Tagged: bicycle laws

Pikachu and Bicycle Bells

PikachuA co-worker of mine has that book, You Know You’ve Been in Japan Too Long…, and from it I learned the true meaning of the name, Pikachu.

What does Pikachu mean?

Apparently it comes from the Japanese, pikapika, which means to glitter or sparkle, and chuchu, which is the sound a mouse supposedly makes in Japan. Put it together and you get Pikachu, meaning “sparkly mouse”, or more appropriately “electric mouse” because of the lightning bolt stuck up his bum.

Beat the crowd with a bicycle bell

bicycle bellTying together my recent review of NihonHacks, and the proposed (overzealous) changes to Japan’s bicycle laws, I thought I’d share with you my favorite Japan “hack”. When I lived in Nagoya, I found it ever so frustrating wading through the crowds at train stations, on busy streets and in departments stores, so I went to a 100 yen shop and bought myself a “Dragon Ball” bicycle bell.

You don’t need a bike to use a bell…

As I had hoped, a ring on my bell was enough to induce the natural jump-out-of-the-way reaction from the people in front of me, letting me pass with ease! I used this trick in the street, in stores, on escalators and even on crowded trains!

…but you do need a bell to use a bike

I think the proposed bicycle laws in Japan smack of big brother, but my own country is even worse. According to this 2006 article in the Telegraph, the Labour government were planning to fine you up to 2,500 pounds (over 500,000 yen) or even send you to jail for two years if you didn’t have a bell. I don’t know whether or not this law was implemented, but it makes Japan’s proposals look quite tame!