Allie Tan

Cycling for Free in Tokyo

Admire the Imperial Gardens from your rental bike

Allie Tan
Allie Tan   - 3 min read

There’s no doubt that Tokyo can be an expensive place, but there are a number of free activities that will sweeten your trip. One is the free bicycle rental at the Imperial Gardens every Sunday.

If you are reluctant to hop on a bike in a foreign and busy city, rest assured that this cycling route is free of cars, and there are plenty of arrows and staff members to guide you around this route.

Every Sunday from 10am to 3pm, just head to police box near exit 2 of Nijubashi-mae Station on the Chiyoda Line, where you will find the bicycle rental counter. You will just need to fill in some details before you will be led to choose a bike out of their fleet of 250. There are smaller bicycles for children, and tandem bicycles for non-cyclists to join in as well. Even if you are not a confident cyclist, the route is short and very safe. The four to five lane roads are entirely closed off to traffic during this time, and there is at least one staff member at each intersection in case of any accidents and to make sure that everyone is cycling safely. The entire route goes around and near the Imperial Palace gardens and is only about 3km long. There is no chance of you getting lost, as there are clear signs every step of the way. Before you set off, you will also be given a map and briefed on the areas are out of bounds. As the route goes near the Imperial Palace, it is no surprise that security is a concern.

The ride is very pleasant and enjoyable, and you can go as many times as you like around the circuit before returning your bike to the reception counter. Some things to note are that while you can stop your bike temporarily to take pictures (as long as you are not obstructing other cyclists), but you cannot park the bike and walk into the gardens, or deviate from the cycling route at any time. You must also follow traffic rules, although there are no cars. There will be many visitors exploring the area on foot, and will use the pedestrian crossings. Even if there are no pedestrians crossing the road, you still have to stop and wait if the lights are red.

Along the way, there are many good photo opportunities and you will get glimpses of the Imperial Palace over the walls. It is nice a break from the crowded trains and streets of Tokyo. Be sure to check the weather forecast before you make your way down though, as this service does not run if there is a high chance of rain.

Allie Tan

Allie Tan @allie.tan