line. It is one of the Five Great Zen temples of Kyoto.

The temple was established in 1339 C.E. by Shogun Ashikaga Takauji and is known for its gardens and views of the surrounding mountains.

It was the residence of Emperor Go-Saga in 1270.

When Go-Daigo, yet another resident Emperor, died in 1338, Muko Takauji, a zen priest, had a dream in which Go-Daigo rose from the Oi River in Arashiyama. The late emperor rose in the form of a gold dragon.

To appease the spirt of the deceased emperor, Takauji ordered the building of Tenyuji Temple.

Tenryuji expanded over time, numbering 150 sub-temples and spreading almost to Koryuji Temple in Uzumasa.

It is most crowded in the autumn when the fall colors are at their peak.


From the street in front of the Arashiyama Station on the Keifuku Line, turn right and head north. Tenryuji is on the left a short distance.


The most direct way to get from central Kyoto to Arashiyama is to head west on Marutamachi Dori - for about 30 minutes.

For those with a bike bag, the most pain free way is to take the train to JR Saga Arashiyama is a 15+ minute from Kyoto Station.

Tenryuji Temple


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Sunday, July 22, 2012

This Week in World Cycling News 22 July 2012

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2012年07月22日

First Lady And Partnership For A Healthier America Embrace Play Streets Transportation Alternatives Promotes Play Streets Across New York City Transportation Alternatives Newsroom

COPENHAGEN JOURNAL Commuters Pedal to Work on Their Very Own Superhighway New York Times

What to do when you encounter behaviour like this on the road London Cyclist

Inmates In Brazilian Jail Cycle To Freedom NPR

Britain's top 10 toughest cycle climbs Guardian

Montréal, ville vélo! Vélo Québec

El ejemplo australiano El Pais

憂楽帳:自転車事故 Mainichi Shinbun

Tour de France Stage 18: Cav's Turn to Carry Sky Mantle Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Yoiyama 2012 Woman in Kimono

Yoiyama Kyoto 2012京都宵山着物と帯

This woman must be somebody.

Her bearing was regal, her obi and kimono exquisite.

Even without them, she had presence.

Her hair - which is real - was pulled back in dramatic fashion.

As she strode the street on the evening of July 14 during the Yoiyama (actually, Yoiyoiyama) festival in Kyoto, she drew the stares of many.


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Friday, July 20, 2012

Rainy Season Announced Over in Kyoto 2012

Kyoto Bicycle Chic梅雨明け京都

Rainy season is officially over.

The six-week season of cool nights and mornings and muggy days is now officially over for this year.

That means High Summer is upon us.

In Kyoto, late July until mid-September equals torrid daytime temperatures.

Cycling is brutal this time of year.

We tend to do only local runs - shopping, going out at night - until early autumn.

From that point on, when Kyoto weather is sweet and forgiving, we head into the hills on the bike.


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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cycling Kyoto Ajiki Roji (Alley)

Ajiki Roji Kyoto自転車で京都あじき路地へ

One of the few remaining intact "roji" (alley) in Kyoto is the Ajiki Alley.

Those alleys that do remain are especially vulnerable to the wrecking ball: the homes are small and old and wood, and in the event of fire it is difficult for firefighters to get in to put out a blaze.

However, like their larger cousins - the Kyoto Machiya (town homes, which used to be considered passe and for the poor - there is renewed interest in the roji.

Ajiki Alley, in particular, has been reborn and appears to have a bright future.

Nearly all of the tiny residences are now home to a variety of shops.

They include:

L'Ami du Pain (French bakery run by a French baker)
Evo-See (custom hat maker)
RIM (cute interior items)
Akari (traditional lamps)
Obi (kimono belts)
Gamaguchi (purse with metal clasp)

The stores are open only on weekends (most have larger branches elsewhere in Kyoto) and draw tourists from within Kyoto and farther afield.

To create more interest, an Ajiki Alley web site has been set up.


From the Kiyomizu Gojo Keihan railways station, it is a five-minute walk. Walk east on Gojo Dori (away from the Kamo River). Stay on the north side. After passing a Seven Eleven, turn left onto a north-south street. Walk several blocks until there is a public bath on the opposite corner. Ajiki Alley is just beyond that on the left.

Here is a map in Japanese.

Old Bike Ajiki Roji Kyoto©

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Kyoto News Yoiyama 2012

Yoiyama Kyoto 2012祇園囃子の音、熱波に包まれ宵山に40万人

Japan's largest street party - the three consecutive nights in Kyoto prior to the climax of Gion Festival, on July 17 - witnessed hundreds of thousands of revelers out and about each night.

The first of the "Yama" nights is Yoiyoiyoiyama (宵々々山), and on that night, July 14th - Vive la France! - 250,000 Kyotoites went downtown to enjoy the sights.

The next night, July 15th, is known as Yoiyoiyama (宵々山) and 290,000 came out in their yukata this year.

The night before the parade on the 17th is called Yoiyama (宵山). On that night, 400,000 turned out. (Estimates are all courtesy of the Kyoto Police.)

On each of these three nights, much of downtown Kyoto is closed to vehicular traffic. Moreover, the massive floats that are pulled around the city on July 17th are put out on display in the areas they represent, all of which are close to Shijo - Karasuma.

Streets are filled with stalls selling food - yakitori (barbecued chicken skewers), taiyaki, takoyaki, okonomiyaki, traditional Japanese sweets - and carnival games for children.

Many come dressed in yukata (a light cotton summer kimono). Old and young come with fans, Japanese purses, and other traditional gear as they enjoy the evening strolling around the central part of the city.

Yoiyama Kyoto 2012Last, in certain areas. private houses open their entryways to the public to exhibit valuable family heirlooms. This custom dates back centuries and is known as the Byobu Matsuri, or Folding Screen Festival.


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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Kyoto Gion Matsuri Festival

Yoiyama Kyoto 2012京都祇園祭2012年7月17日

Kyoto's Gion Festival runs for the entire month of July but peaks today.

It is one of the best known festivals in Japan, and climaxes on the 17th with the parade of the massive floats known as Yamaboko.

The end of the annual rainy season, according to Kyotoites, arrives just prior to the 17th.

The festival has its origins in a purification ritual (goryo-e). Following frequent outbreaks of pestilence that killed many in the torrid summer months, in the 9th century the Emperor Seiwa ordered that all pray to appease the gods as a way of warding off more death.

In 869 C.E., residents of Miyako thus prayed at Yasaka Shrine in Gion. Sixty-six elaborate halberds - one for each of the provinces of the country - were prepared and erected in a garden at the shrine.

This was repeated thereafter any time there was an outbreak of disease or a disaster. Then, in 970, it became an annual event.

Today, the festival is driven heavily by tourist yen (dollars and won, and renminbi and euros). The 17th is a crowded day of watching men pull around the large floats in downtown Kyoto under blistering heat.

In our opinion, a better option - too late for this year - are the three nights that precede the 17th, known as yoiyama. On these nights, vehicular traffic in central Kyoto is prohibited and hundreds of thousands of people turn out to see the floats, which are out on display in this period.


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Monday, July 16, 2012

Cycling Kyoto Arashiyama to Matsuo Taisha Shrine

Matsuo Taisha自転車で嵐山の松雄大社へ

This week's Arashiyama route will be a short ride over to Matsuo Taisha Shrine and then down to the Moss Temple (Kokedera, in Japanese).

Crossing the Toketsugyo Bridge, we head down the bike path that goes almost all the way to Nara. It follows the Katsura River.

Matsuo Taisha Shrine is about 10 - 15 minutes at most of flat riding from Arashiyama. It was founded in 701 C.E. by hge head of the Hata clan, which founded Fushimi Inari Shrine.

The Hatas, originally from Korea, brought with them advanced technology to the then less advanced Japanese.

The shrine is a patron saint for rice cultivation, miso and soy production, building, weaving, birth, and traffic safety (!).

In April and May, many roses come into bloom.

The next stop is Saihoji Temple, also known as the Moss Temple (Kokedera).

This is the most expensive temple to visit in Kyoto. Reservations are necessary and, it costs 3,000 yen to enter. Visitors then spend about twenty minutes copying the sutra - writing (tracing) Chinese characters - before being released to wander the grounds.

Kokedera is believed to have been established by the monk Gyoki before the founding of Kyoto. In 1339 C.E., it was then converted into a Zen temple by Muso Soseki.

Today there are more than 120 types of moss within the grounds, and a pond that is shaped like the Chinese character kokoro (heart or soul) - 心 - and a fabulous rock garden.

For more culture, it is not far to ride on to Katsura Imperial Villa. From the Moss Temple, go back to Matsuo Taisho and back down on the bike lane that parallels the Katsura River. Ride about 10 minutes to the next bridge and go up to street level. There are signs that will take you the five to seven minutes south and then east to the Villa. Katsura also requires a reservationl


The most direct way to get from central Kyoto to Arashiyama is to head west on Marutamachi Dori - for about 30 minutes.

For those with a bike bag, the most pain free way is to take the train to JR Saga Arashiyama is a 15+ minute from Kyoto Station.

Tea Room in Kyoto


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Sunday, July 15, 2012

This Week in World Cycling News 15 July 2012

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2012年07月15日

THE REAL WORLD, LOCAL SPOKES Transportation Alternatives Newsroom

New version of Bike Doctor: Important update for any existing iPhone users! London Cyclist

Google Maps' cycle routes: just how good are they? Guardian

Le Défi métropolitain : une journée au paradis! Vélo Québec

Sin coche oficial; políticos en bici El Pais

自転車レーンで事故防げ 国、7月末にも指針 Asahi Shinbun

Millar wins longest Tour stage; Wiggins keeps lead Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Small Girl Cycling on Horikawa Dori Kyoto

Young girl cycling Kyoto堀川で自転車乗っている小さい京都女の子

Along the arcaded sidewalk on Horikawa Dori, a young girl was pedaling furiously.

No training wheels.

Few bangles or decorations.

She meant business.

When I passed her, slowly, she put her head down and picked up her pace, passing me in no time.


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Friday, July 13, 2012

Bike Book Review Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance

Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance

Lennard Zinn (aka, Bicycle Maintenance Zen Master) breaks it down: anyone can take care of or tuneup a bicycle.

We are not born with the skill to fix things. Thus, with a bit of guidance and patience, it is possible to do the day-to-day tweaking to keep your bike riding smooth and true.

At 464 pages, "Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance" is a comprehensive and wonderful manual.

The book is easy to read - though in places aimed at those with more advanced skills - and very useful.

CycleKyoto recommends "Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance" highly.

Buy on Amazon USA


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Thursday, July 12, 2012




This Kyoto cycling route weaves through Gion.

Gion can be - no, it is - tricky on a bike. For those who can't resist taking the plunge, go early!

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

Ride Gion ride.


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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Kyoto Exhibit Fabulous Fashion Hair Accessories and Make up Sets Zohiko Urushi Museum


At one of Kyoto's many under appreciated but excellent art museums is an exhibit on hair accessories.

The Zohiko Urushi Museum is hosting an exhibit of Japanese combs (kushi) and ornamental hairpins (kogai and kanzashi).

These pieces were developed in the Edo Period (1603-1868).

The best of the museum's collection will be on display, many of which feature works using the maki-e technique.

The Zohiko Urushi is just up the block from the Hosomi Museum.


Zohiko Urushi Museum
2nd Floor of Zohiko Shop
10 Saishoji, Okazaki
Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Tel: 075-752-7790

Entrance: 300 yen
7 July 2012 - 1 October 2012
Hours: 10 am - 5 pm; closed Wednesdays

© CycleKyoto Home Page


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Kyoto News Gion Festival Traffic Restrictions

Gion Lanterns京都ニュース山鉾町周辺の主な交通規制

As the climax of the month-long Gion Matsuri (Festival) approaches, traffic restrictions will go into effect in central Kyoto on the 10th of July.

The restrictions will last until the 18th, the day after the main event on the 17th.

The restrictions will be enforced by Kyoto's men and women in blue, and will be put in place in Nakagyo Ward focusing on the area around Shijo Dori and Karasuma Dori.

Every night from 6 pm until 11 pm, the areas in blue in the map below will be off limits to vehicular traffic.

In particular the nights leading up the festival - July 16 (Yoiyama), July 15 (Yoiyoiyama), and July 14 (Yoiyoiyama) - are very crowded.

On those nights, some 3,450 police and security personnel will be out monitoring traffic.

Here is a map in Japanese.

Gion Festival©

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Cycling from Arashiyama to Daikakuji Temple

Daikakuji Temple自転車で嵐山の大覚寺へ

This week's Arashiyama route will be over to Daikakuji Temple.

Daikakuji was originally a detached palace for the Emperor Saga. In 876 C.E., however, his daughter Empress Seishi rebuilt the palace as Daikakuji Temple and named her son, Imperial Prince Gojaku, as its first chief priest.

A large palace was then built on a one hundred acre piece of land that sits next to Osawa pond. The pond is manmade, and is modeled upon Lake Tungting in China.

Daikakuji looks and feels quite similar to Ninnaji Temple, which is a fifteen-minute ride back towards the center of town.

The Utano Youth Hostel is a short ride on the ride to Ninnaji and Ryoanji Temples - and farther on, the Golden Pavilion - on the left. It is fabulously beautiful, if a bit inconvenient.


The easiest way to get from central Kyoto to Arashiyama is to head west on Marutamachi Dori - for about 30 minutes.

For those with a bike bag, JR Saga Arashiyama is a 15+ minute from Kyoto Station.

Daikakuji Temple pond


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Sunday, July 8, 2012

This Week in World Cycling News 8 July 2012

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2012年07月08日

Transportation Alternatives' 8th Annual Summer Benefit Transportation Alternatives Newsroom

New UK idea fund is looking for bike safety and commuter innovations London Cyclist

How women can stop cycling from being a pain in the arse Guardian

Parc de la Gaspésie en mode chrono! Vélo Québec

Velocity 2012: ciudadanía ciclista El Pais

電動アシスト自転車「快走」 出荷台数、二輪車に迫る Asahi Shinbun

Tour de France Stage 4: Greipel Escapes Crash for Sprint Win Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Kyoto University Yoshida Dormitory

Yoshida Dormitory Kyoto University自転車で京都大学吉田寮

On the edge of Kyoto University's main Campus is a legendary dormitory. It is barely habitable - but very much inhabited.

The Yoshida Dormitory was built in 1913, and appears never to have been repaired since.

From its inception, it was self-administering through a dormitory association (寮自治会). This means that the residents - students - select who can live in the dorm. That continues more or less to this day.

In 1971, however, the Ministry of Education initiated a policy of regulating and or closing such dormitories because they were perceived of as being hotbeds of radicalism and trouble.

Kyoto University itself attempted to close the dorm in 1979 - failed - but did manage to close down nearby Western Yoshida dormitory.

Today the dorm is still standing, if barely. It does have Internet connections and electricity, but little else in the way of modern amenities.

The university continues in its attempts to tear down the structure and replace it.

The dorm today is co-ed and has been since 1985. Foreign students have resided in the dorm since 1990.

The cost of rent is 2,500 yen (about $31) a month, which covers utilities. This is probably not much different than what residents paid half a century ago.

It is also possible to stay - on a filthy floor - for 200 yen a night.


The dormitory is at the corner of Higashi Oji and Konoe Dori. From the Kyoto University Hospital, go north on Higashi Oji Dori, cross at Konoe Dori.

Yoshida Dormitory Kyoto University©

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Rolling Blackouts Kyoto

Kyoto rolling blackout計画停電京都

Power shortages are no longer just a news report; they are beginning in Kyoto soon.

At the bicycle lot near Demachiyanagi and the Kamo River, a sign is posted announcing the days and times when power will be off. For example, today, July 7, the lights will be out from 8:30 am until 11 am.

This presents a bit of a problem: the lot is underground. We are not sure what if any provisions the staff have prepared for people who want to park or retrieve their bikes at this time.


At the Kyoto Municipal Gymnasium, over on the west side of town, a similar sign was posted, however without any dates.

According to one of the men who works there, "We won't know until the night before. If Kanden [Kansai Electric] calls us, the next morning or afternoon - as noted on the posting - we will be closed."

No volleyball, no ping pong, no training gym.

Local schools as well may close, if only for half days.

Hospitals, police stations, hotels, etc. will not experience blackouts.


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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cycle Kyoto Ohara

Ohara Farm House自転車で大原へ

Ohara is a splendid country village in the hills north of Kyoto.

It also has a fabulous temple, Sanzenin Temple, that is well worth visiting.

From the Kitayama area of Kyoto, head up Route 367 all the way to Ohara. It is a relatively easy incline, and will take about 45 minutes from Kitayam to Ohara, if that.

Also in Ohara are Raigoin Temple, and Otonashi no Taki ("no sound waterfall").

Raigoin is about five minutes on foot up a slope from Sanzenin. It is quieter and less visited than the more famous temple below, and was founded in the middle of the ninth century.

For those with time, a 15-minute ride to the other side of the valley lies Jakkoin Temple. It was severely damaged in 2000 in a horrific act of arson but has been rebuilt.

Ohara Sign©

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Kyoto Yoiyama 2012

Yoiyama Kyoto 2011宵山2012年

Yoiyama is a massive street party held the night before Gion Matsuri, the most famous festival in Japan. The main event of the festival is held under blistering skies on July 17.

Far better is the night before (or the two preceding nights as well), which is known locally as Yoiyama.

Much of Kyoto turns out in their finest yukata robes on July 16 (and the 14th and 15th) for a night of beer, squid on a stick, people watching, and more.

From 6 pm until 11 pm, the streets of downtown Kyoto are closed to traffic.

Vendors set up shop selling beer, chicken, squid, and games.

The massive floats - "hoko" - that will be pulled around in the blistering heat the following day are on display. Maps are available at both Kyoto Station and downtown at the festival itself.

Unlike July 17, Gion Festival day, it is possible to get up close and inspect the floats.

And walk and drink beer and eat and check out the crowd until late at night.

It is earthly paradise (as long as you stay away from the crush along Shijo).

Be warned: about 500,000 people will be out, so hold tight to children and stay north of Shijo.

Advice: go to the corner of Karasuma - Oike. From there walk south and into side streets. Free maps are available. But stay far north of Shijo until very late.

Cyclists: Park on Oike in the pubic bike stands.


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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Kyoto News Kyoto to Build a Mega Solar Plant

solarメガソーラー、京都市が設置へ 売電で年間3600万円

Kyoto just announced that it will begin construction of a mega solar plant in the southern part of the city along the Katsura River.

The city's Waterworks Department estimates that the solar panels will generate enough electricity to serve the electricity needs 200 homes for one year.

Construction on the plant will begin this year and be complete by 2013.

It is estimated that the plant will be able to generate 90,000 kw of electricity annually.

The solar farm will be built at the Waterwork's Tobasui Hoken Center, which is home to Kyoto's largest water treatment plant.

The Hoken Center covers 460,000 square meters and sits hard by the Katsura River and its cycling route.

Note: the image is NOT of the future solar farm in Kyoto. It is a rendering of another, different solar farm.


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Monday, July 2, 2012

Cycling Kyoto Arashiyama Adashino Temple

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest自転車で嵐山から化野念仏寺へ

Arashiyama, in western Kyoto, is one of Kyoto's most beautiful areas.

Its river, the Togetsukyo Bridge, a vast bamboo forest, Tenryuji Temple, and much more make it a must-see place.

The Arashiyama to Adashino Nenbutsu cycling route passes through through the bamboo forest, is not far from the Okochi Sanso Villa, crosses the JR Saiin Line tracks.

At this point, the route will enter an area filled with many small temples. On the right is the Sagano Doll House (Kyoto Japanese Folk Dolls Museum). From here, up a hill and on the left is Adashino Nenbutsu Temple.

Adashino Nenbutsu Temple was founded by Kobo Daishi to honor the souls of the dead, the anonymous dead as the area was used as a dumping ground for corpses in ancient times. In August, "sento kuyo," a ceremony dedicated to the spirits of the dead, takes place and about ten thousand stone statues are lit up with candles.

The temple dates to the ninth century.


The easiest way to ride from central Kyoto to Arashiyama is to head west on Marutamachi Dori - and ride for about 30 minutes.

For those with a bike bag, JR Saga Arashiyama is a 15+ minute from Kyoto Station.

Bike Parking Sign Arashiyama

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Sunday, July 1, 2012

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