Start your day with fresh-brewed coffee, fill the afternoon with sightseeing, and end it with delicious sake.
While Tokyo is often described as a big city, in some ways it’s more appropriate to call it dense. The city center, where most of the interesting and entertaining sites lie, isn’t so geographically spread out, and if you don’t feel like spending the day riding the train or subway, a bicycle is an excellent way to get around. Not only does it free you from traveling on the set routes where rail lines have been laid down, it lets you see Tokyo from a more intimate, street-level perspective.
If you’re visiting from overseas, though, odds are you didn’t pack your bike in your luggage. But that’s not a problem if you swing by Tokyobike Rentals Yanaka, a combination bike rental facility, travel information center, coffeehouse, and sake bar that just opened at the end of April.
Located in the Yanaka neighborhood, an enclave of artisans that’s in the middle of a retro revival, Tokyobike Rentals Yanaka provides more than just wheels. Before you pedal off, the knowledgeable staff can give you recommendations for things to see and do within riding distance, helping you put together a route as you sip a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Four different bicycle models are on offer, allowing you to choose the one with the best balance of mobility and comfort for the course you’re setting out on.
2,500 yen (US$23) gets you a full day’s use of your bike, from when the shop opens at 10 a.m. until the return deadline of 6:30 in the evening. If that’s still not enough time for you, one-day extensions are available for the reduced rate of 1,500 yen a day. And while cyclists aren’t required to wear helmets in Tokyo, headgear rentals are available for 500 yen, which also gets you use of a locker to store belongings you aren’t planning to take with you on your ride.
When you do return your bike, rather than dropping it off and being on your way, you might want to stop by the attached sake bar. Tokyobike Rentals Yanaka is housed in a converted sake merchant’s store, and serves up a selection of spirits selected by the company, called Isego Honten, which has been in business for three centuries.
▼ Also on the premises: an elegant housewares store
If all this sounds like your ideal way to spend a day exploring Japan’s capital, Tokyobike Rentals Yanaka takes reservations through its bilingual English/Japanese website right here.
Tokyobike Rentals Yanaka
Address: Tokyo-to, Taito-ku, Yanaka 4-2-39
Open 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Closed Wednesdays (open if Wednesday is a holiday)
Follow Casey on Twitter, where his love of bike riding started about the same time as his love of sake.
[ Read in Japanese ]