By Yokota Fritz
Yesterday's edition of Bike Snob NYC included a fabulous example of a Japanese Ita Chari (痛チャリ).
痛 (itai) is Japanese for "painful" while チャリ (chari -- short for "chariot") is Japanese slang for a bicycle. The name is inherited from similarly designed itasha -- originally "Italian Cars" but then the derisive meaning "painful cars" arose because they're so painfully embarrassing and painfully expensive. The otaku fanboys who decorate their cars and bikes this way then adopted the new painful meaning as a sign of ironic pride.
By Yokota Fritz
シャカリキ！Shakariki! is a popular comic manga in Japan featuring high school kids who compete against each other on hilly roads in the mountains of rural Japan. These kids suffer, they have bad hair, they sweat and snot runs from their noses as they push with all their might to be the fastest kid to climb the mountain. They have no friends -- only rivals who sabotage them, coaches who berate them for their failures, families who don't understand their passion for bicycling. They somehow manage to ride with second hand jerseys, bikes and headbands from the 80s.
シャカリキ！Shakariki! the movie is in production now. The movie features the "D-Boys," a pretty boy acting troupe of young men with corporate sponsorship, great hair, great teeth, no sweat, and no snot who limply wave their wrists in the air as supportive and attractive friends all cry "Ganbate!" while dramatic music crescendos and they all win some sort of prize.
By Yokota Fritz
While we go all ga ga over Danish bike commuters, the Japanese are fascinated with all things American, even American bicycle commuters.
The Asahi Shinbun newspaper in Japan printed this article today about bike commuters in Silicon Valley and about the increased acceptance in the Valley of the Clean and Green Action Plan. The article also mentions the bike commuting incentive at Juniper Networks, which has one of the top bike incentive programs in the Bay Area. Juniper provides bike racks at every building, bike lockers at the main building, private (!!) showers, and an emergency ride home program. In addition, Juniper offers a $20 spending card for every 10 bike commutes that can be used in the campus cafeteria.
By Yokota Fritz
While reading the Wikipedia article about the Japanese language, I encountered this sentence about how Japanese pronounce the "R" sound:
The 'r' of the Japanese language (technically a lateral apical postalveolar flap), is of particular interest, sounding to most English speakers to be something between an 'l' and a retroflex 'r' depending on its position in a word.
Now, I dare you to say -- out loud -- "lateral apical postalveolar flap" with a lateral apical postalveolar flap. In other words, say that phrase the way a Japanese person would. The 'l' and 'r' are pronounced identically. With 'l' don't stop your tongue against your teeth as you normally do; and on the 'r' your tongue should be more forward of the soft palate than normal. There's some irony that if you form your 'r' and 'l' with this lateral apical postalveoloar flap, then you can't actually pronounce 'lateral apical postalveoloar flap.'
My mother is Japanese -- when my wife and I chose names for our children we rejected names that my mother and her family could not easily pronounce. My wife (a speech pathologist by education) thought of naming our first child "Postalveoloar Flap" as a sick joke. It must have been the drugs. Or it could be that all speech pathologists have a sick sense of humor. Stutterers can have difficulty pronouncing "stutter." If you have a lisp, you can't say "lisp." I'm sure there are other examples where somebody who suffers from a speech disorder can't pronounce his disorder. Maybe that's how they test if the therapy works or not.
When I posted the cat bicycle image the other day, I neglected to mention Frank's picture of the invisible bicycle.
Japanese bicycle blogs
A new bike blog I discovered is "Hit the Trail". Sagano is a recent transplant to the Bay Area, where he enjoys road cycling and hiking. He's also recently discovered the fun of mountain biking in the Bay Area.
By Yokota Fritz A major earthquake rocked Western Japan in Niigata prefecture, collapsing houses and destroying infrastructure. These news photos reminded me of the 1995 Kobe earthquake, where my dad led relief efforts on behalf of his employer. He took the trains from Tokyo as far as they would go, then paid cash for several bikes for he and his team to transport water, food, and satellite phones. With collapsed roads and destroyed rail, nothing else was getting through.
I live in an earthquake prone area. I've told my family to sit tight and I would meet up with them by biking home from work if a major quake hits during work hours. In Japan, some workplaces keep bicycles as a part of earthquake preparedness.
Bike Hugger mentions the popularity of small mini velo bicycles in Japan. These are small wheeled bicycles that may or may not be folders. They include some of the folding bicycles we're familiar with in the U.S. and Europe, but there are many bicycles such as the Bianchi Novita shown here that are made exlusively for the Japanese market. You can see the whole catalog of mini velo Bianchi bicycles at Bianchi's Japan distributor.
There are probably hundreds more models of Nihon-no mini velo jitensha bicycles like these. I've seen a few of these bikes make it here to the United States, where I see them occasionally on Caltrain during my commute in the San Francisco Bay Area.
By Yokota Fritz
The Japanese Police always get their man.
I grew up in Japan and I'm very much aware of the low crime rate there. People outside of Tokyo habitually leave the keys in their cars. Even in Tokyo they leave their bikes unlocked all day at the train station.
So it was a big surprise to Los Angeles Times reporter Bruce Wallace when his bike disappeared from the bike rack. He assumed it was impounded because it wasn't locked at the right spot and planned a visit to the bike impound lot. Then the Tokyo Metropolitan Police called. They had recovered his bike (which wasn't even reported stolen yet) and captured the thief.
A drunk stole Bruce's bike. The police -- on foot -- ordered the thief to stop because he was riding without lights. Instead of running, the thief indeed stopped.
The reporter asks the police: But what would you have done if he hadn't stopped?
"We would have chased him on our official bikes," he says. He points to a battered bike with a basket on the back.
"Is it fast enough?" Bruce asked him.
"Oh, it can't compete with yours," the cop answers. "But we would have done our best."
They brought the drunk in for questioning. After 40 minutes, they had a confession from the drunk. The police tracked the owner down through the registration sticker on the bike. All because the drunk didn't have a light on the bike.
Itachari Japanese otaku bicycle
Road bikes are hawt
Oh, the horror!
First, he's not wearing lycra. He'll have saddle sores sprouting like mushrooms after a spring rain.
Second, the bike is too big for him. Insufficient 'nad room. High squeaky voice. Say no more.
Third, the wheels have no spokes.
Fourth, it's equipped with Shimano components. Heresy!
Fifth, no water bottles, no pump, no spare tube - the mark of a raw newbie.
And finally, I can see at a glance that the frame is laterally stiff while being vertically compliant.
I'm gonna go have more coffee now.
There are other Yokota commuters (we don't all wear lycra or spandex...at least visibly). I'm going to get this translated when I get to work Monday...maybe I know him?
The text, from left to right says:
"Forward leaning position."
"Road bikes are best for commuting, but..."
Translation courtesy my friend Naoto.
シャカリキ！ Popular bicycle manga to be a movie
This qualifies as weird and wonderful.
...regarding the guy on the poster in the chateau d'ax/ gatorade kit...hmmm, i don't recall bugno, giovanetti or even fignon when he rode for them, having any teammates who looked quite like that...
BGW -- that's why I figured they're leftover jerseys :-)
Ryan -- indeed.
Japanese interest in American bike commuters
Lateral apical postalveolar flap
Now you've got me dissecting the terminology and trying to get my tongue to figure out *precisely* ... alveolar? Ain't alveoli in the lungs anyway? I am the only Caucasian in an otherwise Korean choir and if I *don't* think about it, but just plug in the hard-wired "imitate speech sounds" part of the mind, I've got an accent by the end of the service... and can hit high notes clearly that I can't do if I try. The brain is amazing.
So generically, alveolar means "socket." The Alveolar ridge is the ridge of gum where the tooth sockets are at. Apical = "apex" or the tip of the tongue.
So apical postalveolar means the tip of your tongue touches the back of the gum ridge.
Lateral just means it sounds something like "L." Flap means that your tongue flaps up against the roof of your mouth once (versus a trill in which the tongue flaps up twice or more, so a Spanish "rr" sounds different from a Japanese "r").
It's like Japanese class all over again! Japanese teacher: くる Class: kooroo J: No, くる C: kuru J: Almost! くる C: くroo! j: (・＿・；)
Hi Meep, my wife studied speech path at UNT.
I grew up with Japanese family members all around me, so I didn't have problems with pronunciation. When I was younger, in fact, I had problems pronouncing some English words.
I'm so out of practice these days my Japanese is horrible.
...very funny post, flitz...i have a new appreciation for you now...i am ichi ban fan...
...i may hold off on going out for sushi for a while, however, so i don't get asked why i'm chortling to myself...
...in retrospect, i hope my above response is in no way thought to be making fun of people w/ actual speech impediments...not my style...
...domo arrigato gozimashita !...
Thanks for introducing my blog! 'R' and 'L' sounds are very difficult for most Japanese (including me). I still remembered some embarrassing moments when I was pronoucing 'white rice', 'presidential election' in Japanese way. :-) Pronouncing "lateral apical postalveolar flap" correctly is a nightmere for me.
Anyway, thank you for the link!
I could never figure out why my Japanese mom chose to put 3 l's in my sister's name.
Curses! Someone already beat me to "elecrtion". Foyered again.
Earthquake mamachari ikemasho!
Mini velo Japan
Bike lust attack! Bike lust attack!
I think this would be way cooler than any small bike on the U.S. market.
Like I said Fritz, don't be surprised if some random photographer snaps a pic' of a Masi mini-velo over there in Japan one day. I am looking into developing a series of them for our new Japanese distributor. I promise nothing... but it just might happen.
Making me drool already, Tim! A Masi Mini Velo in the orange-and-blue scheme would look especially sharp.
I wonder why so popular in Japan? Might be got to do with a storage space shortage. Space is a premium there.
I recently read an article about an interesting experiment about bike theft in Tokyo. Unfortunately it's in Japanese, but here it is anyway:
As you blogged, bike theft seems to be a real headache these days, so the author of the article tried to modify and paint his bike so that it would look like the "official police bike", then left it in a busy downtown. Guess what, even the bike was not locked and very visible, it hadn't been stolen for a long time. You can take a look at the images on how the "official police bike" was created.
Sato-san, Google Translate is my friend. :-)
The dude converts his $100 mamachari into an official-looking police bike. How cool is that. The billy-club holster is used for his umbrella.
How come he taped up his wheels, though? Why not remove them for the paint job?