the nikku

reflecting on ESL/EFL and its relation to faith

Monday, July 23, 2007

Only two things get stolen in Japan...

There's a saying amongst the foreigners in my town here. It goes like this:

"Only two things get stolen in Japan, bicycles and umbrellas."

So, on Saturday I went to lift like I usually do. I always keep an
umbrella on my bicycle in case it rains. So, I parked my bike in an out
of the way place, locked it, and went into the gym to do my regular lifting.

The room isn't air conditioned, so I opened the windows and noticed it
was starting to rain. "Great!" I thought, "I have an umbrella and
this'll cool the room off. Let it pour." Like I said, I had locked my
bike, so when I came back out you can guess which item was missing...

...that's right, it was the umbrella. I spent a whole 300 yen (about $3)
on that thing at the convenience store a few months ago! It had a white
handle and a clear plastic top. As I looked around on the street for the
culprit - as I suspected - nearly everyone had a white handled umbrella
with a clear plastic top.

A note on legal bicycle riding in Japan:

In Japan it is illegal to ride your bicycle while holding an umbrella.
However, the bicycle is a very cheap and efficient mode of
transportation in Japan. The only bad thing about it is the sweat in the
muggy season, the rain in the rainy season, and the snow in winter.

At the convenience store, the clear umbrella section is nearly 90% of
the selection. Everyone knows that the clear umbrellas are there so you
can ride your bicycle in the rain and still see the traffic in front of
you - that's why nearly everyone who rides a bicycle in the rain has a
clear umbrella! This activity remains illegal however, I have seen
groups of students - all holding umbrellas - ride directly in front of
policemen, and the policemen don't even raise a finger.

Other illegal bicycle activities that everyone does:

1. Having a second rider ride on your rear tire or basket.
2. Riding your bicycle beside another bicycler.
3. Riding your bicycle drunk (people may obey this one depending on
their degree of intoxication)
4. Riding on the right side of the road (all traffic in Japan is on
the left side of the road, like the British).


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