Biking in Tokyo can be this:
As well as this:
In Japan for work, sick and low on sleep, with a day at the end of the trip to sightsee with a friend but no plans and almost no Japanese language skills… we randomly ran into expat Noel of Travels In Japan (and recently a new project, Tokyo Biking Tours) and struck up a conversation.
He gave us a few suggestions of places to check out, then mentioned— “I have spare bikes stashed around the city— I could loan two of them to you… or hey, I could even move three to the same location, meet up with you tomorrow morning, and take you on a ride around the city”.
The next morning, we set off on sturdy, single-speed mamacharis for what ended up being a 12 hour biking and walking tour around all of central Tokyo, somewhere between 35 and 45 miles of riding, with many stops to walk around shrines, historical sites, shopping districts, parks, and places to eat. Photos continue below the map.
We cruised past what I believe was a Noh performance, with one performer in a mask, one holding a broom, and sharp, rehearsed body motions:
Saw rivers and many bridges:
Lunch, for about US$7:
The giant water lilies were starting to die (seasonally) in Shinobazu pond in Ueno park:
Biking on sidewalks is allowed, and in parts of the city was easier than riding in the road, as long as you’re willing to keep a slow appreciating-your-surroundings pace (and isn’t that the point?)
Bike crossing (sidewalk to sidewalk):
Two-level bike parking:
A sudden flat. An attempt to fix it with a spray can of tire-inflating foam. But the hole was too large. We walked it to a nearby bike shop (courtesy google maps), and were on the road again a while later:
Serendipitously, the bike shop was a few blocks from Kappabashi-dori, a street with many kitchen supply stores including a shop selling the realistic-looking plastic models of food used in the windows of many Japanese restaurants:
Later, in Asakusa (one of the more scenic sections):
Following our noses to dinner, near Yurakucho Station:
Excellent yakitori (chicken thigh, leeks, shisito peppers, pig heart) and beer in icy glasses:
After riding back across the city, this time at night, we reached Shibuya and Hachikō and neon:
A great day, with such a different feeling for how Tokyo connects than just hitting the hot spots by train gave me in the past, and another fine example of the kindness of strangers. Thanks, Noel!