Hikone - Kyoto
A long ride around Lake Biwa
Sunday 12 April 2015
Stu & Tamsyn were booked to return to the UK after Kyoto, so our fifth day cycling was our last together.

It started with some awesome cycling from our hotel along the east side of lake Biwa. This is flat, open country with green rice fields all around - as different from the snow-capped mountains from which we'd come as it's possible to get.
Leaving the Alps behind meant a change in temperature too, with the mercury hitting 25 in the mid-day sun. Off came the jackets and leggings of previous days and on with the sunscreen. Or at least it should have been. Neither Stu nor I were quick enough on the uptake and both paid the price with burnt noses by the end of the day!
By late morning we were making good progress, so when we spotted what looked like a local festival at the Himure Hachiman-gu Shrine in Miyauchicho, we stopped to investigate. The place was a hive of activity with locals hard at work, crafting straw pylons in preparation for the evening's festivities. The pylons were constructed on the ground by up to 10 people, then stood upright and held in place with guy ropes.
Back on the bikes, we took the impressive 'Rainbow bridge' over lake Biwa in order to follow a more scenic route to Kyoto. It also enabled us to call in at Sanzen-in gardens and temple via a narrow, windy path, totally unsuitable for cycling. It turns out there's a lovely tarmac road 100m further down but how was I to know? I blame Sat Nav!.

Sanzen-in has beautiful and tranquil gardens containing a number of small statues, some of which have more than a passing resemblance characters from Hayao Miyazaki classic film, Spirited Away.
We continued towards Kyoto along route 367 and for the first time on the trip noticed other cyclists. These appeared to be young Japanese riders on new, expensive machines, presumably out for exercise and enjoyment. All previous cyclists we had seen were locals on old bikes getting from A to B.

After some navigation disasters in Kyoto's suburbs, Stu took over directions and we were soon back on track. We made our way through Kyoto's back streets including Gion, the famous Geisha district, before arriving at K's House where we were booked in for the next few nights.