On 3 of the 4 days we spent in Kyoto, we got around on rental bicycles. For those of you planning a trip to Kyoto, bicycles are a great way to see the city. It is flat, compact and has plenty of cycling paths (like the one on the Kamogawa) and wide sidewalks (on which you can ride bikes in Japan), so it is quite safe and pleasant if the weather holds out.
This was our first time to rent cycles on a Kyoto trip and we were kicking ourselves for not having done this before. On previous trips we had relied on the Kyoto city buses and subways to get around. Bicycles are just way better - you aren't bound by the transport schedule, you don't have to fish around for exact change, you don't have to deal with the inevitable crowds in the buses, etc etc. The only day we didn't use rental cycles was when we visited Ohara, which is located in the mountains north of the city and would have made for a difficult (though by no means impossible) bike ride.
We got our bikes at a place called レンタサイクル京都ecoトリップ ("Rental Cycle Kyoto Eco Trip") and I have no hesitation in recommending them to Kyoto visitors. Their website is in Japanese only, but they are really easy to find. From Kyoto Station, just go out the south exit. Look for the pachinko parlor directly across the street (as with most Pachinko parlors, its hard to miss). The Rental cycle place is directly behind that Pachinko parlor. 1 minute's walk from the station and you are there.
They have regular "mama chari" (granny bikes) for 700 yen per day, or a bike with gears for 1,000 yen per day. We went with the 1,000 option and they were great:
The staff are quite friendly. They provide a very useful 24 page Kyoto cycling map with each rental. The map is in Japanese, though the main page has the bigger sites written in English as well.
The only problem with cycling in Kyoto is that some of the hot spots are too packed with people for you to be able to bring your bicycles. In particular the Kawaramachi area of downtown is way too packed, so it is best to park on the edge of that area and proceed on foot. The same is true of the area around Kiyomizu temple, which is a zoo. Fortunately there is bicycle parking available.
Our Kyoto trip continues in the next post.
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 1 - Tofukuji and Sanjusangendo
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 2 - Kiyomizu Temple and Maruyama Koen
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 3 - Ryoanji and Ninnaji
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 4 - Shopping Arcades by Night
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 5 - Antiquing Kyoto Style
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 6 - Cute Buddhist Statues
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 7 - Ohara and the Wrath of Mount Hiei
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 8 - Kyoto Station vs. Kyoto Tower
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 9 - Japanese Tourism and the Earthquake
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 10 - Kamogawa and Pontocho
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 11 - Yasaka Jinja and Gion by Night
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 12 - Kyoto Gosho and Eikando
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 14 - The Philosopher's Path, Nanzenji and Goodbye