Bikes parked everywhere
I saw so many bicycles during my 30 days in Japan. The cyclists I had usually seen in Toronto were people trying to get somewhere nearby, or kids who can’t drive cars or people in speedos and shorts, trying to get a workout.
But in Japan, it was different. I saw the most unlikeliest people riding; People in full suits, mothers with their children, people who went grocery shopping, just riding it out. It was their primary vehicle of choice. Many bikes had a small basket attached at the front or at the back, that served as the trunk. It was easy to observe cyclists, since they roamed the pedestrian streets. In Toronto, cyclists must stay on the road along with the other vehicles, so this was new for me.
Befitting the quiet atmosphere of Japanese day culture, cyclists don’t make any noise. I think I heard someone ring their bell, once in all those 30 days. People innately know how to avoid collisions, almost like a 6th sense. In a busy city as Tokyo, everyone sticks to the left side of the road (on the right side for Kyoto), and so do the cyclists, so it’s orderly.
In especially narrow paths, I would remove myself by sticking close to the wall to let bicycles whiz through. They would nod at me as they passed by, as an expression of thanks.
I developed a habit of looking behind me before taking any stride to the left or the right. What if there was a bicycle right behind me?
I particularly remember a young man in a suit and I trying to avoid each other, but we kept moving in the same direction at the same time. In the end, he had to stop his bike because he was going to hit me if we continued our waltz.
A lot of tourists rent bicycles for a day or two to take advantage of this culture. Some hotels/inns provide rental, otherwise you can easily find a place to rent from.
As expected, I saw anime everywhere. I had considered myself a knowledgeable person on this topic, but clearly not. All the anime I had known were all outdated, and I failed to recognize the hotter animes that were found in the streets and book stores. I was behind the times, and it made me feel old and irrelevant.
This place even has anime characters on their store front sign. This store is related to the place I had my first breakfast, called Nomiu, as part of a chain. I am pretty sure they will replace the sign to a normal one after the promotion with the anime characters is over. Or maybe these characters were created specifically for this store? I wouldn’t put it past them.
I also saw pachinko places everywhere, and they would advertise the arrivals of “New Machine!” featuring the latest anime characters.
Japanese people are so reserved in their general interactions, so it would trip me out whenever I saw larger-than-life anime characters blending in with real people and everyday society like that.