Cycling around Tokyo
I’ve been so focused on opening the shop and so bloody hot I almost forgot that it is actually fall in lots of the world, and that it’s therefore time for Japan Creation, a great bi-annual fabric exhibition in Tokyo featuring only Japanese mills, from the sleekest conglomerates to the truly, delightfully quirky artisanal operations, the likes of which really only exist in Japan. Our first trip to Japan Creation, and to Japan, was around this time last year, and we found it so inspiring, we came back to Hong Kong and started j.a.daye. Though we don’t necessarily need to attend the exhibition any longer – and don’t really have the time to anyway- this wonderful article in Sunday’s New York Times Travel section by Harris Salat is making me rethink my previous position (don’t necessarily need to attend, don’t really have the time anyway.) The article is a three-day travelougue of sorts detailing a cycling trip Salat and his friend Lloyd Nakano took around Tokyo, following the city’s iconic Yamanote Line.
My first job in in New York City was delivering vegan suppers from the Angelica Kitchen all over the East Village. Notwithstanding the often annoying clientele, it was actually a great job, and I always ever after used my bicycle for transport whenever the weather permitted- even when I was living in Queens and worked in Midtown Manhattan. It is without a doubt one of the things I miss most here in Hong Kong, which has got to be the least hospitable city in the world for bicycling- crazy hills, crazy out of repair roads with no shoulders, crazy taxi drivers, crazy humidity. There is a small contingent of cycling enthusiasts on the South side of Hong Kong Island where I live, but it’s all a bit too spandex, gears and helmets for my tastes. I was therefore completely delighted to find last autumn that my little business hotel in Ginza offered free bicycle rentals to guests- and cute little old fashioned bikes no less. Tokyo, despite some sprawl and post industrial blight, is actually a quite enjoyable city to bike around, and once it all gets to be too much, as Harris discovers, there is simply no other country that has mastered the art of relaxation like the Japanese:
“At last we reached Sadachiyo, our ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn, in Asakusa, a famous Shitamachi neighborhood that’s home to a major temple, geisha houses and back streets that feel a world away from the modern city (2-20-1 Asakusa, Taiko-ku; 81-3-3842-6431; www.sadachiyo.co.jp; doubles start at 9,500 yen per person a night). Trading our clothes for breezy yukata robes, we strolled to a century-old sukiyaki restaurant for dinner, then capped the evening with a relaxing soak at a nearby community bathhouse.”
While we weren’t so ambitious as Harris and Lloyd, our little jaunt around the streets of Tokyo, starting from the Imperial Palace, followed roughly the route of the Yamanote line, and helped us understand the city in a way riding around on the Metro never could. And no: we didn’t have quite the cozy end of the day that Harris did – we stumbled upon a giant bizarre Tex-Mex chain near Daikanyama and ate fajitas by the pound washed down with ice cold Budwesier- we’d certainly recommend biking it to anyone visiting Tokyo.