2019年6月 8日 (土)

Suzuki Shokai (Lessons in Mottainai-shugi)

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

I came across an interesting Japanese article the other day "Kintaro Suzuki  Age 91  Flat Tire Repair".

Someday I in the distant future I hope to have time to translate it, as it deserves a wider audience.  A man in his nineties is interviewed and reminises about his long career and how times, and bicycles, have changed over the years.

The article was written seven years ago, back in 2012.  I located Mr Suzuki's bicycle shop online (Suzuki Shokai = 鈴木商会)and there were photos of him and his daughter taken last year in 2018.  I thought to myself, "I gotta meet this guy whose been repairing flat tires for over 80 years, surely I can lean quite a bit." and made a trip out to visit his shop.  His daughter, who now runs the shop, greeted me and sadly informed me that her father passed away in June last year (2018) at 97.  I was crushed to say the least.  However, his daughter graciously shared photos of the shop, stories of Mr. Suzuki and allowed me to take photos. 

Mr. Suzuki's workbench 

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Loyal fans know that I think of hand tools as "temporary body parts", as, when in use, they are extensions of the body used to turn a screw, hold a nut, cut a thread, etc.  The User is the force and control behind the tool, thus the tool is simply an extension of the body.  Loyal fans will also note that I believe, to some degree, through repeated use over time, these temporary body extensions gradually become a part of us, and in turn, a part of us is transferred to them.
(see article entitled "Do things have souls?")

Much to my delight, as I completely expected, everywhere I looked, there was evidence of mottainai shugi (practically a religion based on a deep belief that it is shameful and a sin to waste things, and things must be repaired over and over until it can no longer be repaired to fulfill its original purpose, and even then, instead of tossing it out, show respect and gratitude by repurposing it, ie giving it a new life).   A picture is worth a thousand words so let me share just a few simple to understand examples.

1. Old rubber inner tubes cut up and used as large rubber bands to bundle spokes according to various sizes/lengths)
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2. Old spokes fashioned by hand into clip-rings to hold same size nuts/washers.

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3. Assorted tins, glass jars and other containers used to store small parts or serve as tool holders.

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4. Old tubes used as non-slip grips or to serve as a cushions to protect tools when laid or dropped on the floor.

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5. Make it last.  A very old wooden flat tire repair box patched up and still in use. 

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6. Bicycle repair stand made from bicycle parts.
    Note the four legs are simply two handlebars!

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Remove the bicycle seat, turn the bicycle upside down and repair stand post fits into the bicycle seat tube.
See photo of repair stand in use here.

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Mottainai-shugi is one of the reasons I began restoring vintage Japanese bicycles.  I could not believe that people would throw away something that, with a little elbow grease, could still be used.

Suzuki Shokai is located just a 3 minute walk from Nishinippori train station. 
Yanaka 3-24-2
Taito-ku, Tokyo

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Special thanks to Mr. Suzuki's daughter for her time and allowing me to take and share photos.
May your beloved father rest in peace.

2019年5月26日 (日)

Le Tour de Zushi (ツール・ド・逗子)

日本語での情報はこちらのリンクへどうぞ: 第11回ツール・ド・逗子

Mark your calendar, Sunday, June 9th is the 11th annual "Le Tour de Zushi" (←Japanese only) in Kanagawa prefecture.
This fun-filled event is a "stamp rally" whereby participants receive a stamp card upon paying a nominal 200 yen registration fee on the day of the rally and make their rounds receiving stamps for each checkpoint visited.  After participating in a brief safety class (Japanese language only) participants select a course; short courses with nearby checkpoints for the kids (must be accompanied by an adult) & beginners, and, for the more experienced cyclist, long courses with checkpoints around the Miura Peninsula.  

Date: Sunday, June 9th
        (Will be cancelled in the event of stormy weather.)

Time: 9:00 - 17:00 
         (Start anytime between 9:00 - 16:00
     and finish anytime before 17:00)

Place:  Start & finish at Kamegaoka Hachimangu (亀岡八幡)
           (About a 3 minute walk from Zushi Train/Bus Station,
             next to Zushi City Hall)

Registration Fee:  200 yen, sameday registration at the event

Last year I had the pleasure of participating on my vintage bicycle (photo below) and it proved to be a great time to get out and discover hidden treasures in the local area around the Miura Peninsula (Kamakura, Zushi, Hayama, Yokosuka, Miura).
2018-le-tour-de-zushi

 

2019年5月12日 (日)

令和

I'll be back with another English post soon until then stay trued and happy wheels.

先月平成が終わり、今月から令和。
私は、昭和後期に初来日し、その2年後にアメリカに帰り、平成元年に再来日して現在に至ります。
初来日したころを振り返ってみると、今の日本はだいぶん変わりました。
少し取り上げると…。

当時、ロッドブレーキ自転車がまだ販売されていて、郵便屋さんはオレンジ色ロッドブレーキ自転車で配達していました。  

Postal-bicycle
Photo courtesy of Postal Museum Japan

和式トイレを初めて見た時は、どのように使うかわからなくてかなり戸惑いました。
洋式の公衆トイレはまだ少なく、棒人間の使用説明が付いていました。

How-to-use-a-westernstyle-toilet
Photo courtesy of 毎日がレビュー

公衆電話は赤・黄・緑.
テレフォンカードの登場は革命的でした。
Photo Photo courtesy of NTT技術資料館

 

電車改札口で駅員さんが切符をパンチしていました
Photo_1
Photo courtesy of めくるたび.

500円玉は1982年、私が初来日した年に初登場。その前は紙幣でした。
Series_c_500_yen_bank_of_japan_note__fro
Photo courtesy of Wiki 5百円紙幣

職場にはコンピューターはなく、机上には電話、灰皿、2段の未決書・既決書トレー。
(今では考えられませんが昔は机での喫煙が一般的でした。)
In-out

仕事も学校も週6日でした。

自動車はマニュアルが圧倒的に多くてサイドミラーはフェンダー上に付いていました。
Prelude

大きなデパートには屋上遊園地がありました。
Photo_2
Photo courtesy of Wiki.

消費税がなかったころ!!
古き良き時代だったかもしれませんが、時は歩み続けます。

令和時代が皆さんにとって、健康で幸福と繁栄がありますように。

2019年4月28日 (日)

Hello Reiwa.

 次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

May 1st marks the dawn of a new period "Reiwa".
I consider myself fortunate as I first visited Japan in 1982 at the tail end of the Showa period and returned to work here in 1989 at the beginning of Heisei period.   As I look back things have certainly changed.  Just to mention a few. 

Rod brake bicycles were still sold and some postmen delivered mail on their orange rod-brake postal bicycles.  

Postal-bicycle
Photo courtesy of Postal Museum Japan

Western-style toilets were the exception rather than the rule and came complete with stick-figures to demonstrate how to use them.

How-to-use-a-westernstyle-toilet
Photo courtesy of 毎日がレビュー

Public telephones came in assorted colors & functions:  Red, Yellow and Green.
Photo Photo courtesy of NTT技術資料館

No electronic ticket wickets, train station personnel physically punched your train ticket.

Photo_1
Photo courtesy of めくるたび.

Before the 500 yen coin, there used to be 500 yen notes.
Series_c_500_yen_bank_of_japan_note__fro
Photo courtesy of Wiki 5百円紙幣

At the office, no computers. The only things on top of desks were a telephone an ashtray and a two-tiered in-out tray.
(Yes, back then people actually smoked at their desks!)
In-out

Saturdays were workdays and school children attended school on Saturdays.

The vast majority of automobiles were equipped with standard transmissions and had side mirrors mounted on the top of the front fenders.
Prelude

Large department stores had mini-amusement parks on their rooves.
Photo_2
Photo courtesy of Wiki.

No consumption tax! Can you imagine that?  Maybe those really were the good'ol days:)

Yes indeed, things have changed and time continues to march on.
I hope the "Reiwa" period will be filled with good health, happines and prosperity for all.




2019年4月13日 (土)

「スポーク・ベル」ビデオ追加

I'll be back with another English post soon until then stay trued and happy wheels.

前回の「日米富士ベル」記事で、「回転式ベル」のユーチューブリンクを付けました。
そのビデオを見たロッドブレーキ自転車の愛好家H.G.さんから下記のリクエストを頂きました。

「昭和自転車ブログのお陰で古いと言って必ずガラクタと限りません。
古いからこそ眠った宝物の場合が少なくありませんと確信して来ました。
もし、可能であれば簡単でもいいですが以前取り上げたスポークベルのビデオを投稿して頂けますか。」

調べてみたら確かに以前取り上げたスポークベルの記事は2つ(ケーブル式ロッド式)ありますが、どちらもビデオがありませんでした。
H.G.さんからのご依頼通り簡単なスポークベルビデオを撮ることにしました。

スポークベルは実に面白い発想です。
ハンドルに付いているレバー押すことにより、バネ付きクラッパーがスポークに当たりスポーク一本々がバネ付きクラッパーを曲げ離します。  
その結果は機関銃のようなリン・リン・リン・リン・リン・リン~。

H.G.さんへ
ココをクリックするか下記の写真をクルックすることによって再生できます。

Spoke-bell-photo

 

2019年3月30日 (土)

Spoke Bell (Video Added)

次回、この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

In the last post "Nichibei Fuji Bell" I listed a link to a revolving bell on Youtube. I received an email from H.G. who watched the video and wrote in with the following request:

"Thanks to your blog I am a believer in that fact that many old things are not junk, but actually a kind of buried treasure.  I was wondering if you could post a simple video of the spoke bell mentioned in an earlier post."  

Indeed, there is a post on the cable actuated spoke bell, as well as the rod actuated spoke bell but no video of either so the request is legitamate and shall be fulfilled.

Spoke bells are an ingenious design, whereby, when the lever attached to the handlebars is depressed, rod-linkage moves a spring held clapper into the spokes, and, as the wheel turns, each spoke then bends and releases the spring held clapper rending a machine-gun of rings:  ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding. 

(Okay, H.G. here you go, just click here or on the linked photo below to see and hear the spoke bell in action.)

Spoke-bell-photo

 

2019年3月17日 (日)

日米富士ベル

I'll be back with another English post soon until then stay trued and happy wheels.

面白いものを見つけました。
それは純正な日米富士 自転車ベルです。

昭和20年代後半~30年代前半の大半の自転車ベルの特徴は、メッキの真鍮製共振器に商標が鋳られています。

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主な自転車製造社は各部品に商標を1個以上仕込まれていましたが、日米富士が特にこだわっていたようです。
「そこまでやるか…」とふと呟くくらい全部品に様々な仕掛けで商標が設計し込まれています。
百聞は一見にしかずなので是非ご自分の目でご確認ください【←クリック】。
ベルの引き金に商標の刻印があります。
ここまでやるか?
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ベルの共振器ベースに注目して下さい。
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有名な日米富士商標の富士山。
数えてみると25座!
共振器を一周している刻印が山脈に見えます。
ここまでやるか?
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一個の自転車ベルに日米富士商標が27個。
現代はここまでやりません。
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現代も似たようなベルがまだ製造されていますが、現代のモデルは共振器が真鍮製かどうか分かりません。

現代では見かけない、これより古く音量が大きい回転式ベル」 というモデルを試聴して下さい。
注意: 試聴する前に音量を下げるようにお勧めします。

2019年3月 3日 (日)

Nichibei Fuji Bell

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

Here is an interesting find.  A genuine Nichibei Fuji bicycle bell.
Like most bells from the  1950's it is chrome plated and has the manufacturer's trademark casted into the brass resonator.
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Although manufacturers went to great lengths to put their trademark on each and every part, often more than once on a single part, Nichibei Fuji appears to have been one of the leaders in designing-in their trademark on virtually every part.  For example, reference the link below to see just how obsessed Nichibei Fuji was in designing-in their trademark.

Mountain Day & Nichibei Fuji (4)
Note the Nichibei Fuji trademark stamped into the trigger.
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Also take a close look at the design along the base of the resonator. 
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That design is the infamous Fuji logo, 25 of them to be exact, a virtual mountain chain encircling the base of the resonator.
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A single bell, and the Fuji trademark appears twenty-seven times.
Nope, they certainly don't make them like this anymore.
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This style of bell can still be found today, though I am uncertain as to whether or not the resonators are still made of brass. Check out its predecessor, known as the"Revolving" bell, which is rarely seen today, and, moreover, much louder.
WARNING: You may want to lower your volume before hitting the "play" button:)

2019年2月17日 (日)

アイデアの考古学

I'll be back with another English post soon until then stay trued and happy wheels!

古い物は現代版の先祖です。
繰り返します。
よく考えて下さい。
「古い物は現代版の先祖です。」
古いカタログや写真はもとより、可能な限り現物のヴィンテージ・アンティーク製品を眺めることにより、
昔のアイデアを発掘でき、
いわゆる「アイデアの考古学」ができます。
先日、古い自転車部品カタログで発掘した独創的なアイデアの一つを見てみましょう。

これは、サドルと携帯椅子を兼ねています。
サドルのポストを抜くと、三脚椅子に替わります。
宣伝も面白い。
「孫の代までご使用できます!!」
古い物は、一生使える ように頑丈な作りで出来ていて、買い手の一生以上に持つ場合もありました。
Saddle_post_chair_close_up

2019年2月 3日 (日)

Idea Archaeology

次回この生地の日本語版を投稿します。

Old things are the ancestors of today's version.  Let me repeat that, once again, think about it, "old things are the ancestors of today's version".  Frozen in time, old things are unique because they are a virtual time machine enabling us to have a glimpse of the design, technology, materials, features, functionality and ideas of their generation.
 
Viewing old catalogs, photos or whenever possible real vintage/antique products, allows one to uncover unique ideas from the past; what I like to call "Idea Archaeology".  Let me share with you one ingenious example I came across recently.

Here is a bicycle seat post that, when removed from the seat tube, doubles as a portable chair as the seat post is a built-in tripod.  The ad indicates satisfaction guaranteed, and, built so well that even your grandchildren can use it someday. Probably true as old things were often built-to-last a lifetime, many times outliving their original owners.
Saddle_post_chair_close_up

Interesting idea, now why didn't I think of that? 

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