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Sakura + Cycling + Photography Tour in Kyoto

Event report by Naomi Kataoka

First of all, to the people who joined the cycling event last Saturday, 辛苦了!(お疲れさま~!) We had a great and fun time, didn’t we? Hope your legs are not sore from the long bike ride by now. :)

We Are One had Sakura + Cycling + Photography Tour on April 9 in Kyoto. Director Tong (my boss now ??) gave me a mission to write a report for the event, so now I’m writing this while trying hard to jog memories about what we did for the day.

It was raining early in the morning. The weather, however, sided with us. By the time the tour started, we even could see a blue sky! It was neither hot nor cold and was just a perfect day for hanami and cycling. 

We saw many old temples, shrines, beautiful full-blown cherry blossoms, water-race, incline railway, many food stands, cats, and large crowds! I highlight some of the places where we visited.

Some came with their own bikes, but some who live a bit far from Kyoto like me rented at the Kyoto Yuru Chari Club. I got a very yellow “mama chari” (a bicycle with a front basket to put a shopping bag) type. 

Captain Alex led us from the front. We first visited Yasaka Pagoda area located to the west of Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka streets.The five-story pagoda and the slope (ninen-zaka maybe (?)) were standing exactly same way as I often see in promotion posters and flyers created by tour industries. 

Before we got there, since I had been having a non-stop talk with ユアン, a Japanese Kaiseki cuisine chef from France while peddling my bike at high speed, I was exhausted. I was so glad when Alex finally stopped and let us have a short break. I noticed that I forgot to bring my camera. Shame! But, there was nothing to worry because WAO has great photographers such as Lin, Sadao, and Cathy. :D

We visited the Maruyama Park. When we arrived there, a breeze blew and we saw a great amount of light pink petals of sakura filling the air. 

That was really beautiful. We strolled along the street while being seduced by the tasty smells from food stands and then we found an awesome huge weeping cherry which was in full bloom! We stood admiring the beauty losing our sense of time.

Our next target was Heian Jingu shrine which was found in 1895 for the 1,100th anniversary of establishing Kyoto as a capital of Japan. Wow, this remark sounds like I’m a quite intellectual, but the truth is I just read the sign board. :p

Before the main gate of the shrine, an unbelievably huge vermillion-colored Torii (Shinto gateway) welcomed us. Splendid vermillion pillars and green roof of the shrine were spectacular and overwhelming. I also enjoyed the color contrast of the blue sky and flower petals of the weeping cherry trees. Before we left for the next destination, we took the very first group photos in front of the Daigoku-den.

Next, we headed for Nanzenji which is said to be the place where Goemon Ishgawa, a Robin Hood-style bandit hid until his capture. We entered the temple through the Sanmon and walked around. I was stunned by a suddenly appeared huge brick aqueduct. 

The modern-looking aqueduct passes through the traditional style temple grounds! What a bold idea the engaged engineers had in those days! We walked up some stone steps to the top and even walked over the flowing water. When stout Masuda-san tried to cross over the water-race, I was apprehensive that he might break the very thin metal board suspended over the water-race and fall into the running water. lol

After the thrilling experience going over the water-race, we went to see the “Incline” which was made as a part of the canal construction to pull water from Lake Biwa into Kyoto. We enjoyed the tremendous view of the hundreds meters long railway and beautifully full-blown cherry trees on either side. This site was selected as a shooting location for our 2nd group pictures.

We walked our bikes on the Philosopher's path (Tetsugaku no michi) that follows a cherry-tree-lined canal in Kyoto, between Ginkaku-ji and Nanzen-ji. Because we were somewhat behind schedule, fortunately or unfortunately, there was no time for us to philosophize climate change and other difficult social issues on the path. 

I don’t know why but there were many cats there. I saw two cats squaring off against each other with weird calls. At first I thought they were ready to fight, but according to Lin, they were about to …you know. Spring has also come to cats’ world.. lol

Time was ticking away, but our tour was still going on. We were next heading for Demachi-Yanagi to get something to eat. We stopped by Alex’s recommended bento purveyor. Amazingly, it cost only 262 yen but still gorgeous enough to satisfy our stomachs! We sat on dike, had the bento while viewing the Kamogawa river at dusk, and then returned to the starting point by bikes along the river.

On that day, WAO had many new comers: Xinxin, Sharon, Javier, Masano, Yoshi, Kunieda-san, Ahmad, and Marion. Nice meeting you! There were many other new faces for sure, but sorry! I cannot either remember their names or I did not have chance to talk to at all. Well, hope to see you everyone soon again at next WAO events. See ya! ;D

There’s hardly another place in the world where its spring is livelier than the one in Japan.

The Japanese like to say, “一年の計は春にあり”( a year’s plan starts with spring). April marks the beginning of the government’s fiscal year. At this busy time of the year, students start new school life and others relocating and fitting in their new working environments.

Not too long after the plum trees bloom to farewell the winter, cherry blossoms begin to grace their beauty as spring officially arrives. To celebrate this beautiful season, We Are One will be holding a “Sakura Cycling & Photography Tour in Kyoto” on April 9th.

Come take your bicycle and camera out to capture the grace of nature with a group of others. The tour will set out from Kyoto Station, visit some of the most famous Sakura areas in Kyoto.

Spring is short. Embrace it while it lasts.

Cycling route

Date & Time:    9th April 2011 Saturday, 1pm ~ 6pm
Venue:             Zen Cafe
                         (besides Backpackers Hostel K's House Kyoto)

418 Nayacho, Shichijo-agaru, Dotemachi-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto city, Japan 600-8142
Cost:                Free 
What to bring:
                         Bring or rent a bicycle 
                         A Camera
                         Friends and more friends

Bicycle rental:
We have partnered with Kyoto Yuruchari Club and participants will enjoy 10% discount for bicycle rental. Please indicate the type of bicycles you wish to rent in your RSVP, reservation is limited to availability. (City Cycle, Special Class, Premier Class)

RSVP with participants' names, types and number if bicycle for reservation to we.are.one.japan@gmail.com



冬の終わりを告げる梅の開花が過ぎるとまもなく本格的な春の到来と共に桜の花が優雅に咲き始めます。この美しい季節を祝うため、We Are Oneは4月9日、京都お花見サイクリング&写真撮影ツアーを開催します。


集合場所:Zen Café
                   600-8142 京都市下京区土手町通七条上る納屋町418参加費用:無料
持参するもの:ご自身またはレンタサイクルの自転車 + カメラ + たくさんの友達

ご予約:参加者のお名前をwe.are.one.japan@gmail.com までお願いします。

Meeting point/ 集合地

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