To truly experience Osaka like a local, you need to take to the streets on a bicycle.
Osaka is a city that is designed for cycling. It is relatively flat, has pathways that connect parks, streets and waterfronts, and drivers are considerate and comfortable with sharing the road with bicycles.
Today we will look at how locals use bicycles in Osaka, where to rent a bicycle and what sites you should see.
Osakan Bicycle Culture
People from all walks of life cycle in Osaka - mothers ferrying children to school, well-dressed businessmen heading to the office, young people heading out for a night on the town, and even elderly ladies going shopping.
Keep your eyes out for the all too common multi-tasking rider - with a phone in one hand, shopping bag in the other, they are still able to ride in a straight line through an intersection (don’t try this yourself!).
Renting a Bicycle
Surprisingly, despite the strong bicycle culture of the locals, there are only a few options for tourists to rent bicycles. There at least two publicly available options:
HUBchari: This bicycle rental operation has many stations around Osaka, it costs ¥200 per hour (or ¥1000 for 12 hours) and you can pick up and return your bicycle at any station. Find out more on their official site.
Umegle Chari: Its stations are based around the Umeda area but that doesn’t mean you can ride all around town and return to Umeda at the end of the day! The cost is ¥200 for the first hour and ¥100 each hour after that. If you are feeling tired, Umegle Chari also has electric bicycles for hire. Find out more on their official website.
Alternatively you can join a bicycle tour group such as Cycle Osaka, which will provide a bicycle and helmet and guide you to a number of sites. Cycle Osaka has both full day and half day tours.
Sites to See While Cycling
Now you’ve got your bicycle, here are a few recommended sites to check out.
Osaka Castle: Instead of taking the well-worn tourist path from the station to the castle, you are now able to explore the whole park! From this perspective you can truly appreciate the size and length of the castle wall perimeter. Be sure to ride through the plum grove, the apricot trees and past the fountain.
Travis King on Flickr
Tsutenkaku Tower: Head to the tourist area of Shinsekai to see Tsutenkaku Tower and eat yakitori ( chicken meat skewers). This is also the perfect place to try takoyaki (fried octopus balls).
thaths on Flickr
Kyocera Dome: This impressive stadium by the water is an iconic landmark where conventions, concerts and sporting events are held all year round.
jpellgen on Flickr
Amerika Mura: A youthful and gritty part of the city, ride around here to see vintage clothing and record stores, the latest in sneaker fashion and teenagers queueing to see up-and-coming musicians.
Simon on Flickr
Get out there and explore Osaka by bicycle!