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This is our local bike shop in Japan. There is a door in there somewhere. We managed to get about a metre inside but we couldn’t get the bikes in because it was even more messy inside. (click the picture for a bigger version)
This is how the shop has looked for the last ten years I’ve known it. I suspect some of the bikes were there all the time. It’s still open and selling and repairing bicycles so they must be doing something right. I suspect it’s to do with relationships in their community.
It may also be good service: they made a full checkup on two bikes and replaced two inner tubes and one tyre in a couple of hours. I guess this is normal when people use bikes for transport: it’s only places where most of the population use them for fun that we can get away with taking a day or three to make repairs.
So we were in Yokohama and went to Chinatown for lunch. This is where our problems began. We were due to catch a Shinkansen to our next appointment in just over an hour, and half of Yokohama had apparently just come to Chinatown. With their friends. And their friends families.
We went for a small restaurant, which turned out to be a mistake. After half an hour passed and only two very small bowls had found their way to our table we asked to cancel our order. This threw the staff into a turmoil and they spent several minutes working out the bill.
Once outside no-one knew where the station was. Unfortunately they didn’t tell us this but tried to give us directions. After negotiationg a zone of delivery entrances and bars with names like ‘Club Hammer’ we were directed around a corner. Where we found a ship.
Now we were in trouble. The Shinkansen we had booked was due to leave in half an hour from the other end of a metro that had apparently vanished.
We decided to risk instinct, followed a street where we thought the metro should be and five minutes later we wandered into the station entrance. Hooray. As we got down to rail level, the train left. Not so hooray.
On the next train. We crossed the city, then changed for the metro to the Shinkansen. The machine wouldn’t take our ticket. Went to ticket office. Our ticket wasn’t valid to this station. Would have been handy to know this sooner. Bought a new ticket. Through machine, changed train. To Shinkansen station, through the barrier and up the stairs as the Shinkansen came in. Our coach was number 16. At the other end of the platform, naturally. We ran past station staff, several grannies, an entire baseball team with cheerleaders, half the businessmen of Yokkaichi* and one small dog, and counted our boys into coach sixteen as the doors closed.
Next time we’re going to try and get local help, and hopefully a bike.
*The half not in Chinatown
We’re packaging some of the lighter bulky items to post if we don’t need them at home within a week. Cue conversations like this:
“Can you stick this tape on the box for me?”
“Not there, here.”
Are we the only people who have this happen? Please say no.
Meanwhile the weather outside is getting worse and Nagoya airport has all but closed down*. If typhoon talas doesn’t hurry up and get out of the way, we may have an extra day to package things up.
*Although they’re saying nothing on their website unless you dig through to the departure boards.
Thanks to the kindness of several people who read this, you will no longer have to put up with unbroken rambling: From now on there will be rambling and photographs, so many thanks to those who contributed to the sick camera repair fund. Everyone wanted to stay anonymous but you know who you are.
Unfortunately the plan to repair the old camera came to naught: the little electronics store we hoped would resurrect it closed last year so we had to go to a big box store out in the strip malls. On the other hand, we did get a very good compact for a fairly low price, as Japan is still a bit ahead in the world of consumer electronics.
To begin with, a picture of my borrowed three speed bike. I am always amazed how quickly it is possible to get around with three speeds when there are no hills.
Unrelated question: A couple of people report that the comment form keeps dissapearing. Have other people had this problem? (If the comment option isn’t available there should be a contact form in the sidebar. Keep scrolling, it’s down there somewhere.)
UPDATE: It sems the comment form is there, but right at the bottom of the page for some reason. Thanks to Zweiradler for noticing this…
No-one here seems to be very worried about this: usually a few typhoons come by every year. In theory it will reach us on Friday, and by Sunday -when we are due to go back to Germany- it will have cleared off further north.
So far it’s been a bit more windy and rainy than normal.
People in Tokyo are being told to stock up on essentials but it should pass north-west of here. This is not entirely certain of course, as Typhoons twist back and forth like a driver talking on a cell phone, so it may yet come our way.
I don’t think I’ll go out in it. Does that make me a fair weather cyclist?