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There are more bicycles than people in Japan. As part of your transportation needs, you should most definitely own a bicycle.

Most, if not all, Japanese have what is known as the `mamachari` – a heavy iron bike with auto-light and basket over the front tire. This bike costs about 10,000 – 15,000 new (though you can get much more expensive ones), and serves well for your short-distance travel needs to go to school or shopping.

You will want to avoid travel for longer than 30 minutes, especially if your path goes up hills and if you are tall, as the bikes are made for people under 6 feet tall and the saddle does not rise very high… you will use muscles you did not know you had, and may take some time and sore thighs getting used to. Unless you`re going to do some serious biking, you will be just fine with a the classical chari. Get one at the used recycle shop, or at any bike shop.

Parking can be strict for bikes, and in cities as well as train stations there are designated areas for parking. Don`t park just anywhere, in the city especially, your bike may get taken away and you may get a hefty fine. When you buy a new bike, you must register it with the police (the shop will give you the paper – it costs about 500 yen), so the police will come to your house if your bike has been involved in any illegal activity – including parking violations!

Though generally theft is much lower than in other parts of the world, bikes and umbrellas are the top two items stolen in Japan. Typically, bikes are stolen at train stations by drunk salary men who want a quick ride home. Most bikes are recovered within a few days, by police. A plice officer or two will come to your school or your home to return your bike to you. So, be sure to lock your bike (mama charis have a lock built in), and if you have a new bike other than a mamachari, you should invest in a more sturdy lock to tie the frame, front tire and saddle to a sturdy piece of metal.

One Comment leave one →
  1. mita permalink
    May 24, 2013 6:26 am

    According to the statistics given here: there are not really more bicycles than people in Japan 😉

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