A Tokyo bike rental is a fantastic way to see the city. The trains and subways are super-efficient, but you can easily spend up to twenty dollars a day visiting. It’s faster than walking, great exercise, and is friendly to your budget!
How Do I Use a Tokyo Bike Rental Service?
The best deal for you depends on how long you will be staying in Tokyo. If you’re only here for a day or two, it’s better to take the trains and buses. You won’t have the time to find your way around the city or to familiarize yourself with the cycling rules. Also, it costs a minimum of 1000 yen a day to rent a bike. You don’t want to spend money just to get lost in some back-street neighborhood.
Taito City Bike Rental
There is a great bike service provided by Taito City (around the Asakusa and Ueno districts) where you can rent a bike in time increments of four hours or for an entire day. You need to bring your passport, the name of your hotel, and a Japanese phone number (which you might already have, if you read our article on how to get phone and WiFi services in Tokyo). No deposit is required. They also have great maps of the city, so you can easily do a tour of the city in four hours. Ueno Park and the beautiful Shinobazu pond are in this area, so it’s well worth the trip.
The Taito City Tokyo bike rental service has four rental places in the area and you can return your rented bicycle to any of them. The staff only speaks Japanese, but they have maps and fill-out forms in English.
Taito City Tokyo Bike Rental
Nearest Station: The easiest place to get to to rent a Taito City bicycle is close to the Kaminarimon gate of Sensoji shrine, next to the Rox supermarket. There is an entrance leading directly to the underground Asakusa station for the Tsukuba express line.
Hours of Operation: 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. (final 4-hour rental time is 4:20 p.m.)
Docomo-Cycle Community Cycle Service
To use this Tokyo bike rental service, you will need a phone with internet service or a pocket-wifi. The Docomo-Cycle Community Cycle sharing service allows you to rent a bicycle from one of their distinctive bicycle racks and return it to any other Docomo-Cycle spot in the same-color area (see the map on their website below).
The service has one-trip, unlimited trips, and one-day pass options. Bike stations are located all over the city. Once you registered online with the service, all you have to do is choose a docking port (the bicycle rack) and bicycle, and the service will send you a code to unlock the bike.
The Docomo-Cycle service is also only in Japanese, and I found that using the service on the phone took a bit of getting used to. But once I got used to it, it was the easiest and cheapest way to go.
Docomo-Cycle Community Cycle Sharing Service
Website (contains detailed instructions, maps to bike station locations, etc)
How Can I Buy a Bicycle?
If you are planning for an extended stay, you can look for a cheap bicycle in the GajinPot.com classifieds or on Craigslist Tokyo. Some old bikes can be had for 5000 yen, which is definitely a good investment so long as you’re staying for at least a month. Also, make sure that the bike’s registration and paper receipt are sold with it! Otherwise, you might end up being accused of stealing the bike. It is common for policemen to stop foreigners and ask them for the bike’s registration papers.
Yoyogi Recycle Garden
Yoyogi Recycle Garden is actually a used goods store. They have a limited number of bicycles, but they are all in good repair and cost anywhere from 6000 to 20,000 yen. Bicycle registration is done on-site for another 500 yen.
Yoyogi Recycle Garden
Hours of Operation: Open daily10 a.m. – 8p.m.
Konanami Clean Cycle
This is an organization that gives a second life to used bicycles that have been abandoned at the train stations in Suginami ward. For a few days each month, you can go to their lot and choose from a surprisingly good selection of bikes ranging in prices from 6500 to 16000 yen. You should go early on the first day, because the good ones sell fast!
Konanami Clean Cycle
Hours of Operation: Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Rules of the Road
Now that you have a bike, you should know the basic rules about riding it around in Tokyo.
- There are bicycle lanes on most public roads, but be sure to ride on the left side of the road. Most Japanese people actually ride their bikes on the sidewalk; this is technically forbidden, but is commonly done and is a lot safer. Bicycle lanes in Tokyo are “bicycle lanes” only until a car wants to use them, and our editor has more than a few stories of almost being run over while trying to use the bicycle lane.
- Be sure to have a properly registered bicycle, and keep the papers with you! The police may stop you and ask you for your registration, and having it handy can save you a whole lot of time and trouble.
- Carrying an umbrella or listening to an iPhone is forbidden while riding.
- Riding with a passenger is forbidden unless it is a child under six year-old.
- Children under the age of thirteen must wear a helmet.
- Be careful to park your bicycle where it will not block vehicle or pedestrian traffic.