Skip to main content

Fantasy Farm Bike

My bicycle is really a pick-up truck in disguise. In America, we lived in the boonies. We hauled firewood, horse manure, sand, rocks large and small, furniture, recycling, parts for a hoophouse, appliances, other people's stuff, and even the occasional chicken in the back of our little truck. It was one of the most valuable tools we had.

Here in Tokyo, we don't own a car. The city's mass transit system alone connects us to anywhere we would want to go - bus or train - including the venerable shinkansen (bullet train) that will get us nearly anywhere else we might want to wander off to in a mind-boggling short amount of time. For short hops to the store or even slightly longer ones sometimes, we use our mama-chari's (bicycles).

My mama-chari is my best friend. It has a front and back basket, gears, light and a bell. Like the pick-up truck, it's a dirty and dusty little thing. Bits of mud and momigara (rice hulls) thickly coat the tires after a rain, and it tips over in high winds if I don't wedge the handlebars into the crook of a cherry tree near the gate. It's hauled 25-liter bags of compost, chicken manure, and calcium. Not all at once, mind you, but often in groups of four. And I can never go to the garden center and not come home with a plant or two, which hang precariously from a plastic bag on the handlebars. And heaven forbid the kiwi orchard near the garden center has a full stand. I'm surprised I haven't been the rims yet.

So, it feels a little bit like cheating to write about the bike pictured here. We spotted during our recent week in Osaka, and I fell in love. It's a no-nonsense bike perfect for the working woman. The sides fold up on the back platform, which means no flopping out on bumps. Those bags of manure or compost could simply lie flat, and the shovel I got for my birthday would fit perfectly. I've seen other bikes that resemble a garden cart with a bicycle attached to the front that are just as appealing, but I would easily weigh that version down to immobility. This one would most likely keep me somewhat in line with my shopping, and therefore still mobile. Maybe someday...

To see the other bike I mention here visit Engineered Bike Service (E.B.S.), and hop over to this page. Scroll down to see WorkforChild. (You might need to translate the page, but then again just cruise the site. It's amazing!)


Popular posts from this blog

Finding Heirloom Seeds in Japan

Drying pods of heirloom Hutterite Soup Beans. Since moving to Japan eight years ago, one of my greatest challenges as a farmer-gardener has been to find heirloom or open-pollinated seeds. The majority of seeds available are not GMO (genetically modified organisms) as Japan, at this point, doesn't accept this material. Most seeds, though, are nearly all F1 varieties. Heirloom and F1 Varieties In plant breeding, F1 is the name given to the first generation of a cross between two true breeding parents. For example, if I decide to cross an Amish Paste Tomato with another heirloom variety tomato such as Emmy, in hopes of getting a gold paste tomato, the resulting generation of fruit is F1. In order to get that tomato of my culinary dreams, I'll need to choose members of that first generation that are headed in a direction I like - early ripening, medium-sized fruit, good taste - and save their seeds. I'll plant them and repeat the process again and again over time unti

Satoimo: One of Japan's Favorite Slimy Things

Satoimo in all their hairy glory. This post first appeared in slightly different form on Garden to Table as part of the 2012  Blogathon . The website has since moved on to the ether, but the post is still a good one. After all, people here are still eating satoimo on a daily basis, and many others are just seeing these little potato-like objects for the first time. Enjoy! Satoimo is one of Japan's odder vegetables. Under it's rough, slightly furry skin is white flesh that is a little bit slimy even raw, and with a gentle nutty flavor.* Baked, grilled, steamed with dashi, or deep-fried satoimo stands well on its own or paired up with other vegetables and meats in a wide variety of soups and stews . (The leaves are also edible.) Satoimo stores well, and like any root crop worth the effort, stocks are just running low on this household favorite as the farmers in my area of Tokyo get ready to put a new crop in the ground in May. I cannot say I was a fan of this l

Goma Ai Shingiku - Sesame and Chrysanthemum Greens

Last week I had the pleasure of helping some friends work in their parents garden not too far away. Tucked behind the house, the garden sits on a former house lot. When it came up for sale about five years ago, my friend's father jumped at the chance. Open land in Tokyo can be hard to find and expensive, but for a retired professional looking for a little spot to till in the city it was an opportunity to good to pass up. Now, it is a garden to envy. As we came through the gate rose, lily, and peony blooms greeted us with great shouts of color while rows of vegetables stood tidily at attention on the sunny center stage. Small fruit trees along with one of the biggest sansho trees I've seen yet stood quietly here and there. Near waist-high sweet corn, bushy young potato plants, cherry tomatoes, eggplants, and beans were preparing their summer fruits, while a handful of still quite luscious looking winter vegetables like komatsuna, mizuna, and kabu held one last ro