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.