My bicycle was stolen last Tuesday from in front of JR Hirano Station. I had it for five years (almost exactly) and it was pretty beaten up, with a deformed basket, broken light and a bell which clicked more than rang. I was sick to death of the old thing, until I came back from an errand to find it gone. It was raining, of course.
I finally found the time today to go looking for a replacement to the old clunker. Bicycle shops are everywhere in Osaka, and prices start at about 9000 yen (currently about 90 bucks). Lance Armstrong probably doesn’t own one. I simply walked down to the nearest shop (well, not the nearest one – he’s a bit snotty, and charges 30 yen to put air in your tires), and checked the prices, then the kickstands (I hate the ones which are only on one side – they always tip over), then lights. Chose a black one with dark greenish blotches (trust me – it looks better than it sounds). The guy at the shop took it out, gave it some air, adjusted the seat, got me to register it, and then – after choosing a back lock and paying for everything, I cycled away. Time elapsed – possibly 10 minutes.
My Japanese friends are always appalled by my cavalier attitude toward bicycle shopping – aren’t you going to look around a bit, compare prices? Well, no. The features are pretty much standard within any price range, and the nicer the bike, the better chance someone will steal it. And since I’ve had my share of bikes stolen, I’m not going to buy anything too nice. I do regret having to buy it on the same day my three-month train pass comes up for renewal, but shouganai, as the locals say – it can’t be helped.
There is much talk about how the Japanese, who love heaters and air conditioners as much as anybody, and who not only drive cars, but produce millions of them, can keep their country’s carbon imprint so relatively low. One reason is that although many families own cars, a two-car family is a rarity (and many city-dwellers – I’m no oddity – don’t own and don’t need a car at all). Companies reimburse their employees the cost of their public transportation passes; Moms do the grocery shopping and errands on their mamachari. As do I. Even that short pedal to and from the subway station is more exercise than many people back home – who drive everywhere – get in the run of a day. And produces no exhaust (other than the feeling you get from pedaling up a hill).
So I can feel good that in my own way I’m contributing to to the saving of the environment. And that will distract me from the fact the only reason I bought the bike was that I’m too bloody lazy to walk to the station in the morning.