By JANICE KOH
Many tourists in Japan get around Tokyo by using the subway, but I recommend a different option that will widen your horizons and give you a new perspective of Tokyo. The subways in Tokyo are undoubtedly convenient, punctual, and extremely helpful; however, it will get mundane. At times it might become a hassle, where you have to deal with packed cars, stench, and tight spaces. I recommend getting a bicycle and traversing Tokyo with it.
Where do you get a bicycle? Well, you can get it from almost anywhere. There are many shops that sell bicycles, and the prices vary among the types of bicycles. The most common type of bicycle is called the “mamachari,” which literally translates to “mom’s bicycle”. It is equipped with a basket, carrier, kickstand, bell, and a light. It is a cheap and good option for you if you need to travel to shop for groceries frequently. There are also other types of bicycles available, such as foldable bicycles, mountain bicycles, road racing bicycles, and even electric powered bicycles. Take your time to choose your bicycle; after all, it will become your travelling partner. It should be compatible with your lifestyle and feel comfortable to ride on. If you have a tight budget, you can get a reconditioned bicycle at shops like Recycle Garden Yoyogi and Suginami Green Cycle or find it online.
Reconditioned bicycles are bicycles that have been abandoned by their owners and fixed up in good condition to be sold.
After getting your bicycle, I highly encourage you go to popular attractions such as the Tokyo Tower, Roppongi Hills, Shibuya and many more on your bicycle. The view is profoundly different from a cyclist’s perspective. Riding in Shibuya is especially tricky. With crowds thronging the streets of Shibuya, navigating around without hurting anyone becomes a daunting feat. In some cases, you might not be able to cycle at all. Tokyo Tower and Roppongi Hills will be physically challenging. The hills will test your endurance, strength, and skill. After arriving at your destination, the sense of satisfaction and pride derived from the knowledge that you made it there on a bicycle is certainly the best reward. The distance from Roppongi to Shibuya is only three kilometers, but costs 260 yen by train, which travelling by bicycle will allow you to save. There are countless sights and wonders in Tokyo that you may miss when travelling by train.
A cyclist's perspective. Photo taken by author.
If you are up for a challenge, take a ten-kilometer ride to Tokyo Bay and take a whiff of the sea breeze. Along the way, marvel at the architecture of the modern houses of Tokyo. Take breaks and visit the local shrines. Enjoy the ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ that you face on your journey. Going up the hill might be challenging, but keep pushing forward. There is usually a fun ride down after an energy-sapping climb up the hill. There is a joy for the soul, a healthy exercise for the body, and a challenge for the mind when riding a bicycle. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and cycle on.
Originally posted on May 15, 2014.