Cycling in Kyoto – Part 1: Arashiyama

G’day Alamackers,
It is off season for footy, but I hope you enjoy other sports such as cricket, world football (soccer) and tennis. I occasionally watch these sports, but go on cycling more than watching sports (even while footy is on!).
Kyoto is a unique city in the world offering travellers to see traditional Japanese culture by visiting shrines and temples. Flat roads in this city make you easy to ride a bike. Buses are developed, but are often crowded and travelling so slow. If you are fit, I strongly suggest you to cycle in Kyoto to visit tourist attractions.
As I enjoy riding a bike in my new city of Kyoto, can I show you passion of my physical activity here?
The destination for the Part 1 is Arashiyama, the Western suburb, famous for its bamboo forest.
Soon after I landed in the new and unfamiliar city, I thought only one road took us to Arashiyama by peddling on Marutamachi Street.
The road is wide and the best way to get to Arashiyama after chilling out at the Kyoto Imperial Palace. It is about nine kilometres between two places.

The author at the Imperial Palace
From the Palace Park, it might be hard to ride fast due to a bit traffic congestion. But over the big road called Senbon Street, traffic is smooth so it is easy to paddle.
Then you will enter a quite big suburb called Enmachi with shops and a railway station. You can stop for refreshment and meals. However you need a parking fee for even a bike around Enmachi Station.

Railway Tracks (left) close to Maritamachi Street (right)
Riding close to the railway tracks, you might find a bit hard (harsh for some people) to ride a bike as the road is moderated steep. But you will feel relieved at the small summit and then you will see downhill.
Turing left towards the town centre, you may have to squeeze a horse of tourists. But it would not be bad.
For me, travelling time is between 30 and 35 minutes between the Imperial Palace and Arashiyama.

Great combination of red leaves and bamboos in Arashiyama
Another street called Sanjo Street can be the alternative route for between two places mentioned above, and the fastest route if you park a bike at the north end of Teramachi, the arcade shopping mall in the downtown.
From the City Hall where you can park a bike for shopping at Teramachi, actually it is better to go through Oike Street at first due to wide road and to avoid many pedestrians at the Sanjokai Shopping Mall (covered).
Then you will merge into Sanjo Street at Uzumasa Teningawa (the west end of the Tozai Subway Line). Over there the road is shared with the Randen Tram tracks.
Once you say goodbye to the tracks until saying hello again at Arashiyama, riding can be hard because of the narrow street. Buses are passing on this street, but they have to squeeze when two buses are running from two opposite sides. Passing over stopped buses is quite hard. If you do not get used to ride a bike on a big street, I would not recommend you to take Sanjo Street to enjoy riding a bike.

Narrow Sanjo Street
The third option is paddling through Shijo Street. It sounds the easiest way from downtown; however bikes are banned on this downtown’s Main Street between the east end and Karasuma Street (main street between Kyoto Station and downtown) from 8 am to 9 pm. How pity it is.
But you will go through Shijo Street if you are staying around Kyoto Station. From Kyoto Station, small street called Nishi no Toin Street is the best to get to Shijo Street.
At first riding can be hard on Shijo Street because of many buses running on the street. But it is just for 5 to 10 minutes depending on where you enter into the road. Over Shijo Omiya where the tram mentioned above deports, it turns easy to ride thanks to wide and flat road.

Level Crossing on Shijo Street (crossing the tram tracks)
With my travelling time (I seem to ride a bike between 20 to 25 kph) with 15 to 20 minutes from Shijo Omiya, Katura River awaits cyclists and then you can stopover at a shrine called Matsuo Taisha.
From there, you will enjoy the nature by paddling alongside the river. The Bike Way welcomes you and you do not need to share the road with motor vehicles.

Bike Way alongside Katsura Liver
At last you will enter Aashiyama. Hot spring house is located at the end of the Bike Way. You can treat yourself by having a bath there.
Hiring bike is offered at various rental bike shops as well as some accommodation. Our inns offer hiring bikes too; however only Japanese standard city ride ones with basket in front. Sport bikes can be hired at some shops. I would be happy to help you organising your bike if you would like to ride a bike here in Kyoto.
Enjoy your sport sensation!!

P.S. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would love to stay at our traditional Kyoto Townhouse Inn. You can see more details at and

About Yoshihiro Imagawa

Love, passion and pride are seen on the footy that is the biggest part of my life. 1. St Kilda Club member: I am a passionate and crazy Sainter. Just hope we will win the second flag soon, especially after Dogs and Tigers having ended long premiership draughts. 2. The Osaka Dingoes Player and Public Relations Officer: Player number 44 that I chose to honour Stephen Milne with my wish being like a small forward like him. Lenny Hayes' hardworking attitudes are adopted on my trainings and practices. Nick Riewoldt's great plays are in my player audiobook too. 3. Writing: Here on the Almanac and also on the World Footy News. My skills utilise on great footy websites.


  1. Yoshi, I spend a month in Japan every year, but usually don’t get to Kyoto. My Japanese wife comes from Kanagawa prefecture (Chigasaki) and we usually travel to Tohoku when we’re in Japan. If we get to Kyoto one year I’ll definitely look you up.

    Phil Smythe, Perth

  2. G’day Phil,

    Thanks for your comment and sorry for the late respond.
    Also Happy New Year!!

    It’s good that you visit Japan so often, but I strongly suggest you to visit Kyoto to see more traditional stuffs. While I was in Sapporo, Hokkaido, I had not much interests in Japanese stuffs, but now I have some interests in some of these stuffs which I would like to tell Western people. Although I still don’t like single minded people or Japanese media. I would suggest you to visit here with your family.



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