Meet My Bike

My bike! In my building's parking area.

Yes, after waiting three weeks till I got paid, and then two thwarted attempts, I finally bought a bike. I’ve christened her Evelyn, because I like to name beloved inanimate objects (my iPod, for example, is Sherlock), and tales of new bikes all being outrageously expensive here were gross exaggerations. I went to Daiki (it’s kind of like Home Depot), because it’s two blocks away, and ended up spending ¥12,000. Some people here got used bikes for similar prices. Mine doesn’t have gears, but I was just looking for a basic street bike for getting around the city, so I don’t care about that. And Daiki includes maintenance when you buy a bike from them, so if something goes awry I can take it in.

It was interesting at first, because it had been years since I’d ridden a bike and street bikes have skinny tires that want to wobble/weave when you aren’t going very fast, but once I rode a little ways and picked up some speed, it got much easier. I’m not a great cyclist yet, and I get nervous when there are a lot of pedestrians and other bikes (note the hard-to-steer-straight-at-low-speeds thing) but I rode to my base school and then to my favourite udon restaurant and didn’t suffer any mishaps. I’ll just start cycling around, rather than walking everywhere, and will be well on my way to cycling mastery before long.

In other, possibly interesting, news, yesterday I went to nyuukan. Nyuukan (short for nyuukokukanrikyoku – 入国管理局) is the immigration office, and people generally go there for one of three reasons: visa renewal, re-entry permits, or because they’re in trouble, in which case I wish them well. I was there for a re-entry permit and now have a sticker in my passport declaring that, for the duration of my visa, I can leave and return to Japan as many times as I want. Visas like mine are single-entry, you see, so once you’ve come in that’s it. Now that I’ve filled out the form and paid for my permit, though, I can go back to the States, or on a trip within Asia, or whatever, and it’s legal for me to come back. Which is kind of important. And now that it’s done, I never have to do it again.

It’s kind of crazy all the things you take for granted when you never live outside of your country of origin. Like the right to go on vacation abroad and come back. The ex-pat world is a strange place, let me tell you.

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6 thoughts on “Meet My Bike

  1. Yay! A bike! Arnold Widowmaker would like to meet Evelyn. He sees that she’s a female bike and figures maybe he could show her around DC sometime.

    Riding gets easier. When I first rode in DC I almost passed out just from the fear. But now I cut off trucks all the time. Biggest tip I hear from urban bikers and agree with: ride as if you were invisible. Never expect a car to see you. Also, get a headlight, a taillight, and a mirror as soon as you can! If you have to pick one of those things, get the mirror. It saves you from having to turn around all the time. (Although lights save you from being flattened.)Also, ride in the middle of the lane. Cars might get pissed at you, but unless their road rage is really uncontrollable, you’ll still be alive. If you ride at the edge you run the risk of getting doored (by someone getting out of a parked car without looking), or getting run off the road, or running into an obstacle like a parked car and having to swerve into the road into oncoming traffic. And also — you know what, I’m just gonna give you a link to a page that will tell you all these things more succintly. Et voila!

    –It’s definitely a developed country thing, the right to go on vacation. For people who live in any African country or the Phillipines or whatever, it’s pretty much impossible to get visas. Because of course a Filipina wouldn’t visit England just to visit — she’s gotta be sneaking in, right?
    Riiiiiiight.

    If I keep my job I would really wanna come see you sometime next year!

    • Thanks for that pdf! And the tips! Japan’s weird – you can bike on the sidewalk (most people do) and bike lanes are sporadic at best – but except for some details all of that applies. I’m definitely getting lights soon because I rode home on Thursday night and ended up walking my bike for a good portion of it because there aren’t streetlights everywhere and it just didn’t feel safe enough. Which is always a good reason not to do something.

      And you weren’t kidding – getting a bike really is the coolest thing ever.

      Please come see me! It’d be so great.

  2. Well hello, Evelyn. It is a pleasure to meet you! Skinny tires is very becoming. LOL.

    Glad to hear you are getting more proficient at biking. I know I tried again recently (though on Annie’s bike so it was waaay too tall) and at low speeds I had wobbles, too. Those were on regular tires!

    I should get a bike soon. If I can find one that will work with my height/leg length/fatness ratio.

    And yay for being able to come to the States then go back to Japan! I look forward to seeing you sometime in the time you are in Japan. Dunno if we will make the money to go there, so we may have to take advantage of a visit from you to the states. Time will tell!

    Much love!
    ~N

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