So my partner in crime of late, Eli, left town. But before she did, of course we had to stir up a bit of goodbye trouble. I rode Maru down to see her, but realized after the hour long ride, I had forgotten my wallet at home. Luckily Eli agreed to spot me enough cash for lunch etc. Ok, she didn’t really have much of a choice, but good of her nonetheless.
We feasted with her friend first on sushi (pictures below, to make you drool) and then, after a fair bit of sake, her and I walked over to the bicycle bar, which, by the way, is called Riders.
Eli was walking and I was sitting on my bike and coasting along next to her on the side walk (at a walking pace) when we were very suddenly approached by a (somewhat small statured) police man. He started to tell me off for not having lights.
Short Statured Police Man: You don’t have lights
Slightly Tipsy Me: Of course I do, they are right here (pointing to the rather obvious light on my bike)
SSPM: Well, they aren’t on
STM: Well, I’m not riding at the moment, I’m walking with my friend here.
SSPM: Why doesn’t your bike have a registration sticker?
STM: Sure it does (dismount bike as its on the bottom of the frame. On most bikes it’s right near the handle bars, but on pricier bikes, they hide them a bit. I lift up my bike to show him.)
SSPM: (shines flashlight on sticker, starts to call it in)
STM: But if you call it in, you’ll find it’s not processed yet, I just bought it last week, and it takes a while for the paperwork. (And THEN I start to internally panic. During the time your registration processes, you are supposed to carry the receipt papers at all time. Of course, those are in my wallet, along with my ID, which I am also, as a foreigner, required to carry at all times. Not good. I envision myself in jail overnight until my brother can come bail me out and vouch for me in the morning)
SSPM: (calls in bike anyway of course) Where do you live?
STM: (thinking on my feet because both the bike and my foreign registration ID are on my brother’s address) Uh, Such-and-Such district.
SSPM: Well how are you going to get home?
STM: (thinking this is rather an obvious question)… On my bicycle…
SSPM: (angry voice) Such-and-such district is far
STM: ..well….That’s why I have a nice bike…. (and where I really live, and am cycling home to, is considerably further)
SSPM: (mumbles something into radio) Show me the registration sticker again
STM: ok. (flips up bike. accidentally almost hits policeman in the face with front wheel. classy huh?)
SSPM: This is registered in That-and-That district. Where do you live?
STM: Such-and-such. (they adjoin each other…same part of town)
SSPM: (mumbles into radio again) Your bike isn’t registered yet, it’s too new.
STM: I know that. I bought it last week.
(at this point he should have asked me for ID. I should have been hooped. It’s the way it works: foreigner gets stopped to check bike, foreigner ID gets checked)
SSPM: Thank you. (AND LEAVES!!)
That’s right. He left. I was sweating bullets waiting for him to ask me for ID, and he LEFT. Being tipsy, I thought this was a huge victory on my part. I don’t know why he didn’t badger me more, but he didn’t. I think it’s terrible they stop foreigners much more than Japanese people (although I have no proof of this, only anecdotal) but once you are stopped, it’s my bad if I don’t have the bike papers and the ID. I’m not really sure why he let me off. It could be because there wasn’t a major language barrier (which on some level proves I’m not here to cause trouble, because who would bother learning Japanese just to get kicked out of Japan for petty theft?). It could be the address I gave him is a bit of a nice area. I could just be lucky. I’m grateful either way.
It does raise the issue of, well, on the one hand, I was really put out I got stopped. But I should be thankful. I mean, if someone took my bike, I would want them checking people. However, I get the sense they are using some pretty feeble criteria to figure out who to stop. I thought I had been not getting stopped because I’m on the clean cut side, and because I am often in some upper class areas. I thought they were just bugging foreigners they were superficially judging on appearance. The last time I was stopped was 20 years ago, and I deserved it, because I was doubling my friend on the back. I still can’t tell what criteria they are using though because we were in a…well not lower class, but not snotty, part of town.
I would love there to be a system of bike registration like this in Canada. Or everywhere. But I wonder if we would be just as biased for who to stop….
Sushi!!! The real stuff. The kind you only get once in a blue moon. Lovely, yummy, gorgeous sushi. I even got to try the difference between kinds of tuna….
distance covered: 25km (GT 162km)
train fare savings: 620 yen. (GT 4330)