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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in Japan

Explore Kyoto’s backstreets on two wheels

Thanks to its flat terrain and quiet backstreets, Kyoto is perfect for cycling, and there are historic cultural sights everywhere you go…

By Hiroko Wakayama
Kyoto Tour Guide

Thanks to its flat terrain and quiet backstreets, Kyoto is perfect for cycling, and there are historic cultural sights everywhere you go. For me it’s one of the best ways to see the city, and you get a true local’s perspective.

Our three-hour cycling excursion is a private tour with a maximum group size of eight. We take you via the backstreets where cars can’t go to see a totally different side to the city, avoiding the busier crowded roads.

We start near Kyoto Station and make our way towards two famous geisha districts, Miyagawa-cho and Gion. Here we pass lots of hidden-away teahouses, where geishas often do performances. We often point these teahouses out to guests; from the front they sometimes look just like any other building! Maiko (apprentice geishas) train at a local school in Miyagawa-cho, so sometimes we see them without makeup on their way to and from classes. They normally take the backstreets rather than the main ones – they know the shortcuts!

We then cycle along the Shirakawa River (or “White River”), which is a really peaceful spot, passing historic wooden houses and willow trees. We often see egrets too, and it’s my favourite place to cycle in all of Kyoto.

The tour finishes at the Kyoto Imperial Palace Park, where we cycle around the grounds and visit the palace, which was the residence of senior nobles until the capital moved to Tokyo in 1868. It’s a special place to the end the tour.

We get great feedback; guests love seeing a different side to the city away from the more-visited areas, and it gives a really authentic insight into local life.

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Alfred & Hiroko Wakayama

Hiroko has been a tour guide in Kyoto for seven years. She grew up in Tokyo before moving to Osaka, where she worked as an editor of a medical journal. She later decided to become a tour guide and share her love of travel with visitors from all over the world.  She has travelled in Europe as well as across Japan – but with more than 1,000 years of history, her favourite city is still Kyoto.

Alfred&

Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Malcolm, who's travelled extensively in Japan. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember - the tea devotee who'll introduce you to the ceremony surrounding Japan's national drink, the noodle guru who'll teach you how to make the perfect bowl of soba and the ryokan owner who'll tutor you in the relaxing art of the onsen.

Freephone an expert 01306 744 656