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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cycling Infrastructure in Britain


Maybe things aren't as bad as we thought here in Kyoto.

In Britain, in addition to what appears to be quite a bit of tension between cyclists and motorists, the infrastructure itself is lacking.

Read more.


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Monday, April 29, 2013

Golden Week Kyoto 2013


Golden Week is at long last upon us.

The "golden week" is a series of national holidays in Japan, which many companies use to give their exhausted employees a week or more off.

The holidays are noted below.

April 29: Showa Day (formerly Emperor's Birthday and then, until 2006, Greenery Day)

May 3: Constitution Memorial Day

May 4: Greenery Day

May 5: Children's Day (formerly Boys Day)

As one will quickly note, there are blanks in this schedule. Schools and universities do hold classes on those days; thus, many teachers and parents enjoy a rather truncated week.

Still, the dogwoods and azaleas are out, the temperature is ideal. Life is good.

We celebrated that by riding over to Sakamoto, in neighboring Shiga.


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Sunday, April 28, 2013

World Cycling News 28 April 2013

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2013年04月28日

Case Against Armstrong New York Times

Chris Froome maintains Tour de Romandie lead after stage three BBC

Three must try rides for WaterAid London Cyclist

Voyage à vélo - Costa Brava Vélo Québec

How to straighten a bent bicycle wheel - video tutorial Guardian

“La bici es estratégica en Madrid” El Pais

Evolution? or Devolution?
どこまで進化する機材?果たしてその進化は必要なのか?第1弾:変速機の”家電化” 、進む開発合戦、ユーザーフレンドリーとは誰のため? Cycling Time

Lord Sugar and Sir Richard Branson pile on the pressure to get Britain cycling The Times of London

UCI go on the attack after latest accusations by USADA Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News

Bicycle Goods

Japan Buyers

Japan SALE
Extra 15% off when you spend JA YEN 15,000
Code: 15-EXTRA


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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Cycling Kyoto Sanjo Arcade


Kyoto has a few very bustling outdoor covered arcades.

Perhaps the largest is Sanjokai, which is just outside downtown, and located along Sanjo Dori west of Horikawa and east of Nijo Station and Senbon Dori.

It is a mix of old-timey shops, quirky stores, daily needs merchants - and it is long.

It is also wide enough that cyclists can use it. There will be a lot of pedestrians, but a slow ride is possible.

Nijo Castle and the Ninja House are both close.

The ride is short, safe, and offers much to see.

Kyoto Sanjo Arcade Cycling Map

View Cycling Kyoto Sanjo Arcade in a larger map

© CycleKyoto Home Page Tags

Friday, April 26, 2013

Cycling Kyoto to Jonangu Shrine

Jonangu Shrineツツジとフジ、新緑の庭彩る 城南宮で見頃

For those with an itch to see azalea and wisteria, Jonangu Shrine in south Kyoto is a fine place to start.

The surrounding area is not easy on the eyes - were it not for safety issues, we would recommend horse blinders - but once inside the grounds of the shrine it is divine.

The shrine is well known for its gardens. Each represents four different styles from four periods in Japanese history: Heian, Muromachi, Momoyama, and Heisei.

One of the gardens is believed to have featured in Lady Murasaki's Tales of the Genji, and the Shrine boasts more than 100 types of flowering plants.


Hours: 9 am to 4:30 pm (last entry at 4 pm)

Entrance Fee: 500 Yen

For cyclists, it on the way - though a bit of a detour - to Fushimi. From Sumizome Station, it will take about 10 minutes.

Jonangu Shrine Cycling Map

View Cycling Kyoto Station to Fushimi in a larger map

Photo © Kyoto Shinbun


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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cycling to Kyoto Keirin Racing Track

Kyoto Keirin自転車で京都競輪

Kyoto's local Keirin bicycle racing track is not pretty.

It is heavy on concrete and green cloth awnings and hard edges - a developing country's idea of an Impressive Project.

And a lot of middle-aged men missing teeth.

Still, the races are a thrilling cat-and-mouse game.

Kyoto's track is 500 meters long, so races run for five laps (Keirin races tend to be 2,000 - 3,000 meters long).

Each race has nine racers, with the final race limited to the highest ranked racers. (Keirin is, like European soccer, broken into level. Based upon one's performance it is possible to be promoted - or demoted - to another level.)

Racers range in age from early twenties to some in their sixties. The strongest racers tend to be in their mid- or late-30s

For much of the beginning of the race, the pace is almost leisurely. By the third lap, however, the racers are all over the track frantically vying to position themselves for the final sprint to the finish.

Gambling is allowed - no, it is encouraged. If you are interested in so doing, you had best buy a racing form or sports newspaper and brush up on your Japanese.

The entrance fee is a mere 50 yen (55 US cents). The first race sets off at 10:50 am; the last race begins at roughly 4:20 pm. There are small stores that sell coffee, fish lunches, beer, ice cream, and more.

£15 off when you spend £100 on Cycling Shoes
Offer ends 2pm (BST) 25/04/2013

£40 off when you spend £200 on Cycling Shoes
Offer ends 2pm (BST) 25/04/2013


From JR Mukomachi Station (3 local stops from Kyoto Station), it is a 20-minute walk or 5-minute free shuttle bus ride.

From Hankyu Higashi Muko Station, it is a 15-minute walk or short shuttle bus ride.

For cyclists, it is a flat ride along the Katsura River to the south of Kyoto (see map below). It will take about one hour from central Kyoto.

Upcoming Keirin Races in Kyoto 2013

April 30, May 1, May 2


View Cycling Kyoto to Osaka in a larger mapCycleKyoto Home Page


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Kyoto Racecourse Horses Yodo

Kyoto Keiba (Horse Races)自転車で京都競馬へ

Down in deep deep south Kyoto (prefecture) is the Kyoto Racecourse.

It is a large facility that holds 120,000 with seating for 28,000.

And it is a brilliant day out.

Races are held throughout the year, and you can get right up to the rail to watch the action.

Betting is made easier if you can read Japanese and have a racing form/sports newspaper, but there are attendants who will help you fill out the betting slips and work the machines.

For those who do not read Japanese, here is an English guide to betting.

Race Days 2013

April 20, 21, 27, 28
May 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26
October 5, 6, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 26, 27
November 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24


The racecourse is on the Keihan line between Kyoto and Osaka. Yodo is the stop in front of the racecourse. Entry is 200 yen.

For hard-core cyclists, it is along the Kyoto to Osaka cycling route. It will take about one hour to 90 minutes one way from Kyoto. There is a map below.

Phone: 075-631-3131
Hours: Wednesday hours 9:00 am–5:00 pm


Kyoto Racecourse Map

View Cycling Kyoto to Osaka in a larger map

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Kyoto Graphie International Photography Exhibit


Kyoto is currently hosting a world-class photography event ("festival").

Kyoto Graphie will be held at multiple venues featuring many artists.

The exhibits continue until May 6.

Participating artists include:

Eiko Hosoe
Malick Sidibe
Seiwamon Onishi
Nicolas Bouvier
Shiro Takatani
Kate Barry
Tadashi Ono

The venues include Nijo Castle, the French Consulate, and more. They can be found in the Kyoto Graphie site.

All of the venues can easily be cycled.

Image © Kyotographie


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Monday, April 22, 2013

Cycling Kyoto Station to Mibu Temple


For those wanting to take a short ride from the Kyoto Station area, several routes can be recommended.

The most obvious - and shortest - is down to Toji Temple.

Going the other way is Mibu Temple.

Along the way are old temples, an aquarium, the Ryugoku Buddhist Museum, and several good public baths.

It is a short and easy wander.

Cycling Route Map from Kyoto Station to Mibu Temple

View Cycling Kyoto Station to Mibu Temple in a larger map

© CycleKyoto Home Page Tags

Sunday, April 21, 2013

World Cycling News 21 April 2013

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2013年04月21日

City’s Bike Share Program Starts Signing Up Customers New York Times

Shanaze Reade & Liam Phillips win World Cup time-trials BBC

Cycling in El Salvador London Cyclist

Nos forfaits de cyclotourisme - Espagne Vélo Québec

How roads were not built for cars Guardian

La emoción de ir en bici El Pais

Sram 22
スラムが油圧式ロードブレーキをラインナップ、ロード新時代の油圧キャリパーブレーキと油圧ディスクブレーキは普及するか?独自路線を突き進むコンポーネントメーカーはやっぱり面白い Cycling Time

Councils urged to invest in cycling for better health The Times of London

Cyclist Armstrong sells home in Austin, Texas Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News

Bicycle Goods

Japan Buyers

Japan SALE
Extra 15% off when you spend JA YEN 15,000
Code: 15-EXTRA

Landing page for Japan:


CycleKyoto Home Page


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Byodoin Temple Uji Kyoto Wisteria Gets a Haircut

Byodoin-Wisteria平等院の藤棚、集中治療 2年後再生へ

The 270-year-old wisteria on the grounds of Byodoin Temple in Uji, which is south of Kyoto, got a haircut.

In part, the work was to improve the health of the plant and is taking place as renovations are being undertaken on the main hall of Byodoin.

In good years, as many as 1,500 buds come into bloom.

In recent years, though, the tree has begun to show its age.

Hopefully, 90% of those blossoms will revive in future years.

Cycling from downtown Kyoto to Uji will take 90 minutes to two hours.

Photo © Kyoto Shinbun


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Friday, April 19, 2013

Driving Culture Affects Our Safety


And yet another brilliant work has appeared in the lively blog Baltimore Spokes. The factoid at the bottom will make even the most die-hard car-loving bike-hater sit up and notice.

It begins:

"Road Awareness Driving is supposed to be fun – it used to be anyway. Obviously the automobile wasn’t designed as a toy but rather as a convenient way to traverse great distances in a short amount of time. It really was convenient. Well…it used to be anyway. Now driving isn’t convenient at all though. It’s no longer fun to drive and it has become a huge source of frustration, fear for some, and leads to much pain, suffering and deaths. There have been more traffic related fatalities around the world, since the first automobile was made, than all the deaths from all global conflicts over the past 3000 years combined. A machine that was supposed to make our lives easier has turned out to be more lethal than the atom bomb. I don’t mean to sound melodramatic but the drama on our roads is pretty severe. However, despite all the technology invested into making our roads and vehicles safer, things are getting worse and the impact of each crash to our social economy is mind boggling. For example, each traffic fatality in Canada equals about $15 million to the social economy..."

To read the rest, click here.


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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cycling Kyoto Four Geisha Areas


For those with the geisha-bug, here is a route map for cycling to see the four main areas in Kyoto where the women ply their trade.

Three of the four - Pontocho, Gion, and Miyagawacho - are all close to one another.

The final area, Kamishichiken, is in northwestern Kyoto, about 30 minutes on a bike from Pontocho or a bit more from Gion.

In places, it is not possible to ride. Pontocho for example is too narrow; Gion can be brimming with tourists.

Parking can also be an issue. For Pontocho, cyclists will want to park somewhere along Kiyamachi - no easy trick - and then walk to and along Pontocho.

Happy cycling.

View Kyoto Geisha Theaters (Gion Kobu, Miyagawacho, Pontocho, Kamishichiken) in a larger map

© CycleKyoto Home Page Tags

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cycling Kumogahata Kyoto

Tradtional House Kyoto自転車で雲ヶ畑へ

In the hills north of Kyoto are several good rides: Kibune, Ohara, and Kumogahata.

All are excellent rides.

Kumogahata is perhaps the hardest of the three, with a gradual climb that will take about 30 minutes.

What awaits is a pastoral scene of farm houses, shrines and temples, and fields.

It is a cool breather from the scorching heat of central Kyoto.


From central Kyoto, ride north along the Kamo River until you get to Kamogamo Shrine (off to the right). Continue along the river until Route 38. Then, you will continue straight onto 61. That is where the climb starts. The ride is about one hour from downtown Kyoto, a bit more for first-timers.

For those in very good shape, it is possible to continue up and over the top of the mountain and follow the narrow mountain road - paved, of course - back into a different part of Kyoto close to Bukkyo University.

View Kyoto Kumogahata Cycling Map in a larger map

© CycleKyoto Home Page Tags

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Kyoto Aoi Matsuri Shrine Maiden Announced

Aoi Festival Saio Maiden斎王代に長瀬摩衣子さん 第58代・左京出身

The selection of the Saio (shrine maiden) for this year's Aoi Matsuri (Festival) was announced in Kyoto yesterday.

Maiko Nagase, a twenty-year-old college student born and raised in Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, was named as the 53rd such maiden.

Aoi Matsuri is one of the Three Big Festivals - Gion Matsuri and Jidai Matsuri are the other two - and takes place every May 15.

It is not a loud, drunken, sensual - i.e., typical - Japanese festival. It is rather a long parade of 500 or so people dressed in period costume. Dressed in Heian Period (794 - 1185) clothing, the festival winds its way from the Imperial Palace to the Kamo Shrines.

All of those taking part will be wearing hollyhock, which is the meaning of "Aoi."

Traditionally, a young woman from one of Kyoto's elite families is chosen to be the Saio maiden, and it is a great honor. Nagase's father is the president of Kyoraku, a local plastics manufacturer.

For photo buffs, it is a fun day out. Be warned though: it is crowded and not much happens.

Cyclists should park and walk. Police are going to be out en masse, and many places will be unpassable.


On May 15, the procession departs the Imperial Palace at 10:30, crosses the Kamo River at around 11:15, and arrives at Shimogamo Shrine at 2:20 pm. The last leg is up to Kamigamo Shrine, with an estimated arrival time of 3:30 pm.

Photo © Kyoto Shinbun


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Monday, April 15, 2013

Sanno Matsuri at Hiyoshi Taisha shrine


We survived the Sanno Matsuri at Hiyoshi Taisha shrine in Otsu, Shiga, yesterday.

It dates back 2300 years, according to participants. The portable shrines now so common at Japanese festivals have their roots here.

The festival is long, done on a massive scale, and intense. It is three days, every year on April 13-15, weekend or no weekend, rain or shine.

There are 7 portable shrines and roughly 80-100 men per float.

We carried the floats down through the villages that make up Sakamoto, arriving at Lake Biwa in the early afternoon.

At that point, the floats were placed on a barge and sailed around the lake for two hours.

Following that, we carried them back up to the shrine.

In addition to the length of the festival, the singing - a call-and-response style of rural folk song - the cold, the most impressive aspect of the festival is the energy of the participants.

The sheer wildness of the festival was like nothing we have ever participated in.


Hiyoshi Taisha shrine is not far from Sakamoto Station on the Keihan Line, or a fifteen-minute walk from JR Hieizan-Sakamoto Station on the Kosei Line.


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Sunday, April 14, 2013

World Cycling News Kyoto 14 April 2013

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2013年04月14日

Judge Questions Legality of Fee for Bike Tour New York Times

Giro d'Italia: Bradley Wiggins to ride Giro del Trentino warm-up BBC

10 things I wish I’d known when I first started cycling London Cyclist

Voyage à vélo - En route pour le Tour de l’Île avec VIA Rail Canada, à partir de Québec Vélo Québec

How can we get more children cycling on the school run? Guardian

La emoción de ir en bici El Pais

Alex Rasmussen faced a comeback trouble
誰の不手際?出場停止期間が終わったのにアレックス・ラスムッセンがレース出場を拒否される、未だに責任の所在はっきりせず、またしてもUCI絡みでのトラブル Cycling Time

Councils urged to invest in cycling for better health The Times of London

Cyclist Armstrong sells home in Austin, Texas Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News

Bicycle Goods

Japan Buyers

Japan SALE
Extra 15% off when you spend JA YEN 15,000
Code: 15-EXTRA

Landing page for Japan:


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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sanno Festival Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine April 12-15


Tomorrow we will be among the masses at Hiyoshi Taisha shrine in Otsu, Shiga, carrying a portable shrine (mikoshi, in Japanese).

The festival is called Sano Festival and dates 1300 years. It is based in the historic Sakamoto area of Otsu, Shiga, which is where retired monks from Enryakuji Temple live.

The festival is a three-day lollapalooza.

The mikoshi shrine is carried up Mt. Hiei on day one, on the second day a sacred tea ceremony takes place, and God knows what on the third day. (Actually, on April 14, seven mikoshi (portable shrines) will be carried from Hiyoshi Jinja to a boat on Lake Biwa. They are then returned to the shore about one hour later.

In addition to blood type, I was asked for an emergency contact phone number when sending in my details to the organizers, who are a bit short of manpower and sent out the word to festival leaders in Kyoto.


A short walk from Sakamoto Station on the Keihan Line, or a fifteen-minute walk from JR Hieizan-Sakamoto Station on the Kosei Line.


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Kyoto Earthquake

淡路島で震度6弱 JR西など一時運休

This morning around 5:30 am we had a big shake in Kyoto.

The tremor was strong enough that it woke me from a deep sleep.

I fell back to sleep and promptly forgot the episode until the morning news reminded us.

According to reports, the earthquake registered just under 6 on the Japanese scale and was due to plate movement 10 km under Awajishima Island, not far from Kobe and Osaka.

There were no tsunami.

Trains in western Japan briefly were halted.

But life is back to normal and it is a beautiful day perfect for getting out.


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Friday, April 12, 2013

Cherry Blossom Illumination at Hikone Castle Shiga

Hikone Castle Illumination花々妖艶 堀の水面彩る 彦根城夜桜

While the cherry blossoms are fading fast here in Kyoto, out in Hikone, Shiga, they are in full bloom.

Hikone is along Lake Biwa and one of the many interesting towns along the cycling route around the circumference of the lake.

The main attraction of Hikone is its castle.

On the grounds of the castle are some 1200 cherry trees.

Until April 20th the moat, grounds, and castle itself will be illuminated from 6 - 9 pm every night.

Photo © Kyoto Shinbun


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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Kyoto Eco Station Bicycle Parking


Kyoto's bicycle parking infrastructure is excellent.

Parts of downtown remain desert-like, only a few oases (plural of oasis?) of legal parking lots to be found.

However, the city as a whole has ample, well organized, and inexpensive parking options for cyclists.

A new addition to that are the 30+ "Eco Stations" located throughout the city.

They vary in cost and size, but in general you can park from one to three hours for free. Thereafter, you will be charged a small per hour rate.

Kyoto Bicycle Parking Map (Eco Stations are noted in red)

View Kyoto Bicycle Parking Lots Map in a larger map


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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sakura Cherry Trees in Blossom at Ninnaji Temple Kyoto

Ninnaji Temple Cherry Trees遅咲き桜も はや見頃 仁和寺

The last gasp of the cherry blossom season is under way at Ninnaji Temple.

The temple's famed Omuro Sakura are now in full bloom.

The species is smaller and later to bloom than other trees.

There are about 140 of the trees in the interior of the grounds.

For cyclists, parking is available in front of the main gate.


9:00 to 17:00


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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Kyoto to Introduce Light Rail?

Kyoto LRT Test京の街走るかLRT

Is this yet another tease from the powers that be in Kyoto?

According to the Asahi Shinbun newspaper, Kyoto is seriously contemplating introducing multiple Light Rail Transit (LRT) routes.

But for the semantics of LRT, what the city is considering is reintroducing trolley service.

Kyoto was the first Japanese city to have a trolley network, which began service in 1912. Routes crisscrossed much of the city until 1978 when in the name of progress they were ripped up to make way for automobiles.

Now with an aging population, environmental concerns, and traffic congestion, the time would seem ripe for Kyoto to bring back trolleys in their 21st century incarnation.

The advantages of LRT are legion: low to the ground for easy entry and exit, environmentally friendly, fast, frequent, and compared to subways about one tenth the cost to install.

The usual suspects - delivery companies, the automobile industry, car owners who live along the proposed LRT routes - oppose the move. However, city hall has some powerful allies on its side this time around: the shotengai (shopping arcades) association.

The biggest obstacle is cost. At 20-30 billion yen (20-30 million US dollars) per kilometer, it is much less than even the "mini-subway" lines - but not insignificant. Moreover, because of debts incurred by the Tozai subway line - built under the previous administration - city finances are tight.

Three years ago, the city made similar pronouncements about moving away from a car-centric society.

We remain hopeful but wary.

Proposed Routes

Kyoto Station - Gion
Kyoto Station - Kawaramachi
Circle Line (Higashioji - Kitaoji - Nishioji - Kujo)
Demachinyanagi - Hakubaicho


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Monday, April 8, 2013

Geisha Spring Dance Performances Kyoto 2013


Spring in Kyoto means many things: cherry blossoms, the "new" year (schools and business all begin on or around April 1), and of course the spring dance performances by the city's famed geisha.

At the Gion Kobu Kaburenjo Theatre the annual Miyako Odori runs from April 1-30.

Gion Kobu is the largest of the city's geisha theaters.

Tickets are 4,500 yen with matcha green tea service, 4,000 yen without tea, 2,000 yen (non-reserved seats).

Performances are held at 12:30, 14:00, 15:30, 16:50

Tel: 075 541 3391

Gion Kobu Site

At the Miyagawacho Kaburenjo Theatre, which is a bit south of Gion Kobu and closer to the Kamo River, the 64th Kyo Odori runs from April 6-21.

The Kyo Odori is an annual dance performance by maiko and geiko basede in the Miyagawacho district.

Tickets are 4,500 yen with matcha green tea, 4,000 yen without tea.

Performances are held at 12:30, 14:30 & 16:30

Tel: 075 561 1151

Miyagawacho Site

For those cycling to either of the above, parking is an issue, especially at Gion Kobu. Side streets are a possibility but the best option may be to park along Oike (free for two hours), and then walk.

Map of Kyoto Geisha Theaters

View Kyoto Geisha Theaters (Gion Kobu, Miyagawacho, Pontocho, Kamishichiken) in a larger map


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Sunday, April 7, 2013

World Cycling News 7 April 2013

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2013年04月07日

Disappointed Armstrong Stopped From Competing in Swimming New York Times

Mark Cavendish denied fourth Scheldeprijs by Marcel Kittel BBC

Secondary bike locks: 4 of the best London Cyclist

Nos forfaits de cyclotourisme - Espagne Vélo Québec

Why the London Cycling Campaign designed a bike-friendly lorry Guardian

Asilo diplomático para ciclistas amenazados El Pais

2強に苦難の時!パリ〜ルーベを前にカンチェは2日続けて落車、ディフェンディングチャンピオンのボーネンはやはり骨折で欠場!混戦必至の石畳頂上決戦勝利の女神は一体誰に微笑む? Cycling Time

Britons spend record £1.5bn on bicycles in switch to pedal power The Times of London

UCI blames Rasmussen pull-out on team errors Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News

Bicycle Goods

Japan Buyers

Japan SALE
Extra 15% off when you spend JA YEN 15,000
Code: 15-EXTRA

Landing page for Japan:


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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Kyoto Tourist Sign Senbon Imadegawa Streets


Attractive multilingual signs have been popping around Kyoto.

In a city famous for difficult to read place names - Japanese from Tokyo sometimes cannot read the signs - and full of tourists, this is welcome.

Most of the signs are smaller, but this larger model includes a handy map.

The sites noted are not particularly famous, but the sign is elegant and helpful.

This sign is a few blocks east of the Kamishichiken geisha area and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine.


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Friday, April 5, 2013

Kyoto Sanga Struggling Early in 2013 Season

kyoto purple sanga京都サンガ2013年

We grew up following the Philadelphia Phillies, so in spite of their World Series win in 1980 and the glory years of the aughts, we still have a strongly cynical native-born sense that doom is just around the corner, that the Phils will lose somehow, that they will screw up at the least opportune moment.

Now, many years later, that sense of doom has expanded from the Phils - whom we follow online from afar - to include the local soccer club, Kyoto Sanga.

For a city of 1.5 million people that has just one big-time pro sports franchise, is blessed with major industry with deep pockets (Nintendo, Kyocera, Wacoal, Murata, Omron, Rohm, Nidec, KBS, Sagawa Express, and Shimadzu are all based in Kyoto), and a loyal and expanding fan base, Kyoto Sanga sucks!

Apologies but that is how a true Philadelphian would sum it up, and alas it is true.

How is that Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Kobe, Sendai, and Sapporo - all cities about the same size as Kyoto - can support multiple sports teams at the top level with fewer major corporations?

Now in ninth place in the J2 table after six matches, things don't look good. But they never do.

We will keep you, the faithful, the suffering, the disappointed, updated throughout the season as Sanga attempts to gain promotion to the first division of the J.League.

Cycling is a flat 20 minutes from central Kyoto and parking is free.

View Cycling to Kyoto Nishi Kyogoku Stadium in a larger map


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Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Late Night Stroll Through the Kyoto Imperial Palace

Kyoto Gosho京都御所の夜桜

Following an early spring "nomikai" (night at the pub, or to be more exact izakaya), we rode back home to the Ninnaji Temple area from downtown via the Imperial Palace.

It was cold but the cherry trees in all their ephemeral glory were worth getting off the bike.

Few were in the park. A few solitary walkers and the usual police car that does a huge circumference of the huge park were visible. Otherwise, we had the park to ourselves.

Today is a perfect spring day, which will start the draw the curtain on what has been a perfect cherry blossom season.

The blossoms will start to fall, creating a "cherry blossom blizzard" around the photo buffs, those out for a stroll, and picnickers.


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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Cycling Lake Biwa Would Be Even Better...


The circuit of Lake Biwa is one of Japan's great bicycle rides.

It features all types of landscapes:

heavy industry near Otsu
agriculture and dairy farming
historical sites and castles
beautiful villages
pristine nature, especially in the far north
and, of course, the lake views

Better still, roughly 80% of the ride is either on cycling lanes or rural sidewalks on which nary a pedestrian can be found.

Cars are an issue mainly on Route 8 in the north, and then on the stretch from Wani to Otsu (or, if you go the other way, Otsu to Wani) on Route 161. We rode counter-clockwise, so the final stretch into Otsu was grim.

It was a hard two days - one night in Nagahama - but satisfying in so many ways.

However, the ride could be improved in several ways.

The biggest problem is the route signs. There are signs specifically for the cycling route. However, they disappear for long stretches only to pop up in an odd - and easily missed - location. Even with several maps and the ability to read Japanese, we were befuddled on more than one occasion and had to ask for directions.

Second, the detour off of Route 161 - as depressing as that is - and under the Omi Ohashi Bridge is confusing.

Third, please someone somehow turn off the winds. In the Omihachiman area we were buffeted by in-your-face gusts. It was a rough two hours.

Still, the ride is a great, great experience. We hope to do it again - over three days - and see more of the sites.

Photo © Joe Banerjee


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Monday, April 1, 2013

Kyoto Cherry Blossom Season

Cherry Trees Kyoto京都開花さくら

The cherries are out!

Today may be the peak as rain is predicted for tomorrow.

The someiyoshi trees are in all their glory.

Thanks to continued cool temperatures and little rain, the city is awash in pink-white blossoms.

Popular spots are the Kamo River, the Imperial Palace, and near many of the city's famed temples.


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