Pedal Your Way Around Tokyo

ByMichael Stigall
May 30, 2023

Pedal Your Way Around Tokyo

When living in and around a sprawling metropolis like Tokyo, getting from A to B can mean spending half of your day on trains, underground, or busses. Since the advent of smartphones, most of this time is gazing at a screen, meaning that you often miss out on the marvels this city offers. Navigate the city by bicycle, however, and you can soon know Tokyo as well as any local, finding places that your Suica card can’t.

Cycling is a fun, healthy pastime that can be enjoyed alone, with friends, or even with the whole family. Whether you are a full-blooded cycling enthusiast or barely off your stabilizers, you can find many routes to enjoy what the city offers when you aren’t chained to the Yamanote line.

Cycle tours in Tokyo

An excellent place to begin may be city cycle tours. Various companies offer fun tours that take in the city’s highlights. While they are predominantly aimed at tourists, there is no reason why residents can’t take part. These tours are generally offered in English, and bikes are provided. As participants’ fitness differs significantly, tours tend to be taken slowly. If you have small children, some places offer rear-attached wagons so they can accompany you. Of course, there are fees for each participant (usually around 10,000 JPY per person), so it may not be advisable to use tours as a long-term cycling solution, but it can help you decide if cycling is something for you.

The following websites are examples for information purposes only and are not considered endorsements.

Tokyo Cycling

Tokyo Bike Trip

Leisurely riding around Tokyo

If you already have a bike(s) and want to enjoy the spring weather at your own pace, there are a few smallish routes around the city. One of the most relaxing is the Imperial Palace cycling route. Every Sunday from 10:00 to 15:00, Uchibori Dori, the street in front of the Imperial Palace gardens, is closed between Iwada Bridge and the Hirakawa Gate, making a 3-kilometer cycling track. Families enjoying the moats and pine trees surrounding the castle predominantly frequent this leisurely route. If you do not have your own bicycle, you can borrow one for free by filling out a simple form at reception (see map).

Check out the Cycle Tokyo website for other ideas if you are after something a little longer.

Slightly serious cycling in Tokyo

If you are getting more serious about riding, why not join a cycling group? Perhaps the best known in Tokyo is Half-Fast Cycling (formerly Don’s Half-Fast Flash-Mob Weekend Urban Bicycle Rides). Their philosophy is “We not too fast; we not too slow. We jus’… half-fast,” those looking for race training are discouraged, but so are dawdlers. Group trips are on weekends starting at 11:00 and range from 30km beginner rides to 100km flat intermediate rides up to 150km hill climbs, ending at the Roppongi Hills Grand Hyatt. Rides are generally urban and take two to six hours depending on how much socializing they do and how many beer stops they make, which, guessing by their punning name, may be quite a few.

Scenic cycling outside Tokyo

One of the best things about cycling in Tokyo is its exciting surroundings. However, if you head just outside the city, you can find some outrageously gorgeous beauty spots that are doable for riders of all abilities. Check out Time Out Magazine’s tips for scenic routes, including the staggeringly beautiful Lake Tama and Showa Kinen Koen, where bicycles can be rented for as little as 460 JPY.

Before you hit the road, check out the rules and regulations of cycling in Japan.

Fukumoto, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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