Pikachu and Bicycle Bells

PikachuA co-worker of mine has that book, You Know You’ve Been in Japan Too Long…, and from it I learned the true meaning of the name, Pikachu.

What does Pikachu mean?

Apparently it comes from the Japanese, pikapika, which means to glitter or sparkle, and chuchu, which is the sound a mouse supposedly makes in Japan. Put it together and you get Pikachu, meaning “sparkly mouse”, or more appropriately “electric mouse” because of the lightning bolt stuck up his bum.

Beat the crowd with a bicycle bell

bicycle bellTying together my recent review of NihonHacks, and the proposed (overzealous) changes to Japan’s bicycle laws, I thought I’d share with you my favorite Japan “hack”. When I lived in Nagoya, I found it ever so frustrating wading through the crowds at train stations, on busy streets and in departments stores, so I went to a 100 yen shop and bought myself a “Dragon Ball” bicycle bell.

You don’t need a bike to use a bell…

As I had hoped, a ring on my bell was enough to induce the natural jump-out-of-the-way reaction from the people in front of me, letting me pass with ease! I used this trick in the street, in stores, on escalators and even on crowded trains!

…but you do need a bell to use a bike

I think the proposed bicycle laws in Japan smack of big brother, but my own country is even worse. According to this 2006 article in the Telegraph, the Labour government were planning to fine you up to 2,500 pounds (over 500,000 yen) or even send you to jail for two years if you didn’t have a bell. I don’t know whether or not this law was implemented, but it makes Japan’s proposals look quite tame!

If you like, you can find me on Twitter at @nick_ramsay. I'd love to hear from you!

8 thoughts on “Pikachu and Bicycle Bells

  1. Pingback: www.japansoc.com
  2. Okay, that’s just awesome. I’m going to buy a bell this weekend and totally take over the sidewalks of Nagoya. I just can’t stand those people that walk 5 abreast and let NOBODY get past them. You’re either cornered by a building, or limited by all those bikes parked on the side. It’s infuriating because they usually walk insanely slow.

    I had considered carrying a white stick and pretending like I was blind so that people would move or complain less if I bumped into them, but that’s quite illegal in Canada, and it might be just as frowned upon in this country, too. The bell might be the perfect solution to this problem.

    Thanks for the Nihon Hack, Nick 🙂

  3. I used to carry a bicycle horn (far more irritating) in my car in high school. I’d pull up next to friends (or construction sites, confused shoppers, you name it) and honk away at them through my dropped window. Man, am I glad that I grew out of that phase…hahaha. Good tip – now I wish that there was a way to force people to use the bells on their bicycles. Here they either just screech to a stop behind you and look at you like you’ve committed a crime for not presciently stepping out of their track, or they wait until their front tire is securely lodged between your freezing buns before they ring – thus rendering the warning useless. Instead of “please part traffic” it winds up meaning “brace for impact.”

  4. I must agree with Deas on the bicycle bell issue – I am always scared to death when I hear the bell from behind and inevitably moved to one side, usually the wrong side. Maybe they do this to foreigners on purpose? 😉 A private joke where they keep track of and compare how many foreigners they can freak out or impale? “I got two today, how many did you get?”

    Good for you on the pickup by Japandit and Kotaku. One can never predict what will strike a chord with the WWW.

Comments are closed.