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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bernard Leach Exhibit Kyoto Takashimaya


In celebration of the 125th anniversary of the birth of potter Bernard Leach, the Kyoto department store Takashimaya is holding a special exhibit of his works.

Leach was born in Hong Kong and and came to Japan early. He apprenticed to Shigekichi Urano (Kenzan VI) and became friends with the potter Shoji Hamada.

Together with Hamada, Leach created and promoted traditional Korean, Japanese, and Chinese pottery using techniques from England and Germany.

During his life, though, this work was considered ugly, even crude in the West.

In Japan, however, he remains a revered figure to this day. He was awarded the
Order of the Sacred Treasure in 1966 and Japan Foundation Cultural Award in 1974.

For those cycling, there are several bicycle parking lots nearby, the closest being at Takashimaya itself The lot is just south of Shijo on the east side of Teramachi Dori. It is 100 yen/hour. However, unless you are coming from the south, say Kyoto Station, a better ideas would be to park farther afield - along Oike, near Daimaru - and walk. The area is packed with foot traffic and cycling is prohibited on both Shijo and Kawaramachi in this part of town.


Takashimaya is at the corner of Shijo-Kawaramachi in central Kyoto. The exhibit is on the 7th floor in the Grand Hall.
October 31 - November 11
600 yen for adults, 400 for university and high school students.


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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cycling Lake Biwa

Lake Biwa Japan自転車で琵琶湖一周

Winter is not far off, but this is perhaps the best time of year to ride the Lake Biwa circuit.

Biwako is Japan's largest fresh water lake.

The area around Otsu, just over the hill from Kyoto, is fairly industrial. However, the rest of the ride is beautiful.

For much of the 270 km ride bike lanes or little used rural roads hug the lake.

Except for the northern end of the lake - and the bump you have to get over from Kyoto - there are no hills.

Museums, wild life, hot springs, and many historical sites are along the route.

It can be done in two days and one night, or at a more leisurely pace in three days and two nights. (We even know a few young guys that did the whole thing in a single day).


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Monday, October 29, 2012

Yoko Festival Kitano Tenmangu Shrine Kyoto

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine余香祭へ

On the 29th of October at Kyoto's Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, the Yoko Sai (Festival) will take place.

It dates to the year 900 CE and is based on a legend that Sugawara no Michizane, the patron saint of the shrine, wrote several great poems on this day.

In keeping with that theme, classic poems from around Japan will be read aloud.

Kitano Tenmangu is adjacent to a licensed geisha area and not far from the Golden Pavilion.


October 29
2 pm - 5 pm
Access: Bus #50, get off at Kitano Tenmangu-mae
Tel: 075 461 0005


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Sunday, October 28, 2012

World Cycling News 28 October 2012

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2012年10月28日

Park the Pickup: Santa Fe by Bicycle New York Times

Greg LeMond calls for UCI chief Pat McQuaid to resign BBC

iPhone apps for cyclists London Cyclist

Voyage à vélo - Cuba (circuit Oriente) Vélo Québec

Cyclists' weapons of choice: loud honks and curses Guardian

Programa entrenamiento para estar listo para una carrera de cross country en 29 dias

襲撃は「自転車の4人組」 大阪・ホームレス死亡で証言 Asahi Shinbun

Government ‘is failing on road safety’ The Times of London

Contador says Armstrong being "humiliated and lynched" Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Bowl of Japanese Rice and Roe

Japanese Roe明太子

After a short ride in eastern Kyoto, we ended up at a small izakaya and tucked into a bowl of rice topped with roe.

We are not major fans of fish eggs, but the people at the next table were having the same meal and we gave it a try.

The saltiness and the "pop" of the roe as they burst in your mouth take a bit of getting used to.

But it was a feast for the eyes - and, as it turned out, the stomach.


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Friday, October 26, 2012

Kyoto Bicycle Lanes

Bike Lane Kyoto京都自転車専用レーン

A wonderful article in Atlantic Cities shows that dedicated bicycle lanes can cut injuries.

As the article notes, "major city street with parked cars and no bike lanes is just about the most dangerous place you could ride a bike. All the big threats are there: open car doors, bad parallel parkers, passing cabs and public transit. This is not a particularly novel scientific revelation, although research has found it to be true. Things get more interesting when we compare this bad-biking baseline to infrastructure actually intended to accommodate cyclists."

Research from Canada has looked at 14 route types and the likelihood of a serious bike injury. And, drum roll, infrastructure is very important in determining that.

The chance of injury drops by about 50 percent when riding on a similar road with a bike lane and no parked cars. Similarly, the same result is true on bike paths and local streets with designated bike routes. Last, and most important, "protected bike lanes – with actual barriers separating cyclists from traffic – really make a difference. The risk of injury drops for riders there by 90 percent."

Pictured above is an example of a downtown bike "lane" in Kyoto. The lane is the 18 inch (?) wide slice of pavement between the white and reddish lines.

Come on Kyoto! How about a few more real dedicated bicycle lanes!


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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bicycle Book Review Need for the Bike

book-cover書評「Need for the Bike」

Need for the Bike takes readers and riders into a world that revolves around the bicycle.

All people and things move via the bike.

The book is, to quote from its blurb: "...extended meditation on cycling as a practice of life, the book recalls a country doctor who will not anesthetize the young Fournel after he impales himself on a downtube shifter, speculates about the difference between animals that would like to ride bikes (dogs, for instance) and those that would prefer to watch (cows, marmots), and reflects on the fundamental absurdity of turning over the pedals mile after excruciating mile. At the same time, Fournel captures the sound, smell, feel, and language of the reality and history of cycling, in the mountains, in the city, escaping the city, in groups, alone, suffering, exhausted, exhilarated."

Fournel writes well on the myriad pleasures of cycling.

Buy on Amazon USA


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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art 400 Years of European Masterpieces from the State Hermitage Museum

Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art京都市美術館大エルミタージュ美術館展 世紀の顔・西欧絵画の400年

The Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art is putting on a big ticket exhibit this fall.

89 masterpieces from collection of works in the Hermitage Museum will be in Okazaki this fall.

The works include pieces by Titian, Rubens, and Rembrandt; Monet, Cézanne, Picasso and Matisse.

One of Matisse's masterpieces, The Red Room (Harmony in Red), will be back in Kyoto for the first time in 30 years.

The exhibition spans four centuries of work, featuring paintings from the 16th through 20th Centuries.

Get ready to stand in line.

For cyclists, the museum is a short flat ride from central Kyoto.


October 10 - December 6 
9:00 am - 5 pm(last entry before 4:30)

Adults: 1500 yen, College and high school students: 1000 yen, Elementary and Junior High School Students: 500 yen
Telephone: 075 771 4107


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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Special Autumn Opening of the Kyoto Imperial Palace

Kyoto Gosho Imperial Palace京都御所秋季一般公開

For a limited period, the Imperial Palace will open its august doors to the general public.

From October 31 November 4, it is possible to enter.

Reservations are not required and admission is free.

All facilities connected to the Japanese royal family are managed by the Imperial Household Agency, or Kunaicho.

For those cycling, the Imperial Palace (Gosho) is a huge rectangular park due north of downtown or just south of Doshisha University.


Kyoto Imperial Palace

October 31 - November 4
9:00 am - 3:30 pm
Access: Karasuma subway line, Imadegawa Stn. or Marutamachi Stn.
Imperial Household Agency: Tel: 075 211 1211


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Monday, October 22, 2012

Cycling Daitokuji Temple Kyoto

Daitokuji Temple自転車で大徳寺へ

Daitokuji Temple is in north central Kyoto a bit west of the Kamo River.

It is a large open zen temple in which lie the remains of Sen no Rikyu, the founder of the way of tea.

Except for sunny fall days, it is easily - though bumpily - cycled.

It consists of many sub-temples and is usually blissful and quiet.

It can enjoyed as part of the Kitayama to Kamigamo Shrine route.


Daitokuji Temple
Daitokuji Daitokuji-cho, Murasakino, Kita-ku, Kyoto
075 491 0019

Entrance Fee: Free (except for sub-temples)


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Sunday, October 21, 2012

World Cycling News 21 October 2012

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2012年10月21日

Cycling Becomes a Cleaner Sport, Not a Safer One
New York Times

Lance Armstrong: Governing body set to announce verdict BBC

5 cheap and easy bike upgrades anyone can do London Cyclist

L’agglomération de Longueuil intègre la Route verte sur 28 km Vélo Québec

Pollutionwatch: Is urban cycling bad for our health? Guardian

No sin mi Bicing El Pais

中学生と自転車事故で後遺症…母の監督義務認定 Yomiuri Shinbun

‘Weight of numbers’ will bring safe cycling The Times of London

Omerta has to be broken, says Hamilton Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Bicycle Goods for Commuting Winter Gloves

自転車商品Gore Bike Wear - Xenon WINDSTOPPER Softshell サーモ Road グローブ

Winter Cycling Gloves

Ah fall, the best time of year.

Even commuting is pleasant.

In a few weeks though, those early morning rides to work or the train station will soon be bone-chillingly cold.

Time for that new pair of gloves or liners.

CycleKyoto recommends Gore Bike Wear - Xenon WINDSTOPPER Softshell gloves for comfort and ease of use.


© CycleKyoto Home Page


Friday, October 19, 2012

Kyoto Kiyomizu Yaki Pottery Festival Fair Yamashina

Slow down京都清水焼の郷

It's rare that we say this, but now is the time for a ride over the Sanjo Dori hill for a trip to Yamashina.

Other than as a way station en route to Lake Biwa or on the ride out to Daigoji Temple, Yamashina is not the most appealing area of Kyoto by a long shot.

However, this weekend - actually Friday to Sunday - Yamashina hosts the annual Kiyomizu-yaki Danchi Pottery Festival.

At the Kiyomizu Yaki Pottery Festival Fair, stalls will be displaying and selling beautiful Kiyomizu-yaki ceramics.

The name of the pottery - Kiyomizu - betrays its geographic origins, close to Kiyomizu Temple. However, since the 1960s the kilns have moved out of the city - regulations the city imposed on kilns required this - to Yamashina or farther out to Shiga.

Thus, Kiyomizuyaki is now mostly made in Yamashina.

In addition to shopping, there will be chances to make pottery, and there will be live music.


October 19 - 21
9:30 am - 6 pm

For those taking public transportation, there are buses running from Kyoto Station directly to the venue, 3-4 times an hour. For those going via JR Yamashina and the subway stop underneath, take Kyoto City Bus #29 from there.


For cyclists, ride up and over Sanjo Dori, past the Westin Hotel on your right and Nanzenji Temple (on your left but not visible from Sanjo). After cresting the hill, you will cruise downhill until Yamashina Station is a half block down to the left.

Turn right going away from the station. With the station at your back, head until you get to Tokai Dori. The bullet train tracks parallel this. Turn right, heading back towards central Kyoto. Follow the tracks. Just before the large road, the old route from Edo to Kyoto (Tokaido, or Tokai Dori), bends to the right, turn left and go under the bullet train tracks. Ride along this road away from the tracks until it bends sharply to the left. Turn right at that point. The hall is up the street on your right.


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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Japanese Police Contemplating Remedial Courses for Vicious Cyclists

Ryogoku Station Tokyo悪質自転車に講習義務

The Japanese police are at it again.

Due to a perceived plague of traffic accidents caused by reckless cyclists, the metropolitan police are considering requiring remedial classes for those who commit offenses.

According to police data, there were 140,000 accidents involving bicycles in Japan in 2011. Out of that total, there were 621 fatalities.

Sixty-five percent of those accidents were caused by ignoring a traffic light.

Although the number of accidents has not increased in recent years, the police are planning on a December kick off for remedial classes for repeat offenders.


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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cycling Lake Hamanako Japan

Lake Hamanako Cycle Trail自転車で浜名湖

Three stops on a local JR line from Hamamatsu is JR Bentenjima Station.

It is a fairly industrial area, heavily concreted by the Ministry of Construction. Just across a large road though is the Pacific Ocean.

Close to the beach is a decent rental shop where one can rent a beater of a bike for just 500 yen/day. After about 10 minutes on said beater, the scenery improves. After about 20 minutes, you are cruising on a bike lane that skirts the edge of Lake Hamana, or "Hamanako" in Japanese.

Hamanako is a large lake on the Pacific Coast in Shizuoka Prefecture. It was originally a fresh water lake that was not connected to the Pacific Ocean.

However, in 1498 a large earthquake opened a pathway from the ocean to the lake, with the result that the lake today is salt water.

The full bike trail loop is 82 km, but of course you can choose to do less than that.


From Bentenjima Station, go out the exit on the side of the Pacific Ocean. Walk towards the ocean. There is a rental shop in the plaza in front of the beach called Yurin.

To rent a bike, you will need to fill out a form with your name, address, and telephone number. The rental fee is 500 yen plus a deposit of 1000 yen, which is refunded after you return the bike.

This is one of several "terminals," where rental bikes can be had.

Tel: 053 596 4187

Map in Japanese


View from Lake Hamanako Cycle Trail

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Kyoto Kodaiji Temple Light Up

kodaiji temple高台寺ライトアップ

Fall is light up season in Kyoto.

Many of the city's most beautiful temples and areas are lit up at night - and keep their gates open late.

One of the most beautiful temples to be lit up is Kodaiji Temple.

Kodaiji was built on a bluff in 1606 C.E.

It is close to Kiyomizu Temple, Ninenzaka slope, and just above the Path of Nene.


October 20 - December 10
9 am - 9:30 pm


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Monday, October 15, 2012

Kyoto Bicycle Street Sign

Kyoto Bicycle Sign京都自転車標識「自転車とまれ」

On a narrow street south of the Golden Pavilion that runs into Higashi Oji Dori, a new "Stop" sign aimed at cyclists appeared.

It is bright yellow with red and black lettering.

The sign reads:

自転車とまれ (Jitensha Tomare)

"Bikes stop"

Below that:

北けいさつ (Kita Keistatsu)

"North Police"

北交通安全協会 (Kita Kotsu Anzen Kyokai)

"North Transportation Safety Association"


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Sunday, October 14, 2012

World Cycling News 14 October 2012

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2012年10月14日

Report Describes How Armstrong and His Team Eluded Doping Tests New York Times

Persuading Hong Kong to take up cycling BBC

Another (surprising) reason to cycle London Cyclist

À pied, à vélo, ville active Vélo Québec

How to lubricate a bike - video Guardian

Nueva convocatoria: Curso de Ciclismo Urbano Bicitekas

悪質な自転車運転者に講習義務づけも 有識者会議が検討 Asahi Shinbun

Transport Secretary calls for better road design and training to help cyclists
The Times of London

USADA report reveals Lance Armstrong as the greatest fraud in American sports

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Super Cool Cycling Dude Tokyo Omotesando

Cool Guy Harajuku表参道の格好いい男

In Harajuku, this young dude had the world in his palm of his hands.

He hopped off a beater of a BMX bike, locked it in seconds flat, then strolled off on his way.

On a late summer stroll down Omotesando, Tokyo, he is in search of who knows what.


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Friday, October 12, 2012

Cycling Book Review THE SECRET RACE Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France

secret-race書評「The Secret Race」

The Secret Race is a timely read for cycling fans and those with a more general interest in sport.

Lance Armstrong gave up on his fight against doping charges recently.

Tyler Hamilton, an Olympic gold medalist and one-time teammate of Mr. Armstrong, is the author and confessed drug cheat.

“The Secret Race” continues with the confession.

Co-written with Daniel Coyle "The Secret Race" is a well-written overview on the issue and problem of drugs in cycling.

Prior to his admission of doping, Mr. Hamilton was legendary for his to endure pain and keep riding. In 2002 he crashed at the start of the three-week Giro d’Italia fracturing his shoulder.

After finishing second Hamilton had 11 teeth recapped.

However, a long streak of disappointing race results, Hamilton took his first “red egg,” a capsule of powerful testosterone. It was provided by his racing team. This was followed by syringes filled with powerful EPO.

A great if disappointing read.

Buy on Amazon USA


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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Kyoto Event Doll Memorial Service at Hokyoji Temple

Jofukuji Dori宝鏡寺人形寺と雅の遊戯~和宮御降嫁150年を記念して~

At Hokyoji Temple, in north central Kyoto, there will be a memorial service for the many dolls within the temple.

On October 14 a ceremony will begin at 10:30 am. The temple opens its doors at 10 am.

Hokyoji Temple is more commonly known at "Ningyo Dera" (Doll Temple).

For centuries, the dolls of the girls in the Imperial family have been donated to this temple.

At the performance, geisha will dance.

Also, in November, the annual fall exhibit of the many dolls will take place at Hokyoji. From November 1 - 30, the dolls will be on display daily from 10 am to 4 pm (last entry at 3:30 pm).

The entry fee is 600 yen.


For those taking public transportation: take Kyoto City Bus #9, and get off at Horikawa Teranouchi.

For those cycling, the Nishijin route will get you there.

Tel: 075 451 1550


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Cycle Festa Osaka 2012 Red Bull Campaign Girls

Cycle Festa Osaka 2012サイクルフェスター大阪2012レッドブルキャンペーンガールたち

Attractive PR Women ("campaign girls") are never far at Asian conventions.

At the recently ended Cycle Festa Osaka 2012 bicycle convention, Red Bull had a stable of beauties out and about.

They were distributing samples and being cute.

In keeping with the theme of the event - outdoorsy, healthy - they did not come in heels and body-clinging short short dresses as is de rigueur at automobile shows.

Instead, they were clad in jeans and polo shirts.

They spent the day outside by the test track, where cycle freaks tore around the track by Osaka Bay on the latest (bike) models.


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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Osaka COIDECO Bicycle Sharing Program

Osaka Castle大阪コイでコ コミュニティサイクル

Osaka is currently in the middle of a month-long test run for its long-awaited bicycle sharing program, which is known as Coideco.

Sixteen ports are located around the city where bikes can be rented and then returned.

If the test run is a success and the city introduces a full-time bike sharing program - like those in Barcelona, Paris, Kyoto, and many cities - getting around Japan's second city will be that much easier.


Open daily from 10 am - 6 pm
October 1 - October 31


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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Kyoto Autumn Festival 2012 October 26 - 28

Heian Torii Gate岡崎オータムフェスタ2012

There is more good news for art-loving night owls.

Over the weekend of October 26 - 28, the Okazaki area of Kyoto will be lit up with beautiful akari lamps.

Okazaki is of course home to Heian Shrine and three of Kyoto's best museums: Hosomi, Kyoto Municipal Art Museum, and the National Museum of Modern Art Kyoto. All of these museums will be open until 9 pm.

The area is a short ride from central Kyoto.

The akari lights will be on from 6 - 9 pm, and laid out from Sanjo Dori all the way to Heian Shrine, and then jog down to the Hosomi Musuem.

In addition, there will be special lighting set up near the museums.


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Monday, October 8, 2012

Kyoto International Community Center Film Screenings


The Japan Foundation's Kyoto Office is sponsoring a series of free film screenings this fall at the Kyoto International Community Center.

All of the films are in Japanese but will be subtitled in English.

The schedule is below:

October 24 (Wednesday), 2 pm

The Spirit of Tea: Sen no Rikyu

October 25 (Thursday), 2 pm

The Twilight Samurai

October 26 (Friday), 2 pm

The Magic Fox
Broken Down Film
Pictures at an Exhibition

November 29 (Thursday), 2 pm

Zeami and the Noh Theatre
The Noh Mask

November 30 (Friday), 2 pm

The Makioka Sisters

Kyoto International Community Center is located near Keage Station in Okazaki. For cyclists, it is close to Nanzenji Temple and the art museum area.


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Sunday, October 7, 2012

World Cycling News 7 October 2012

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2012年10月07日

Changing Skyline: Developer shares his liking for biking Philadelphia Inquirer

Disgraced cyclist Floyd Landis found guilty of defaming UCI chiefs BBC

Winter cycling jackets London Cyclist

Voyage à vélo - Vietnam? Vélo Québec

How to protect your bike from being stripped for parts Guardian

Invitación: Rodando por la Nueva Ruta de la Amistad Bicitekas

悪質な自転車運転者に講習義務づけも 有識者会議が検討 Asahi Shinbun

Ride to the rescue of nation’s cyclists, Cameron is urged The Times of London

Kenyan cycling develops with Asian photographer's focus Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Cycle Mode FESTA 2012 in Osaka Starts Today


From October 6 - 8, the Cycle Mode FESTA 2012 in Osaka starts today.

It is the largest convention of its kind in Japan (Asia?).

If you are a bike geek, you must attend.

All of the big name makers will be on hand with new models.

In addition, you can ride some of the new models.

In the Main Hall, there will be a cycling course on which you can ride a bike.

The procedure is:

1. Apply (fill out a form)
2. Issuance of Bike Pass (a blue bracelet)
3. Choose Bike
4. Head on to Course
5. Return Bike

In other halls, many of Japan's bicycle NPOs will be on hand with literature and information.

It is a great day out.


Cycle Mode FESTA 2012 in Osaka
Asia Pacific Trade Center
October 6, 2012 8:00 am - October 8, 2012 5:00 pm
Cost: ¥1,000 in advance, ¥1,200 yen on the day


From Umeda, Honmachi, Shinsaibashi, Nanba, take the Chuo Subway Line to Honmachi. From there, it is 18 minutes to Cosmos Square.

From Osaka Station, take the Kanjo Circle Line towards Tennoji. Change at Bentencho for the Chuo Subway Line.


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Friday, October 5, 2012

Tokyo Skytree As Seen from the Highway

Skytree Tokyo東京スカイツリー

On a recent trip to Tokyo, we could see Tokyo Skytree from the bus window.

We are still partial to Tokyo Tower, but the downtown venue and the look of Tokyo SkyTree are growing on us.

The area, moreover, is a great ride. Heading out from Ueno Station, there are bike lanes on the wide sidewalk and the side streets are quiet and peaceful.


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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fall Maiko and Geisha Performances Kyoto

Kyoto Maiko on Pontocho舞妓倶楽部特別イベント舞妓さんと楽しむ京の秋

Fall in Kyoto is divine.

The weather is close to perfect, food and sake are at their harvest peak, and events abound.

Among them are the annual performances by Kyoto's maiko and geisha.

Below is a list with information:

October 1 - 6

Onshukai in Gion Kobu

Reserved seats are 8,000 yen, non-reserved seats 4,000 yen. Performances begin from 16:00.

Gion Kobu Kabukai
075 561 1115

October 11 - 14

Mizuekai in Miyagawacho

Reserved seats are 7,000 yen, non-reserved seats 4,000 yen. Performances begin from 16:00

Miyagawacho Kabukai
075 561 1151

October 8 - 12

Kotobukikai in Kamishichiken

Reserved seats are 7,000 yen. Performances begin from 16:00.

Kamishichiken Kabukai
075 461 0148

October 18 - 21

Suimeikai in Pontocho

Reserved seats are 7,000 yen, non-reserved seats 3,000 yen. Performances begin from 16:00.
Pontoch Kabukai
075 221 2025

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Museum of Kyoto Marc Chagall 2012 - The Love Story


The Museum of Kyoto is currently hosting a Marc Chagall exhibit.

The Russian painter, born in 1887, is known for his works with Jewish motifs and has been called the poet of color.

The State Tretyakov Gallery and the Russian National Museum have collaborated in this exhibit, which features works related to Chagall's lifelong love affair with Bella Rosenfeld.

The exhibit runs from October 3 - November 25.


The Museum of Kyoto (Sanjo Dori, central Kyoto)
10 am - 6 pm; closed Mondays but October 8 and 22 open
Admission: 1300 yen, 900 yen (high school and college students), 500 yen (children)


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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cycling Kyoto Shirakawa Canal

Shirakawa Canal京都白川疎水を自転車で

Kyoto, an inland city, has an interesting and fairly extensive network of canals.

It does not compare to Osaka, once known as the Venice of Asia.

Still, for cyclists the canals provide a winding, often car-free alternative for getting around the city.

In particular, the Shirakawa Canal is a gem of a ride.

One section of it winds from Nanzenji Temple, in the Higashiyama hills of eastern Kyoto, along the Philosophers Path, before cutting west.

It runs literally into the Takano River, then continues on the opposite bank running close to the city's Botanical Gardens, and then ends by flowing into the Kamo River.

The canal is part of a large public works project begin at the end of the 19th century to bring water from Lake Biwa into Kyoto. The canals also served as sources of electricity generation and for transportation.


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Monday, October 1, 2012

Cycling Around Ueno Tokyo

Cycling Ueno東京上野を自転車で

Tokyo's Ueno is many things.

For many decades it was the entry point for economic refugees from Japan's impoverished north who flooded the capital in the pre- and post-War years.

Many enka ballads can be heard to this day that capture the fear and hopes of those alighting at Ueno Station and entering Tokyo.

Ueno has also long been part of the city's "downtown," or shitamachi. This is the old working-class section of the city close to the Sumida River.

It is also home to several national museums, the nation's oldest zoo - all in Ueno Park - Tokyo University of the Arts, and of course Tokyo University.

Recently, the area has been the target of some redevelopment. Tokyo Skytree was completed earlier this year, and was built not too far from Ueno. It is the tallest structure in Japan, and serves as a broadcasting and observation tower.

For cyclists, Ueno Park is a open expanse with plenty of paths. The streets over towards Skytree are straight and empty and great for riding. For those with a bit of time, nearby Yanaka and Sendagi are also worth a slow easy ride. Many temples and shops dot the neighborhood.

Cycling Ueno ParkUeno Zoo©

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