Exploring historical town in Japan on foot or by bike is a fun way to combine sightseeing with exercise. But for a trip to remember, consider taking a rickshaw ride. A rickshaw ride in Japan is a very authentic historical experience! With scenic views, friendly guides, and an unconventional mode of transportation, it’ll definitely make for a unique experience!
The word jinrikisha (人力車, 人 jin = human, 力 riki = power or force, 車 sha = vehicle), which literally means “human-powered vehicle”. This transportation was invented as early as the 19th century. Although it’s difficult to explain who actually invented it and when most sources say that a certain Yosuke Izumi invented the rickshaw in Tokyo in 1869. Rickshaws became so popular that they spread to neighboring Asian countries.
With technology marching on, today, Japan has far more efficient modes of transportation than rickshaws, of course. Still, there are a handful of operators that offer rickshaw rides to tourists—or, really, anyone looking for an extraordinary experience. Rickshaw services are available in many tourist sites such as Asakusa in Tokyo and Arashiyama in Kyoto. They are provided as guided services to show around major landmarks and offered in many historical towns including Kamakura, Kurashiki, Miyajima, Otaru and Yufuin. Experience traveling like true locals in this ancient “taxi” with guides who are eager to introduce you to must-visit destinations.
What to expect
To take a rickshaw tour, advance booking is not required. You can just walk up to a driver and ask to be toured around. If you’re planning to take a long ride, though, it’s best to make a reservation. Some companies even offer the option of customizing your pick-up point when making your reservation.
Depending on the plans, a rickshaw ride can be as short as 10 minutes (which usually costs 3,000 yen per person), or even as long as three hours. Ten to 15 minutes is just enough time to take you around a block, while 30 minutes should be good enough for a quick tour around a neighborhood. A rickshaw can only seat a maximum of two adults of average build, so a large group will be split among multiple rickshaws.