Clockwise from top left: Mother with children in Tokyo, Kimono-clad lady in Kyoto, Going surfing in Miyazaki, Mamachari “Grand-Prix” in Osaka.
In Japan, mamachari bicycles — literally “mother’s bike” — are everywhere! And they are not just for moms.
Riding a mamachari to work, school or the local market is a part of daily life for many Japanese. Seemingly everyone, from junior high school students to grandmothers, owns one.
Bicycle shops are seen every few blocks — offering free air pressure to those whose tires are running low. At train stations, a sea of mamacharis sits patiently waiting for their owners to return. Bicycle thefts are rare, and it is not uncommon for bicycle shops to leave their inventory outside overnight.
Mamacharis come in a bewildering variety of styles with a broad range of optional accessories. The typical utilitarian model costs about $100 and features a basket in front, a kick-stand, a bell, mudguards, and a few gears. You can even buy a used one in good condition for $20.