Wednesday, December 06, 2006
My bike broke last week and my husband and I finally got around to taking it to the local repair shop. As you can see from the picture, it's jam-packed with bikes and festively-decorated with a string of Christmas lights (right under the sign). That level of crowding extends into the shop itself where there are extremely narrow isles to walk through.
The picture looks like it was taken at night but it was actually about a quarter to five in the evening. The Japanese don't use daylight savings time so it gets dark early. This is because, as my students put it, "it's not their custom." It seems pretty hypocritical to whine about the U.S. not signing on to the Kyoto accord and then refusing to do something that'd save electricity by turning the clocks forward and back twice a year but nevermind.
My husband believes this bicycle shop is part of a chain of such shops ran by Bridgestone (the tire company). One young fellow works there so you have to wait sometimes if someone gets in ahead of you. In our case, a woman was in front of us so the repairman told us it'd take an hour. We decided to kill the time and be productive by getting some grocery shopping done while he worked. We headed down the local shopping street and my husband noticed these signs (click on this picture to see a more easily readable large version):
He was particularly amused by the idea that your hair needs to relax. I liked how you could get a "blow" for 3,150 yen.
Anyway, my husband was on foot and I was riding his bicycle down the shopping street. You're not supposed to ride bikes on the shopping street but people do it all the time. In fact, there were at least 3 other people in easy view of us also riding bikes but some old goober harassed me about riding mine (tapping my shoulder and pointing at the signs - which shows how slowly I was riding because he was on foot - I was hardly being dangerous). Of course, he ignored all the Japanese people who were on bikes. This frustrates me because I don't ride a bike because I'm lazy. I ride it because of my serious back pain which can become unbearable when I walk for a long time. Generally, walking while shopping is enough to wear out my pain tolerance so having to walk to get to the shops is out of the question. I let the prejudiced old fool walk ahead and got back on my bike again after he'd passed.
My husband wants to treat some of his students to Christmas cookies this year so we were trying to track down ground cloves and ginger for gingerbread cookies. Ground ginger has been especially troublesome for me to find in local shops. I'm guessing this is because it's so easy to get fresh ginger in Japan and it's what they use in their cooking. I've also been able to easily find whole cloves but not ground. Fortunately, a supermarket with a fair number of imports had them. My husband had to go to a shop specializing in imports to buy an expensive bottle of molasses.
Our shopping took about 40 minutes but the repairman hadn't touched the bike while we were gone. He also told us when we returned that he may not have the necessary parts until tomorrow and took our phone number. About 40 minutes after we got home, he called to say he was finished and it'd cost about $30. That's about 1/3 the cost of the entire bike but it's relatively reasonable. And it's a lot better than some of the car repair bills we used to get back home. ;-)