Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Koban is Japanese for police station, and that is where I found myself upon returning from Detroit to Japan. Typically, talking to the police is fun or not fun. For example, if you are having a BBQ between your condo and garage, and there are some kids walking in the alley with a carton of eggs, you can call 311, be transferred to 911 and there you are, talking to the police. This is fun, because you never know what will happen next. Sometimes, it's the middle of summer and you are sitting on your neighbors stoop, trying to hydrate over a talk story and without warning, crown vic's come racing up from all three directions. This is not fun, because you never know what will happen next, but it's cool when the police determine every one on the stoop is 'US persons.' In Japan, I needed to figure out how to register my new bike.Above is the Koban I ended up going to, it's located at the base of Nagoya station and has 5 cops in there. Not one of which can speak English. On the Internet you can look up how to register a bike if you buy the bike at a bike shop in Japan or from a private seller in Japan. Nothing really covers what to do if you buy a bike in the US and have it flown into Japan and the best way to figure this out is to go right to the source. It was not to much trouble, buy my conversation took about 20 minutes and engaged all 5 police people, in that little room. The conversation, translated into English went something like this: "Hello, I'm Demian." "Hello." "I am from America. I now live in Nagoya. My bike is from American. Now what?......" "What?" "Okay. I just fly here. I have a bike. Here is the receip-to. It is my bike. Now what?" "ahhhhh, hmmmm, what?" "Can I register my bike here." "oh, ummmm, no." "okay. Where can I register my bike?" "Bike shop."

At that point, I ran from the Koban, I think they think I was asking to many questions. But I did end up going to a bike shop near where I work and was able to register my bike. Turns out all you need to do is take your receipt and Y350 to any bike shop and they can write up the license for you. And when your bike gets stolen, the police will stop people at random in an effort to find it. Here is my new ride:If you look, you can see that pivot in the middle. The bike can fold down relatively small, not much larger then the 20" wheels. The idea being, I can fold this thing up and take it on the train when I travel around Japan.This bike works really well too, so far I have been on two trips around Nagoya and you can't even tell you are riding a folding bike. It has full suspension and 8 gears, so it should work well it most places. Kind of a funny note, it was made in China, shipped to California, air lifted to DTW, drove to Dearborn, then again to Canton and back to DTW and then flown back to Nagoya. Basically, I think this bike has to worst carbon footprint in the history of bikes. I'm also thinking about getting a second folding bike and keeping at the train station near where I work. Some thing to ride to and from the office everyday and when friends visit, a second bike I can grab for traveling around with.


Atticus said...

Okay.... I'm a little disapointed that the police station didn't have anyone who spoke english. I know if I was in Japan and in trouble I'd assume that I could go to the Police station to get help, now I'm not so sure.

At any rate that's one mean set so wheels.

Atticus said...

Of course to be fair, I guess a Japanese person couldn't walk into a police station in a major port city in America (say Boston), and expect to find a person who spoke Japanese.