Feeling a little flat while riding your bike in Japan? Stop by the cop shop!
Japan is a wonderful and safe place to ride a bicycle, with sidewalk cycling technically being illegal yet widely tolerated. You’ll also be in good company, since Japan — a country with 127 million people — has 72 million bicycles. That’s a lot of bikes! You can even register any bicycle you buy in your name to help protect against cheeky bicycle theft (although sometimes the thief will return your bike with a free gift) and make sure you learn the up-to-date cycling rules in Japan.
One handy bike hack for cyclists in Japan is the ability to stop by any police box (koban) in Japan and get your tires pumped up for free. Since each police box in Japan has at least one bicycle for patrols, the chances of them not having a pump are practically zero. As long as you ask politely, there’s every chance they’ll hook you up with some free air. Also, since police boxes are manned 24/7 and bicycle stores are not, they’re a better option for late-night cyclists in need of assistance.
One possible drawback to this method is that the police may ask to see your bike registration and even ID, so we obviously don’t advise asking them for a bike pump if you’re cruising along without your residence card (which is illegal if one has been issued to you). But since it should only take a few minutes for them to check out your ID, you can always let them do that while you’re pumping up your tires.
This hack comes courtesy of our Japanese staff writer P.K Sanjun, who is always full of hot air and occasionally even some good advice.
[ Read in Japanese ]