Spring is in the air, and we want to remind travelers they can ride with Asia Art Tours, we’re happy to present Japan’s most artistic cycling itinerary!
It’s a chance to see Tokyo, Kyoto and Onomichi’s art and culture, all on two wheels! Below you can find our chat with our Tokyo expert Brad. We discuss why living in Tokyo sparks joy, and how he brings Tokyo’s cultural gems to life when you join him for cycling.
Asia Art Tours: What’s the cycling culture of Japan like and how does it differ from your home countries?
Brad: The cycling culture of Japan is more about every day riding, commuting and using a bicycle for work related business. In Seattle, we have a lot of recreational cyclists that wear matching outfits and enjoy touring, racing and cruising around town just for the fun of it. Tokyo does have weekend warriors who train hard and ride seriously although I feel most cyclists are riding because it is convenient and a cost effective way to move through the city.
AAT: How did you personally become interested in cycling and do you have any particular philosophy or reasons why you recommend cycling to travelers?
I began cycling to school when I was 10yrs old and since then it has been my favorite escape. I appreciate the design simplicity of a bicycle and the human powered motion necessary to make it work.
When you tour any city by bicycle you can stop where you like and engage people and places much easier. It is satisfying to move under your own power and not be contributing to CO2 emissions. In almost every country in the world, when someone is driving around slowly in a car, the situation feels uncomfortable and that driver could end your life with or without intention. When a cyclists slows down in a town or stops at a street corner to ask directions, almost everyone offers to help and there is little risk of injury compared with an automobile.
I also appreciate that cycling is a healthy activity for young and older people and it gives them freedom from needing to drive a vehicle and quality exercise while commuting or enjoying a ride.
AAT: What different viewpoint or experiences do you think people have when cycling in Tokyo & Kyoto that isn’t possible any other way?
First point would be you become more of a resident rather than a traveller. When you are on a bike, people have a sense you are a local or at least smart enough to get around without a tour group. You can visit many places in a short time span. Both Tokyo and Kyoto have a lot of modern and traditional styles that are mixed and matched in the backstreets. I also appreciate walking except that I can cover more ground cycling and carry my camera gear in the convenient basket. Another important point for Japan is most people know the areas near and around train stations but not the neighborhoods where locals live that are about 1km away from the station. With a bicycle, hidden restaurants, cool shops and quiet parks are much more accessible.
AAT: Can you give one example of Japanese art or culture that you personally feel connected to or inspired by?
I’ve always appreciated the woodblock prints of the Edo period and the tradition of “Taiko Drumming”
When I was a high school student, I saw a performance of a Japanese drumming group from Sado Island named KODO. That experience changed my life as I decided to visit Japan soon after seeing the concert.
AAT: Lastly, what would you say is the number 1 reason a traveler should come to Japan to cycle on this tour?
Because you want to!
I think if you are considering a cycling tour in Japan you are already 99% cool and you have done some research and I don’t need to convince you to come. Our part in your journey is to make the road safer and the views easy to enjoy so I think our professional experience is why our tours are recommended and popular. We also offer more flexibility and personal attention with smaller group numbers.
To ride with Brad and cycle through Tokyo’s amazing art, architecture and culture, check out the itinerary here: https://asiaarttours.com/tours/art-on-two-wheels
For more information feel free to contact us directly by email, Matt@asiaarttours.com