Slow tour comes to Japan: Day 5


Whenever we are in Japan we try to attend Brompton in Palace meets. They are wonderful group of people with a common desire to ride their Brompton bikes. Brompton in Palace used to meet during Palace Cycling, which is when roads near the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo are closed each Sunday to enable safe cycling.

Disappointingly, bureaucratic intervention has meant that Brompton in Palace had to move to a new location in western Tokyo. It is a great shame that Palace Cycling has lost a group of supportive and friendly cyclists. But, I am here to report that Brompton in Palace is still going strong and as enjoyable as ever!

Meeting in western Tokyo opened our eyes to some of it delights that, despite of our many visits to Tokyo, we have never seen including Showa Kinen Koen. On day 5 we rode (and walked) around 17km.

Show Kinen Koen is:

  • a massive national park in Tachikawa.
  • known for its beautiful ginkgo row of trees.
  • the most beautiful in autumn, with the maple and ginkgo trees blushing in fiery red and yellow.
  • located a few minutes on foot from JR Tachikawa and Nishi Tachikawa Stations. 
  • one of the nicest park I’ve ever seen in Japan. 
  • a lovely park with bike and walking paths, a lake for boating, a formal Japanese garden, water parks and, in winter, an outdoor skating rink and Christmas light show. 

Tachikawa Cultural Factory

The formal part of the Brompton in Palace Meeting is held in the grounds of the Tachikawa Cultural Factory.

Tachikawa Cultural Factory is an activity base for cultural creation where professionals gather using valuable resources such as the school building and gymnasium of Tamagawa Elementary School, which was closed in 2004.

Utilizing this wonderful environment and the place of learning of a former school, Tachikawa Sogoya has four businesses: Incubation Center Business, Film Commission Business, Cycle Station Business, and Community Design Business. As a pillar, we will develop a wide variety of programs while walking with people in the Tama area and people who are responsible for the culture, as well as local people, and will disseminate them widely in cooperation with each facility.

This formal part of Brompton in Palace is about meeting people and learning how they adapt and use their Brompton. This meeting also had important briefing about insurance and riding in Tokyo. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand too much of that briefing!

Informal part – lunch and park

Following the formal meet, the group breaks up – some stayed at the cultural factory for lunch others went to good fast udon (I want one of these restaurants in Adelaide PLEASE!). The group that remained then went to Showa Kinen Koen, which as the internet quotes earlier in this post points out is one of the most amazing parks I’ve seen in the world.

The park comprises of a number of different parks within a park, which is connected by both walkways and dedicated bikeways. It is a fantastic place for a family to safely go cycling.

Mayumi is the key instigator of Brompton in Palace. I know that everyone values her effort and dedication to Brompton in Palace. Helen and I thank her for making us feel welcome.

Slow Tour comes to Japan: Day 4

Ikidane Cyclist Hostel to Onomichi

I say Hostel. You don’t think gourmet breakfast, do you? Well let me tell you Ikidane Cyclist Hostel had a great breakfast. The perfect start for any cyclist doing any part of the Shimanami Kaido. Please note the shoes left outside of the sleeping quarters.

On this day we were completing the ride from Imabari to Onomichi and then taking a Shinkansen to Tokyo. Onomichi is:

  • a quaint town located along the Seto Inland Sea.
  • known for the Temple Walk, a network of paths connecting 25 temples.
  • a famous sightseeing place that is characterised by a townscape that is brimming with a retro vibe.
  • probably most well known as the small port town at the starting point of the Shimanami Kaido.
  • nicknamed the “Town of Hills and Cats”.

Our route was 45kms and is shown below.

Morning of discovery

The blue line is the official route, but some times going off-piste provides rewards. This is certainly true this day. I found it hard to limit the pictures in the gallery below. Because we:

  • discovered a mikan inspired toy capsule vending machine on the side of the road.
  • were alerted to the possibility of a close encounter with a wild boar.
  • were encouraged to have a beer by a portly statue.
  • became reacquainted with Cafe Via, who you might remember lost their Tokyo cafe in the recent typhoon.
  • discovered a famous korokke artisan.

This was all before lunch!


Again Takero used his local knowledge and language to find a unique lunch spot just a little bit of the blue line. On Innoshima island went to Manda Fermentation an international company, that unsurprisingly, specialises in fermentation.

Manda Fermentation at its headquarters has a garden, foot bath, store and cafe. I personally believe that all cycling routes should have a foot baths to revive cyclists tired feet.

We had lunch in the Cafe and a tried Manda’s amazake. Wikipedia tells me that amazakeis a traditional sweet, low-alcohol drink made from fermented rice. It is part of the family of traditional Japanese foods, made using the koji mould, that includes miso, soy sauce and sake. I say oishiii!


On the way to our final destination we came across the wonderful 70 Cafe with a beautiful view. At that point, I seriously contemplated resigning and opening a cafe…. It can’t be that good all year round can it?

I thought the name of 70 Cafe was because there was about 70kms to Imabari. But, its named after the owner’s pride an joy – the Toyota 70 Landcruiser.

It is surprising to learn that after all those amazing bridges the “New Onomichi” bridge does not have a lane for cyclists! But it does not matter because there is a frequent and cheap ferry service that is available for pedestrians and cyclists. When we arrive there was a small market along the foreshore. The foreshore does have a converted warehouse with food, accomodation and wonderful local goods.

We didn’t have enough time to explore much more of Onomichi as we had to catch the train. Perhaps next time we visit!

Takero, arigato-gozaimashita. Helen and I look forward to riding with you again.

Slow Tour comes to Japan: Day 3

Imabari to Ikidane Cyclist Hostel and Cafe

Day 3 saw us start from Imabari on the Shimanami Kaido. Once again no GPX file is required because all you need to do is find the blue line and follow it. Although, we did take a nice quiet detour along the shoreline.

The Shimanami Kaido route involves seven islands, six bridges and one ferry. The islands we visited were:

  • Umashima
  • Oshima
  • Hakatajima
  • Omishima
  • Ikuchijima
  • Innoshima
  • Mukaishima

We decided to complete the route in two days. Staying at the Ikidane Cyclist Hostel and Cafe on Omishima Island.

Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge

O.k. you say its a bridge, so what? Well, I respond that the bridge is 4105 metres long , it crosses a beautiful part of the world, and has a special cycling lane! This is certainly one of the highlights of the ride – and it was the first thing we did out of Imabari.

Just to emphasis how good the bridge was we took a 7km diversion up and down and a mountain (o.k. maybe it was a big hill) to get some good photos for you.


We had plans to visit a special pizza restaurant, but our hilly excursion meant that we were running a little late. Fortunately we called ahead to find out that were out of pizzas in any case!

Quick consultation of Google found a lunch place that was open. When we arrived it look like a run down cabin. But as the doors opened and classical music poured out a gentle woman greeted us. On the menu was one item only – Keema Curry. The setting was perfect. She prepared our curry and collected cut herbs from the garden for our curry and our drinks. We sat outside enjoyed to good food, good weather and good company.

To Ikidane Cyclist Hostel

Fortunately the rest of the ride was not as hilly or as hard as the first part of the ride. The Ikidane Cyclist Hostel should be renamed Cyclist Heaven. It only opened in May and provides great facilities. Most importantly, it offers wonderful food! It is, in my mind, closer to a ryokan and than a western hostel.

Just before the Hostel is a the local Cyclist Sanctuary with food, gifts and orange juice. You might not know but this region is famous for mikan (oranges) and salt!

Slow tour comes to Japan: Day 2

Tobishima Kaido

A beautiful 42 km ride following a blue line across seven islands. There was no need for GPX file. There is useful information on the Kure Area Travel Report website.

The islands

  • Shimokamagarijima
  • Kamikamagarijima
  • Toyoshima
  • Osakishimojima
  • Heirajima
  • Nakanoshima
  • Okamurajima

Our starting point was Nigata Station – it took two trains from Hiroshima. A rapid service and then one stop on a local service.

To get to these seven islands we crossed seven bridges.

We also had a few tunnels to save our legs we benefitted from some tunnels. But a tunnel is always easier than riding over a hill.

Ate lunch at Marichan’s – her Okonomiyaki was sugoi oishiiii!! We required help from so locals to find the narrow lane that it was located on. We’ve taken a photo of lane to help you!

We took a short detour to visit an old Edo era village with many of its original buildings intact. Interestingly, it also had the bike used by the first Japanese person to ride around the world. At least, that’s our memory of the information at the site! We will stick with that.

At the end of the ride, we took a ferry to our overnight accomodation and the starting point for Day 3 of the Slow Tour – Imabari. Imabari is:

  • the second largest city in Ehime Prefecture
  • home to the Shimanami Kaido
  • shipbuilding town with a beautiful castle and an attractive old commercial district
  • one of the largest production center of towels
  • a city on Shikoku Island, Japan
  • home to Imabari castle.

Slow Tour Comes to Japan: Day 1


We arrived in Japan from London at Tokyo International Airport (HND) walked briskly through immigration and customs to the arrivals hall where we met our friend, Takero. We promptly pulled out our pre-prepared cycling luggage – two Brompton Bags and two small panniers and our bikes ready for our flight Hiroshima.

In Haneda we took advantage of the luggage delivery service – which meant our big bike bags and our other suitcases would magically arrive at our hotel 4 days later and appear in our room! Awesome!

Perhaps what is more amazing is that the Japan Airlines transported our bikes without any protective bags to Hiroshima without incident. They carefully placed our bikes in the boxes shown above and added some protective bubble wrap. Here are our bikes in Hiroshima. It is a caring service.

Hiroshima is:

  • the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture in Japan
  • is located on the broad, flat delta of the Ota River, which has 7 channel outlets dividing the city into six islands which project into Hiroshima Bay
  • an industrial city of wide boulevards and criss-crossing rivers along the coast of the Seto Inland Sea
  • a bright, modern city with a sad history: in 1945 it was the location of the world’s first nuclear bombing  

The Route

Hiroshima is a convenient location for getting to the Tobishima Kaido and Shimanami Kaido. These two blue-line cycling routes are the the objective of our journey.

After at an awesome Okonomiyaki lunch – Hiroshima style, I did however plot a loop ride that took us past many of the interesting spots in Hiroshima.


Hiroshima is a mostly flat city. So included what seems to be the only hill. Up there is where the art gallery is! Some photos from the ride are below.

Hiroshima Peace memorial

We came across some fellow travellers from Lithuania, they’ve been doing an epic ride over a couple of months in Japan that had bikes that matched ours.

Hiroshima Castle
Memorial Cathedral for World Peace

Preparation for the big day ahead

Getting ready for the big ride the next day meant plenty of carb loading! Remember no gyoza, no life!

The weather has been perfect….

… for cycling in Japan and catching up with friends. We spent three days cycling the Tobishima Kaido and the Shimanami Kadio, which is in the inland Sea of Japan near Hiroshima with our friend Takero. The views like the picture above were stunning… and the roads were great (sorry England, but here they are maintained). We had a great time and value the time spent. Namma bieru mitsu onegaishimasu (hiragana does not work in the blog so you get bad Japanese)!

We were also fortunate to catch up with some of our Brompton friends at the hi-monthly Brompton in Palace meeting. It was great to see all the bikes, enjoy fast food udon, and visit a park which you can cycle around and see many things – including bonsai, traditional garden and open spaces. It was a great day and we value being able to attend! Thank you Mayumi! For more information search for Brompton in Palace on Facebook.

We also spent time with our non cycling friends Gaku, Ryoko and Shota seeing their Tokyo and getting to visit our favourite shops in new locations. Gaku planned a great day involving seeing an exhibition at Tenozu Island of Channel called Mademoiselle Privé – about fashion and her inspiration, and a great lunch – It’s always interesting seeing Tokyo from the perspective of people who live here.

Kym and I really appreciate the time spent with us – we look forward to seeing you all again soon.

Bonus Day 3 Slow Tour: London

The object of this day in the town home to Boris Bikes and Boris himself was to sample a range of quietways, cycleways and cycle super highways while seeing the sights of London.

While we started with one plan we ended with another, in my opinion, far better one.

The ride started in Paddington and ended in Greenwich. Greenwich is:

  • an area of South East London
  • home to the Merdian Line, Cutty Sark, the Old Royal Naval College, the National Maritime Museum, and Greenwich Market.
  • the home of time, Greenwich is where eastern and western hemispheres meet.
  • famous for its naval and military connections and its green spaces.
  • on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The route we took was around 30kms in one direction. We took the London Riverbus back to Westminster.

Chelsea Breakfast

The first part of the ride followed a quiet way through Hyde Park to Chelsea for breakfast at A Wanted Man.

Very yummy breakfast.

Battersea Park

We continued on the quiet way across the Thames and visited Battersea Park. This is a big park that includes and number of different uses and has a nice promenade next to the Thames. There are some paths for cyclists and other pedestrian only areas.

Westminster and the Super Cycle Highway

We crossed over the river on to one of the super cycle highways, which made for easy, safe and fast cycling. Good integrated lights. We crossed back again over the Vauxhall bridge to experience the South side again on the quiet ways again. They are not bad using less busy roads and some infrastructure -but they are slower and harder to follow.

Transport for London are planning to change the names from quiet ways and super cycle highways to just plain old cycle ways. But it misses the point that the name actually communicates useful information. What is even worse is that there must have been cycle route called the London cycle network, that are still signed but not maintained or promoted. London cycle routes are a bit confusing.

London Tower

We continued on the super cycle highway until London Tower. At London Tower we learnt about the London river bus. This when we change our mind and decided to cycle to Greenwich.

We took the road across Tower Bridge to connect up with another quiet way to Greenwich. There is no cycle route over the Bridge but the traffic moves so slowly that a bike is the fastest way across.


The quiet way took us through areas definitely not on the tourist map. It is also the only time it rained. It must have been fate that it started to rain only as we came across a very nice coffee shop that did nice cheese toasties.

Well, I told you about Greenwich earlier in this post. Here are some photos from Greenwich and the ferry back.


  • I could not find any useful GPX files for this ride. Transport for London website does have cycling maps, which I used to get some ideas for this ride. But, the experience is quite frustrating.
  • Our Strava activity could be converted to a GPX file, by you would need to fix up some of our mistakes.

Slow tour bonus day 2: Oxford

Oxford is quite a small size and in the center it is very crowded. We couldn’t find much good in information suggesting a bicycle route either as GPX file or pamphlet. So we made one up instead.

The Bodleian Library is:

  • is the main research library of the University of Oxford
  • one of the oldest libraries in Europe
  • the second-largest library in Britain after the British Library
  • particularly rich in Oriental manuscripts and collections of English literature, local history, and early printing
  • one of the most impressive anywhere.

Our route took as past some of the key parts of Oxford but also a little further a field. It is in three parts.

Our bike tour included visiting the Bodleian Library, the Botanic Gardens and a bread shop. Here some of the photos from along the route. Helen provided a good blog post on the bread shop –

Normally I’d provide a list of resources for the bike trip. But, I couldn’t find anything two useful. You can use our routes from Strava to get some ideas.

Great stop in Oxford – Hamblin bread

Cycling on holiday enables you to find interesting places which are not necessarily in the guide books. Our approach to bromptoneering is exactly that find a route and cycle it… if there is a major tourist attraction, we might stop to take a photo, if I’m lucky. But this approach also enables us to stop the moment we see something interesting. In Oxford it was the below sign which stopped us in our tracks.

It had all the right elements to attract Kym – “bakes here daily”, and good font. Kym managed to snaffle the last apple and custard buns (yeah us!) and they had filtered coffee (rare to find).

We later learnt the bread was made from stone ground flour milled locally. They make their own jams, as well as sourcing items they use from local producers. The taste was fabulous. We enjoyed the buns and had a great chat with the owner Hugo who was passionate about using local sources and their products. He suggested we return the next day for breakfast.. to try their bread as we would not regret it.

The next day… yes we returned..! Ah the smell of a bakery is fabulous in a morning.

We enjoyed a shared breakfast and a cardamon bun, and a cinnamon bun – delightful! We even bought a jar of their jam (let’s hope it makes it home). If we lived here we would be regulars.

If you find yourself in Oxford (thurs-sun) do your stomach a favour hop on bus (if you don’t have a bike) and go there… you will be happy!