Monday, 19 April 2010

The manji chan - bike parking.

One of Tokyo's idiocyncracies is bikes and bike parking.
Around every station are signs stating that parking is forbidden.
Around most suburban stations there are tens sometimes hundreds of bicycles parked illegally.   Mostly illegal parking is OK.  Sometimes you get a note tied to the bike asking you not to park here again. Sometimes they put notes saying any bikes that are here on the date written above will be confiscated.  And if you leave your bike at the station for a couple of days, it probably will get confiscated, and you have to pay a fine to get it back.
But mostly illegal parking co-exists very comfortably alongside the "NO BIKE PARKING HERE" signs.


Today I came back from work, bike parked at the station, a big bag of pasta, parmesan and tinned tomatoes - things that are much cheaper not bought locally - in my hands.  Exiting the station.....the manji chan -  as Hiro and I disrespectfully call them.  Manji  is the Japanese name for the swastika - a figure that Buddhism and Hinduism  had deeply entrenched centuries before Adolf Hitler was born -  chan is a diminutive.  The manji chan  are what we call the bike nazis who work in a voluntary capacity, rousing on people for parking their bike in the wrong place.  They are invariably male, retired and derive satisfaction from having authority.   At one station nearby, I can almost guarantee that my bike will be moved by the manji chan about  50m from where I parked it, moved but still parked illegally.... go figure....
And as I got off, the manji chan  were there in their flourescent yellow patrol jackets.  I had neither the energy nor the inclination to pick a fight with them so decided to go and buy fruit and meat and vegies, hoping they would be gone by the time I was finished....   On returning, the manji chan were still there..... arrgghhhh..... a cup of coffee at nearby coffee shop....  an hour later... venturing out........ safe........ the manji chan had either gone for the day or found somewhere else to assert their authority.

What a whimp I am....

But on the otherhand if I cause them offence......... I have had my tyres let down at the station once before.... and it's such a pain...  a different station and I doubt it was the ever law abiding manji  ... but still I don't want them to black list me, 'cause I kind of stick out.

As tempting as it was, I didn't growl at them to "get a life...."

It's so much more convenient to ride a bike to the station esp. when bringing groceries home....

Acceptably illegal, despite appearance to the contrary
Acceptably illegal
Acceptably illegal - unless there is a manji chan

Illegally parked bikes
But parking on the LHS is really illegal and will get your bike confiscated.
Parking on the RHS is also illegal, but acceptably illegal.

NOTE:  Manji chan is not a word that will be understood by other people - it is one of many words that Hiro and I have coined that blend living in Japan with an English mindset / speaking English with a Japanese  perspective. 

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