One of my new favorite things about Japan is the rain! After 6 years of living in the desert, you grow fond of inclemet weather and even look forward to it. When I started out this morning, rain jacket on, hood up, pedaling toward my school, it was sprinkling. But the closer I got to school the more the sky opened up!
Riding a bike in the rain takes a special skill set of coordination. Brakes? What are brakes where rain is mindful of him/her? Lol! You want to stop?! But why? The brakes groan like you’re getting on their last nerve. You want to turn? Bruh! You’re doing to much.
There are students everywhere. All in route to school. Walking, riding, getting on and off buses and out of cars. I thought that I needed to pay attention on a fixed gear bike with no brakes but this is another level of “attention”. I would liken riding a bike to work in Japan to “Frogger”. Do you remember that old PC game? The little frog tries to cross the road without getting hit. Lets add another twist into the mix. Try riding your bike in the rain where drivers are on the wrong side of the road! Oh, you want to continue going through that light? Watch for that car on your left, who isn’t watching for you. You want to turn left at a busy intersection that has no light?! Whet?! You better look all the ways because your life is held in the balance of that choice.
Lets talk about the narrowness of these Japanese roads. Think two-lane highway on main streets. Think one paved road in neighborhoods. Who gets to go? Its a toss up to the bravest. I’ve seen both cars and bikes waiting for a line of cars to pass down a narrow road. Oh, you’re on a bike on a tiny road and a car is coming towards you?! You better stay as far to the left as possible. Except that there are ditches. And nah, I don’t mean ditches that most Americans are familiar with. Carly calls them ” gaijin pits”! The common theory is that they are there to catch foreigners and keep them there forever, in the ditch. Its so deep dude. I found this rando pic of a neighborhood street but it doesn’t do the ditches justice. In non-residential areas there are no grates covering them.
Can we talk about cars? Most drivers are super curteous here. There are no bike lanes. Move even an inch off the sliver of road you are allowed and the cars pile up behind you. In the Arizona, cars would fly past at alarming speeds. Would they switch lanes? Not always. We’d unknowingly “share” the lane. Not here! Drivers will go into the opposite lane just to pass you. They give me a new understanding of “wide berth”.
I’ve said all this to say, I really do enjoy my trip to work. I wore a tshirt and changed into my work clothes at work. I’m becoming a professional international bike commuter! Is that a thing? I just made that up. Now, after lots of prodding from my mom. (Sup Cindy Lou), I will tackle riding the bus to work. I will do a practice run sometime this weekend on the bus. I’ve been hesitant to do that because it requires so much effort. Maximum effort! Where do I even begin. Maybe at the train station? I don’t know. But I’ll keep you posted.
P.S. The rain has cleared up! For now.