Jinrikisha (人力車), which means “man-powered vehicle”, were a common form of transportation in Kyoto from the 1880s until the early twentieth century, when it became more fashionable to use bicycles, automobiles and street trams. A local company is now producing two-seater Meiji-period-style jinrikisha, and has revived this more environmentally friendly form of transportation for tourists. Strapping, sun-tanned lads, and occasionally a few young women, pull jinrikisha around Kyoto’s main tourist areas. It’s a fun way to see the sites and to discover a few hidden spots in any season – they all have hoods to protect passengers from sun and rain. There are jinrikisha stations in front of Heian-jingu, near Nanzen-ji and at Arashiyama on the northwest side of Togetsu-kyo bridge, covering three routes: Kiyomizu-dera to Yasaka-jinja, Heian-jingū to Ginkaku-ji and around Arashiyama. Tours last from ten minutes (¥2000 for one, ¥3000 for two) to an hour (¥9000 for one, ¥15,000 for two), depending on the route and whether you want to stop and take photos. Some of the jinrikisha pullers speak English and will be able to give you a commentary on the sights. Jinrikisha are available every day from 10am until sunset.

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