Friday, March 2, 2012

Fanging around on a bike in Kyoto

Yesterday I went for a bike ride through Kyoto town. I hired my bike from a man with a crazy little dog. I rode down narrow street past a patisserie and cans growing flowers. 

Then I made my way along the river away from the busy traffic and found myself under an orange tree before taking a left into the city proper. Up the big boulevard, dodging all the dog walkers with their little tiny dogs and across the busy intersections. Looking up all the side streets - gun-barrel straight with a canopy of tangled electrical wires that just went on grid like for ever and ever.

Then a turn to the right and into the quite of the palace garden. Just the crunch of gravel, friendly terriers and the flush of pink as the new blossoms bloom.

Back on the main road, a left and then a right, making my way to the other side of town - past a robot rabbit, a strip of boulangeries and about 4 different subway stations. Lost but not lost, and the feeling of freedom. Bg signs telling me the way to the castle and the mountains just beyond.

And then the temple - the one that was over an hour away by bike. The one that made me lost but not lost. Silent. Gardens. Bamboo. Sky. Worried to leave my bike because of the bike police, I walked it through the beautiful gardens until I could ride on the grey, tree lined path.

Then the trip back. It had to be quick so I peddled fast, only stopping for the ambulance by the red gate. The wheels on the bike were tiny so I had to peddle hard. Weaving from the footpath to the street so to avoid the old ladies going about their shopping and then slowing down to watch the school group and to find my way.

Happily took a wrong turn and ended up at a fork in the river, riding on the sandy path next to the water and ducks and people walking dogs and babies. I asked a lovely couple for directions just to be sure and we all agreed that Kyoto was straight ahead. There was a man sunning himself with a big tabby cat and a crane standing still amongst the river reeds.

Retracing my steps I made it over the bridge to one of the subway stations and rode in the slip stream of a girl with nice ear muffs. She dodged the pedestrians like a demon and we covered a lot of ground, but I took a left at the back of Gion - and went past the French wine store and the big horse head from the other night. And then, out of an old house I saw a dead body covered in a white sheet - wheeled into a hearse. I didn't take a photo but I did the sign of the cross even though I don't believe.

Another left down the big road - the one with all the tourists and the department stores (so I had to go on the road). Dodging the taxi cabs I found my way back onto the footpath. Up the hill slowly. I watched a woman run with a stroller for the bus (which she caught) and an old lady being helped by a young lady. I watched the bike police write tickets (so I was right to be scared!) and somehow made it back spot on time.


  1. Amazing post! It has made me want to be anywhere but at my desk at work. I could hear Air - Alone in Kyoto as I read it. Love love love. x

  2. It was such a fun adventure! I've been playing a lot of Air on this trip. They make a good Japan soundtrack xx

  3. Bike Police? What kind of place is that?

    But it sounds like a fun ride and a great trip.