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Tuesday, October 20, 2009
  Itachari Japanese otaku bicycle
By Yokota Fritz 
Yesterday's edition of Bike Snob NYC included a fabulous example of a Japanese Ita Chari (痛チャリ).

Ita Chari Japanese otaku bicycle

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.

Click through the photos for attribution.

Here's another gallery of Itachari bicycles. Thank you to my pal Naoto for the Japanese language help.


Friday, August 15, 2008
  Road bikes are hawt
By Yokota Fritz 
Road bike

From 自転車通勤で行こう! / Bicycle Commuting! This guy's story is basically that riding the train to work is the pits, but bicycling is the best.


Thursday, March 20, 2008
  シャカリキ! Popular bicycle manga to be a movie
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! Shakarikii the comic

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.

Shakariki the movie

シャカリキ! will be released in Tokyo in Fall 2008. From Sankei Sports. See also The official Shakriki movie site and the official Shakariki movie blog. Props to my Japanese cycling buddy in the Bay Area, Naoto-san, to whom I apologize for the artistic license I've taken in translating this important cycling news.


Thursday, January 10, 2008
  Japanese interest in American bike commuters
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.

Props to my Japanese cycling friend at Hole in the Wall.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008
  Lateral apical postalveolar flap
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.

Some other Japanese language blogs I occasionally follow include Honk de BONK, Fun Cycle, Hatena Diary, J'adore le vélo, and Hole in the Wall. Gambatte!


Monday, July 16, 2007
  Earthquake mamachari ikemasho!
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.

See also Surveyed businesses ready for big quake.


Friday, June 08, 2007
  Mini velo Japan
By Yokota Fritz 
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.

Gios also has a mini velo collection in their Japanese lineup. Check out the Louis Garneau branded mini velo bicycles. There are also Renault Cycles Citadin 16 and Citadin 18 lines.

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.


Thursday, March 29, 2007
  Tokyo bicycle theft
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.

Read this whole incredible story in the Los Angeles Times.



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