The port city of Osaka has long been a popular destination for travellers who crave cultural authenticity and endless excitement. Besides an amazing food scene, it is home to charming shopping streets, historical sights and a vibrant nightlife.
Amidst the plethora of attractions vying for your attention, keen-eyed visitors will notice that the sidewalks are shared with many commuters on bicycles. Women with toddlers in tow, smartly-dressed office workers and the occasional tourists — it is a common sight to see people from all walks of life pedalling to their next stop.
With a mostly flat terrain and well-organised streets, Osaka is a truly bikeable city in Japan. If getting behind the handlebars sounds like a good idea to discover this fascinating city, it is time to hop on a bicycle!
Here are three ways you can be a part of Osaka’s vibrant cycling culture
1. Use a public bike-sharing service
Bike sharing is an excellent way for travellers to explore more of a destination with absolute flexibility. Rent a bicycle, go where you want, and then drop it off effortlessly at various designated bicycle docking stations throughout the city.
Osaka has several reliable bike-sharing platforms to choose from.
HUBchari is one of Osaka’s first bike-sharing initiatives. Launched in 2011, it has over 250 stations operating 24 hours where you can pick up and return bicycles. Tourists who do not want to register as a HUBchari member can rent a bike at two downtown stations with just their passport. What’s even cooler? They have electric bikes available so you can traverse longer distances without getting tired!
Docomo Bike Share also offers a convenient 1-day bicycle pass for sightseeing tourists, which can be purchased at most 7-Eleven and FamilyMart outlets. It may not be easy for first-timers to buy tickets through the ticketing kiosk at Japanese convenience stores, but the friendly locals are eager to assist.
2. Rent a bicycle
Not keen on downloading an app for bike sharing? No worries. Rent a bicycle the old-fashioned way through a brick-and-mortar store!
Several bicycle rental shops operate within the popular tourist areas. Road Bike Rental Japan has an impressive variety of road bikes to suit different needs and is run by English-speaking staff who can help you plan your cycling route. For those who require just a basic bicycle, Ekirin-kun bicycle rental is very affordable at just 500 yen a day. They are conveniently located at JR Shin-Osaka Station, and anyone can just pop down to rent a bike with a valid passport.
As you meander through the streets on two wheels, Osaka reveals itself in a new light. More than just the tourist hot spots, discover hidden gems and stumble upon authentic local life while cycling through roads less travelled.
Make sure to check out the bicycle regulations before you embark on your bike journey!