October 27th, 2011 · Jess - Tokyo · 2 Comments
This made the morning news in Tokyo. Apparently some pranksters at the University of Tokyo (Todai) went on a bit of a saddle swiping spree and left a free gift of broccoli for their victims. This happened last month without much issue, but a second round this month had the police involved and pressing charges. The saddles were recovered, by the way.
These events seem to have inspired a bit of a trend.
this appears to be chikuwa, a kind of fish cake that is very yummy
Tags:art · fun · Japan · quirky · Tokyo
September 30th, 2011 · Jess - Tokyo · No Comments
early stage of our camp build with the headless unicorn bike
A month ago I did a little post about the bike I was planning to take to Burning Man and the heap of bikes in a dust lot in Reno that I picked it out of. I never did get to ride that red Specialized because the friends who took it up to the event early sent me a text saying that it had a totally busted tire and to just grab another one from the lot. So I did. They gave Big Red away. There’s a lot of gift giving going on at Burning Man. So, I picked out another bike, a beautiful silver cruiser. I didn’t have much luck with bike number two either. It turned out that under Silver Lightning’s sparkly coat was a bright lime green finish, meaning that she was a “yellow bike”, a shared community bike, and I got busted by the crusty yellow bike police. While the loss of this second bike nearly broke my heart, I knew that she had community duties fulfill.
The thing that people say about absolutely NEEDING to have a bike at Burning Man is totally true. Black Rock City, the town that exists for just one week of the year in the Black Rock Desert, is a big place and a bike comes in handy for getting around to all the many things you want to see and do, plus when everyone else has a bike and you don’t it just sucks. It was a great pleasure to just cruise around in the open desert at night all lit up on a bike, avoiding pedestrians, other cyclists, and art cars, and trying not to get lost from my friends. I learned that when going to the massive parties in the club districts at either end of the city, it is imperative that you leave your lights and EL wire on and blinking or you will spend a good chunk of time looking for your ride.
So, on that sad sad morning when Silver Lightning left me, what did I do? After a few moments of feeling sorry for myself, I remembered that Susan, the lovely lady from Reno who had let me pick my first two bikes out of that pile had had the smarts to pack an extra bike in her RV, just in case. At the time back in Reno, I thought she was crazy, but I was blessing her that day out in the desert. I just walked over to her camp and picked up the spare bike and took the opportunity to borrow her kids trailer and hauled some water back to my camp. Bike problem solved and hydration provided! I even inherited some EL wire to light up that last bike, I’ll call her Lucky. So, I rode Lucky through the potholes and fluffy patches of dust for the rest of the week. I cruised around with new friends to the perimeter fence and airport, to various bars, parties, and burns. I checked out art and participated in Critical Tits, the largest group ride at Burning Man with around 5,000 riders, women only, tops off.
Third try's a charm. Me and Lucky hauling some water.
out by the perimeter fence with little planes landing and taking off just behind it
Me and some camp mates all set for Critical Tits with the Man behind us
Dude taking pics of all the tits. Expectedly, still sadly there were many like him.
looks like some sort of Critical Pink is about to happen...I was just passing by in the wrong colour
It was such an amazing week that was filled to overflowing. If you haven’t been to Burning Man and you have friends who have and they don’t stop talking about it, just forgive them a little. There’s just so much going on and it’s tough to describe. I was so into experiencing it that I didn’t take many photos. There were tons of crazy bikes lit up in crazy ways, some super tall, others with antlers, or unicorn heads and ponytails. I did however document the parking lot at the casino hotel I went to after the event. There were cars with crazy dusty bikes all over.
Good ole Lucky served me well and is now is storage in Reno. Hopefully I’ll get to ride her again, perhaps even next year.
Tags:adventure · art · fashion · fun · ladies · quirky · ride · tall bike
August 26th, 2011 · Jess - Tokyo · No Comments
I am here, state-side, to go to Burning Man for the first time. What seems to be the most critical item to bring, after water, is a bike. I am really lucky to be preparing in Reno with my camp mates who are experienced and well equipped. While they were going through their old gear in storage, I got to rummage through this pile of bikes. They were all dusty, rusty, and home to some giant spiders, but I pulled out some ride-able ones and I chose this one:
Here we are getting some air:
We will be de-rusting, lubing, and doing a lot of decorating when we are all up there. Look forward to snazzing it up and posting some shots.
April 12th, 2011 · Jess - Tokyo · No Comments
It has been one month since the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit northern Japan, and though there is still so much work to be done up north and we in Tokyo are living with bottled water and reduced lighting (which is kind of romantic), life is moving along. To help the people in the devastated Tohoku region move on, a Tokyo based group is collecting, repairing and distributing bikes. They are really looking for kids bikes since all bikes coming from other organizations are only for adults. If you cannot donate a bike (ie. you don’t have one to donate or are not in Japan), please donate money on their website. They are also buying new bikes and could surely use funds to gas up their truck.
This is a grassroots effort and it’s a long drive up north so please support this project.
Tags:Japan · Tokyo
March 13th, 2011 · Jess - Tokyo · 6 Comments
Hi, Jess in Tokyo here. Sorry I have no photos to post here, but I just wanted to share some observations from Tokyo after Friday’s earthquake. I actually just got back to my place today after spending two nights at my friend’s (newer, swankier, and more shock absorbent) place (we could barely feel the aftershocks there).
Well, for one, I learned a lesson; always ride your bike. I had decided to take the train on Friday which left me with a considerable hike in order to get home as all the trains had stopped and I was over 10km away. Luckily the weather was nice and I kind of enjoyed trekking with the masses of suited business people.
Although the quake was terrifying, and the aftermath is pretty gruesome, watching the news on Friday, I learned that the event sparked a huge surge in bike sales as people just really wanted to get home and some people around Tokyo commute up to 100km by train, so they bought bikes.
An even neater thing that my girlfriend told me was that as she was heading home, it was the cyclists that were helping people find their way. Since most people take trains, they are not familiar with navigating the streets. She said that she came across cyclists giving very detailed directions to people heading all over the place.
Anyways, things feel pretty normal here in Tokyo and hopefully things will get fixed up up north soon too.
January 30th, 2011 · Jess - Tokyo · No Comments
The streets, and even more so the sidewalks, of Tokyo are loaded with bikes. I often pass by bikes of the lower end variety that one might call a “Canadian Tire bike” back in Canada. Despite the crappiness, they get the job done and in Tokyo they often have such amazing names. I even once saw a “Yes We Can” bike. Outside the convenience store today I had to stop and take a photo of this beauty: the BIG HUG bike.
December 14th, 2010 · Jess - Tokyo · No Comments
Wired featured a neat collection of bike trailers here.
I am definitely re-inspired to do something with the wheels I salvaged from the dead Abike that someone who apparently weighs more than 80kg used (broke) and then abandoned right outside my apartment. The aluminum frame was cracked, but the juicy rubber wheels are kinda cool….So, now that I’ve said it here, I guess I better get building.
November 11th, 2010 · Jess - Tokyo · No Comments
Awesome art installation by Benedetto Bufalino in Lyon, France
September 14th, 2010 · Jess - Tokyo · No Comments
Here is the headline that appeared in yesterday’s paper:
“Arrested man says he traveled 1,000 km on stolen bicycle”
So, a 25 year old guy was riding the stolen bike of a 15 year old who probably left it outside a convenience store without locking it in Tokyo two weeks ago. The guy was arrested in Yamaguchi, at the southern most tip of Honshu, the main island. Sounds like a great end of summer trip, and the kid gets his bike back. The funny part of the story is the comments section of the article (click above) where readers are debating whether it is even possible to ride that far in two weeks.
June 25th, 2010 · Jess - Tokyo · No Comments
Hello world! I have emerged from my thesis writing den to share a really neat project that is pedaling through Japan right now. It’s called I Believe That Dreams Can Come True, and it is the brainchild of Val and Tay, two girls from Singapore who are riding around the world, collecting dreams. Apparently they stumbled into my friend’s restaurant, became fast friends, and their project was introduced to me via the interwebs. I haven’t had the chance to meet them in person yet (I am a thesis hermit), but I had them answer a few questions through email. It’s a very interesting and inspirational project; apparently Tal learned to ride a bike for this.
Jess – What is the I believe dreams can come true project all about?
I Believe That Dreams Can Come True is about 2 girls, 2 film makers who has abandoned their traditional TV business, to go around the world on our bicycles to document stories of people taking their first step towards their dreams, people en route chasing their dreams, and people living their dreams on videos, photos and writings.
It is a community project borned with the intentions to
- Spread the belief that dreams can come true
- Share stories of people’s personal dreams
- Inspire dreams
And with this project, we hope for “One Dream Shared, One Dream inspired“ – with every dream that is shared on the website, somewhere out there in another part of the world, another is inspired.
Jess – How does riding bikes fit in to the project?
We initially decide to cycle because the first dream we were going to document was that of an old Taiwanese Uncle. Trains are his passion from young. At the age of 65, his last dream in life is to cycle to all 273 train stations in Taiwan and take a photo to remind of his glorious days at each of the train stations. Uncle has lived his life pursuing his dreams, one after another, even at the age of 65, his eyes sparkled while talking about his next dream. We were touched by this fire, this passion, this innocence, this simplicity to live a life driven by dreams. And because, his enthusiasm touched a deeper part of our hearts, Val volunteered to go on the round-Taiwan cycling trip with him. Because of this promise, “I Believe That Dreams Can Come True; Around The World; On Our Bicycles” was born. In a romantic way of expression, we wanted to cycle as a symbolic way to pass on Uncle’s spirit of living his dreams from one country to another, from one person to another. On a practical note, it is the cheapest mode of transport and it allows us to travel at the pace we want to and stop wherever we want to, gone with adhering to the bus & train schedules.
Even though Val had quite a tough time learning and getting over her fear for the bicycle, our bicycles (Stylo & Mylo) have served us well.
Jess – So far you have been to Taiwan and now you are in Japan, what other stops are you going to make?
We planned to cycle around the world for the next 5 years, to as many countries as possible. We do not have a planned fixed route because we have learnt that it is quite pointless planning anyway, our plans could never keep up with the changes that are happening at every moment of our adventures. However, the rough guide will be from Japan-Canada-Alaska-Denmark-US-South America-Europe-Middle East-Africa-Australia-New Zealand-Asia (back home to Singapore)
Jess – What kinds of activities do you have planned in your ports of call?
We plan what we are going to do in that particular country when we have reached there and had a feel of the place and its culture. Taiwan is a country known for her welcoming people and their hospitality. And because of that, we decided to do a round-Taiwan-island cycling trip and collect dreams along the way with the people we meet and it worked beautifully! We met so many strangers turned friends, from young children to old retirees who have no qualms about doing a video interview and sharing their dreams with the world.
For Japan, we have decided to gear our activities towards the children of Japan. Firstly because we have a soft spot for children, secondly and more importantly, we observed that many Japanese, especially in Tokyo lived a well-conditioned life that resolves around their work. We wondered what their dreams are? And we thought: what if we can start with the children, who are still innocent. What if we can let them know, it is alright to dream, to dream big, to dream what the heart truly desires? What if we can let them feel the joy of living a dream? What will their future be like then? With the hope of sowing seeds to empower the children of Japan to dream, to encourage them to do the things they truly love, to help them believe that we can all be someone greater, we decided to work with the children of Japan. And the plan is let Japanese tell their children what it is like to dream. We have sent out mailers to ask Japanese from all over Japan to send us a message, a drawing, a present they would like to give to their children. At the same time, we are cycling onto the streets, to significant spots in Tokyo to collect drawings from people. We will be producing a film at the end of submission based on the drawings we have collected to be given to all children-related organizations for education purposes.
Please see details about Project Japan: www.ibelievethatdreamscancometrue.com/japan
Jess – So far, how has the cycling been different in different places?
Singapore – a country we will not cycle in, for now because cars do not honor cyclists on the roads.
Taiwan – very ‘long distance cycling’ friendly, i.e. if you are doing a round-island cycling trip or if you are like us, cycling around the world carrying panniers on your bicycles, you will be greeted by strangers zooming past in their cars, scooters who would shout out from across the road to you: “Jia You!” which means “Gambateh!” We made many friends just by carrying our panniers around. Once, a couple stopped their car in the middle of the road whilst we were cycling along the road to tell us our seats are too low. They even showed us there and then how which seat position will make cycling more energy efficient. So, in Taiwan, we never felt alone when we are cycling.
Japan – so far the experience has been comfortable. By comfortable, I mean lifestyle cycling is way of life for the Japanese: to ferry their kids to school, to buy groceries, to cycle in schools, policemen patrol in bicycles, etc. And because of that, we feel like part of the community as we zoom down the streets with the other cyclists. And we like the fact that we can park our bikes anywhere, walk around, come back and know that our bikes will still be there! And as we are typing, we are now finding ways and means to make our bikes stand out in the crowd and look different so that people will come talk to us for us to collect drawings since we do not speak Japanese!
Jess – Do you have any special adventures to share about your journey on bike so far?
If it is about biking you are asking, then here’s we are at with regards to cycling:
Val has journeyed from learning how to cycle circles in a tiny park in Singapore, to mastering cycling on the busy roads in Taiwan with scooters who would try to squeeze into any tiny space in between any vehicles possible and monster buses who shows no mercy cutting into the path of bicycles, to outlasting her own oxygen limits by cycling up never-ending slopes along the Eastern Coast in Taiwan on a foldie as tiny as she is. These learnings have been very adventurous!
Tay is trying to come from “We are not going to be able to accomplish this without a better, larger hybrid bike” to “Mylo is going to complete this round-the-world journey no matter what other people say”. She has come to accept our little foldie as our companions. She is now trying to master riding with her left hand so that she can hold the video camera with the right whilst cycling.
If you are asking about special adventures on our journey. We will need to write a book to finish talking about them, even though we are only at our 2nd country! Cycling has allowed us to meet many interesting people along the way and walk into their lives to share a very personal/ private bit of their lives with us. Each of them is a special adventure: The retired train master who has to postponed his dreams because his mum passed away, the poet we met one night in a little town in Taiwan, the class of students who told us they do not have dreams, the old couple who cooked us a whole table full of food, dessert and supper, the English teacher who host us because she wants to bring the world into her classroom, the special needs students who gave us a hair wash cum massage and sang us a song, the teachers who rekindled their passion for teaching, the owners of a B&B who makes delicious and healthy breakfast, the couple who runs a home stay that they built on their own, the Japanese family who treats us like their own children and provides us two meals a day, etc. Its an endless list. We have been asked many times what has been special and memorable so far, our answer has always been: the people. Its the people that we meet, the exchanges and sharings that we had, that made every single moment of this journey beautiful and every single sight worth remembering.
Jess -Anything else you would like to add?
Live your dream.
Good luck girls!