If you happen to’ve ever been to Japan, you already know that biking is a lifestyle there. Whereas within the Philippines, biking for leisure and concrete mobility has solely caught on not too long ago due to the pandemic, for the longest time, individuals in Japan of all ages, occupations, and courses can handle to bike round safely even in busy cities due to the nation’s superior infrastructure and the self-discipline of street customers. On a current journey to Osaka, my household and I all had a free day in between sightseeing excursions to do no matter we wished. So we mixed the same old sightseeing and meals journeys with biking.
At first we tried to utilize one of many native bikeshare methods since we saved recognizing bikes on each nook. You will discover the Docomo Bikeshare System throughout Japan, however renting bikes apparently requires a bank card, native SIM numbers and information plans (per particular person), and registration on an app, which we couldn’t appear to obtain.
Whereas the bikeshare system is nice for locals, it may be a little bit of a trouble for vacationers to make use of, as you continue to need to register on apps and can get charged on a per hour foundation by bank card for those who don’t have an IC Card like PASMO or SUICA.
Anyway, after spending one morning getting vacationer sims, making an attempt to register on-line, and asking for assist round comfort shops, we determined to only search for a store with conventional bikes to hire as a substitute.
Lunch cease whereas making an attempt to determine the bikeshare system
After strolling round, we ended up discovering a small store on GoogleMaps referred to as Uemachi Rental Bicycle with items of folding Japanese mini-bikes. Leases price ¥300 an hour (Php 115) or about ¥1,300 (P495) for complete day use (greater than 5 hours).
The proprietor was very pleasant, might communicate English, and didn’t require any prolonged paperwork. We simply needed to refill a registration type with particulars of our passport and resort and so forth. He advised us that his store was open late (till 10:00 p.m.) for the returns and he didn’t even require us to pay up entrance. He stated we might simply pay after we returned the bikes. Very good man.
He outfitted the bikes with baskets so it might be simpler to hold gadgets and lent us bike locks in case we wanted to park someplace. He additionally gave us a map of the world and gave some recommendations on biking round.
Our first cease on our chill experience was Osaka Fortress, probably the most well-known landmark within the metropolis, which we visited the day prior to this with household after visiting Nara, the Kuromon Fish Market, and different vacationer spots.
Past the same old photograph ops with the fort itself, the grounds are nice for biking and plenty of spots are uncrowded and quiet. There have been extra locals jogging and biking across the space with children somewhat than vacationers alongside the perimeter of the fort.
The principle Osaka Fortress grounds are free to go to, however there’s an admission payment of ¥600 to go inside the principle tower of the fort itself, which homes a historical past museum and observatory on the eighth flooring. If you happen to’re simply up for biking round, you possibly can circle across the moats, discover the shaded paths and walkways at a extra leisurely tempo, and admire the fort from completely different angles. There are smaller shrines and landmarks scattered about. Close to one gate, you possibly can hire Samurai costumes and props for photograph ops.
If you wish to take a break right here, one space of the general public park has a number of cafes, together with a giant Starbucks. There are additionally merchandising machines and comfort shops in key areas for those who simply wish to purchase cheaper snacks and drinks. It was nice to only bike round right here with no mounted itinerary and with out speeding to get to a different vacation spot.
Because it was nonetheless early, we determined to see the place else we might bike close by. We purposely averted biking to Dohtonbori as a result of the world will get crowded and there are just a few designated locations to park bikes due to the amount of vacationers all flocking and consuming there. You possibly can’t park bikes exterior most eating places right here. If you wish to discover Dohtonbori, I recommend you simply go on foot.
On GoogleMaps, we observed Nakanoshima Park, a public park on an islet in the midst of a river. The realm surrounding the park comprises the Osaka Metropolis Central Public Corridor, The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, a Kids’s Library, and different industrial institutions. Whereas different spots in Osaka can get fairly crowded, this park provided a really quiet city escape.
There have been a variety of benches and spots alongside the river the place anybody can simply sit and admire the traditional and trendy neighboring buildings. There are additionally just a few cafes, together with a espresso store serving Danish pastries and a Riverside Grill & Beer Backyard that appeared common with locals. The grill serves Samgyeopsal and Premium BBQ programs with drink-all-you-can specials for about ¥4,400 – 5,500 (Php 1,595 – 2,159) per particular person with a two-hour time restrict.
The waterfront park nestled between Dojimagawa and Tosaborigawa rivers has a rose backyard that includes about 3,700 rose bushes and about completely different 310 rose species. The roses weren’t in bloom after we visited, but it surely was nonetheless a pleasant place to bike, hang around, and simply sit on the grass. One of many nice issues about Japan is that it has so many parks and inexperienced areas even in the midst of busy areas.
For the reason that Riverside Grill was out of our price range, we simply biked alongside the aspect streets on the lookout for a spot to eat on the best way again to the bike rental store. We stopped at a small izakaya for dinner of Yakitori and Kirin beer.
We additionally got here throughout a giant grocery retailer and ended up shopping for extra meals and beer for post-dinner “snacks” earlier than returning the bikes.
A variety of groceries promote sushi, sashimi, and bento field meals at discounted costs at evening. Plus beer is cheaper in shops and merchandising machines. You will get beer for lower than ¥300 per can versus a minimal of ¥550-800 per mug once you dine in eating places. You’ve simply obtained to like the number of meals accessible at Japanese groceries and comfort shops.
A few days later after visiting Kobe on a day journey, we returned to the identical bike store for one more experience. The proprietor was out, and there was a “offered out” signal for the day posted, so we determined to only stroll round and search for different close by bike outlets. Sadly, the opposite locations we checked turned out to be native outlets that offered classic bikes, whereas one other required deposits that price the worth of the bike and closed early at 7:00 p.m.
Whereas looking out round for locations to go close by, we chanced upon Neu, a hidden Rescue Cat and Vegan Cafe in a secluded residential space close to the bike rental store, so we determined to test it out. Apparently, all of the cats at Neu are initially strays or deserted by house owners.
The cafe goals to assist them discover loving new house owners. Enjoying with cats for 1 hour prices ¥1,500 per particular person. It was a soothing hour and cash properly spent to help the worthy trigger and to be within the presence of such beautiful and pleasant creatures. Beats being round different individuals.
Once we obtained again to the bike store, fortunately the proprietor had returned and bikes have been accessible to hire once more. Although it was getting darkish, we determined to hire bikes for a few hours for an evening experience to close by parks.
We biked alongside the cycle paths of Sakuranomiya Park, which stretches over 4 kilometers alongside the Ogawa River. The banks of this park are lined with cherry timber and locals normally flock right here throughout spring for picnics and nature walks. Alongside the best way, we stopped at Sakuranomiya Seashore, which has a sandy beachfront space. We encountered some locals enjoying volleyball on the seaside, joggers, and staff on their approach house, however no different vacationers.
We simply adopted the cycle path till we reached a brief uphill climb to Yodogawa River Park, which provides a view of the Yodo River. By this time, it was getting darkish (and we had an early day forward of us), so we determined to show again and go a special route biking again.
It felt fairly protected biking right here the entire time even alongside the darker alleys and busy highways, although on reflection the riverside route was sooner as a result of we didn’t need to maintain stopping for site visitors lights. After returning the bikes, we capped our experience with heaping bowls of Tonkotsu Ramen at a ramen store close to the resort.
For non-bikers, the rides we did round Osaka might sound nondescript and peculiar. By way of distance, they have been neither epic nor difficult due to the primarily flat route. With no actual plan, we discovered ourselves doing what we might usually do on a weekend experience round our personal neighborhood—only a easy experience round parks to benefit from the inexperienced areas, consuming out, getting groceries, and having fun with a beer or two.
Whereas we didn’t have time to spare for longer rides, with the ability to squeeze in some biking in between the sightseeing excursions and visiting a crowded amusement park felt like a mini-vacation throughout the Japan trip. It felt good to discover and uncover locations for ourselves (regardless of how peculiar) with out actually following an itinerary. Biking round Osaka felt much less tiring than strolling and fewer complicated to navigate in comparison with the in depth practice system.
The brief rides round Osaka gave us only a style of Japan’s wonderful bike tradition and infrastructure. I wouldn’t thoughts biking longer in different components of Japan the subsequent time we journey there.
The place to hire bicycles in Osaka:
We rented bicycles from Uemachi Bicycle Rental service. The store is situated close to the Matsuyamachi Station or Tanimachi 6-chome Station.