Category: Unknown Nichigo

Dekochari, Proud Member of Japan’s Itasha ‘Cringeworthy Cars’ Family

Long past their heyday, even in English-language coverage, dekochari, decorated bicycles, continue to survive in miniscule numbers even in today’s Japan.

Dekochari derived from the dekotora, decorated trucks, that became hugely popular throughout the archipelago in the 1970s on the back of the Torakku Yaro series of films, and which seem to be a symbol of Japan for some right through to this day.

Dekochari are ordinary bicycles adorned with flashing lights, blaringly loud horns, flags, chrome panels, mirrors and assorted other ornaments.

Most of the dekochari are handmade by kids too young to get a license, and many are crafted by those aspiring to one day drive a dekotora.

(Kangaeroo remembers plenty of dekotora on the roads in the late ’80s and early ’90s, but they are a rarity nowadays, at least in western and central Tokyo.)

Many of the dekochari aficionados are connected online at least, and pre-pandemic would sometimes take part in dekotora display shows.

There appears to be a market for dekochari merchandise anyway, with most online retailers catering to the hobby.

Dekochari are part of a much broader category of vehicle known as itasha: literally, cringeworthy cars. These are vehicles, mostly passenger cars, adorned with pictures of mostly favorite anime characters.

Itasha are hardly common, but are on the roads often enough to not be particularly noteworthy.

The ita of itasha is the adjectival form of itai, or painful, and refers to how the vehicles are painful to look at, painful on the wallet and painfully embarrassing.

Check out a gallery of dekochari accessible through links on this page.

Japan Has an Awesome Subculture of Gundam-Style Bikes

So It Goes…

Today marks farewell to Premiership Palace.

Kangaeroo is no longer a Kanagawa kenmin (resident of Kanagawa Prefecture) from Kurokawa.

Well, at least not after today.

If nothing else, at least the pandemic allowed Kangaeroo to explore the neighborhood, getting to know what a delightful place it was.

Time in Kanagawa has been very kind to Kangaeroo.

In addition to allowing for a ramping up of cycling efforts, it has also been the place where he could watch his beloved Richmond Tigers become the most dominant team in Australian football.

When Kangaeroo arrived in Kanagawa, the Tigers were something of a laughing stock.

Out of the blue, they won that year’s premiership, were hot favorites but missed out the following year and then won the two subsequent flags.

Things haven’t been too great this year, but the season is far from over yet despite more pandemic pressure.

Eat ’em alive!

Farewell Kurokawa, Kanagawa, I loved you dearly and thank you wholeheartedly. A new chapter awaits, starting today.

May It Be That Way

May is’s favorite time of the year.

Normally, dry, warm and sunny, flowers bloom and the month is a visual and sensual delight.

This year has been unseasonably sodden, but that’s good practice for the upcoming rainy season that will begin in early June.

Normally, May is a great time for relaxing and cycling, but this year has also been a bit different.

Kangaeroo is on the move and has spent most of the month getting ready for the shift.

In that regard, the lousy weather has been a bit of a godsend, limiting the temptation to get on a bike and get away from it all.

It might be a while before the next entry, too, but some of the visual highlights of the month so far, most of them from cycling, can be found here.

Early on in the month, concentration was on riding through the mountains, enjoying the warmer weather. Now, moving into the middle of the month, focus has shifted on work and moving to the new pouch.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

April in Tokyo can get wet, but it can also be warm and dry.

Unfortunately, today it’s the former.

On the upside that means more photo opportunities and a slower pace to enjoy riding.

Make no mistake, though, April is when spring really starts to, well, blossom in the Japanese capital.

Not far from Kangaeroo’s home is the delightful Yakushiike Park.

The park has some delightful archetypically Japanese scenes, with the crooked bridge over a pond, terraced rice paddies and beautifully manicured gardens.

Flowers and new greenery sprout everywhere and days are longer and generally warmer.

Then there’s the wind.

Cherry blossoms in Japan are world-renowned for their beauty, but there are plenty of other delightful flowers to see in this season, too.

It also has a section of wisteria of different colors growing through trellises and looking absolutely delightful. The wisteria hadn’t bloomed yet, but that didn’t stop the rest of the park looking delightful, even in the torrid rain.

Strange Days, Indeed

There have been better days than today, but this one is up there for peculiarity (in a minor sort of way).

The morning ride was nice in spite of tiredness that became increasingly more obvious the more Kangaeroo rode. Not helping was having woken before 3 a.m. again and not being able to get back to sleep.

Sunrise was spectacular, but fleeting, and didn’t really make for the nicest of photos. Still, it is a wonderful time of the year in Tokyo.

Following a morning meeting, there was enough time left before work started to nick over to Costco to pick up some emergency supplies.

But it was surprise that resulted as Kangaeroo arrived to find that the store wouldn’t open for another hour.

Costco came at lunchtime instead.

Most of the afternoon was spent waiting to be given work and looking after the lovebird.

Cheating Death!

Kangaeroo recently added a recumbent bike to his collection.

A recumbent has long been part of the Kangaeroo dream.

When Kangaeroo started cycling, he often shared his commute through suburban Tokyo with a seasoned Kiwi cyclist called John.

Kangaeroo was a rookie (and still is, really), but John had been riding for decades, and often shared his knowledge and experience.

This went on for about a year. Kangaeroo came to appreciate and admire John as he put into practice the advice he had been given.

One day, John turned up riding a bike where he was lying down. Kangaeroo immediately wanted to mimic him.

But John worked in finance and money was no problem.

Recumbent bikes are pricey.

And they were out of Kanageroo’s league.

Years went by.

Early this year, a Facebook post arose, offering to sell a recumbent at a price that Kangaeroo could afford.

Only trouble was, the bike was on sale in Nagoya.

Kangaeroo jumped on a night bus, headed to Nagoya and pocketed the bike before anybody else could get it.

The plan was to spend the weekend riding the recumbent back to Tokyo.

It would be a cinch! Except, it was almost impossible to ride the bike.

It was a front-wheel drive and every time Kangaeroo tried to pedal, he’d fall off the bike. The planned nickname of Lay Down Sally soon gave way to the Death Machine upon realization that riding this bicycle would be an invitation to a premature death.

Quick change of plans and it was disassemble the bike and head back to Tokyo.

Unfortunately, unprepared for rail travel, Kangaeroo lacked the mandatory bike bag and the velo was a mess by the time he made it home.

What’s more, the chain broke, parts got lost and the seller had no idea of the brand of the bike to try to track down anything.

Fortunately, Google soon came up with answers. After a few weeks of discussion with the manufacturer overseas, and pleading for help from the local bike store, the recumbent was ready to ride (and the associated costs meant it would have been cheaper and easier to buy an expensive new bike…)

The problem of being able to ride it remained, though.

Weeks of using spare moments of free time finally built up enough confidence to ride on a cycling track.

One cycling track ride was enough to inspire confidence to try out a longer ride.

And that ride finally happened!

And it went perfectly…except for getting lost, but that’s another story.

Neighborhood Stroll

After a warmer than usual winter (despite initially showing signs of being a cold one), spring is suddenly upon us and cherry blossoms have bloomed at one of the earliest times ever, though the covid pandemic prevents them from being widely enjoyed.

On the weekend of higan, the vernal or spring equinox, when the day has roughly the same amount of daylight and dark, Tokyo got hit with a horrible spring storm.

One benefit of the rain was bringing the opportunity to go for a stroll around the local neighborhood and catching a glimpse of sights like this one.