Since I moved to a more quiet area of Tokyo, it seemed a great idea to get a bike. Well, actually it was my neighbour Jeske’s idea, she recently bought a fancy folding bike. She gave me the address of a recycle shop in Yoyogi, so I took the train, walked for ten minutes and found…
A thrift shop. With three and a half bicycle. A very expensive, electrical mom-bike, two even more expensive racing bikes and a BMX that would have been too small for ten-year-old me. Meh.
I asked the google, and found second-hand bike shop Cycly. Unfortunately the Shinjuku branch closed up shop, so the closest one was in Ginza. I was already a few metro stops away, when I realised that I would have to cycle the whole way back. Hmm.
I asked Jeske again, and she told me there was another option: Donki. Also known as Don Quijote, this shop sells EVERYTHING. So that includes cheap bikes, starting at 12.000 yen. I found out that there is a Donki in Naka-Meguro, a nice, quiet one without DONDONDONKI blasting out of the sound system, so that’s where I decided to get my bike.
I quickly found the bicycle department and approached a staff member: “Hi, I’d like to buy a bike.” That poor staff member. She immediately grabbed her walkie-talkie and started spluttering in fear. I heard the word “Eigo”, so I guess the message was: “OH MY GOD an English speaking customer! Somebody, anybody, help me!”
Staff member number two arrived. This girl could speak decent English, for a Japanese person. “You want to buy bicycle?” Yes. The cheap, silver, just-a-little-bit-too-small bike with the cute basket, please. “You live in Japan?” Yep. “You have residence card?” Oh-oh.
Enter staff member number three, an old man. In broken English I was questioned. “You live in Japan?” “How long you stay?” “Can you read kanji?” But, but… What is all this about?
Well, apparently, in Japan, you have to register your bike. It costs 500 yen and then you have a bike with a small license plate. What the use of all the hassle is, I don’t have a clue, because besides my name in katakana (ビアンカ デ ヨング) and my Dutch phone number, they didn’t need to know anything.
Good. A lot of forms and papers and chit chat later (“De Yongu-san! You like Djepen? What your faborite fuud? Sushi?” – I said curry rice and he looked at me all weird…?), I got my bike. The old men helped me in the elevator, out of the shop and gave me an elaborate lecture on bicycle safety. “The traffic can be very dangerous, so be careful!” Oh mister Donki-san, Oranda-jin desu. I’ll be fine.