Cruise around town and experience a different side of Kyoto in style and comfort.

Japan is largely praised for its efficient transportation system. Often it feels like you can get anywhere by train or bus, especially in more metropolitan areas, and there’s no shortage of praise for the kindness of fellow commuters. However, for those who are more ambitious and have relatively decent hand-eye coordination, motorbike may be the future way to soak in the local sights with Honda’s new HondaGO free motorbike rental program.

Available in four locations nationwide, the HondaGO program seeks to promote motorbike touring, especially for those who are amateur motorbike riders. To test out the HondaGO program, we send one of our reporters, the Great Muromachi, to take a spin at the program’s Kyoto location.

Reserving a bike is fairly easy. Reservation is possible via email or phone before the day of rental and same-day reservations are taken as well at the front desk. To rent a bike, a motorcycle license is not required. Even folks with only a valid driver’s license can participate in the rental program!

After the Great Muromachi made his reservation for the day, he was given three options for his choice of motorbike: Giorno, Cross Cub, and Tact. All bikes came with a compartment for personal items and a 50cc engine—not powerful enough to pull a Fast and Furious Kyoto edition but enough to get you around town on the local streets.

▼ Some bikes featured exclusive, collaborative designs with artists, such as the Tact below.

▼ “Sightseeing!” Just to let the locals know what you’re really up to when accidentally driving down the wrong side of the road.

As the Cross Cub is better for off-road conditions, and concluding that the rider of the specially designed Tact would need a fashion sense parallel to the diva Lady Gaga herself, Great Muromachi settled for the vintage-looking Giorno. Painted a vibrant yellow hue but with an ergonomic design, he felt it would be the most comfortable during his day trip in Kyoto.

▼ You can also rent a helmet and gloves with the bike for max safety!

Great Muromachi now had a secondary dilemma: where should he go? With any city, there’s much to sightsee and lots to eat. Our diligent reporter figured it would only be right to do both. Straddling the bike and adjusting his helmet, Great Muromachi decided on Imamiya Shrine—a soberly fitting choice as historically the shrine was a site for locals to pray for good health in the midst of epidemic.

▼ No matter how big or small the bike, what’s best is the breeze against your face and the need for speed.

▼ Puttering around Kyoto means enjoying the riverside views too!

Great Muromachi arrived at Imamiya Shrine with little trouble. He noted that the motorbike was extremely easy to park as its parking mechanism was similar to that of your typical household bike. Dismounting, our devoted reporter made his way into the shrine’s grounds.

A little hungry after his ride, Great Muromachi felt it was time for a snack. It was the perfect opportunity to try out an Imamiya Shrine speciality: aburi mochi. Consisting of thumb-shaped rice cakes sprinkled with soybean flour and roasted over charcoal fire, the chewiness of the aburi mochi and the glaze of light brown miso was perfect.

While there are other shrines in Kyoto that make this specific mochi, Imamiya Shrine’s mochi shop is considered to be Japan’s oldest traditional confectionary store, having been in business since the Heian period. (794 to 1185 AD) Furthermore, when eaten, the mochi is a prayer for good health, symbolically fitting for the current health crisis gripping the world.

▼ No matter the amount of divine protection, be sure to wash your hands before digging into any local goodies!

▼ On his way back to the rental center, Great Muromachi paused to admire certain landmarks such as a five-story pagoda and Kyoto Tower.

With a satisfied stomach and heart, Great Muromachi returned to the HondaGO. Given how smooth the Giorno ran, he concluded the bike was definitely perfect for those who were beginners at handling a motorbike or were interested in trying one out. And the overall cost of his day trip? 500 yen ($US5) for the aburi mochi.

HondaGO is available for an unspecified limited amount of time in Kyoto so be sure to confirm the program’s details before finalizing your itinerary. For those who are more than ready to journey off the beaten path, make sure to check out Kyoto’s more secret spots such as the thicket where one of Japan’s most infamous samurai met his demise and mysterious vending machines.

Location information
Hotel Anteroom Kyoto “HondaGO BIKE STAND” / ホテル アンテルーム 京都「HondaGO BIKE STAND」
Address: 京都府京都市南区東九条明田町7番
Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, Minami-ku, Higashikujo-Akitacho 7
Hours: 9:00a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Price: Free
Website (Japanese only)

Source, images ©SoraNews24
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