One more bicycle before summer ends. I took this one a couple of years ago, meant to post it and never quite got around to it. It encapsulates something quintessentially Japan for me. It’s not a place of big supermarkets and concrete-block malls—there are big supermarkets, don’t get me wrong, but there is still very much a culture of locally owned shops and services. Instead of pulling the family SUV into the superstore lot, for the most part in Japan, you can pedal a bike to the bakery or the or the fruit seller and buy what you need put it in the handlebar basket and pedal home.
In spite of the surrounding metropolis, it seems to keep life on a livable scale.
This is a season of bicycles. Partly it’s about the weather, and partly it’s about vacations and people having time to ride. A friend has been posting photographs from his mountain biking trip in Switzerland, with trails only a few inches wide in valleys of mountains that go on and on. The Tour de France is riding through the mountains, and apparently, for the first time, there will be a Tour de Banff in the Canadian Rockies. Yesterday families of cyclists rolled along the riverside. The five-year olds push pedal-less bikes to learn the balance of two-wheeled bliss.
Much has been made of the bicycles in Beijing. Nine million of them, the songs say. Bicycles that do not wait for seasons or free time or sunny weather. Bicycles of utility. Bicycles of necessity. Bicycles of shortening the shortest distance between points A and B.
I wonder if there’s a song about the number of cars in Beijing. I expect they are equally numerous, though not nearly as romantic.