Home
Back

Dear visitor, if you know the answer to this question, please post it. Thank you!

Bike in Kyoto - practical questions 2020/1/18 14:11
Hello!
I am considering getting around by bike in some places, like Kyoto, because some ho(s)tels have them available to their guests for free.

Is there pariking available near the 'touristy places'? Imperial Palace, Nijo Castel, the most famous shrines? And what's the cost?

What is the correct side of the road for bikes in Japan? should I ride on the street, like a motocycle, or are there designated lanes?

Thank you
by MP5  

Re: Bike in Kyoto - practical questions 2020/1/18 17:26
Welcome to Japan by bike.

Yes, there are generally some cycling parking lots around Shrines and other tourist attractions. Generally I would say they are for free, sometimes there is a fee, specially close to train stations, but often only if you park more than 1-2 h.

You should ride on the left side of the road, just like the cars (and unlike not so few Japanese who ride on the wrong side).

I don’t know about Kyoto but generally there are No/few cycling lanes. However Japanese cities are made of huge roads plus a lot of really small alleys, streets in between.
It is safe to ride on the big roads, but I personally prefer the small streets, which also allow you to explore better the neighborhoods.

Theoretically you can also ride on the sidewalk. Japanese law kind of prohibits it, but allows it when the road is “too dangerous “. So a lot of people do. I don’t recommend it, although occasionally I do.

Japanese are very law abiding people, except when they have a bicycle under their bum or when it is about private ownership of umbrellas.

I have done a few rides in Kyoto, but way more around Kyoto and in mich more rural areas. You can have a look through my page for inspirations and other useful webpages.

http://bicycletraveljapan.blogspot.com/

Enjoy!
by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Bike in Kyoto - practical questions 2020/1/18 17:53
I have cycled round Kyoto and is a very pleasant city to ride in. There are bike parking spots near every major site I can think of except Kiyomizudera, at many places there is a corner of the car park set aside. As @LikeBike says you should ride on the road but I do remember one ride out towards Kinkakuji where a policeman stopped me, told me off & made me ride on the pavement(sidewalk). A kilometer further on another policeman stopped me, told me off & made me ride on the road :)
by Stan Norrell rate this post as useful

Re: Bike in Kyoto - practical questions 2020/1/18 19:41
Ride on the footpaths on main bust roads. You will even see the bike logos paint on the ground.
by Hakata14 (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Bike in Kyoto - practical questions 2020/1/18 20:29
I live in Kyoto now. There are bike parkings around Kyoto, but I don’t recommend a bike tour in Kyoto if your aim is to visit a tourist spots like famous shrines or temple, because it is very crowded in which you might bump with pedestrians. Local bus is very convenient to access to every tourist spots, and it cost a little you.
by izanagishrine rate this post as useful

Re: Bike in Kyoto - practical questions 2020/1/19 03:32
Around the most touristic spots, yes, you’ll need to be careful of the crowds and push the bicycle. Eg Philosopher path isn’t reasonably doable by bicycle. Nor us the bamboo grove in Arashiyama. BUT, having a bicycle in Arashiyama is great. Because you extend your reach just a little bit further and can enjoy the non tourist parts of Arashiyama:

http://bicycletraveljapan.blogspot.com/2018/09/tranquil-part-of-arashi...

Just be beware of the quality (or lack thereof ) of rental bicycles in Japan. Unless you go expensive, what you’ll get is a mamachari. Which means: imagine your grandmothers bike, then reduce it to the size for a 12 year old and take potentially the gears away. So if you are in cycling they can be a pain (not necessarily in the a** though). But if you take it as a very Japanese experience, then it gets much better.
by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Bike in Kyoto - practical questions 2020/1/19 13:14
Everyone, thank you very much for all your advice!
@Like Bike, I'll defenitelly be checking the links you shared.

I have two more questions:
1. I believe I should bring my own chain with a locker, right?

2. In a lot of places in Europe, we can travel by local trains and the subway bringing our bike with us. I've read somewhere I can't take a bike into trains and subways in Japan, or at least that I nead a bag in order to do so. Can you tell me if I can/can't and how it works?
It would be useful to reach further away locations and have the bike there to explore, but I am sot sure it is doable.
by MP5 rate this post as useful

Re: Bike in Kyoto - practical questions 2020/1/19 16:20
Regarding chain, no, I don’t think you need to bring one. If you get a mamachari at your hostel it will have a “build in lock” on the rear wheel (sorry don’t know how these are called in English). You’ll think they are flimsy, but while bicycles do get occasionally stolen it is more by drunken people who take a bicycle that isn’t locked at all. Even for really good high end bicycles you can use what in Europe would be considered ridiculously flimsy locks. The lock is only about that no one can just jump on your bike and ride off.
Should you invest more and rent a high end bike, it will also come with some kind of lock.

Regarding trains (and busses, but not airplanes) you are right. The bicycle MUST be in a bag. Officially this bag must be completely closed. I however use a brompton which has only a kind of a bike cover where actually the bottom part sticks out. But that seems to be ignorable by the Japanese railway officials so in > 3 yrs I never got problems with that. But yes, a “nude” bike is a big no go. And even as a foreign tourist you are not going to be able to pull up a stunt.

If you want to cycle IN some more outer lying places, you could check it there is a bike rental there. Eg in Nara there are several. If you can’t find one in a place you consider, let us know on the forum and I am glad to help with some search in Japanese.


by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Bike in Kyoto - practical questions 2020/1/19 18:46
@LikeBike is, as usual absolutely right. For example while the philosophers path would be unpleasantly busy with a bike, Arashiyama is much much easier with a bicycle. You can escape the crowds and find some wonderful places if you head north. I particularly liked Giouji http://www.giouji.or.jp/en and Otagi Nenbutsu-ji https://www.otagiji.com/ There is much more that I didnt have time to visit in that area and it is much quieter.
Rental bikes do come with a frame lock so you don't need to bring your own. You would need a bag for the bike if you want to go by train, the bags are expensive and there is a knack to putting your bike in one (It took me a while to work out how to do it quickly). It wouldnt work with a rental bike,I would really suggest renting one near where you want to visit.
One last note. When I was in Kyoto in September I was unable to rent a bike as they had already been taken. If your Hotel/Hostel offers rental bikes I would book as much in advance as I could.
by Stan Norrell rate this post as useful

Re: Bike in Kyoto - practical questions 2020/1/20 14:22
Whow! Nice, guys, thanks for your insights, it seems like you were reading my mind!

Arashiama and Nara were precisely the first spots around Kyoto I was thinking about exploring by riding a bike :D It's cool to know those are good areas to do it! And even if it isn't the best bike, I believe we get to know more, to explore more, in less time!

I'll look for rental bikes in those neighbourhoods, something I could rent for the day or by the hour. I'm afraid these kind of websites will all be in Japanese (I'll put google translate to work xD)
Or if I find those bike covers or bags cheap on ebay or something I can always bring one from home, if it is what I am thinking I can fold it very well and stuff into my backpack xD

Thank you! Really, thank you so much!
by MP5 rate this post as useful

Re: Bike in Kyoto - practical questions 2020/1/20 16:01
I would really advise against trying to take a rental bike on the train. They really are not designed to be partly dismantled and I doubt that you would be able to rent one if they knew you were going to take it on a train. Also the bags are probably a bit different from what you think. Here is a video from "Two Wheel Cruise" showing them packing bikes. I have the same bag that Thuong chan is using https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDnL7kPh0Ug

Rent one locally: https://www.visitnara.jp/lists-and-stories/story/getting-around-on-2-w...
by Stan Norrell rate this post as useful

Re: Bike in Kyoto - practical questions 2020/1/20 16:33
Yes, bringing a normal rental bike onto a train is not going to work.

Here a website in Nara were you can rent bicycles ( I haven’t tried them but tried ones at the JR station in Nara instead a few years back).

http://nara-rent-a-cycle.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAmZDxBRDIARIsABnkbYToYyh9ac...

Have a look at the pictures of those bicycles and at the video the PP shared and you’ll see it is very different bikes.

Those guys here in Kyoto seem to rent also folding bicycles and specify that they are convenient because you can bring them on the train. So they must come with a bag:

http://www.chirin2.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAmZDxBRDIARIsABnkbYRvVXl11JV05n3E...

This page seems to summarize several shops in Kyoto that rent out racing bikes. If that’s what you are interested in (I somewhat doubt it because your initial thread started with the free bicycles from your hostel) but if you are, ask them if they rent it with a cycling bag: rinkoo bagu ga fukumarete imasuka? (Is a cycle bag included?)

https://京都レンタサイクルさがし.com/bicycle/road/

by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Bike in Kyoto - practical questions 2020/1/20 22:47
In Gion riding bike was almost impossible - too many people, no special roads, steps.
Although, very enjoyable was riding on Kamo riverside - we headed to north, to Takara-ga-ike, and plan to go further next time (or then to south).
In Arachiyama rented bikes bear station, and visited temples what are more far. Was good ride.
by girlwithpearl (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Bike in Kyoto - practical questions 2020/1/23 05:32
Thank you again, everybody!
I will most definitely rent bikes localy on less busy neighbourhoods, such Arashiama. Nara I believe it will be more busy with people walking around, let's see how it will work out...

Thank you for sharing those links above, they are realy useful.
by MP5 rate this post as useful

reply to this thread