Six guys, six Bromptons and one great adventure. That was the plan. Osaka, Japan has always been our dream destination for a bike tour. Cool weather, scenic views and cycling friendly cities. So here's to strengthening our bonds of brotherhood and making new friends. Bags packed, bikes checked and off we go!
Day 1: Kyoto, Japan
After an 11 hour flight from Singapore via Ho Chi Minh, we finally arrived at Kansai airport. First order of business, breakfast! Now onto figuring out the maze-like metro system to get ourselves to Kyoto, our first destination.
It was a 3 hour train ride to Kyoto city. We quickly navigated to our Air BNB apartment, got settled and unloaded our trusty steeds! Unfold away!
Kyoto is a quaint little town, not as busy as we thought it would be. People were friendly and smiles were abundant. We cycled around for a while as we got our
bearings and checked out some of the local bike shops.
The sun was setting as we cycled along the Kamogawa River so we parked by the banks, whipped out them 'noxes' and had a spot of tea watching the sun go down. Nothing less than a perfect start of this tour, bromping style!
Day 2: Kyoto, Japan
We were up early and raring to go. Arashiyama bamboo forest was the choice destination. Distance to the bamboo forest was about 30km from where we stayed.
The weather was perfect, a cool 22 degrees. Kyoto had cycling paths everywhere, riding through traffic was a breeze. We rode past wide open rice fields and through
Somewhere along the way, we got lost but we stumbled upon a ball park where a group of veterans were having a game of softball. We watched them play as we set our bikes aside and sat by the edge of the field.
Our Bromptons were getting a lot of attention. One of the guys asked where we were from. To our surprise, he knew quite a bit about Singapore. Since the ice was
broken, we couldn't resist asking for a group photo with the whole team to which they obliged. Kyoto people are so laid back and friendly. One for the album! We bid
our farewells and carried on with the journey.
We were back on track as we took the Togetsukyo Bridge which literally means 'Moon Crossing Bridge' which ran crossed the majestic Hozu River. We finally reached the bamboo forest. It was breathtaking. Such calmness in the air. A soft breeze could be felt as the bamboo trees swayed soothingly with the wind. It was like a magical dance. We took a moment soaking in all the zen Arashiyama had offered.
It was getting chilly so we settled by the Hozu River and enjoyed hot coffee from our flasks. The view was simply magical.
Day 3: Kyoto, Japan
It was our last day in Kyoto. No one wanted to leave before seeing the famous orange gates of the Fushimi Inari Shrine. We would have cycled but it wasn't really
somewhere you can cycle through. So we took the train instead.
The shrine was everything like we had read in articles and blogs. Before you enter the shrine, you'll have to 'purify' yourself at the wells by washing your hands, wiping your face and taking a sip of the cool refreshing water. We climbed up paths lined with beautiful orange gates that snake up the slopes all the way to the top where people both locals and tourist can ring bells, say a prayer or make a wish.
It was close to noon before we headed back to our apartment to check out and make our way to Osaka city by train.
Day 4: Osaka, Japan
Osaka was a little bit livelier than Kyoto, being a bustling metropolis and all. Taller cityscapes and definitely more traffic.
We hooked up with our friends from Giracha Track Supermarket here in Osaka. We were invited to join their night ride to Osaka castle in a few days. How could we refuse?
It was free and easy activities for us before we retire for the night.
Day 5: Nara Park - Osaka, Japan
We've all heard about the free roaming deers at the park. So it's time to experience it for ourselves. We rode to a further train station from our apartment to get a
little more riding clocked. It was about another hour's train ride to Nara prefecture. From there, we rode about twenty minutes through a small town all the way up to Nara Park.
We came across a rogue deer on our way up. We guessed that this fella had wandered quite far from the park.
We were greeted by the magnificent Kofuku-ji shrine upon entering the park. Further up is where deers roam freely.
According to local folklore, deers from this area are sacred after being visited one of the four gods of the Kasuga shrine and were said to have been invited from Kashima Ibaraki and appeared on Mt. Mikasa-yama riding a white deer. For those of you who wanted to unleash your inner Bear Grylls, killing one of these deers is a capital offence punishable by death!
Day 6: Kobe – Osaka, Japan
We were excited on our sixth day because we were heading west to visit Kobe the home of the first ever Brompton Junction, which was the highlight of this trip.
With floor to ceiling displays of Brompton bikes, the Junction store in Kobe offered off-the-shelf in a kaleidoscope of colors and styles with mechanic workshop area for repairs and upgrades. There were also original parts and accessories in the basement and not forgetting a display of the first made Brompton, the MK1 one of 30 built in 1981 signed off by inventor Andrew Ritchie himself.
We went bonkers with what the store had to offer while the friendly owner Ichiro and mechanic Yoshimi working on our Brompton upgrades. This must the only stop for your Brompton needs should you be in Osaka with the ever awesome and super-efficient crew of Brompton Junction Kobe, tell them we sent you!
So we headed back to Osaka after sun down for a quick shopping stop; dinner at a local eatery owned and run solely by the Japanese chef who was so delighted to
have us as his customer that he invited us to help out with the dining experience.
Before we head back to our Airbnb stay, we managed to catch the last sunset in Shinsaibashi Shopping District to mark our last night in Japan.
The last ride in Japan was a night cycling date with the good people of Giracha to Osaka Castle with other local cyclists and friends where we ride down the busy
strips of Osaka with new found cycling friends. After 40 minutes ride around Osaka City, we finally reached the peak of Osaka Castle located way high above the castle ground. Thank God for our 3 speed, we made it to the top after some hard pedaling; the view of Osaka Castle at night was well worth it!
Our last stop for the night is at Osaka City Hall where we said goodbye to Giracha who had been a good host during our stay in Osaka.
Day 7: Osaka, Japan
We left our awesome Airbnb stay early to catch our flight back to Singapore. To be honest, Osaka had a very well-connected train system that made travelling a breeze and it’s amazing how Kansai Airport was actually built on an artificial island which served as an international hub.
While money can't buy experience and memories, travel documentation marked yet another adventure in our cycling passport.
Sayonara Japan and till the next one!