A write-up by Majin on his recent trip to Tokyo, Japan. An excellent account of his travels as he witnessed and experienced Japanese bike culture first hand:
I was in Japan to cover the Tokyo Auto Saloon (which in itself was an experience I’ll never forget). And you can understand how’s it gonna be like at the Auto Saloon. Girls galore. 2-piece bikini clad girls posing in front of tuned-up cars. We’ve all seen the pictures in the magazines. But screw them. Go google them yourself, perverts!
But bicycles on the other hand. It was something you can’t even begin to describe.
It was a rare experience to go to Tokyo. It was even a rarer experience to get the chance to shake the hand of Yohei-san, owner of WBASE Harajuku Bike Shop. A bike shop, according to CNNGo.com, as the Japanese mecca for global fixie fans.
I was stuck smiling when I got there.
Seeing rims lining up the ceiling, like sick psychedelic hulas. I didn’t even notice Yohei-san as he was chilling behind the counter. I told him I was from Malaysia and about RATSKL, although, suddenly, my mastery of the English language was reduced to just 3-4 words per sentence. But I think he got the gist of what I was trying to say. I showed him the pictures from our NYE ride, and told him how it was like riding in KL and how we had to “share” the streets with motorists. Sadly, I didn’t get the chance to take a short clip of him saying “Hi” to RATS, he was a bit shy. But I did record a short video of him teaching a guy how to ride a fixie.
Sadly, I didn’t have much cash to splurge there. There were cranks (Sugino, Dura-ace, All City etc), a whole lot of colourful grips (We The People, All City, etc), riser bars and dropbars. Frames were abundant, but I suspect most of them were BMX frames although there was a single MASH frame hanging high and mighty. In the glass display, hubs and headset in every spectrum of colours were on display. I nearly spazzed out from just looking at them. And also you can’t forget about the WBASE line of clothing. (Hoodies and Ts for sale).
But what I DID manage to get:
1. WBASE U-Locks
2. WBASE Sticker packs
3. A Cogs Magazine
4. A Sugino 103 BB
5. A pair of awesome Mechanix gloves and also
6. A pair of WeThePeople grips.
INSTANT BUKAKE MOMENT!
I wish someday we all can go there and pay him a visit.
Tokyo is a very bicycle friendly city. In fact, I saw my first mamachari slowly cruising across the street as soon as I stepped out of the terminal. From Ginza to Shibuya and Minato to Roppongi, bicycles were everywhere. And the cyclist in Tokyo is given the same amount of respect as pedestrians from motorist. Here, motorist actually slow down and let cyclists cross first, but the cyclists also wait until the pedestrian lights go green before they cross. How different things are in Malaysia, eh?
Most of the bikes here are from the mamachari (or Mother’s Chariot) variety and also converted “urban” mountain bikes. Many use Louis Garneaus, which seems to be the popular brand here, to commute to and fro from their offices. But I didn’t see any bikes on the trains though.
But it was pretty hard to determine what most of the brands were (I tried to look out for some Japanese made track frames). I did have a chance to see a few track frames outside of H&M, but the one that I caught my eye was a black Surly with a striking yellow wheelset.
In Shibuya, I met a fellow rider who is currently studying in Indonesia. And while I was waiting outside a shop in Harajuku, a yellow biked zipped in front of me, I think it was one of them MACAFRAMA dudes, I heard they were down there for a bike meet in Tokyo. I was so stoked to see that many bikes around that I didn’t care if whether they were fixed. I was just happy to see that many bikes around.
It’s safe to say that you can pretty much find at least 3 bikes chained-up/locked/placed on sidewalks here, which sums up how many people ride bikes in Tokyo. And I wish it could be the same here too. It would be nice to see Kuala Lumpur’s transition into a bicycle friendly city. It would really help the environment, plus I hope to see KL’s street not clogged up with traffic for once. And the CNY festive period doesn’t count.
GETTING THERE (directions to WBASE)
The walk from Shibuya Station (Hachiko exit) to WBASE took less than 10 minutes, but if its your first time in Shibuya, you’re excused if
you’re distracted by the cool shops lining the streets.(I was)
Here’s the direction to WBASE if its your first time, once you exit Shibuya station, get out at the Hachiko exit, and try to locate where
the Tower Records building. It should be on the right. Walking along the road, and you’ll be in between Tower Records and ABC Mart (a popular shoe retail store with awesome selection and even more awesome sales).Continue to go straight pass intersections and you’ll reach to a curve at the street. Walk straight and go under the train bridge and keep to the left. You’ll walk pass a small park with swings and such. Continue on, and you’ll see a small fork in the road, take a left into the small road. You know when you’re near WBASE when you see bikes line up right outside across the shop. (And if you’re lucky, you might get to see a photoshoot as well, at the park in front of the shop). I tried placing a marker on Google Maps, search “WBASE bike shop” and see if you’re lucky.
For more information on WBASE, log on to http://www.w-base.com
and for Yohei’s blog, go to
Falah Naim Faudzi Naim