Bikes and food

I’ve been looking for a bakery, because the standard white bread they have at the small supermarkets (Family Mart is most common, it can be best compared to SPAR-shops) is not that great. It’s mainly white bread, either of the tasteless variety, or of the ‘small snack’ kind. I’ve found a bakery, but it also has white bread. I’ve taken home a small loaf that looked promising, but my search for brown bread continues. I have, though, found a bigger supermarket, where they have cereals and stuff like pasta and meat. As you can guess, these rather more uncommon things are more expensive than at home. Apparently there’s an import food shop somewhere, that has stuff like Nutella and maybe even some hagelslag 😉

Bikes in Japan is a whole topic of its own. I’ve already told you that my bike is too small for me (thenagain, so are my desks both in my room and in my office, and I’ve found sinks in our office toilets that hang at knee-height for me..).

Firstly, there are some weird laws considering biking: You’re not allowed to use an umbrella while biking, for example. Or carry passengers, that’s prohibited by law as well. Not that anyone abides by it, but it was on a pamphlet that I got.

Also, due to the relative safety of Japan (thefts are rare), people leave umbrella’s and groceries on their bike outside a shop or store while they’re in there. I’ve seen numerous bikes that weren’t locked. Actually, besides bikes, I could have easily stolen some wallets and keys as well, because many people keep them loosely in back pockets. Two days ago I had my backpack with laptop with me, and I checked, while walking, whether I had closed the bag properly. I was then told that it’s really safe here. I’m still Dutch though, and I feel more comfortable being careful.

Bikes are very neatly parked. On Campus, I noticed that all bikes were nicely arranged, and that *none* where placed where it wasn’t allowed. That may also be due to the men that arrange the bikes (fietsenrechtzetmannetjes 😉 ), they’re kinda dressed like hotel clercks, with dark blue suits and white gloves. They walk around and arrange the bikes. What I’ve also seen a lot, is people guiding traffic. Often, there is someone at the exit or entrance of a parking lot or terrain, making sure that everthing goes well. And more often than not, they have those orange light-sticks they wave around.

Lastly, what is most different, is that there are no designated cyclists paths. Also, most large roads are too busy and dangerous to ride your bike on. So, people ride their bikes on the sidewalk (it’s in the pamphlet I got, I assure you). Sidewalks are not higher than the road, but are at the same level, which makes it easier to get on and off. If the road is not too large or busy, sometimes there’s a white line where the pedestrians and cyclists go, but often the road is so small that there’s neither a sidewalk nor cyclists path. There are *a lot* of roads that are just 1 or 1,5 cars wide, by the way. Either way, cyclists don’t indicate which way they’re going. They probably think something along the lines of “It’s already a mess, why bother”, haha.

Some other stuff:

  • Click HERE to hear rhytmically chirping birds 😉 And that’s just in one direction, if you cross the road in the other direction, it’s a cuckoo-clock kinda sound.
  • Yes, the students are nice, but rather quiet, both the Japanese and the foreign students. Everyone just goes their own way. I haven’t discovered student life yet, but it’s definitely there. One of the photos depicts the huge board that were placed around Kyoto University Campus by student associations (Rugby, Archery, English speakers, etc..)
  • To the left you find some ‘Recent Comments’. Unfortunately, comments to images won’t appear there. I’ve asked the author of the plugin how I can display all comments, including comments on images. But until then, you’ll have to look for yourself whether I’ve replied to your comment. I’ve found a different plugin that also shows comments to images. Last 10 comments are displayed.
  • The photo’s depict amongst others:
    • Student association signs outside Kyoto Campus.
    • Just a random intersection near the Campus
    • McDonalds is everywhere!
    • My bike
    • A photo showing how neatly arranged the bikes are in Kyoto Campus (There are, of course exceptions)
    • Trashcans: Please separate your garbage.
    • Some food in a Family Mart
    • Pictures of the campus
    • A ‘Love and Peace’ sign I found funny because I remember the Japanese pronunciation: Lovu andoh Peacuu! Hilarious.
    • A ‘panoramic’ picture showing how Kyoto is built around its nature, i.e. a river that, instead of being turned into a tunnel/underground river, is just embedded in the city itself. It’s the river Shirakawa (lit. land river) by the way.
    • Pictures of Okazaki shrine, in Shirakawa-doji (lit. Shirakawa street). Also, HERE you can see a movie of Okazaki shrine, which is a recording from left to right. What’s that light at the end of the tunnel? It is… It is…. a vendingmachine!!
  • Response to my wearing T-shirts is universally the same I think: “Aren’t you cold?” Haha

2 Replies to “Bikes and food”

  1. 1

    Good to see you have safely arrived in Japan! You’re lucky you didn’t plan to go this week, a big cloud of Icelandic volcano-ash is preventing all forms of air traffic in northern Europe. Those damn Icelanders… first they took our money and now this. They sure have a lot of making up to do :-).

    Judging by your descriptions, it sure is different from Eindhoven over there. The relative safety, the neatness everywhere, just try to remember to lock your bike when you arrive back here! Btw, almost all foreign bicyclists are jealous of our dutch ‘bicycle roads’, it seems to be a typically dutch thing. The fact that they let you drive on the pavement over there might explain why some foreigners have a tendency to stroll on our bicycle roads (and barely avoid getting run over :-).

    Good luck with your quest for bread! I can imagine that they prefer rice based food over grain based variants. Japan is a bit famous for its (green and white) tea, have you tried it yet?

  2. 2

    Hehe, have you considered, y’know, eating the local cuisine? I’m sure some kind Japanese people are willing to introduce you 😉

    And that river is pretty cool!

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