Basket Actually Useful

What do all Tokyoites have in common?

Consider these examples: schoolkids, police patrol officers, school-run mums, office workers, Yakult delivery people* and teenage gangs. What’s the link?


Mamachari shortens “mama no charinko” – a mum bike. A mamachari is a bicycle with a low (“ladies’”) crossbar, a broad padded seat, an upright handlebar, mudguards, a sealed, no-maintenance, often single-speed chainset, a feeble spoke-lock and a basket on the front.

If you arranged to meet your highschool friends at Sega for some Maimai, you might expect to be ridiculed for arriving on a mamachari. Not here. It’s just what a bike is in Japan.

Having said that, when I rushed to get a mamachari of my own and trundled in for my first day of Japanese school, the ridicule from my classmates was very much forthcoming. I suppose there’s such a thing as assimilating too quickly.

* Yakult delivery people are a story for another time.

Photographer and writer covering Tokyo arcade life – the videogames, the metropolis and the people