Whether you’re spending a few days in Tokyo or have lived here for years, the sheer expanse of the world’s largest city has a slight downside. One can easily miss out on experiencing Tokyo’s little nooks and crannies whilst traveling between hotspots on the endless subway lines.
In recent years, innovative and concise ways to explore the city have been emerging, the most notorious being the Maricar. This go-kart tour gives you an exhilarating taste of Japanese gaming madness, albeit with precarious safety precautions (or lack thereof).
Since 2002, Cycling Holiday Tokyo have developed an E-bike tour (Docomo’s electric-assist bicycle) that offers a more dynamic and informative journey through the streets of the capital, and at a much more glacial pace. Instead of whizzing past points of interest, the tour takes you through various different areas of the city, into parks, over bridges, past big financial skyscrapers and into hidden, historic shrines.
At the start, a 20 minute briefing is given in which bikes and helmets are assigned and the accommodating, friendly tour guides introduce themselves. There’s a morning tour and an afternoon tour, both around 3 hours long. The former is a journey through downtown Tokyo to Asakusa and Tokyo Tower, whilst the latter takes you from the Imperial Palace all the way to Odaiba and the islands. It is possible to plan a bespoke tour if there are specific things that the clients wish to see over the set routes. The tour guide stops and gives a brief rundown or history of significant landmarks (available in Japanese or English). Leafy waterfalls in Tokyo’s big parks, local sweet stalls and the Marunouchi financial district skyscrapers are accompanied by fun little facts and tidbits along the way.
Because the tour uses Docomo’s E-bikes, you can dock at any point throughout, finishing whenever you want. However, with the ¥6,700 price tag (¥5,400 for under 18) you may want to get your money’s worth for the full three hours. Take note that there is a minimum height requirement of 145 cm, and the tours are subject to cancel in the case of heavy rain. But all in all, if the weather cooperates, the Cycling Holiday Tokyo is a great chance to venture into the quotidian bustle and vibe of the city.