My Bicycle in Japan

The last time I rode a bicycle was when I was in junior high school. In high school period I tried to use public transportation (locally called ‘micro-let’.. might be a spin-off of ‘Chevrolet’) to both save my energy and make friends. I learned motorcycle but gave up since I crashed into somebody’s fence.

Since then, public transportation and Uber-like (or should I say Lyft-like?) motorcycle community ride named Go-Jek has been satisfying my need of transportation. I never thought of re-learning motorcycle or even riding my bicycle again. Especially in Jakarta where I worked for a while.

But there is no Go-Jek in Japan and Uber ride is very expensive. So I have to depend on my feet… and when things get tough, I need to ride a bicycle. At first, my neighbor was kind enough to lend me her bicycle during her pregnancy. It was a relief until my husband and I had a trip for hanami (cherry blossom sightseeing) in a very mountaneous area.

Okay. It wasn’t really mountaneous. For me, average Japanese roads have a lot of highs and lows, and sometimes I couldn’t handle it I had to get down from the bike and walked instead. I really admire the stamina of many of Japanese who handle those curvy pathway everyday.

So my husband, concerned with my little stamina and our house location that is quite far from nearest train stations looked up Craigslist and found some good deal.

He said that he will buy me a mamachari.


I have never known about ‘mamachari’ bicycle before and my husband said that it is an abbreviation for ‘mama chariot’. Indeed, a lot of ‘mama’s use this bike (actually I also saw a lot of male riding this bike). It comes with a handy basket in the front and potential luggage carrier in the back as well. I thought it was a seat for a passenger but my husband said that two adults riding the same bike is forbidden in Japan by law. His friend has been warned by a police before for doing that.

Later on, when this ‘mama’ has children, mamachari bicycle can be upgraded into children-carrying bicycle by placing a special seat for the kids. It comes with a seatbelt and you can add some raincoat for rainy days.

The battery of the bike lasts about one week per charge when I use it a lot. I usually charge it during nighttime and the battery will be ready in the morning after.

Thanks to this mamachari now I sometimes skipped one or two station when traveling by train.. or even didn’t use train because the destinatio was actually not that far. I can keep up with my husband stamina during long trip and didn’t feel exhausted afterwards.

All of that explains the 85% of Japanese population who owns bike (guessing most of them use mamachari).. because I think I also can’t live without one.

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