So much has been said already in the world press about Tokyo the megacity, it’s teeming but disciplined hordes, it’s Ginza district, it’s Imperial Palace, it’s …, and it’s …, so much so that this humble reporter on two wheels is at a loss as to how to entertain and educate his long-suffering but loyal fans.
But on two wheels he is! Having decided to wrap up my Japan visit with a few days at this megapolis, hosted by some very gracious friends, I called up a rental company and ordered up a bicycle for the day. With characteristic promptness and efficiency it was delivered on my doorstep, and off I went.
What is less well known among people who like to know such things is how amazingly bike-friendly all of Japan and in particular this behemoth of a city is. Tokyo, in a quiet way, gives Amsterdam and Copenhagen a run for their money in terms of bicycle infrastructure and ridership. Bicycle sections are designated and demarcated on all roads and sidewalks, and Japanese drivers, polite and courteous to fault, are very solicitous of bicyclists. In turn, bikes abound. People routinely use their bikes for shopping, for picking up and dropping off children, and for running errands.
The most common type of bicycle in Tokyo is known as the mamachari, which translates to Mom’s Bike. Functional bicycle with a step through design, with baskets or child’s seats, or very often, two child’s seats and a basket. The Cadillac versions are battery assisted, and can be quite hard to keep up with. Here is a young mom riding one such cadillac mamachari, whose picture I took with her permission:
The two kids are seven and four, she told me. Neither she nor I could get the four year old to look at the camera!
More pictures from my ride around the city:
A view from near the Imperial Palace area. The downtown Ginza area is to the left and there are spillover high-rises around these grounds. The picture at the top of the page is also from the same area.
This funky garden below a high rise is the entrance to a subway station.
Not sure what this building is, but it is next to the garden in the previous photograph, and has the same funky vibe.
Continuing with the funk, Ginza Place, a newly opened commercial establishment in the heart of Ginza.
The sections of Tokyo I rode around in were dotted frequently with verdant parks and tree covered walkways. Azaleas were in bloom everywhere.
An example of amazing bicycle infrastructure: a special ramp for bicyclists constructed to access a high bridge from the ground level.
Hatchiko, the legendary Akito dog, which according to said legend, would come to Shibuya station every evening to meet it’s master, and after the master died at work one day and did not show up as usual, continued to show you at the station at the same time every evening for the next ten years.
And finally, since cycling => thirst, Tokyo’s version of the Singapore Sling. Until next time y’all!