Society

Mamachari – Mother’s Chariot

Bicycles are one of the most convenient and popular means of transportation in the world and Japan is among the top cycle friendly nations. They’re economic friendly, easy to learn, and generally friendly to the wallet. In Japan, cycling is a primary mode of transport with majority of the population having at one point in their life, ridden a bicycle.

A standard mamachari bicycle

A standard mamachari bicycle

The most common bicycle in the country – and the most iconic, is the “mamachari”, a mashup of the words “mom” and “chariot” and roughly translated into “mom’s bicycle”. These bicycles are typically equipped with a basket, an integrated lock, bell, lights, and a kickstand. They can also be upgraded with a child seat, these can be place in front of the handlebars and on the back of the rear luggage rack.

A couple of mamachari bicycles

A couple of mamachari bicycles

Usually mothers use them to ferry themselves to and from the grocery store, but recent decades saw the mamachari becoming the workhorse bicycle of the whole nation with it being the preferred bicycle of salary men and students. Typically priced between 10,000 yen to 30,000 yen, these bicycles are found everywhere and can come with a variety of colors and upgrades.

An interesting tidbit though is a couple of years ago, the government banned the use of two child seats but mothers around the country rallied and protested against the rule and the government retracted the regulation – talk about mom power. In a country where utility is so valued, it’s no wonder a whopping 85% of the population own bicycles. It’s kind of interesting to note though that its practicality and use far outweigh its ‘uncool’ look. It is by far the best bicycle for the daily grind of day to day use so it should be one of the first things a would be visitor should try.

A bicycle store selling mamacharis

A bicycle store selling mamacharis

Guest post by David Balway.


  
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One thought on “Mamachari – Mother’s Chariot

  1. Pingback: Cycling in Japan: Breaking the Laws | Makunouchi Japan

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