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The girl in this photo may never see her bicycle again...

Sounds like the opening to an episode of The Twilight Zone: Japan. But this is not sci-fi. And as far as I know the late, great Rod Serling never visited Japan.

But he should have.

It's plausible to think that (a) since her bicycle looks like everyone else's bicycle, and (b) since there are about eleven thousand of them parked in theoretically perfect parallel fashion, she could grow old walking the aisles. That her bike is the one with the furry, marble-sized Hello Kitty thing hanging from the bell on her handlebars doesn't help because every other bicycle has a furry Hello Kitty thing too, even the boys' bicycles (another TZ: Japan episode).

Notice too that she is wearing a high school uniform. This is a solid indicator that her young mind is jam-packed with standardized test questions and answers to the point that she may even forget she has a bicycle. She would be saved, however, by the vague recollection that she has a furry marble-sized Hello Kitty thing hanging somewhere.

No, the reason she might never see her bicycle again is actually very simple (for Japan).

That sign tells us that through the end of April (old photo, I know, the total is likely through the roof by now) one hundred and eight bicycles have been stolen. One might assume these rowdy high schoolers get pretty sick of looking for their own Hello Kitty thing and just take any bike they feel like (as if it really matters which one anyone takes). The thing is, these bikes all belong to kids from all over who take the train to town and then bike the rest of the way to school. This means of course that the bike lot is empty during school (save for the ones belonging to the kids so full of test information they forget that they go to school). Then by evening the kids have all returned to the station to park their bikes and take the train home.

This leaves them as culturally-unspoken fair game for the drunk salarymen who, after an evening of bonding with their co-workers by getting blitzed on Sapporo beer and sake until they can't remember who their co-workers are, realize they have no money left for a taxi and have to take someone's bicycle.

To answer your question: Yes, everyone locks up their bikes. But this is Japan, land of uniformity, every key fits every bike lock - a fact that goes ignored by the honorable Japanese until they are blitzed and penniless.

The nice thing about all this is that no one gets upset about it. "しようがない," they say. Shiyou ga nai, meaning, basically, "Oh, well."

Then they take someone else's bicycle, preserving the unique Japanese sense of uniformity, pursuing the not-at-all-theoretical ideal of everyone riding someone else's bicycle.
 


Comments

Japan is very populated country and have a very developing nation. People are very hardworking and physically fit. In japan most of people use bicycles to move from one place to another which is good habit. Like in above pic we can see there are large number of bicycles parked there and all look same therefore chance to lose bicycle is very high due to thieves.

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09/18/2015 4:55pm

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10/19/2015 12:58am

There are so many cases on daily bases in which a biker cannot find his or her bike after parking it in some specific place. There is need to protect the parking area with some proper ways.

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12/29/2015 7:52pm

Then by evening the kids have all returned to the station to park their bikes and take the train home.

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12/30/2015 4:51pm

See why a bike this nice to look at begs to be ridden.

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12/31/2015 1:34am

This is a solid indicator that her young mind is jam-packed with standardized test questions and answers to the point that she may even forget she has a bicycle.

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12/31/2015 8:40pm

The vague recollection that she has a furry marble-sized Hello Kitty thing hanging somewhere.

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01/01/2016 8:13pm

Then by evening the kids have all returned to the station to park their bikes and take the train home.

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01/03/2016 5:48am

This is a solid indicator that her young mind is jam-packed with standardized test questions and answers to the point that she may even forget she has a bicycle.

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01/04/2016 2:21am

This is a solid indicator that her young mind is jam-packed with standardized test questions and answers to the point that she may even forget she has a bicycle.

Reply
03/16/2016 1:29pm

That her bicycle is the one with the fuzzy, marble-sized Hello Kitty thing swinging from the chime on her handlebars doesn't help on the grounds that each other bike has a textured hi kitty thing as well, even the young men bikes.

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04/02/2016 2:12am

Japanese are using more cycling as compare to the rest of the worlds that;s why they are fit and they have an awesome environment. Thanks for sharing this story.

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04/19/2016 9:24am

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09/05/2016 12:58am

In Japan most a number of people used bicycle for moving from place to another. In above picture we see that huge line of bicycles stand in parking. A more chance of stolen your cycle because all cycles same in design and size.

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09/12/2016 5:09am

Japanese are on the top countries lists who driven the cycles and remains their life fit. But some of the areas of the Japan is not safe for keeping the bicycles.

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