“Loco” Cyclists, and Other “Crazy” Japanesisms

Today I was scanning some cycling blogs, wondering how the throngs celebrating Golden Week were coping with the extreme weather, and I came across a term I hadn’t seen before: ロコサイクリスト (roko saikurisuto), or “Loco Cyclist”.  As an American West Coaster the first thing that came to mind was “crazy cyclists”, but it turns out that is not it at all.  The “loco” is apparently short for “local”, since the definition I found for this term was 地元の (jimoto no), and it appears to refer to people who are natives of a given region willing to share local knowledge and guide newcomers around.

Here are some other English-derived terms which might be misinterpreted by native speakers of English:

パンク (panku), “punk” = flat tire (from “puncture”)

マイペース (maipeesu), “my pace” = describes a person who does things in his/her own (self-indulgent) way or at his/her own pace (usually inconveniencing others!)

ジャージー (jaajii) = jersey

メット (metto), “met” = helmet

ピットイン (pittoin), “pit in” = pit stop or SAG station

 

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Wooden Bicycles

Sano Sueshirō (佐野末四郎) is a 9th generation wooden boat builder. He is also a designer and builder of wooden furniture, speakers and – since 2007 – mahogany bicycles.  In an interview for the company Cat Eye, Sano said he began making bikes because he saw the industry focusing on carbon fiber and other stiff materials in the belief that that technology would make bikes faster.  Reflecting on his own experience with wood, he thought he could do better. Apparently – according to this New York Times Magazine blog entry – he has done a convincing job of it.

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Shimanami Kaidō (しまなみ海道) Cycle Path

View of Onomichi from Mukaishima. Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Vickerman625.

View of Onomichi from Mukaishima. Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Vickerman625.

One Japanese blogger , who uses the moniker 吾輩は猫であるさん (from Wagahai wa Neko de aru, the title of a famous novel by Natsume Soseki), referred to this bike trail as a サイクリストの聖地 (saikurisuto no seichi), or “a cyclist’s holy land”.  The 海道 (Kaidō) in the name means “sea way” or “sea path”, and the trail obligingly hops islands from one side of the 瀬戸内海 (Seto Naikai, “Seto Inland Sea”) to the other.  After reading so much about the trail itself and individual cyclists’ experiences on it, I’m adding this ride to my bucket list for my next stay in Western Japan! (´∀`)ワクワ

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Cycling Events in Japan, April 2014

Traveling in Japan this spring?  Interested in getting some exercise and making connections with other cyclists? If so, here are three options for April 2014:

グラン・ツール・せとうち2014 (Guran Tsuuru Setouchi, Grand Tour Setouchi):  April 19, 20 (register by March 31)

  • Starts in 尾道市向島運動公園 (Onomichi-shi Mukaishima Undō Kōen, Onomichi City Mukaishima Exercise Park) and runs along the しまなみ海道 (Shimanami Kaidō, Shimanami Sea Path) and nearby roads
  • Saturday or Sunday short course (70km): ¥4000 (about USD $39)
  • Saturday long course (120km): ¥5000 (about USD $49)
  • Two day short course (includes single-sex group accommodations and breakfast/dinner): ¥17,000 (60-80 people per room)/¥18,000 (8-12 people per room)  (about USD $166/176)
  • Two day long course (includes single-sex group 0accommodations and breakfast/dinner): ¥18,000/¥19,000 (about USD $176/185)
  • Participant limit: 1,500 riders

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Shikoku: Bikes Allowed on the Ishizuchi Express During Event Season

Photo from My Navi News, Jan. 28

Photo from My Navi News, Jan. 28 (see link in article)

Typically in Japan, one cannot take a bicycle onto an express train unless it is disassembled or folded and placed in a bike bag.  However, according to news articles in マイナビニュース (Mai Nabi Nyuusu) and the 朝日新聞 (Asahi Shinbun), starting on March 21st and running until October 26, the 「いしづち特急」 (Ishizuchi Special Express), an 8000 series train of the JR 予讃線(JR Yosansen), will run three round trip trains a day on which one can stow a fully assembled bike. This train runs between Imabari and Matsuyama.

This is being done in support of the event called 「瀬戸内しまのわ2014」which is being sponsored by Ehime and Hiroshima Prefectures. According to the official site, multiple events – including some cycling-themed – will be held to promote the “charm of the inland sea isles” ,「島々の魅力」(shimajima no miryoku).

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Bike Trails in Japan, Part 1: Kyoto’s Katsura River Cycling Road

Katsura-gawa Cycle Road

Along the Katsura-gawa section of the trail.

Urban Kyoto is of its own accord a great place to ride a bicycle if you are acclimated to city riding – and you can use this map and guide from the city’s visitor’s bureau if you are so inclined – but if you are aching to get away from the crowds and see a little of the countryside, one option is the 京都八幡木津自転車道 (Kyōto Yawata Kizu Jitensha-dō, “Kyoto-Yawata-Kizu Bicycle Path”).

Popularly known as the 桂川サイクリングロード (Katsuragawa Saikuringu Rōdo, “Katsura River Cycling Road”), this trail starts in Kyoto’s Arashiyama area (Nishikyō-ku, Kamikawara-cho) and runs 45 kilometers toward Nara along the Katsura and Kizu rivers.  An overview map of this trail is provided below, but if you would like more detail (and information on how to connect this trail with trails in the Nara area), Kyoto Prefecture provides a regional cycling map and additional information in .pdf format on the trail page of its website.

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The Gios Antico mini velo

Gios Antico mini velo

Gios Antico mini velo

While reading some Japanese “pottering” blogs this week, I noticed that several riders speak fondly about a particularly type of bike they have.  The model is called “Antico”, and it is made by the Italian company Gios. It is a ミニベロ (mini bero, from “mini velo”) or 小径車 (shoukeisha, small wheeled bicycle).  Initially, I thought it must be one of the multitudinous folding bikes so popular in the uber-urban streets of Tokyo.  However, it turns out that it has a regular sized road bike frame, redesigned to work with the small tires.

This bike has 16 speeds and a frame made of クロモリ (kuromori, chromium molybdenum steel). The 20″ tires give it a much smaller profile than a typical road bike, making it easier to park or make pinpoint turns on the city sidewalk (which riders can and do use in Japan).  It also means you can more easily take it on a train (something “potterers” like to do), without having to remove the wheels and bag it up.

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NHK TV Program Aimed at Cyclists

charidaa.logo

A cycling-themed program appeared in September 2013 on the Japanese public TV station NHK-BS1.  Based on a special shown in May 2013, the title of the show is チャリダー★ (Charidaa), or “cycling enthusiast”.  The term charidaa is created from two words: ちゃりんこ (charinko, a casual term for a bicycle) and ライダー (raidaa, from the English “rider”).  Unfortunately, I do not have access to Japanese cable TV so I have not had a chance to watch, but I’d be curious to hear from people who have.  In particular, I’m wondering if/how woman riders are portrayed.  The images on the home page for the program are all of men, with the exception of the actress and model Takehashi Maryjun, who is listed appearing as the 新米アシスタント (shinmai ashisutanto), or “greenhorn assistant”. There are a few short videos posted on the site, after watching which makes me think it could be another in that genre of themed travelogues on Japanese TV that I remember enjoying so much.

Anyone out there who has seen the show and can give us a review?

(NHK-BS1の「チャリダー★」という番組を見たことがありますか。批評をお願いします。特に女性の代表者について興味があります。日本語でもいいですよ!)