In September I rode my bicycle from Kyoto to Nara. I began in the back streets of Yamashina, pedalling past a number of fine old houses and Daigo Temple,then following the road into the outskirts of Uji.
Rather than take Route 7, which runs parallel to Keihan Nara Line and always has heavy traffic, I tried to head out into fields of rice, lotus and tea. The lotus fields were full of pink blooms and heavy heads of grain bowed the rice plants over, so I didn't regret the detour, but I couldn't find my way. Eventually I headed back to Route 7 and followed it over Uji Bridge until it ended with a turn onto Route 69, which later merges with Route 24.
The road began to follow the Kizu River, and I would have preferred the river path, but there was no access. To make matters worse, there was no sidewalk, no bicycle lanes and too much traffic. Then a police car came along and bellowed something from the loudspeaker. The only words I could catch were "dame"(no good) and "abunai" (dangerous). In this context I assumed it meant cycling was not permitted on this road (there are quite a few roads like that in Japan.)
I turned off away the river, which meant climbing a hill. However I soon found myself on a road which ran beside Keihan Line (Route 70), and was much quieter and more scenic. I passed through a pretty river town named Ide. Judging by the number of cherry trees lining the Tama River bank there it must be a popular hanami or cherry blossom viewing spot in Spring.
Route 70 also eventually merged with Route 24, but that portion of the road seemed to allow for bicycles, and I could follow it all the way past Heijo Palace, where I stopped to take photos of the walls and gate. A left turn then took me into the center of Nara City, and I had arrived.
The distance from Yamashina to Nara is about 37 kilometers. If you follow alongside Keihan Line as closely as possible, you should have a very enjoyable ride!