Some of you might know that Chigasaki is the hometown of professional cyclist Fumiyuki Beppu, but we didn't go there to try to spot him. We went there because we had been thinking of moving there and wanted to get a feel of the city and check out the real estate situation.
Chigasaki is also said to be a very bicycle friendly town, so we wanted to check that out as well.
After we got to the Chigasaki station, we asked about bicycle rental at the station tourist information booth. We got a map showing various shops near the station that rents bicycles. We went to the nearest one on the Southern side of the station and it turned out to be just a regular food take out shop rather than a bike shop. Apparently, the city places rental bikes at regular shops to be rented in more convenient locations. These bikes weren't fancy or well maintained, but they were good enough to get around with. They were just 300 yen (about $3) for the day.
After visiting a real estate office, we headed East towards the Tsujido area to check out a friends' photo exhibit at Lama Coffee. Our friends Tabioto were showing photographs they took on their extended stay in India this year. Their amazing photography is something that can only be captured during immersed traveling like they do and gives insight into the world which isn't seen by casual travelers. Their extensive blogging is always fun to read. It's written in Japanese, but just the photography alone is great to look at.
They are not necessarily bicycle enthusiasts like us, but this amazing photo captures a bicycle taxi in action.
after that we headed towards the ocean.
and the beach had a nice multi-use path along side of it.
We also checked out the Eboshi Iwa. It's a piece of rock sticking out of the ocean 1.5 km off the beach in the shape of Eboshi, an old headgear worn by nobles in the Heian period about 1000 years ago.
I was hoping I could see it more up close, but this is as big as I could take a picture of with my camera.
From the same spot I was able to see Enoshima to my left and the Izu Peninsula to my right even though it was cloudy.
Here's a little video I shot of Kao riding in front of me on the beach path.
The impression I got of Chigasaki was that there were plenty of people riding bikes, but the infrastructure wasn't quite there yet. You had the choice of either riding on the sidewalk or in the street with cars. Most streets have low enough speed limits, so that it wasn't so bad riding the mamachari in the street, but I think they can do a lot more before they start claiming bike friendliness.
I wasn't there long enough to see all parts of Chigasaki and I think we will be going back there more as we hunt for a place to live. As for biking, the location of Chigasaki is very attractive as there are so many places I can ride to from there. We didn't really take so many pictures of Chigasaki this time, but I'm sure we will be going there again, so we'll take more next time we're there.
After I wrote about child seats, I also started noticing all the children bikes wherever I went. There's quite a variety of them. This one above is adorned with Dick Bruna's world famous Miffy character.
This is an even smaller bike and can be pushed and turned by an adult with the handle from behind. I think real little kids in the US mostly ride tricycles or big wheels, but these bikes have the support wheels in the back which can be removed and make it into a two wheeled bicycle.
This is a Winnie the Pooh bike. It has no support wheels. I assume it probably had them in the beginning, but were removed as the child grew enough to try riding without them.
This is a slighly larger bike and it's obviously a boy's bike with its sporty hi-tech look. It's a pretty basic bike, but the "cockpit" looks very hi-tech. As far as I can tell the right indicator in the "Shimano CI-DECK" tells what gear you're in, but I'm not sure what the left one is for. It would be cool to have something like this on adult bikes with mechanical indicators instead of digital cycle computers.
The look of bikes for bigger kids seem much more subtle and seem to become more like the mamachari. No more characters or flashy graphics, just more colorful than the adult mamachari. What drew me to these two bikes though is their very unique frame design. The bottom bike with its wavy top tubes is very cool. I think it's a very playful design which I think could be applied to adult mixte bikes as well.
These are only bikes I ran into within a time frame of about 2 days while walking around the neighborhood, so I'm not sure if it represents the full variety of child bikes in Japan, but I thought they are very fun looking and more ride-able than than their counterparts in the US.
Japan is the land of magazines. There are magazines of all types for any kind of niche you can imagine. And there are quite a number of bicycle related magazines. There are the usual sport cycling magazines, but I've noticed in the last few years the number of magazines about bicycle life style for the more casual riders have been steadily growing. I love going to the book stores and thumbing through all these magazines. Yesterday, I picked up this magazine "Jitensha Seikatsu" which roughly translates as "Bicycle Life" or "Bicycle Living".
This issue's main feature is "Fall Winter Bicycle Ride Best Coordinating" which is basically a fashion feature.
Other than the helmet and the shoes, it's pretty much normal looking clothing. His bike is real nice looking too. Never heard of it before, but it's called Bruno.
I couldn't tell at first, but here she's wearing a Yakkay helmet. Her bike is a Louis Garneau who only seems to sell only clothing in North America, but in Japan they are a successful bike brand.
I think the clothing choices are just fine, but what I notice more by looking at these pictures are the bikes. They are all riding sport bikes and none are like the Dutch upright bikes with high handle bars. I think for a magazine that's geared towards more casual riders, they could have included more casual bikes. Of course, Japan has its version of the upright high hand position bike which is the mamachari. I think they are pretty nice bikes, but they are so common that they are unfortunately not considered fashionable at all.
They did have really nice looking bikes in another section though.
These are vintage bikes. The black one is from 1954 and the red one is from the mid 70's. The black one features a clear plastic chain case. I really love these vintage bikes and I would love to get one.
The magazine included many other articles majority of which seemed to be reports of touring around various places. Japan is a country where there is so much variation on culture from region to region, so there is no shortage of things to be experienced while touring, so it makes pretty good reading.
You can get a pretty good idea about how people are riding bikes in Japan from these magazines, at least the enthusiasts. The non-enthusiasts riding the mamachari all over Japan are not really considered here, but it would be cool if these two groups could become closer. I think knowledge that any kind of bikes even the mamachari could serve more of the role of transportation and you don't need special gear to do so, can make bicycling much more popular and not just something that is for the athletic elite.
I'd never paid too much attention to child seats since we don't have children ourselves, but JJ's comment yesterday prompted me to take a closer look.
In the parking lot behind our building, there seemed to be mostly 2 types of seats. One is the metal caged seat that sits on the rear rack.
This one is in its basic state.
This one has cushions and a head rest.
This brown one has a slightly different cage design.
This has patterned fabric and a Hello Kitty bell for the child.
The other popular one is the handlebar integrated basket/seat.
This one has a handle bar lockout dial on the back.
This one even has a wind shield!
This bike has both seats. Until recently, it was actually illegal to carry more than 1 child on a bike, but the law changed so that specifically designed bikes are permitted to carry 2 children. I don't think this is one of them, but I don't think the law is enforced too much, at least not in this part of Kawasaki.
They really seem to change the look of the bike. If I was designing a bike with these seats, I think I would want to paint them to match the bike. Maybe painting it all blue like the Pereira Oregon Manifest bike would be cool.
The seat in the top picture was one in its intended use. That's yet another design as well.
It's cool to see that so many people use the bicycle for all kinds of everyday transportation needs.