Monday, December 23, 2013

A Mamachari Christmas!










I have just returned from 11 days in beautiful Japan - the land of super polite people, bullet trains, tiny kei-cars, Sushi, Wasabe, Mt Fuji, Onsens (hot public baths), Samurais and Mamacharis.  There is a strong bicycle culture instilled among its people and almost every Japanese student ride a bicycle to school.


These commuter bicycles are known as Mamachari or Mom's Chariot as they are also used by many housewives to ferry their toddlers to school and run errands. They are also ridden by everyone to get around through the congested and narrow streets - rain, shine or snow. It was fun just to see salary man dressed up in business suits as well as fashionable ladies riding around on their Mamacharis in the freezing cold, umbrellas on one hand.


Tokyo by bike sums the Mamachari very aptly here:


So, despite the perceived un-coolness of the mamachari, it is by far the best bicycle for day to day use all over Japan and deserves a little more respect. The mamachari truly is the family station wagon of Japan, I don't know where we would be without it.

While I was exploring the streets of beautiful Matsumoto in the Japanese Alps, I stumbled upon a very nice bike shop, Cycle Plaza and enjoyed a good chat with Hiroshi Fukai, the owner. As I missed buying a Tokyobike while in Yanaka, I was looking to take home something uniquely Japanese. Hiroshi san recommended that I looked at the top of the line Mamacharis made by Bridgestone and Panasonic.


I settled on a Bridgestone Jobno - a tough work bike that featured a 5 speed Nexus Internal Gear Hub (introduced just last year) spec-ed with 26" MTB sized wheels (most Japanese bikes uses 27"), auto LED lighting, auto steering and rear wheel lock and full fenders, rear racks, rear stand and the signature front basket.


It was not too difficult transporting the huge 26kg bike box to Haneda Airport 200km away as we chartered an airport taxi and Singapore Airlines obliged as expected. So I am delighted to celebrate Christmas 2013 with a lovely present, a true Japanese icon - the Bridgestone Mamachari. I have enlisted the services of Rebound Centre to put it together and look forward to enjoying this set of Japanese wheels on the streets of Singapore.

May I wish you and your family a very blessed Christmas and an exciting 2014 New Year.


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Why give presents at Christmas?


Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the best gift that God has given to mankind 2000 years ago. When he was born, he received special gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh from Kings, who came to pay their respect to him. They have great meaning because gold represents Jesus' royalty and kingship, frankincense alludes to his divinity and holiness and lastly myrrh, which is a sweet oil used for embalming. It's a strange gift to present to a newly born King but it represents his mission - that  is to ultimately die on the cross for the sins of men so that we can be forgiven, and reconnected with God. Such is God's great love for us.

So when we give presents to each other at Christmas, we remember the best gift of all, the gift of Jesus Christ to us so that we can have true joy, peace and love not just for this season, but for everyday of our life.

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  Matthew 2:11



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