Jakkoin Temple in Ohara
Before the tour, we visited Jyakkoin next to the inn where we stayed.
Jakkoin is a nunnery and said to have been first built in 594 by Shotoku-Taishi, or Crown Prince Shotoku to pray for the soul of his late father, Emperor Yomei.
The third chief nun was a famous heroine of a tragedy, Kenreimonin-Tokuko(1153-1213).
She was a daughter of Taira no Kiyomori (the military leader of Taira Clan) and a wife and a mother of Emperors. In the naval battle of Dan-no-Ura, The Taira were defeated, and Tokuko leaped into the water with other members, holding her son, young Emperor Antoku in her arms. But Tokuko was rescued by Genji Clan against her will.
After that, she returned to Kyoto and became a Buddhist nun to pray for the soul of her late son.
The original statue of the temple was made in 1229 but was burned down by arson in 2000. Luckily, we can see the original burnt statue and little statues found inside of it. (There were over 3,000 statues in the 256cm statues.)
Ebumi-Toge pass (Road to Kifune from Ohara)
We started riding from Ohara and crossed the Ebumi-toge pass. There were few cars, and we enjoyed cycling quiet country roads in Kyoto.
Kifune Shrine is also located in the northern mountains of Kyoto. The shrine has no record of its foundation, but it had been patronized by the Imperial family for over thousand years.
It is famous for its red lanterns along the main stone stairs and Kawadoko, the terrace restaurant on the river.
The shrine is dedicated to the god of water and the protector to sea travel and it is the head shrine of the 450 Kifune shrines throughout Japan.
The street along the shrine is filled with many Kawadoko restaurants. But Kawadoko restaurants were too expensive for us, so we had lunch at Kifune Club.
The shrine is said to be the birthplace of Ema, the small wooden tablet with the horse picture. In ancient time, real horses were dedicated to praying for rain.
But horses are extremely expensive, and the wooden tablets were used as a substitution for real horses.
The guard in front of the main stairs asked us to park our bikes at the parking lot in Oku-Miya, the farthest building of the shrine.
After lunch, we headed south to central Kyoto.
Finally, we visited Keage Incline, the railroad for carrying boats.
The 582 long incline was constructed in 1890 at the west end of Biwako Canal.
Before the trip, we visited the east end of Biwako Canal, so Ma-kun, the eldest member of our group suggested we visit the west end of the Biwako Canal. (We finally completed “Biwa-Ichi,” the loop ride including the canal.)
We rode to Kyoto Station in a hurry.
When we crossed Sanjyo-Ohashi bridge, some of us found “No entry for bicycles traffic sign.”
The main roads in the central area of Kyoto, bicycles are prohibited from riding.
(My GPS did not work correctly, and some parts of the below map left our real route)
We Reluctantly rode back street and reached Kyoto Station.
At the station, we packed our bikes and got on Shinkansen, the bullet train to Tokyo.
Don’t ride fast, enjoy local places!
Now “Biwa-Ichi” (Loop Bike Ride of the Biwako lake) become famous as one of the best cycling routes in Japan.
The distance of “Biwa-Ichi” is approximately 200 km, so many cyclists ride “Biwa-Ichi” just a day as their challenge.
I admire the cyclists who can ride 200km a day. However, I strongly recommend riding at a slower pace and stopped at numerous places of scenic beauty and historical interest.
This time I wanted to ride around Biwako not only cycling but also enjoying local places, but still it became the trip to hurry.
If I ride Biwako area again, I want to stay at Omi-Hachiman or Hikone area at least two nights, and I take my time enjoying in that area.