Cycling Kyoto was founded in September 2012 by cycling enthusiasts, Grecia and James. James writes,
Kyoto offers a wealth of amazing cycling opportunities but when we started it was hard to find like-minded people to ride with. It’s hard to participate in group rides when all of the information is in complicated Japanese! As we bumped into fellow English-speaking cyclists – evidently many of them with similar problems – our ranks swelled. We now have over 70 registered members, probably 15 or 20 of whom are quite regular riders with the group, including several Japanese members.
We run frequent group rides: one large/long one almost every Sunday, smaller ones on weekday mornings (before work/school) and occasionally longer overnight trips (we recently rode to Koya-san) and special events (such as the recent CycloFemme women’s ride). We also host other events – most recently we got together to drink, eat cheese and share in the excitement of the penultimate stage of the Giro d’Italia as a group.
Group ride, early 2013
Most of our rides are road cycling, but we have members with keen passions for mountain biking and cyclocross as well. If you have any interest in cycling in Kyoto, please do not hesitate to get in touch – we would love to hear from you!
Kyoto is the spiritual, artistic, and cultural center of Japan. It is also the home to a thriving tourist industry, attracting nearly five million visitors in 2009. It is the city that all visitors to Japan go to. Its 17 World Heritage Sites are spread throughout the city, easily accessible. The city was laid out in checkerboard fashion, some 1200 years ago, following the example of the ancient Chinese imperial capital Xian. With mountains on three sides of the city, the inhabited areas of Kyoto tend to be flat but sloping slightly as you travel north – all of which means it is a wonderful city to cycle in.
From Cycle Kyoto
I suppose I’m shooting myself in the foot a bit by sending you all over to the competition, but I really do feel impelled to recommend Sanborn Brown’s very excellent website Cycle Kyoto. Here you will find everything you need to know about cycling in the ancient city with information on where to rent a bicycle and suggested itineraries for cycle routes. Even if cycling is not your thing, there is also a wealth of information on hiking routes, temples, shrines, cafes and museums. Sanborn has obviously put a lot of work into his website and it shows. His alternative cycle tours especially look fascinating. Check out his Literary Kyoto, Creepy Kyoto and City of Tea cycling routes. And for those overwhelmed by the huge number of shrines and temples in Kyoto, Cycle Kyoto offers an inspired solution: 88 temples in a half hour hike! I’m very impressed by this website. Highly recommended!
Kyoto Cycling Tour Company offers a variety of bicycles for rent, ranging in price from ￥1,000 to ￥2,000 a day. For those who wish to go it alone, the friendly staff will be happy to suggest the best cycling courses and there is also a very handy K.C.T.P. cycling map available. In addition to its rent-a-cycle service K.C.T.P. also offers cycling tours of Kyoto with professional tour guides. Some of the tours on offer include:
The Machiya Tour: “Machiya” are the old wooden town-houses of Kyoto. This tour is a chance to experience traditional Kyoto life as it would have been, fifty, a hundred or even two hundred years ago.
The Mystery Tour: Kyoto has a long and bloody history and so naturally has many ghosts. This is a tour of some of the more famous haunted sites of Kyoto. Not for the faint-hearted!
The Japanese Tea Tour: Experience the Japanese tea ceremony and learn about its deep culture and long history.
Tour prices range between ￥3,900 and ￥9,800, depending on the tour chosen and the duration and all tours must be booked at least three days in advance. See the English website for further details.
Kazuo Taga, who founded K.C.T.P., has a deep sense of mission; both to promote traditional Japanese culture and history, and also to promote the use of bicycles within modern cities. He was kind enough to grant me a short interview, which you can see below.
For bookings and inquiries, please contact KCTP, on their website or telephone them on 075-354-3636. K.C.T.P.’s main terminal is very close to Kyoto Station. Leaving the station’s main north exit (facing Kyoto Tower), turn left and head west, past the post office on your right and then the new Bic Camera store on your left, until you come to the end of the road. K.C.T.P. is just around the right-hand corner. There are also terminals for the rent-a-cycle service dotted throughout the city, and maps and directions to these are available on the website here: K.C.T.P. Terminals.