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...