It was only here in Kyoto that I reacquainted myself with biking. Prior to Kyoto, I could not remember the last time I rode a bicycle.
Biking was one of those things that you just had to do when you were a kid. It was part of childhood (my childhood, at least). This is why I am astonished every time I discover people my age (or older) who do not know how to ride a bike. The feeling is almost synonymous to the feeling of not knowing how to spell your name. Once you can spell it, you just never forget for the rest of your sane life. Same goes for biking.
And then Formula 1 happened. Top Gear took over my teenage life. The Fast and The Furious made me dream. When I got my student driving permit (2nd year HS) and finished driving school, the dream was no longer a dream. The feeling of punching the accelerator was the greatest feeling ever. The high school and college years were all about cars, from a hobby perspective.
All good things come to an end and I had to say goodbye to Big Berta.
Once I got here, the first thing I had to buy was a set of wheels. 2 wheels. A bike! Everybody seems to bike here in Kyoto. In other parts of Japan, people bike but not as much as they do here.
My only non-negotiable was that my bike had to have gears. I’m a speed freak and a fixed-gear bike would not be able to deliver that. Having a bike with gears isn’t only for speed. It also comes in handy when tackling hills and crested roads. So whenever you find yourself in Japan or in any foreign city where a bike is necessary, do yourself a favor and get one with gears. You will never regret paying the extra bucks. It doesn’t have to be a 21-speed monster, 3-6 gears should be enough for daily commute.
I tried to compile all my biking videos so far into one video. Maybe I could turn this into another set on its own.
I suddenly remembered that I have to write about the last leg of my quick Tokyo trip!
In case you missed out on the earlier posts, here’s Part 1 and Part 2.
The last part of our trip covered most of Central and Western areas of Tokyo: Akihabara, Harajuku, and Shinjuku. These are the busiest places in Tokyo (probably in Japan) and offer a lot in terms of things to do.
We started by visiting Tokyo Imperial Palace. The palace grounds alone will take you about 30 – 45 minutes to circumnavigate. One can really feel that this is the epicenter of the Japanese empire just by walking around. The attention given to the plants, flowers, trees, and structures cordially dial in majesty.
From there, we took the subway bound for Yoyogi Park. This is a massive and beautiful park that ends at Harajuku. At the middle, you can drop by Meiji Jingu to get a breather. It felt like a stretch of 2.5 kms. of gravel.
If you followed our route, this is what you should see:
We went crazy with all the shops from Harajuku to Roppongi. There were a lot of foreigners living here too. This area will gladly take your money. Name a brand and chances are, a flagship store will be in this area. So bring a lot of dough. Or don’t.
If you go left from here, you will arrive at another famous shopping destination, Takeshita Street where you could get a shot at one of the graffiti-lined walls. Each of us just had to take one.
According to my sister, this street is mostly kawaii girls stuff. But she was able to find this store, Monki. There’s a cool dessert place beside it if ever you are a guy shopping with a female.
The iconic Hachiko just near Shibuya Crossing!
Maybe it is just because off-season but I think Dotombori in Osaka is much busier than this one. If you are thinking about getting a nice view from the Starbucks joint you see in this picture, good luck getting in. The upper floors of the train station and malls are the best places to get a nice shot. I just wished I was into time lapse photography when I went here.
We had to double back to our hostel to get our bags and got lost. All the subway-switching can get really confusing. It really pays to know some kanji especially when the nearest map looks like this:
We had a great bowl of Seaweed Shio ramen after an exhausting day. Unfortunately, I forgot the name of this ramen place in Shinjuku.
While waiting for our midnight bus back to Kyoto, we checked our watches and realized that we had about 4 hours to kill. Luckily, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is still open! It has 2 observation decks: North (9:30-23:00) and South (9:30-17:30). It gives you a stunning 360-view of Tokyo for free! The elevator line might be long during the day so going at night is better (the night view is better too, I think). Oddly, the observation deck has a toy store and a coffee shop at the top. It even has complimentary Wi-Fi!
That’s all, folks! This series is done! I can’t wait to go back to Tokyo!
Here’s a video of the entire trip! I’m very sorry that the camera is shaky, the gimbal is broken. 😦