From Japan: Ute in Shibuya

Kona%20Ute.jpg My first day in Tokyo, we went to Shibuya and walked to Harajuku. After the UT t-shirt shop I saw this Kona Ute next to this one shop/boutique. This is the only longtail I’ve seen in Japan, but though Japan may score low on the cargo bike parameter, this country is near tops for commuters. I’ve never been to Amsterdam, but in Copenhagen I saw a crapload of commuters. I think that if the subway/rail system wasn’t the best in the world then there would be even more cyclists commuting. There are definitely less motorscooters here than Taipei too.


I debated whether to post here or in the rack thread, but like the Japanese, I have the same economy of apartment/storage space dictating the dimensions of my bicycles, not to mention the size of the collection.  A longtail just won’t fit.

Living here for over 6 years, Japan is the most friendly bike nation I’ve ever encountered…but I haven’t been to Europe either.


Oh boy, are the apartments cramped here.  My friend teaches highschool here, and her apartment is about 10 x 14” total. I’ll post some pix later.

There are loads of cargo bikes in Japan - Japan Post bikes, Police bikes, newspaper delivery bikes (a special design), and you just have to see the food delivery bikes for ramen, soba, udon etc.. I’ll post some photos when I next see some. You could also argue that the ‘mama-charis’ the everyday bike of Japan are also cargo carriers as they frequently can be seen carrying both children (front and rear often!) and shopping.
As the space is limited western type cargo bikes aren’t too common but I have seen some around.
There’s a big bike show in Tokyo starting tomorrow until Sunday - if you have chance go and see what is available here.


of course there are tons of cargo/work bikes in Japan, but the point is that there are very few “longtail” cargo bikes similar to the Kona Ute or Surly Big Dummy. 

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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