If you are in moderate good health and would like the freedom to explore Kyoto at your own pace and schedule, then renting a bicycle is an excellent option. The city streets are laid out on a grid pattern, so it is easy to find your way around. Also, although there is a slight incline as you cycle north, the going is fairly flat and smooth within the city itself, so you won’t find cycling in Kyoto too hard or strenuous.
Kyoto Cycling Tour Project
There are a large number of bicycle rental businesses dotted throughout Kyoto city, but for its comprehensive service and convenience Kyoto Cycling Tour Project (KCTP) is easily the best. There are a number of reasons why this is the case, but the key points are as follows.
- KCTP’s head office is the closest cycle rental shop to Kyoto Station. You can literally step off your train and be on a bicycle in a matter of minutes.
- KCTP has highly professional, multi-lingual staff to help you with your enquiries.
- KCTP has a large variety of bicycles to choose from, to suit your level of interest. If you just want a standard 3 gear bicycle, you can rent it for 1000 yen per day. If you are a real cycling enthusiast however, then you might want to get a Cannondale F400 mountain bike for 2000 yen a day.
- KCTP are family friendly. They have both children’s bicycles, and bicycles fitted with baby seats.
- KCTP has branches at multiple locations throughout the city. This means you can rent and return the bicycle at different locations along your cycling route.
KCTP also have a very useful bilingual tourist map, specially designed with cyclists in mind. In addition to suggested cycling routes, bicycle parking locations throughout the city are clearly marked, as are those areas where you are not allowed to cycle. If you are planning to explore Kyoto by bicycle, this map is invaluable. Normally it is on sale for 100 yen, but if you tell the staff at KTCP that you read about it on KyotoStation.com, they will let you have one for free!
In addition KCTP also have a range of cycle tours on offer with English speaking tour guides. Check out the KCTP website for full details.
KCTP’s head office is a five minute walk from Kyoto Station. To find it, exit the station’s north gate and turn left. Walk straight past the Post Office on your right and BIC Camera on your left. After you have passed the APA Hotel, you will come to the end of the road. Here you turn right and KCTP is ahead of you. Probably the biggest selling point of KCTP is the fact that they have five more branches at key tourist locations. These branches are convenient for Nishiki Market, Kinkakuji Temple, Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, Arashiyama and Nijo Castle. Check the KCTP access page for maps and directions or use the map at the end of this article.
Kyoto Cycling Tour Project
Open: 9:00-19:00 (Nijo & Arashiyama branches close at 17:00)
Head Office Address: 552-13 Higashi-Aburanokoji-cho, Aburanokoji-dori, Shiokoji sagaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, 600-8235
Other Bicycle Rental Recommendations
Though KCTP offer the best overall service, depending on where you are based in the city, you may find another cycle rental company suits you better. You may also prefer to choose a cheaper rental service, or perhaps you would prefer an easier ride with an electric bicycle. Here are three other reputable bicycle rental companies you can find in Kyoto.
J-Cycle are located south of Shijo Street and east of Karasuma Street, and so are convenient for the center of town. You can rent a standard bicycle for 800 yen a day. Electric bicycles are also available for 1700 yen a day. Bicycles must be returned by 18:30.
Address: Higashinotoin, Takatsuji sagaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8401
Kyo no Raku Chari are located close to Higashiyama Station on the Tozai Line
E-mail: Use the contact form on their website.
Tel: 075-761-5828 (Free dial in Japan: 0120-318-319)
Address: 538-3 Minamimonzen-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8346
eMusica have two shops, one near the central Shijo/Kawaramachi area, and one located on the north side of the Eizan Demachiyanagi Station. This latter location is very convenient for north east Kyoto. They also have the cheapest rental bicycles available at an incredible 500 yen for one day’s rental! Bicycles should be returned by 20:00, but for another 250 yen you can keep the bicycle until 10:00 the following morning.
Open: 9:00-23:30 ( until 22:30 on Saturdays & holidays)
Address: 24 Tanaka Kamiyanagicho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8205
Address: 140-9 Saitocho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8012
Here is a map of all the bicycle rental locations listed in this article.
Article and photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.