Boutique bookstore in Koenji along the route of the Tokyo cycling and food tour

WHAT SERVICES DOES DIG TOKYO TOURS OFFER?

DIG’s passion is local bike tours and intimate walking and street food jaunts in the vibrant Tokyo neighbourhoods of Koenji, Asagaya and Nakano. DIG’s immersive ‘no fuss’ outings have been uniquely crafted to give you an honest local insight into life here in Tokyo away from the tourist crowds.

 

No staged demonstrations, kickbacks from local vendors or special treatment; you'll be queuing and navigating the neighbourhoods as a member of the community.

 

Current tour and service lineup:

 

A customer enjoying his tempura lunch at Tensuke in Koenji.

WHAT’LL WE BE SINKING OUR TEETH INTO?

Food stops on both the cycling and food tours are more or less unplanned but guaranteed to cover a mouthwatering array of popular Tokyo street food eats.

 

It’s important to note that Japanese cuisine often contains meat and seafood elements, with ‘dashi’ being a common base ingredient. Please understand that we will be visiting typical neighbourhood eateries and that it can be difficult to cater to personal tastes, dietary requirements and food allergies. Feel free to tuck into as much or as little of the cuisine as you wish.

 

If the selection of eats on the day doesn’t quite satisfy your dietary requirements just give the word and I’m more than happy to discount the food element on any bike or food tour.

A pile of mamachari bikes that have been impounded in the neighbourhoods of Tokyo

IS TOKYO A BIKE FRIENDLY CITY?

Tokyo is a very bike orientated city with an estimated 15% of all daily commutes around town made on two wheels. However… when compared to cycling friendly cities like Copenhagen or Amsterdam, Tokyo lacks the formal bicycle infrastructure of these progressive capitals. 

 

In Tokyo, cars, bikes and pedestrians all share the same narrow streets with patience and in most cases a mutual respect. As bikes fall into somewhat of a grey area between licenced vehicles and pedestrians, Tokyo’s cycling culture and riding etiquette can at times be all-over-the-place.

 

On a DIG cycling tour you won’t be darting down any daunting traffic laden roads but like cycling anywhere in the world you’ll need to have your wits about you as we weave in and out of the thoroughfares.

 

There’s no city in the world that I’ve enjoyed cycling more than Tokyo. With its tangled backstreets and hidden moments around every corner it’s always genuinely refreshing for me to get out on the bike and explore a new pocket of town.

Old Japanese men sitting around a fire and cooking fresh mochi in Asagaya's Star Road

DO YOU OPERATE THROUGHOUT WINTER?

Yes, DIG Tokyo Tours is open for advance bookings 365 days a year. The Christmas and New Year period is one of DIG’s busiest seasons with many guests and family groups stopping off in Tokyo for a few days before hitting Japan's world class ski fields.

 

During the winter months Tokyo’s midday temperature tends to hover around 10°C /  50°F. Winter is the driest of the four seasons here in Tokyo and typically entails crisp blue skies and stunning views of Mt Fuji from the platform of Koenji Station in the mornings.

 

As long as you're dressed sensibly, winter and the cooler months are an ideal time to explore Tokyo by bike and foot.

Japanese cycling decal stuck to a wall in the backstreets of Koenji

DO I NEED TO WEAR A BIKE HELMET?

No, wearing a helmet is optional for cyclists over the age of 12 and is not a common sight here in Tokyo. DIG provides quality helmets for all guests on an on request basis. As an educated adult, the choice is yours if you’d like to wear a helmet or not.

Japanese mannequins displaying shirts in Tokyo retro clothing store

HOW SHOULD I DRESS?

Feel free to wear any clothing that you feel comfortable walking or riding a bike in and that’s suitable for the forecasted weather. As most of DIG’s itineraries include a moderate amount of walking, please ensure your footwear is both practical and comfortable.

Commuters climbing the stairs during rush hour in Tokyo on the JR Train Network

HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL BE ON THE TOUR?

For group tours the minimum number of guests is 2 and the maximum 7.

 

Larger private, family and corporate tours can be arranged pending availability and tour suitability. Please get in touch to discuss any unique or large group requirements.

Japanese elementary school students lining up at a festival in Nakano

DOES DIG CATER FOR FAMILIES WITH YOUNG CHILDREN AND BABIES?

Yes. Families with young children, toddlers and babies are encouraged to book a family friendly bike or walking tour option when contacting DIG.

 

Tour itineraries for families are 100% flexible and tailored with your family’s specific needs and interests in mind.

 

Having two young boys myself, there’s nothing I haven’t seen, heard, smelt or cleaned up. So rest assured your kids will have a brilliant time and you can relax knowing that I can handle any surprises that your family can throw my way.

 

Child bike seats are available free of charge on Tokyo family bike tours, should they be required.

Tokyo street art of a man pouring a bear a beer in a local drinking yokocho

CAN I DRINK ALCOHOL DURING THE TOUR?

The consumption of alcohol is permitted at designated stops and where culturally acceptable. It is a punishable offence to be riding a bike while intoxicated in Tokyo.

A japanese child enjoying a day out with the family at a family friendly exhibition

CAN I CUSTOMISE A TOUR?

Yes, you certainly can by selecting one of DIG’s private or family tour options. If you can dream it up, DIG Tokyo Tours can make it happen.

FAQ

ALL OF YOUR TOKYO CYCLING, EATING & TOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED HERE

Cool looking Tokyoite walking the rustic streets on the west side of town.

WHY CHOOSE DIG TOKYO TOURS?

As a boutique Tokyo experience provider, DIG works hard at providing its valued guests with:

  • Authentic local tours conducted in a safe, professional and friendly manner.

  • Unique off-the-beaten-track itineraries that are particularly small group focused.

  • Quality, value for money experiences that don’t skimp on the extras.

  • Communication and service that’s a notch above the rest.

 

As the sole owner and operator, I’m just as enthusiastic about DIG's tour offerings as you are about your visit to Tokyo. Your enjoyment and positive word of mouth is essential for DIG’s ongoing success and your complete satisfaction is something I personally strive for with each and every outing.

An old umbrella lying in the streets of Tokyo

WHAT IF IT RAINS!

Controlling the weather on the day of our outing is a skill I’m still persevering to master.

 

Please appreciate that both cycling and walking are outdoor activities that may be impacted by the weather. If we happen to encounter a rainy day, the outing generally proceeds as planned. If our tour is cancelled due to weather or unforeseen circumstances, I will personally be in touch no less than 90 minutes before the scheduled starting time. Please keep an eye on your messages!

Tokyo subway artwork of a man getting onto a train

WHAT’S DIG’S CANCELLATION POLICY?

Once a booking has been made, the following cancellation policy applies:

 

  • Cancellation 7 plus days before departure: 100% of the tour price refunded.

  • Cancellation 7 days - 24 hours before departure: 50% of the tour price refunded.

  • Cancellation within 24 hours of departure: No refund.
     

This balanced cancellation policy has been drawn up to be both fair to you as a valued guest and DIG Tokyo Tours as a persevering small business. I’m sympathetic that things don’t always go to plan but I abide 100% by this policy and ask you kindly to do the same.

A manga inspired decal of a Japanese girl running

WHAT HAPPENS IF I’M RUNNING LATE?

All tours commence as planned at the scheduled departure time. This policy is strictly adhered to for the enjoyment of all guests and for the tour to stay on schedule. No refunds will be given for being late and missing the start of a tour. I strongly encourage you to be at the departure point 30 minutes before the start of the tour as we don’t want to explore the streets without you.

 

Detailed instructions on how to get yourself to the meeting point are communicated after booking confirmation. If you’re feeling anxious about the journey or have any transportation related queries I’m only an email away and always on-hand to help!

A child enjoying the parks and green space in Tokyo

CAN I BRING MY KIDS ALONG FOR THE RIDE?

Children over the age of 10, that are competent in their riding ability and can keep pace with the group can certainly jump-in on the small group cycling and food tours.

 

For younger children and those a little bit shaky on two wheels, booking one of DIG’s Tokyo family bike tours is the best way to go for both safety and enjoyment.

Two local musicians singing and playing the guitar in Star Road, Asagaya

WHAT LANGUAGE ARE THE TOURS CONDUCTED IN?

All Tokyo cycling, walking and street food tours are conducted in English.

 

If you’ve been knuckling down on your Japanese study before the trip, feel free to put your language skills to the test in the real-world-scenarios we encounter.

A Japanese street artist lying on the ground and watching a turtle in Zenpukuji Park

CAN I JOIN AS A SOLO TRAVELLER?

Yes, you certainly can and you’re bound to have a great time with a bunch of like-minded people to share the experience with.

A sign warning children to watch out for cars in Nakano, Tokyo

DO I NEED TRAVEL INSURANCE?

Yes. Comprehensive travel insurance is required to cover delay, cancellation, illness and injury, theft and personal liability. Tokyo cycling liability insurance is included for the cycling component only on all small-group, private and family bike tours.

Retro Japanese theatrical poster outside a Tokyo street food vendor

IS TIPPING REQUIRED?

No, DIG has a no tipping policy as the practice is not the cultural norm in Japan. A simple smile and thank-you at the end of the tour is all that’s required if you’ve enjoyed our time together.

Positive word of mouth, reviews and social media comments are always welcomed and greatly assist in projecting the quality of DIG’s services to future guests.

An izakaya lantern is illuminated while snow falls on the streets of Asagaya

WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE IS SEVERE WEATHER OR AN UNFORESEEN EVENT ON THE DAY OF THE TOUR?

If weather conditions are deemed dangerous by DIG, the tour will be cancelled. In the event of the tour being cancelled, you’ll be offered the option of an alternate date or time or a refund in full.

Kirin Beer crates piled up along the wall of an izakaya in Koenji, Tokyo

IS THERE THE POSSIBILITY THAT OUR TOUR MAY RUN PAST THE LISTED FINISHING TIME?

Yes. While I always do my best to get you back to the departure point on time, the speed in which the group moves as well as uncontrollable external factors can impact on achieving this. It is highly recommended that you possess comprehensive travel insurance that provides coverage in the event of delay.

A yellow mamachari bicycle parked down a backstreet in Tokyo

WHAT IF I'M A BIT OUT OF SHAPE AND RUSTY ON THE BIKE?

Guests from 5 to 85 and all walks of life have signed up and enjoyed the Tokyo West-Side Cycling & Food Tour. The two traits that each of these guests had in common was a basic level of fitness and confidence riding a bike in an urban environment.

 

DIG makes every effort to cater to the weakest rider in the group, but please appreciate that there's a schedule that we need to stick to. Your level of fitness and cycling competency will directly impact on both your own and the group's enjoyment during the outing.

 

The Tokyo West-Side Walking & Street Food Tour is an excellent alternative to riding or if you’re determined to give-it-a-go please book a private cycling tour and I’ll happily tailor a course to your ability and fitness level.

A collection of mamachari bikes parked in a laneway in Koenji, Tokyo

WHAT KIND OF BIKES WILL WE BE BEATING AROUND TOWN ON?

DIG’s ever revolving bike fleet currently consists of:

 

  • An indestructible squad of salvaged Japanese mamachari bicycles. The upright and ergonomic seating position of this city-cruiser-style bike makes venturing into the neighbourhoods a delight and is a staple part of commuting life here in Japan.

  • A prized collection of beautifully handcrafted and restored classic Japanese road bikes. Vintage bicycle restoration is a passion of mine and giving guests the opportunity to ride a piece of Japanese cycling history is the perfect way to get these bikes back out on the road where they belong.

  • A couple of sleek NJS certified, Keirin track frames for those interested in carving their way through the streets.

  • And an assortment of kids bikes and THULE Yepp Maxi children’s bike seats for the little ones.

 

All bicycles and components have been sourced from community markets and second-hand marketplaces where possible and are lovingly restored and maintained in-house.

Vintage Japanese film cameras in a crate for sale at a weekend market

WHAT SHOULD I BRING ALONG ON THE DAY OF THE TOUR?

Aside from an open-mind and a positive attitude, a basic list of items you may wish to carry in a small daypack are:

  • Camera

  • Water bottle

  • A plastic bag or similar for carrying your personal rubbish, as bins are few and far between in Tokyo

  • Tissues or hand sanitiser if required

  • Weather appropriate clothing and accessories

  • Passport or suitable ID. (This is a requirement for all visitors while travelling within Japan.)

  • Hat, sunscreen and sunglasses during the warmer months

  • Jacket and gloves during the cooler months

  • Raincoat or umbrella in case of a sudden downpour

Decorative Tokyo coin lockers with the illustration of cats

IS THERE ANYWHERE I CAN STORE MY LUGGAGE BEFORE THE TOUR?

Both Koenji and Nakano stations have ample public coin lockers at reasonable daily rates.

 

If your bike tour is kicking off from Koenji Station, you’re more than welcome to leave your luggage at DIG’s bike facility, a brisk 7 minute walk from the station.

Rental bikes in Tokyo lined up in an alley in Asagaya

DO YOU OFFER TOKYO BIKE RENTALS?

Depending on the season and bike fleet requirement for the day, it may be possible to rent a mamachari, road or track bike and set off on your own Tokyo cycling adventure. If I’m unable to directly provide a rental for you, I’m more than happy to personally recommend some solid bike rental options in Tokyo.

Nishiogikubo's pink elephant mascot skating down the road

IS THERE A MINIMUM NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS?

To ensure that the outings are economically viable, the minimum number of guests on the small group bike tours and walking and street food tours is set at 2. If guest numbers aren’t satisfied you’ll be offered an alternate date or time, the option of a private tour or a full refund.

Neon Izakaya sign welcoming guests to a Japanese pub in Kichijoji

WHAT IS THE MINIMUM AGE REQUIREMENT FOR GUESTS ON THE SMALL GROUP TOURS?

Crowded yellow train on the Tokyo Metropolitan Subway system

WHERE ARE THE DEPARTURE POINTS?

  • Cycling tours depart from Koenji Station on the JR Train Network. Koenji Station is an easy 6 minute train ride from Shinjuku Station or an 18 minute ride from Shibuya Station.

 

  • Walking and street food tours depart from Nakano Station on the JR Train Network. Nakano Station is a quick 5 minute train ride from Shinjuku Station or 16 minute ride from Shibuya Station.

 

Detailed meeting instructions will be sent through once your booking has been confirmed.

The tokyo tower standing tall amongst the endless sea of buildings

WHERE IS THE RETURN POINT FOR EACH TOUR?

The return point is always the same as the departure point unless otherwise specified on the tour itinerary.

An old mama-chari bike that's been abandoned and become part of the local scenery in Nakano

IS DIG TOKYO TOURS AN ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS SMALL BUSINESS?

DIG respects both the environment and communities which it visits and is continually making efforts to cut down on unnecessary waste. DIG utilises reusable products, salvaged bicycles and second-hand componentry wherever possible to reduce the impact on the environment.

 

If you have any feedback on how DIG could improve its processes or further reduce its environmental footprint please contact me directly.