One day rides in and around Osaka
There are a lot of scenic, challenging and rewarding cycling routes around the Osaka area. One of the best things about the routes is they are generally easily accessible which means you'll be out of the city in no time.
Osaka's reputation for being one of the world's most liveable cities was cemented in 2018 as the Kansai hub climbed six 6 positions into third place on the annual Global Livability Rankings published by The Economist Group. As if that wasn't enough, the decision to hold the 2025 Expo in Osaka was made in November 2018. Osaka definitely has a lot going for it!
If you're a cyclist (if you are reading this then the chances are that you are) then Osaka also has plenty to offer the one-day rider too. Whether you are in Osaka on business and have one day to stretch your legs, travelling around but wanting to keep to a training program or want to get away from the family while they go to Universal Studios or shopping (Very common reason!), the river routes and mountains surrounding Osaka make for some fun or even 'epic' riding.
Here's a list of a few of our favourite routes and areas to ride in that can be squeezed into one day or less.
Yodo and Kanzaki River Loop
Starting with the simple and for anyone who just wants to squeeze a quick 40 to 50 kilometres ride into a couple of hours, the Yodo and Kanzaki River loop is flat and mostly follows along riverside cycle paths so traffic can be avoided.
Yodo River up and back
It's common to see local cyclists on the Yodo River. It's pretty flat and with no cars around riders and cycle freely without worry. There are some safety barriers along the wide river path so every several kilometres you will need to slow down and negotiate the barriers. How far you ride along the Yodo River is entirely up to you but many local riders stop at the Yodo River Mikawa Goryu Meeting place. Here there is a resting area and tower for viewing where the Yodo River meets the Kizu, Katsura and Uji Rivers.
Yodo River to Arashiyama and back
With the volume of tourists now visiting Arashiyama - located to the west of Kyoto, it can hardly be referred to as a well kept secret. Trains to Arashiyama are often full during the height of the Hanami (Cherry blossom viewing) and Kouyou (Autumn Leaves) seasons. Locals and visitors alike take in the beautiful setting that despite it's popularity still retains an air of tranquility and is well worth a visit.
Arashiyama makes for a great 1 day ride from Osaka or is a good point to take a breather for those heading to Kyoto or Lake Biwa. The 56km route (oneway) from Osaka largely follows the river paths along the Yodog River and Katsura River so those who like to avoid busy roads can enjoy a leisurely ride without worrying about competing with the traffic.
It's time to get out of the saddle when you reach the Togetsukyō Bridge. Just a stroll around is enough to re-energise after the bike ride from Osaka, although there are some vendors on hand with refreshments if needed. Just find a quiet spot along the river to take in the scenery and atmosphere. For those who want to do a bit of sightseeing in Arashiyama, there are plenty of temples and shrines scattered throughout the district; and the Arashiyama Bamboo groove is one of Kyoto's top sights.
As with all the Yodo River routes, one thing to factor into your planning is wind. Nine times out of ten there seems to be a tailwind pushing you nicely towards Kyoto but remember to save some energy for the return and headwind blowing in your face.
Mino Park and Katsuoji Temple
Located around 30 kilometres north of Osaka, Katsuoji Temple is a real find along the route over the hills of Mino. With a little bit of hill work involved to get there, it makes the perfect stop to take a quick breather and to take in your surroundings. The luscious forest surrounds this secluded and tranquil place of worship. With its tiered levels, wooden pagodas and Koi-filled pond Katsuoji makes for a great escape from the city.
As with much of Japan, each season creates it's own distinctive backdrop to the temple grounds. The beautiful 'Sakura' (cherry blossom) bloom in Spring provides the perfect postcard of Japan, while the autumn brings the changing of the leaves, equally as beautiful in its own way. Summer provides a real treat when the extended hours begin and the temple can be visited at night making dusk the perfect time to see the night and day views.
Katsuoji translates to 'win temple'. Visitors can buy daruma dolls hoping to obtain "winner's luck". If the wish is fulfilled, the is often returned to the temple and left somewhere on the grounds.
If you've made it as far as Katsuoji Temple and want to push on further, Emma's Cafe is a further 10 kilometres of rolling hills and quiet countryside paddy-fields away. It's a popular destination for local cyclists and serves up a Cafe Latte and BLT Sandwich to die for.
Above, provides an outline of some of our favourite and most convenient areas to explore in and around Osaka but there are plenty more. Head over to our routes page for more details on specific routes https://globalwheels-japan.com/blogs/routes or a good way to look for popular routes is by using the 'Global Heatmap' setting on Strava's Route creator.
Safe cycling all!