Tokyo, Japan | A Serene Cycling Tour for Families along the Tama River 

cycling the tame river tokyo japan with kids baseball game

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

How to get there

The Tama River is a popular spot for Tokyoites to spend their weekends or days off, away from the busy city. It is a refreshing oasis with lush green river banks among the otherwise concrete jungle of the vast metropolis. Easily accessible by public transport from major train stations, Shinjuku and Shibuya among them, it had always been one of our list to explore during our stays in Tokyo. With our bikes packed into rinku bags (covers are needed to take a bicycle onto Japanese trains) we took the Keikyu-Kuko Line from Shinagawa to Otorii Sation near the river mouth of the Tama River with a plan to ride up stream.

After stocking up on sweet and savoury rolls in a bakery near the train station we then cycled the short distance along the main road south towards the river path. We started our bike route upriver towards Chofu from underneath the bridge that crosses the Tama River near Otorii. We gained some curious looks from some older Japanese gents that had congregated in the shade of the bridge, I guess not so many tourists venture here.

cycling the tame river tokyo japan with kids cyclists

cycling the tame river tokyo japan with kids cyclist

cycling the tama river tokyo japan with kids bike path

cycling the tame river tokyo japan with kids houses

The Cycling Trail

It was a hot summer’s day, temperatures in Tokyo can easily reach 40C and we made sure to have a lot of water with us, plus the obligatory sun protection. Cycling in this heat is certainly not the easiest of tasks but with the cycle path being flat and by the river we caught a cooling breeze, plus the wind from the cycling gave us the needed respite every now and then too. The cycle trail along the river winds itself parallel on an elevated bank, it is shared with pedestrians and other cyclists, which makes it a very safe path for a bike ride with kids.

cycling the tame river tokyo japan with kids neo sign

cycling the tame river tokyo japan with kids washing line

cycling the tama river tokyo japan with kids yellow hut

Tama Riverside

The buildings we passed to our right side were mainly apartment blocks and residential houses with the odd industrial building thrown in. Down below on the river flood plain was another path, accessible every now and then by stairs or a ramp. There were many groups of school children out on the baseball fields, spending their summertime in sports camps. We saw a group of them sitting under the shady cherry trees taking a break from their games.

cycling the tame river tokyo japan with kids baseball team

cycling the tame river tokyo japan with kids baseball player

cycling the tame river tokyo japan with kids school

cycling the tame river tokyo japan with kids baseball

Plenty of Funny Playgrounds

There were few others cycling on the path, most of them were older men out for lunch or fishing, and to our surprise there were no women at all. Approaching lunchtime, we saw others people lying under the trees or on the benches relaxing or even taking a short nap, something the Japanese seem to be able to do about just anywhere. There were plenty of playgrounds, which would make a great stop for families with smaller kids too.

cycling the tame river tokyo japan with kids playground

cycling the tame river tokyo japan with kids playground

cycling the tama river tokyo japan with kids bridge

cycling the tame river tokyo japan with kids bench

Lunch at Cafe Delight

We were making very good progress on our ride so we started to look for a place where we could have lunch. We got lucky and found café Delight in front of Tamagawasengen shrine. Despite the heat we chose to sit outside of the little restaurant with the train crossing of the Tokyu Tamagawa Line on the other side of the road. Jerome was happy to watch the barriers go down when a train was approaching to move in and out of the station while we waited. The food we were served at this cool café, was fish and chips for Jerome and myself, Chris fancied a burger instead. Both dishes were rather tasty and we were pleased to have stumbled onto this little neighborhood gem albeit with western food. Jerome could have probably sat there all afternoon to watch the trains pass by every few minutes, however we cycled on, further up along the Tama River.

cycling the tame river tokyo japan with kids special train

cycling the tame river tokyo japan with kids football game

cycling the tame river tokyo japan with kids shinkansen

cycling the tame river tokyo japan with kids train bridge

A Little Accident

There were men in the shallow waters of the river with their long fishing rods, some had even set up parasols to be in the shade from the hot sun. We would have loved to jump into the river to cool down, unfortunately it did not look like there were any spots for wild river swimming (there are spots where you can, further up the river near Ome), a splash from the water bottle had to suffice. At some point Jerome fell off his bike, thankfully it was only a scrape on his knee. A friendly local security guard cycling past saw the mishap and offered Jerome some plasters, which he miraculously produced from his pack! We have always found the locals so helpful and friendly. Jerome did shed a few tears but more from the shock than the pain and was soon able to move on.

cycling the tama river tokyo japan with kids

cycling the tame river tokyo japan with kids fisher men

cycling the tame river tokyo japan with kids birds

End of the Bike Ride

Cycling on for a few kilometres we reached the end of our bike ride along the Tama River at Keio Tamagawa station. We realised we should have brought some swimwear with us to get a well-deserved dip at Chofu’s outoor pool before heading back into the concrete jungle of Tokyo. Instead, just off the river path we sat down in a small shrine with a cool drink from one of the vending machines before pedalling to the station. We packed our bikes into the rinku bags and boarded the Keio Line bound for Shinjuku station.

cycling the tame river tokyo japan with kids temple

cycling the tame river tokyo japan with kids german food shop

Some Additional Information

The bike path along the Tama River stretches almost 80km from the sea inland as far as where the river narrows and becomes more a mountain stream.  The cycling is a fairly easy ride in either direction, as it is flat all the way, with only some gentle slopes.  Depending on the child you can always shorten the ride to one of the earlier stations into town or lengthen it to ones further upstream.   You are never far from a station back into Central Tokyo, either Shinjuku or Shibuya – but please be aware that these stations are some of the busiest train stations in the world and are rather busy at any time of day, especially though during rush hour and I would highly recommend avoiding the busiest times.  There are plenty of places along the river to stop and eat or drink but I would advise carrying some water and other basics with you.

We thoroughly enjoyed our ride on the riverbank and so we immediately planned to take on the next part during another stay as soon as we could – which actually occurred a few years later – and you can read about here.

Follow us on Social Media

FACEBOOK: wanderlustplusone INSTAGRAM wanderlustplusone

TWITTER: wanderlustplus1

 

13 thoughts on “Tokyo, Japan | A Serene Cycling Tour for Families along the Tama River 

    1. It really was, we definitely could have done without the little accident but then that’s part of growing up…

Leave a Reply