Here is a video showing the Japanese bicycle umbrella holder in action. In this TV interview with the inventor, we learn that it has been around for 30 years. He claims they never have accidents from wind but that people should show courtesy for fellow cyclists and pedestrians so they don’t get any injuries. His next project is to design a streamlined bicycle umbrella that is long and narrow to prevent accidents. The video is amazing, showing how they really work in action and just how many there are. Apparently, they are most popular in Tokyo and especially Osaka. You see them after about 20 seconds in.
Just in from my Okinawan informant:
Another interesting random fact about bikes in japan, it’s against the law to put your umbrella up while on your bike and it was controversial whether to ban umbrella holders (さすべえ or sasubee) as well. The thing is, umbrella holders are considered to be for old ladies (obasan) in tokyo, but in Osaka it’s difficult to find a woman without one- even young girls in their 20s!!!
They’re dangerous with the wind, umbrellas first of all, people are pretty determined to ride their bikes even in typhoons so they first banned using umbrellas, then i guess someone argued that having both hands on the bike doesnt really make it completely safe, they do fly away, like mary poppins I guess. And people try to ride their bikes in such crowded places, you know how it hurts when you get poked in the eye by one!
Check out more details and close up pictures of how these things work here (in Japanese).
My girlfriend is home with her family in Japan and sent me this picture of a bitter gourd plant growing over a bicycle. Here is her story:
The bike was my sister’s. It was stolen when she was parking in a public parking space near the station. Then it came back after some parts were broken/stolen. In Japan, we register all the bikes with police so when they find an abandoned bike, they trace the owners and contact them. By the time the police contacted my parents, the bike was in such a bad shape that it could not be used unless we did some repair that would be expensive. So it has been kept where the bitter gourd was growing and it took over the bike.