I have been living in Japan (Nihon/??) for about two months now, and I have realized a few things about the Japanese. For example, the Japanese love their cell phones (keitai/ ????). These things can do anything you can think of, from reading a certain type of bar code, going online, checking e-mail, making video calls and of course, making voice calls. If you want to go anywhere you take the train (densha/????). In my case, I have to take the bus to get to the train, but the train system can take you anywhere in Japan.
If you want to go anywhere local you must take your bicycle (jitensha/?????). Everyone rides their bike; once I even saw a mother with two small kids and a load of groceries on her bike. There is something else I should mention: you buy your groceries every day in Japan because space is so limited in the house. Back to what I was saying, bikes are used by everyone. There are grannies, young kids, crazy teens, and workers in suits on bikes. You even see people carrying other people on the back of their bike (which is illegal in Japan). It is hard to have someone on the back of the bike since there is no seat, not to mention the extra weight over the rear wheel makes it hard to move.
I have used a bike here in Japan a few times. I have done so with my host family, with some friends while carrying a Japanese girl on the back and by myself. When I was with my host family I almost crashed into some other people on their bikes.
The most interesting ride was when I had a Japanese girl on the back. She? thought that I couldn’t ride a bike with someone on the back, so she wanted me to sit on the front and she would ride it. Well, I did, and we didn’t even make it five feet before the bike went in the air. She hit a bump, and the front of the bike went up. Somehow as she got off. I ended up catching it. She went to the back. It’s easy once you start to move, the hard part is getting started and stopping. While most of that bike ride was done at night on the street, it was still quite busy.
When I was riding by myself a couple weeks ago ?it made me realize something: Japanese people (Nihon-jin/???) will play chicken with you, and they will win! When you are on the sidewalk, you ride your bike on the left side. If Japanese people are walking on that sidewalk, they will walk wherever they like. That means they won’t move out of a biker’s way, regardless of the biker’s speed or size.
It is even worse when there are Japanese people walking and riding bikes. No one will move out of the way, so you have to get off of the sidewalk and brave the street. If you have to get onto the street, you must make sure that you don’t hit a car (kuruma/???). Cars just go around bikers as if they are not there. You see, I am not really one to play chicken, and since I am the foreigner (gaikoku-jin/??????), I think they are even less inclined to move aside and let me go on my way without playing chicken.?So, there are bike riders everywhere in Japan, and if you want to ride a bike with them you’d better be prepared to play a couple games of chicken when you are out on the bike. Even the grannies will challenge you, and they are the hardest to beat since they are old?ladies (obaasan/?????).
Cover photo by Erin Foley
Story photo from Stockxpert