Bike Riding Through Small Town Japan [Video]

When I first moved to Japan I shot a video similar to this using my cellphone. I think it was attached directly to the handlebar of the bicycle. The footage was shaky and nauseating. Today’s video was shot using a GoPro, and the results are like night and day. As stated in the video, the camera was affixed to my helmet which provides a point of view perspective. You’re seeing what I see then I ride.

If I’m going to be honest, I’ve ridden my bike more in the short time that I’ve been here in Japan when compared to the rest of my life.

Up until recently, I would take my daughter to and from school by bike. Depending on how I’m feeling and the weather, riding into town is not a long ride.

Aside from trusty folding bike, we acquired a free Japanese bike from Yokosuka base that I converted into a mamachari (slang for Mama Chariot). Every year abandoned bikes are rounded up by the authorities on the Navy base and redistributed to the public for free. I woke up super early in the morning and waited patiently in line for an opportunity to pick out a bicycle to claim.

The bike I found was nearly perfect, all I needed was a rear child seat. Luckily, I found one at the thrift store on the same day. I think I paid only 500 Japanese yen for it.

I took the bike and the seat to a repair shop. The tires’ inner tubes needed repairing and I had the child seat attached. At the end of the day, I had a working mamachari for less than twenty dollars. It also has am electric front light that’s powered by pedaling.

In it’s most simple form, a mamachari has these four key factors

  • Lightweight frame
  • Front basket
  • Easy kickstand
  • Universal rear child seat

A mamachari is designed for parents. The rear child seat is possibly the most critical factor because it doubles as an extra storage area for transporting cargo.

In the near future, when the weather clears up, I’m going to do a bike bicycle tour through Kamakura. Stay tuned for more coming soon.

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