From Japan: tradition and technology for a mamachari

e-bike%20mamachari.jpg Here’s an electric-assist version of the mamachari classic Japanese bike for the housewife. Note the front and rear child seats, and mini front wheel. This was a pretty common site, but I can’t say for certain whether they are a new trend (with the electric assist) or if I just didn’t notice them much the times before when I came to Japan.

Either way, I’m impressed that the Japanese public intends to keep the bicycle as a part of everyday life.


I live in Japan too and although I do see many mamacharis riding around (usually on the sidewalk), I have noticed they are driven mainly by housewives, high school kids and old people. The Japanese in reality look down on bike riding as evidence the person is too poor to have a car or doesn’t have a driver’s license. They really abuse their mamacharis, leaving them out in the rain, not putting air in the tires and generally discarding them instead of maintaining them. I guess when they only cost $100, no one bothers. I rarely see businessmen or women riding a bike. I commute everyday by bike to the schools I teach at and the kids and teachers always ask me, “Oh, don’t you have a car?” like I’m some poor schmuck.

Another problem with “cargo-bikes” here in Japan is the general ban on two people riding a bike (even tandems are technically illegal). That really reduces the utility of a cargo bike.

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