Mamachari (mama’s bicycle)

The mamachari is a fucking legend. It’s the workhorse of Japanese bicycles and much like the taxis, continues to resemble something from the 20’s, even in the newer models. Everyone has one (except for maybe in Tokyo) – it’s the most practical bike you could imagine. 

Defining features include:

  • Slanted top tube, making it easy to get on and off
  • 3 speeds – just enough to make uphill rides easy
  • An integrated rear-wheel lock. You slide the locking mechanism through the wheel and remove the key (which otherwise stays in the lock). Anywhere else this would be a joke, but bicycle theft (at least of mamacharis) is rare here.
  • Front basket.
  • Wide seat.
  • Optional: rear rack.
  • Optional: a front light that is powered by the front wheel.

It’s the kind of bike you will not be afraid to leave outside or drunkenly fall off of and that will likely outlive you.

Oh and I just rented one this morning – for free! – from the Ueda train station. No deposit or credit card held; they just gave it to me.

As people here say: “Nani?!” (what?!).


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