I first heard about Tokyobike from a Japanese TV show where a group of British tourists were talking about Tokyobike and how popular it is in London. My first thought was how ironic that Tokyoites were buying London Brompton Bikes, while Londoners were buying Tokyobikes.
I’ve been staying here in Tokyo for about ten years now, and it was the first time I heard about Tokyobike. I don’t even remember having seen a Tokyobike before, and my idea of a Tokyo bike was very much the good old mamachari. I even doubted Tokyobike was originally from Tokyo, as it must have just been some British bicycle maker naming their bicycles after Tokyo, if that was even legal.
Then I was quickly corrected by the Internet, and learned that Tokyobike indeed had its origins in Tokyo, in a quiet little area known as Yanaka. Interestingly, it was also my first time to hear about Yanaka considering I pass by Nippori every day. Even more interesting is, I learned about Yanaka from friends visiting from the Philippines! It looks like Yanaka is popular for it’s quaint old streets, and local coffee shops. Not to mention, the big cemetery with cherry-blossom lined streets.
Ten years in Tokyo, and still so much to learn and discover.
Anyways, I did end up visiting Yanaka, and I did end up seeing the Tokyobike gallery. They have shops in areas like Koenji and Nakameguro, but maybe this one in Yanaka is the place where Tokyobike actually started in 2002. Looking at this building, it’s hard to imagine it’s now a global brand with shops in London, New York, Milan, Singapore, etc.
I like the simple practical design, and I like that it has its origins at this small Tokyo town, but these bicycles can get expensive. You can buy them from 60,000 to about 100,000 yen a piece. If you want to try them out first, you can also rent them for 1,000 yen a day, which might actually be a good deal to experience using the bike around Tokyo. Ueno Park is nearby so there is plenty of open space to test it out.
For me, I think I’ll stick with my good-old mamachari for now, at least until it breaks. Then, I can start thinking again. 🙂