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Published on 06.07.2016
Kyoto is the ancient capital of Japan, located in the south of the country in the Kansai region. As it was the centre of Japan and home of the emperor for over a thousand years, the city is filled with important historic sites and beautiful scenery preserved for centuries. This, with the roads being flat throughout the city, has made it a popular cycling destination.
Renting a bike
J-Cycle is a bike rental company in Kyoto popular with tourists. Rental prices start at 800yen per day (10am to 6pm) for a standard model, with higher priced bikes available, as well as electrical bikes for 1700yen per day and children’s bikes for 1000yen. Most come with a front basket and light. Theft, loss and damage insurance can also be purchased for an additional 200yen, or 500yen for electric bikes, and all models are covered by accident insurance.
Address: 1F Kyoto Higashindouin Takatsuji-sagaru Building
570 Touro-cho Shimogya-ku 〒600-8401
Access: From Kyoto Station, take the Karasuma line to Shijo Station. J-Cycle is a 4-minute walk away from exit number 5.
Opening Times: 10:00 to 19:00
Cycling rules in Kyoto
If cycling at night, it’s against the law to ride without a light. Most rental bikes usually come with one, but if you’re using your own bike, make sure to pack a light with you. Children under the age of 13 are required to wear helmets, though it’s recommended that they’re used by everyone.
Parking your bike anywhere on the streets is also illegal. Doing so could risk your bike being towed to a lot and retrieving it comes with a 2,300yen fine. To avoid this, leave your bike in some of the city’s allotted parking spaces. Most temple or museum attractions come with their own parking lots that can be used, though generally for a fee. The most economical option is to use the large parking lots in downtown Kyoto. The Kyoto Ekimae Churin-jo (Kyoto Station Bicycle Parking Lot) is located near the north side exit of the station, and parking for the whole day is 150yen. The high-tech underground parking is also located near the south exit of the station. There you put your bike on a platform and watch it get whisked away underground to its own spot without even entering the lot. At a push of a button the bike is elevated back to ground level, and staff of the parking are available to help if needed. This also costs 150yen for the day.
Kyoto to Arashiyama highlights
Built in 1603 at the end of the Sengoku (Warring States) era for the first Edo Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, this lavish castle was constructed to meet the needs of the richest and most important Shogun and eventually Imperials of Japan. The Ninomaru Palace is regularly open to the public, and the innermost rooms, surrounded by intricate Fusuma sliding doors, that were only used by the Shogun and his attendants can also be viewed. The palace is also linked by corridors with unique nightingale floors, which ‘sing’ when stepped on. These were used as defence against possible Ninja assassins who targeted visiting Shogun or Daimyo, and these defences still work to this day.
Opening hours: 8:45 to 17:00 (last admission 16:00)
Closing days: Tuesdays in Jan, Jul, Aug and Dec (or following day if Tuesday was a national holiday)
26 December to 4 January
Entrance fee: 600yen
English audio guides: 500yen
This spectacular Zen temple has an exterior covered in gold leaf, giving it the name the “Golden Pavilion”. It was constructed by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu in 1397 and was used to mirror the prosperity of the aristocracy in this time with its extravagant appearance.
Opening hours: 9:00 to 17:00
Closing days: No closing days
Entrance fees: 400yen
During the Heian era, this building was originally used as a villa for aristocrats, though was then converted into a Zen temple in 1450. The biggest attraction is the rock garden, though the origins of its construction in Ryoan-ji remains a mystery. The peaceful garden ushers a sense of tranquillity which attracts hundreds of visitors to this temple.
Opening hours: Mar - Nov 8:00 to 17:00
Dec - Feb 8:30 to 16:30
Closing days: No closing days
Entrance fees: Adults 500yen, Children under 15 300yen
Arashiyama is a district in the outskirts of Kyoto, whose beautiful scenery has been enjoyed since the Heian era by aristocrats, and the stunning natural scenery has been well preserved since. It is particularly popular for cherry blossom viewing during spring, or for witnessing the autumn colours, so expect crowds during these periods. Walking paths have been cut through bamboo groves, which are illuminated by paper lanterns during the Hanatoro illuminations in December. Pass through the Saga-Toriimoto street which has been preserved since the Meiji era, though traditional Machiya houses have been converted into shops and restaurants.
Source: Japan Travel