I am back in Portland now. Our house hunting in Japan so far hasn't met success. So now Kao will have to continue on that task without me and that might take a while, so I might still be in Portland for a bit longer.
We had a great new year's at Kao's parents' in Ibaraki.
We rode the mamachari to the nearby Kitaura Lake.
With a thermos full of hot tea!
On new year's day, we didn't ride the bikes, but we went to watch the first sunrise come up over the Pacific Ocean. It was super cold, but there were lots of people who had the same idea.
Kao at the same beach during the day.
Back in Kawaski, I saw these two bikes and hula hoops. So colorful and pretty!
We also visited the Cycle Square Kitasando which Kao wrote about here and Gary Fisher raved about on his visit. It was a temporary project by the Bicycling Popularization Association of Japan as a space which aimed to "popularize" bicycling. I had read and heard about it, but I wanted to check it out before it closed. (it closed on January 17th) They often had events like panel discussions and rides, but for the most part it's a cafe with expensive road bikes on display and all the latest bike magazines. There is corner where you can bring your bike in and use tools there and there is a "concierge" who you can go talk to about anything that is bicycle related. This is also the place where they held seminars about the Bicycle Citizenship Manifest. I still don't quite agree with that and also I found that the way Cycle Square Kitasando could have done things differently to appeal to a wider portion of the public.
When you first enter, there are these vintage bikes on display. (I think that's a vintage Pashley on the front) But the rest of the bikes on display in the space are all road bikes. I like looking at road bikes as much as anyone, but I think if they were aiming to get non-enthusiasts to become interested in riding bikes, they should really have had more variety of bikes. They had video monitors throughout the space and they were all showing videos of road racing too. I think road bikes and racing is definitely appealing, but there is so much more different kind of bicycling which they simply ignored. One thing that this space achieved though is that they got tons of media exposure. I think the Bicycling Popularization Association of Japan is mostly funded by Keirin and so this whole thing seemed very official, well organized, but a bit boring. That's a totally different approach from the grassroots stuff that happen here in Portland.
The food was pretty good although the portions were too small and over priced!
Lastly, this photo of a poster has been getting some attention on my flickr. It's a poster which tells you how (or how not) to bring your bike on the train.
You are supposed to disassemble your bike and put it in a bag or case so as not to get in the way of fellow train passengers. I think there are some trains in rural areas that allow bikes on board without disassembly, but for the most part these rules apply throughout Japan. It may be a while before multi-modal communting with bikes on trains become regular normal activity.